I work in party hostels all over the world. Here are the 7 things I wish travelers would stop doing.
- Taylor Futch travels the world, making pit stops along the way to work in party hostels.
- Futch says she often deals with poor guest behavior and is left to clean up gross situations.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Taylor Futch, a 25-year-old hostel worker from Ocala, Florida. It has been edited for length and clarity.
For the past two years I've traveled the world and worked at a variety of party hostels in Central America and Europe. Right now I'm in Colombia, my 20th solo country, and I'll be working in Croatia this summer for three to five months beginning in late April.I love what I do. It's an amazing way to get to see the world from a local perspective and meet some incredible people. But like any job, it comes with its challenges.
Hostels are often able to offer competitive rates because most of the sleeping quarters, bathrooms, and kitchens are shared spaces. This is important for guests to take into consideration when making a reservation.
Here are seven things I wish every hostel guest would stop doing. While I'd like to think they're all based in common sense, the amount of time I see people doing the exact opposite leads me to believe a primer is in order.
1. Hooking up in shared living spaces
This is the No. 1 rule of hostel etiquette and is often the most disregarded.
While some hostels may offer private rooms, in most scenarios guests share sleeping quarters. But just because you have your own bed doesn't give you the right to subject your bunkmates to your sexual escapades by hooking up while they're in the room.
At least every other week people complain to me about this, but it probably happens a lot more often than that, since some guests don't bother to say anything and others speak directly to the parties involved.
It's very inconsiderate, so just don't do it. If you can't abide by this rule, you should probably book a private room or find a different sort of accommodation.
2. Being too loud
It's not uncommon for people to arrive at or return to the hostel at all times of the day and night. But it's important to show respect for other travelers and not cause a commotion by barging into a room, turning on all the lights, and waking everyone up.
In some hostels the common areas will close around 10 p.m., but there are no lights-out policies in the sleeping quarters. It's an unspoken rule that once a guest turns off the lights for the night, you should be quiet and use the flashlight on your phone to navigate the room.
Most guests travel with earplugs to drown out background noise or roommates who may snore, but they shouldn't have to be exposed to unnecessary noise like loud talking, shouting, or drunken antics, so please keep it down.
If you plan on going to sleep at 8 p.m., I wouldn't recommend staying at a party hostel.
3. Disregarding personal hygiene
Since communal living is the name of the game in hostels, it's important to pay close attention to your hygiene habits and be considerate of others.
After a long day of exploring or a night of partying, it's not uncommon to smell funky — so before you skip a shower and hit the sack, consider that your body odor may permeate the bunk and affect those around you.
Also keep in mind that clothes and shoes often smell after a long day, so don't just leave them lying around. If you can't wash them right away, put them in a plastic bag until you can, or at least avoid leaving them out in the open.
4. Not picking up after yourself
If you're going to be sharing spaces with others, clean up after yourself.
While on housekeeping duty, I regularly come across used condoms and feminine hygiene products in the shower, stacks of dirty dishes in the sink, and leftover food in the communal kitchen.
Almost all hostels provide individual lockers in the rooms, but you must bring your own lock; sometimes you can buy one at the hostel, but I wouldn't rely on it. There are also privacy curtains in most hostels, so you have your own little area. I always make a point of closing my curtain when I leave the room.
Keep your personal belongings in your allotted space rather than scattering them around the room, and never leave your stuff on other people's beds.
Good hostelmates clean up after themselves and don't subject others to their mess or leave it for someone else to deal with.
5. Eating food that doesn't belong to you
When you put food in the kitchen, write your name on it to ensure no one gets confused about whose food is whose.
I never cook when I travel, but some hostel guests who are traveling for a long period of time and are on a budget will cook. In South America, guests tend to eat out because it's so cheap. Many hostels host family dinners that are affordable and offer a chance for everyone to eat together. Some guests even create their own family dinners and invite people for a nominal fee, like $5 a person.
Putting your name on your items also helps hostel workers know what to discard should you check out and accidentally forget to take something with you or throw it away.
6. Being too handsy
I'm always happy to meet new people, and part of my job is to be welcoming. But it's crucial that people don't mistake friendly for flirty and that they understand how to read social cues.
Way too often I've had guests hug me, kiss my cheek, or touch me on the job. Even though hostels are typically pretty casual environments, touching hostel workers or guests without their consent is not OK, so keep your hands to yourself.
7. Setting your expectations too high
If you're expecting a five-star hotel, you're in the wrong place.
I've had guests complain about everything from the quality of the food to the water pressure in the shower, but there's only so much we can do.
I once had a guest tell me we should change the restaurant menu. One even complained about being in the country, even though they chose to travel there.
The best type of traveler is one with an open mind who learns to expect the unexpected and roll with the punches.
If you're the type of person who can't appreciate other cultures and set your expectations accordingly, hostel life probably isn't for you.
Do you work in a party hostel and want to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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