Hostels are a fantastic venue for meeting fellow tourists and planning joint adventures in foreign locales ― and thankfully, you can find one just about anywhere you travel. In addition to the rules and regulations posted at each hostel establishment, here are a few unwritten laws to follow if you want to get along with your fellow lodgers.
1. Though shalt not fornicate, neck, or otherwise engage in sexual conduct whilst staying in communal rooms. Private rooms are available at most hostels. So if you meet that special someone (for the night), do yourself, your partner, and your other 14 roommates a favor and opt for a little privacy. If he or she is worth it, then they’ll support the decision to hold off on the X-rated stuff until you’ve secured a single room.
2. Though shalt not remove thy clothing in front of strangers. Whether you’re changing in the room or catching a buzz in the hot tub, please remember that the average non-acquaintance has no interest in seeing your business. That’s why there are nudist colonies.
3. Honor thy neighbor’s food and beverages. Many hostels provide a communal fridge for guests to share, but the offer only extends to the actual appliance; the contents are another story altogether. If you didn’t pay for that sandwich or bottle of beer, then don’t consume it ― better yet, go pick up one of your own.
4. Thou shalt preserve the dignity of launderers. It’s the norm for hostels to provide laundry amenities. Usually this means a washer and dryer, but in many regions of the world (Africa, South America, East Asia, etc) you’re more likely to find a staffperson who cleans guests’ clothing by hand. It’s their job to wash garments, but show these folks a little respect when it comes to vomit stains, skidmarks, and other gross blemishes and just toss ’em instead. Besides, there’s a good chance the launderer won’t be able to remove the stains anyway.
5. Remember the quiet hours and keep them holy. Let’s say you have a really good time at the local watering hole ― a really, really good time ― and you don’t make it back to the hostel until the dead of night. Remember ‘six-inch voices’ from elementary school? Use them. And for Christ’s sake, don’t turn on the lights.
6. Though shalt never switch off any televised soccer or rugby matches. Anyone who has spent time with enthusiastic soccer or rugby fans knows why this is strongly discouraged.
7. Thou shalt acquaint thyself with the bartender. If you plan on grabbing a beer at the on-site lounge, take a few minutes to introduce yourself to the resident mixologist. Chances are he or she has seen some wild and crazy things in their time, and many will be happy to share a great story or two with you.
8. Thou shalt refrain from excessively nationalistic banter. Look, if you wanna be Joe Patriot while you’re on U.S. soil, then have at it. But if you’re staying at a hostel outside the country, then please keep in mind that many of your fellow guests aren’t your fellow Americans, and thus may not necessarily share your views about politics, religion, immigration, birth control, or what have you. You don’t need to be a doormat, but just try to be open-minded ― and please, don’t ruin our national reputation abroad.
9. Thou shalt socialize, and socialize often. Don’t be that weird guy who eats alone and doesn’t even make eye contact with the other guests. Now’s your time to make friends with a bevy of people from around the world, and share adventures that you’ll carry for the rest of your life. Embrace the chance to make new friends, because it doesn’t get any easier or more strongly encouraged than this. However…
10. Thou shalt get out of the hostel for a while and see the place you paid to visit. Sure, hostels are charming, and the people you meet there will contribute to your overall travel experience in their own way. But come on, would you rather drink beer and play pool with that European couple all day, or go for a walk and explore your exotic environs. Balance is the key, people.
By Brad Nehring