9 Hostel Etiquette Rules Every Traveller Needs to Know

Hostel etiquette rulesIf you’ve ever stayed in a hostel, you’ll know that there is always one. There is always one knobhead who goes about their day with no thought for others. I’m talking smelly feet, crisp munching gone midnight and a lack of control over their bodily functions.

Don’t be THAT person.

Here are my 9 hostel etiquette rules to help you avoid becoming the hostel guest everyone loves to hate. Because, lets face it, nobody wants to be the ‘hostel hell’ story travellers tell their friends about.

1) Introduce yourself.

Nobody wants to share a room with someone who has a face like a smacked arse. It may be daunting walking into a room full of strangers – but you’re travelling, what did you think was going to happen? Pull yourself together, turn that frown upside down and introduce yourself. You’ll most likely be sharing a drink within the hour.

2) Get your shit together.

I need to listen to my own advice on this one. James frequently says that I let off ‘party poppers of crap’ when I enter a room. I don’t really have a ‘tidy’ bone in my body. This being said though, I did try to keep my shit to myself when sharing a hostel dorm. Granted this often meant stuffing clothes back into my backpack or shoving them under the bed…. but it did the trick.

When travelling you could be sharing a room with 3, 4, 5, 12 other people. Space WILL be limited. Don’t piss people of by leaving your stuff where it shouldn’t be. What would your mum say?!

(On a side note: Keeping your shit together could also be taken quite literally. I’ve got a bit of a story for this one… stay tuned for the first in our ‘Hostel Hell’ series coming soon to find out more… it’s definitely a story worth telling!) 

3) Keep your pants on.

Sticking with the mum theme here… a safe rule of thumb would be, don’t do anything in a hostel dorm that you wouldn’t do in a room with your parents. Nobody wants to try to get to sleep amidst the backdrop of your bare arse and the tune of questionable noises. There’s a time and a place people.

4) Don’t be a weirdo.

I once had a bloke speaking in tongues and doing the ‘limbo’ in the middle of our dorm room at 2am… I’ve also had a woman crying with her feet in a bucket and a man urinate on my shoes. I know backpack space is limited… but sanity is a bit of a non negotiable. Don’t forget to pack it.

5) Don’t be a dirt bag.

Hostel showers may not be the most appealing places, but trust me, they’re a hell of a lot more appealing than you will be after a few days of travel and no washing. No one wants to sleep 5 feet away from someone who smells like death. Don’t be a dirt bag. Wash yourself.

While we’re on the subject… wash your clothes. Wearing your underwear inside out or spraying your clothes with deodorant does not make them clean.

6) A little bit of organisation goes a long way.

Are you hopping on a bus early in the morning? Planning to get up and watch the sunrise? (Often the best time of day to see any place by the way – highly recommended!) Do everyone in your dorm a favour and think ahead just a teeny tiny bit. Pack your bag before you hit the hay so you can make a quick, silent escape in the morning.

Also, if setting an alarm, ensure it’s just loud enough to wake you up and make sure you keep it close to you so you can silence it quickly once you wake – or even keep it on vibrate. And don’t even think about hitting the snooze button… your fellow backpackers will come after your with torches and pitch forks. Don’t wake a sleeping backpacker.

7) Think.

Is what you’re about to do going to be annoying/loud/irritating/frustrating/disruptive/down right wrong? Just don’t do it. Returning late at night when other people are sleeping? Don’t turn the light on. Cooking dinner for you and a friend in the hostel kitchen? Clear up after yourself. New travellers moving in? Be friendly. Really fancy chowing down on that massive packet of crisps at 2am? Leave the room first. Suffer from a nasty case of flatulence? Put down the baked beans.

Also, talking in half whispers to your friend across the dorm room in the middle of the night is just not cool. Just because your ‘whispering’ doesn’t mean we can’t hear you.

Just think.

8) Keep your hands off.

Does it belong to you? Do you have permission to be touching it? If the answer to both of these questions is ‘no’  then overt your eyes and don’t touch what isn’t yours.

9) Be respectful.

The final hostel etiquette rule on my list is is a simple one: Respect people. Respect their culture. Respect their space. Respect their belongings. (Point number 9: Sponsored by Aretha Franklin.)


There we have it! My 9 hostel etiquette rules every traveller needs to know. Writing these has really got me reminiscing about my hostel experiences…. Stay tuned for a rather entertaining/disgusting/horrific Hostel Hell series coming soon.

We’ve all shared a room with someone who breaks at least one of the rules above, do feel free to name and shame below! (They had it coming if you ask me ;).) 


Photography: Chris Goldberg

  • http://www.backpackbabe.com Backpack Babe

    Hi Gabby!! Ahhh this is super useful! Hostel etiquette is so important. hahaha love it, don’t be “that” person. also lolling to “don’t be a weirdo”. great post, definitely had me smiling 🙂

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks for stopping by Kerjan – so pleased you liked the post :). It’s a little tongue in cheek but I hope it gets the point across! It’s amazing how many weirdos you do find in hostels though isn’t it?! Pleased it made you smile. Have a lovely weekend!


  • Teacaketravels

    Haha hilarious article because it also got me thinking about all of those weirdos I’ve met in hostels. Don’t get me wrong, hostels are the best: if anything you’ll meet some amazing people and even weird makes for great entertainment and travel stories. Nonetheless, you’re right to pull these points out: there always is and will be someone breaking the unspoken rules.

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks so much for reading 🙂 – so pleased you found it funny. And absolutely, I love hostels… met some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever met in hostels on my travels; the normal, the weird and the wonderful… but you do get the ones who seem to ignore the basic etiquette rules! 🙂