Sleeping and staying in hostels can be challenging. Between having to share with people you don't necessarily know, people coming and going at strange hours, and not being in your own home, there are lots of reasons some travelers struggle to get their beauty sleep when they're staying at a hostel.
But it doesn't have to be that way. There are plenty of ways you can get a solid night's sleep - even if you're sharing a room with fifteen other travelers. Honestly, if you end up in a wonderful place with great people, hostel life is better than real life.
Here are some of our favourite tried-and-true strategies from our Hostelz experience!
Start here: How do Hostels Work? The ins and outs of hostel life
Tips for Staying in Hostels
- 1. Be Smart: Choose the right Room Type for you
- 2. Consider your Hostel's Location
- 3. Bring Supplies!
- 4. Don't set your expectations too high
- 5. Pick your bunk wisely
- 6. No bar on the top bunk? Make a barrier
- 7. Is your room truly awful? Let staff know
- 8. Sleep at a reasonable time
- 9. Only go to bed once you're really tired
- 10. Just say NO to the plastic bag rustle
- 11. Keep important stuff within easy access
- 12. Think twice about turning on the lights
- 13. Respect quiet hours
- 14. Put your alarm on vibrate & under your pillow
- 15. Don't abuse the snooze (button)
- 16. Don't hang out in the dorm when other people are sleeping
- 17. No sexy time in the shared rooms!
- Common Questions about Staying in Hostels
These tips are also important if you are considering working in a hostel during your travels.
1. Be Smart: Choose the right Room Type for you
If you know you're an incredibly light sleeper, it might be worth your while to consider paying a bit more to have a private room, or maybe one that only has four beds instead of twelve. It could be a small investment that ends up being one of the best decisions of your trip.
This is where timing comes in with regards to booking. Hostels tend to have less private rooms than shared, so booking last minute could mean you miss out.
Here is a guide on when to book hostels - for spontaneous souls and pre-planners.
2. Consider your Hostel's Location
Before you book a hostel, read their reviews on Hostelz and the major hostel booking sites.
There's a ton of information on them, including lots about the location. If you keep seeing that the hostel is near lots of bars, you'll know it's pretty likely to have some sort of noise at night. Similarly, you could end up miles away from the main landmarks and public transport.
So, choose wisely!
3. Bring Supplies!
You could also try bringing noise-canceling headphones if noise really bothers you when you're trying to sleep - especially the sound of a snoring neighbor!
Here is our detailed guide to how to pack for a hostel.
4. Don't set your expectations too high
Sleeping in a shared room whilst staying in hostels isn't always easy.
Even the quietest, nicest roommates will need to come and go at different times. And while you can get very, very comfy hostel beds, the average hostel bunk isn't going to compare to one at a fancy hotel.
Some travelers do expect hotel-level amenities when they're staying in a hostel. But hostels are generally about basics rather than luxury. Your expectations may end up being surpassed, of course, but don't go in expecting to be pampered.
If you already go in with the mindset that things are going to be a bit different, you'll be ahead of the game.
5. Pick your bunk wisely
Maybe you'll be able to sleep better on the top bunk, as nobody will be clambering up a ladder by your face to get into their bed. You might feel a bit more privacy up there, too, and it's less likely that people will use top bunks for communal purposes.
Or maybe you'd rather have the bottom bunk, which might have a better chance of being next to outlets to plug your electronics into. You also won't have to deal with trying to climb up into bed in the middle of the night, and you'll be within easier reach of your stuff.
There's no right or wrong answer here - it's all about what you prefer!
6. No bar on the top bunk? Make a barrier
Most bunk beds have a bar to stop you rolling out in the middle of the night, but every once in a while you'll come across one that doesn't. Roll up a towel or push together some pillows to create a barrier to stop yourself from accidentally falling out of bed.
7. Is your room truly awful? Let staff know
Whether "truly awful" means your bunk is on the verge of collapsing, there are bugs in the sheets, or your roommates are legitimately making you uncomfortable, it's OK to ask the staff if they can do something about it. You can also ask if there are other rooms available if you get to the hostel and realize you probably should have booked a smaller room.
Keep in mind that the staff might not be able to do much though!
Hopefully they are following our guide on how to create an irresistible hostel.
One thing not to do - don't switch beds without asking first, particularly if there are assigned bed numbers. It can seem easy just to move over to the next bed, but it can be a bit of a pain for hostel staff to deal with on a paperwork level.
8. Sleep at a reasonable time
If you're planning on going to sleep at 8 p.m., you might be in for an unwelcome wake-up. Or rather, a lot of unwelcome disturbances.
Depending on which country you're in, 8 p.m. might be right when people are getting in from dinner - or it could be right when people are starting to get ready to go out for their evening meal. Either way, your snoozing will probably be interrupted by people coming in and out of the room.
When staying in hostels, plan your sleep schedule according to the norms of the country you're visiting. This is especially important if you are planning to eat out in restaurants for dinner and lunch.
Going to bed before sunset may be a bit too much...
9. Only go to bed once you're really tired
One way to almost guarantee you fall asleep quickly is by avoiding getting into bed until you're really ready to crash.
Try not to attempt to fall asleep if you're only sort of tired. Relax in the common areas or have a low-key stroll, and only go to your bed when you're 100% ready for some sleep.
And now, because we're all about being conscientious travelers, we're also going to include some tips on how you can be a nice guest and avoid waking your roommates up in the middle of the night!
10. Just say NO to the plastic bag rustle
Have you ever heard somebody rustling around for their belongings in plastic bags for ages? If you can, pack your stuff in bags that aren't quite as loud.
11. Keep important stuff within easy access
Maybe put a small bag of must-haves on top of your main suitcase, or keep them in an easily reachable side compartment. This will help you get your stuff faster - and minimize the time you spend making noise that might wake someone else up.
12. Think twice about turning on the lights
Guests in hostels do need to get in and out of the rooms at different times. But if you can, use your phone as a flashlight instead of turning all the lights on in the middle of the night.
Just don't shine it directly into people's faces; this is not how you make friends in hostels!
13. Respect quiet hours
Not all hostels have quiet hours, but if they do, be respectful of other guests by being aware of your noise level.
14. Put your alarm on vibrate & under your pillow
There are very few people in this world that enjoy being woken up by an alarm. There are fewer still that enjoy being woken up by an alarm that isn't theirs!
15. Don't abuse the snooze (button)
There are few easier ways to annoy your roommates than by letting your alarm go off repeatedly. Getting up can be tough, but remember that you're sharing space here.
16. Don't hang out in the dorm when other people are sleeping
It's fun to chat with your friends while you're getting ready in the morning, but unless you guys have the dorm to yourselves, go somewhere else to do it.
And it is more fun to hang outside anyways...pool anyone?
17. No sexy time in the shared rooms!
On the note of things you should go somewhere else to do...
Speaking of all things sleeping-related, are you going to need to take your own sheets? What about a pillow? Check out our handy hostel packing guide to get an idea of what you do and don't need to take.
Common Questions about Staying in Hostels
Is it safe to stay in hostels?
Generally speaking, yes, hostels are safe. Please always pay close attention to hostel reviews before booking. Check their safety score and location. A locker is always useful to use to keep your stuff safe.
Can you leave your stuff in a hostel?
Yes. Most hostels offer lockers or you can leave your valuables at the reception. We recommend checking locker availability before booking.
Why are hostels so cheap?
Hostels are cheaper than hotels as dorms are shared. A hostel can fit 6 people in one room, while hotels only offer private rooms. Hostels need to sell more beds and need more customers than hotels in order to make money.
How long can I stay at a hostel?
This really depends on the destination like city and country as well as the hostel policy. Some hostels only allow a maximum stay of 14 days. Others do not have any limit.
What to wear to sleep in hostel?
It is recommended to wear a pijama or anything alike when sleeping in hostels. As you are sharing a dorm in a hostel, it is appropiate to wear clothing.
Travel Cheaper, Travel Longer
Smart Hostel Price Comparison
Get access to exclusive hostel content