Backpacking around the world is an unparalleled opportunity, you’ll see amazing sights, do incredible things and eat wonderful foods.
However, for the ‘real’ backpacking experience, you need to stay in a hostel. Booking private rooms with an en suite bathroom just won’t cut it, plus, for many they’ll be beyond that threadbare budget. More importantly, you won’t have such a great opportunity to interact with other travellers and make life long friends.
Saying that, while sharing a dorm room with six strangers can be great fun, it can also be hard work. Here are a few survival tips:
First and foremost, ensure you’ve got adequate travel insurance backpacker trips are very different to “normal” holidays and require specific cover. This includes multiple worldwide locations, for long durations (up to 18 months, in some cases). Working holidays are also included, so you can happily can pick capsicums on a farm in Queensland or input data in an office in Sydney, safe in the knowledge that work accidents are covered.
Make sure you know where your valuable possessions are at all times. Your passport will probably be held in the hostel safe but make sure you have a sturdy lock for your backpack. Your room mates might be trustworthy, but remember, many hostels are open to all and anyone could wander into your room.
You can’t fail but make friends in a dorm room. You will very quickly become acquainted with Mike from Toronto’s noisy sleeping habits, Padraic from Galway’s self-confidence issues and Brad from Melbourne’s desire to go to bed early.
You need to have patience, be flexible and accommodate others’ quirks. At the same time, you are owed the same respect and any unreasonable behaviour, if it can’t be addressed in person, should be referred to the hostel manager.
Be friendly, suggest ways in which you can get to know each other better, group activities, going for a drink, a BBQ in the local park. When you know each other better, you’ll feel more confident asking room mates to make less noise in the morning or to borrow a hairdryer. You never know, you might end up completing your trip with your new friends and it’s not uncommon for couples to meet and marry…
Staying in a hostel can be great fun and really enhance a backpacking trip; it just requires a little effort.