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Hostel Rules and Regulations – Don’t Be THAT Traveller


What is it with a lack of hostel dorm etiquette? I (Gemma) write this annoyed after yet another sleepless night in a hostel dorm. This time a chica dragged her rucksack in at 2am, opened and closed about twenty zips, seriously how many zips on that thing? Then she shines her iPhone torch all over the joint. We get it, hostels are a cheap form of accommodation which makes a budget stretch further but they are not a replacement for home so stop treating 8-bed dorms like your bedroom back at your mum’s house. Turns out I am not alone in the hostel hustle, I reached out to fellow travellers and we’ve put together a list of hotels rules and regulations to help everyone sleep better at night. Be sure to tell us any of your stories or hostel tips and tricks in the comments below!

» We saved £20K to travel – click for tips

What is a Hostel?

Hostels are an economical form of accommodation which comes after camping and couchsurfing in the international hierarchy of budget travel sleeping arrangements.

They usually offer some form of social setting whether that be a bar, garden or rooftop seating area, or even a swimming pool in warmer climates.

Hostels are a great place to meet new travel buddies because there usually is an element of organised fun through quizzes, pub crawls, themed nights and even cultural activities like city walking tours.

What is a Hostel Like?

Contrary to belief, hostels are not just for party backpackers. They come in all shapes and sizes from dives to rooms fit for divas. Sleeping arrangements differ depending on the hostel.

Some offer private rooms with private bathrooms, others have private rooms with shared bathing facilities. I’ve even been in hostels with outdoor sleeping options (in Budapest). Most hostels have dorm rooms in common.

What is a Dorm Room?

Forget North American sorority dorms and think more Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sleeping arrangements and you are halfway there.

Jokes aside, dorm rooms are rooms with beds which are usually in bunk form (one up/one down) to save space. You can expect anything from a 2-bed bunk to 16-bed and the price of a hostel stay gets less the more beds in the room.

There should be a locker for you to place your belongings.

They sassier hostels have lockers big enough for your 60l backpacks. Hostels are cosy, which means making friends is pretty easy.

The more modern dorms have privacy curtains, alternatively, opt for the bottom bunk and hang up a large scarf or flag.

Are Hostels Safe?

Hostels are only as safe as you prepare for them to be. Just because someone carries a backpack like you it doesn’t mean they are not an opportunist.

Now I am not accusing every traveller of being a thief, just have your wits about you and be wise. Tips – don’t leave out anything you want to keep from going walkies.

Personally, I don’t even charge electronics unless I am in the room.

Alternatively, charge a capacitor battery pack like our reliable Anker US / UK and use that to charge on the go.

We swear by the PacSafe net US / UK for keeping gear safe. We travelled with it through the Americas (North, Central, South) and Europe and came home target-free. To use, pack a day bag full of your expensive kit and passport then close it.

Place the bag in the PacSafe net before closing tight, wrap the wire around something non-moveable like a bed frame and then clip the padlock (TSA approved comes recommended) closed with the bag securely attached to the frame. Now cover with a scarf.

Most hostel buildings have call features at their front door to avoid anyone walking in and out. We’ve left our larger rucksacks in cloakrooms for days while out hiking and never faced any issues to do with security.

You can read individual hostel reviews on the likes of Hostelworld which will help you also make a decision about each one.

Hostel Rules and Regulations

So now that we’ve covered the basics of backpacker accommodation lets move on with the tips for staying in a hostel. Whether you are staying in a hostel for the first time or you’ve racked up the party hostel passport stamps, there’s a takeaway for everyone.

Hostel Dorm Security

Staying in a dorm requires a few quick checks. Take two seconds to memorise the code for the door, or try your key in the lock to make sure it works – even if it’s open when you arrive.

That door is the only security you and your fellow travellers have and it’s really important that you keep it secure.

Even if valuables are in lockers inside the rooms, most locker padlocks can easily be picked. So, make sure you always, always lock the door when you go out – that’s just good hostel manners.

By Danni Lawson |  Live in 10 countries

Granted, a dorm is never going to be as quiet as a private room.

Yet, a lot can be done to ensure the peaceful coexistence of all guests. One of the unspoken yet basic rules in hostel dorms should be that of keeping the level of noise to a minimum. Those checking out in the early hours should always make sure to pack their bags the night before, while nobody is asleep and preferably before 10 or 11 pm.

By doing that, they will keep noise levels at a minimum while everyone in the dorm is asleep. It’s a simple, yet very nice gesture that doesn’t require that much effort and that goes a long way into making sure that even the most crowded of spaces becomes an oasis of peace.

By Claudia Tavani | My Adventures Across The World

Do Not Turn On The Lights Between 11pm-8am

One of the most annoying things a traveller who is staying in a dorm room can do is to be inconsiderate when they switch on the light after 11 pm, especially when someone is already asleep. Be polite, some people have an early flight and want their beauty sleep as much as possible or the ones who come home late from a party will surely not appreciate the bright light too early either.

If you need to do something, you can use the torch of your phone. It’s just a simple but nice act.

By Mary | A Mary Road

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Put Your Phone On Silent

One of the best things you can do for the people in your hostel dorm room is to silence your phone. I have shared rooms with too many travellers who believe that everyone around them needs to know when they receive a text message or phone call, but it really just makes the rest of us stir crazy.

It is understood that if you’re waiting on an important call, you turn your phone on loudly so you don’t miss it. But, if you’re casually texting, it can be done in silence (this includes turning off keyboard sounds on phones).

In addition, it is also rude to have a conversation on your phone late at night or early in the morning inside a dorm room.

Most hostels have a social space or living area where you can take care of these matters – your bed is not the place to do it.

By Megan | Meganstarr

How To Deal With Snoring in Hostels

We get it, you’ve had a hard night on the sauce and you are prone to a little open mouth, blocked nose snoring action but pal, it really is not fair on anyone else in the room.

Many of your dorm friends might be getting up a 3 am for a hike so your freight train breathing is going to ruin their paid excursion.

  • If you are the guilty party, do everyone a favour and get a private room
  • If you are the victim

1. Try moving the snorer. Reddit recommends throwing M&Ms at the perpetrator.
2. Pack and use earplugs 
3. Consider a headphone headband. Craig even sleeps with it home, I don’t snore, honest!
4. Be really rude the next day and get ready REALLY noisily next the to the snorer.
5. Complain – we had to do it in Toronto. Three of us left a four-bed dorm. Mass exodus!

Bookmark | The best carry-on backpacks for travel 


Invest In Headphones

Listening to music and watching movies are great ways to pass time in the evenings or on a lazy day, but not everyone in a hostel dorm will want to listen at the same time.

Especially at night when others are sleeping, hostel guests should do what they can to avoid disturbing others – including sounds from phones and laptops.

Trying to fall asleep to the sound of gunfire in an action movie or a blend of three different people’s music at the same time is annoying and will surely draw complaints from light sleepers and people who like peace and quiet. Popping in a pair of headphones is an easy way to keep dormmates from holding a grudge.

They don’t need to be expensive noise-cancelling headphones – cheap earbuds will do the trick so music or movies can be played all night if necessary.

By Kris | Nomad by Trade

Sharing Is Not Caring

Hostels can be a bit intimidating for first-timers but they are fun and inexpensive. One of the downsides of staying in a hostel is the fact that some people can be disrespectful and clueless.

Paying for a shared space doesn’t mean everyone has the right to do what they want.

Asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I enjoy the aroma of dead-rat smelling shoes wafting around with the aircon-breeze while I’m contemplating life?
  • Do I want to see a naked lady changing bloody sanitary products while I’m thinking of what food to eat next?

The answer is always no! Most hostels have shoe racks outside of dorm rooms. Use it. Girls, there is a toilet just 5 metres away from your bed, insert there. It only takes a minute to spare someone from a life of tampon trauma. Be a hero and do your ladies’ business privately.

By Christine Rogador | The Travelling Pinoys

Save Your Smells

Dorm bedrooms are usually small, thus any smell inside becomes X times stronger than outside. Moreover, in AC rooms, all the smells are stuck in the closed space.

Bedrooms are mainly meant for sleeping, so it’s best to keep neutral/fresh scent there. That means eating spicy food or any types of snacks is not appropriate. There is a kitchen in any hostel, where you are more than welcomed to eat!

It’s also time to control your favourite perfume. Some people tend to apply more perfume since it becomes lighter outside because of the weather and wind. The air is still in the room, so all the sprays from all the guests will mix and stay.

If you are a smoker, hang-out outside for a while till the strong smell of cigarettes will reduce to the minimum. Many non-smokers are susceptible to cigarette scent and, most probably, they would not like it spread in the bedroom.

By Natalia |Mytriphack

Dorm Rooms Are Not Laundromats

Long-term travel can’t be non-stop awesome travel experiences. At some point, everyone needs to do their laundry. Many hostels have washing machines that travellers can pay to use.

Unfortunately, some travellers decide to save money and hang their wet clothes around the dorm to dry. Some string a line from one bed to another. Others merely drape their wet clothes and towel over their bed and sometimes over other bunks.

This is not OK; having to navigate around someone else’s laundry is unpleasant. Rather than hanging or draping their wet laundry around the dorm to dry, people staying in hostels should always use the dryer or hang their clothes outside on a washing line if there is one provided. Hostel staff can always advise what laundry facilities they have available.

By James Ian | Travel Collecting

Don’t Leave Your Sh*t In Communal Bathrooms

Hostels are normally associated with youth, freedom and a laid-back life, but that is not to be confused with lack of respect and common sense.

On the contrary, sharing space with others implies, or should imply, respecting one another and following unwritten rules of a certain kind of common sense which, unfortunately, not for everybody is “common”.

One of those rules concerns shared bathroom space. “Shared bathrooms” means that the bathroom is shared among many people and therefore it’s not wise nor respectful to leave one’s toiletries in the little space available, be it a chair, a shelf or whatever that is available.

That space is temporary for the person using the facilities at that time. Your toiletry bag is your storage, not the communal bathroom space. It’s easy to understand, there is simply no room for everybody’s stuff.

By Isabella Biava | Boundless Roads

Don’t Steal My Sh*t

Don’t steal other people’s stuff. You might think that this is obvious, but the amount of times things go missing in hostels it is ridiculous.

From mobile phones and other valuables to dirty clothes, shoes and food from the fridge, why do some people think its ok to take other people’s stuff? It is never OK to take things that don’t belong to you. Even if you’re drunk, eating someone else’s pizza is not cool.

Backpackers usually have a tight budget, which certainly won’t stretch to providing someone they don’t know with free food or anything else which takes their fancy! Buy your own stuff, or just go without.

By Claire Sturzaker | Tales of a Backpacker

You Can’t Sit With Us, Well Me (Name That Film)

For many travellers, staying at a hostel provides a built-in community on the road and potential new friends, which can be great – if you want that from your travel experience.

However, for travellers who are a bit more introverted or shy (or simply prefer solitude and travelling alone), hostels can quickly become overwhelming environments when others approach them constantly to try and make plans together.

When you’re staying at a hostel, be mindful of people’s personal space and aware of the cues they may be giving you. If you sense that someone is enjoying being alone and isn’t looking for a new travel companion, respect their wishes. Don’t insist that you eat together, hang out constantly, or travel together to the next destination.

Travelling is an inherently overstimulating and often overwhelming experience, and lots of people are seeking solitude and reflection time (or need to work while travelling), not necessarily looking for a crew of new pals to hang out with on the road.

That being said, there are plenty of hostellers who are happy to make new friends and pick up a travel buddy – look out for them and don’t hesitate to reach out when people seem receptive.

By Sierra Dehmler | Passport Voyager

Get A Room

I get it. You’re on holiday.

You’ve found THE ONE. Or maybe it’s the beer talking. Anyway. Things get heavy. It’s time to take this somewhere… more intimate. That towel you’ve put up hanging from the bunk above will act as the perfect sound and light barrier, right? Surely no-one will hear you?

The answer, I’m sad to say, is no. Everyone will hear you. No-one wants to. Please, do everyone a favour and don’t have sex in a hostel dorm.
Unless you are:

a) The only person in the hostel dorm or
b)… to be honest, there is no B.

Just don’t do it. If sex is something you find yourself doing, get a private room, or find a private place that doesn’t have a bunch of other strangers lying in the dark listening to your magnificent sounds. However quiet you think you are being, and however fluffy that towel… they can definitely hear you. And no-one wants that.

This also applies to tents incidentally.

By Laurence Norah | Finding the Universe

Final Words

Over 10+ tips later from angry travellers, I think we can all agree on this hostel etiquette advice and move forward in our quest to travel carefree and happily into the sun.

Like it? Pin it!

Tips on how to survive hostels | Hostel dorms | Backpacking | Hostel dorm tips | Budget travel

What really grinds your gears in hostels?

Pinterest for Travel Bloggers

So you’ve Googled ‘Pinterest for travel bloggers’ or stumbled across this page via Twitter – welcome, you are in safe hands. It was not that long ago I was a social media newbie but soon Pinterest become my biggest referrer each month (it’s Google now). Before I started up Two Scots Abroad on Pinterest, I had dabbled with Pinterest personally – mainly looking at Hallowe’en costumes and nail art, but I never considered how Pinterest could help those with a business. It does! Because you assign weblinks to your pins, if pinners are inclined they will click through to your website to find out more about the image = traffic! My Google Analytics show referrals from Pinterest daily and the following 8 steps will get you to this stage in no time.

By the end of this post you will be able to

  • Create quick, good looking pins
  • Engage with and gain followers
  • Pull traffic to your site via Pinterest

PS. 2 out 3 most popular articles on our site are also two of my most popular pins (see here and here!)

1. Pretty Pinterest Boards

Create a profile, fill in the usual (you’ll need to verify your website by putting a code in your website), and create boards. You want them to look aesthetically pleasing. Lots of research suggests that one of your first boards should be your blog board so that your followers can keep up to date with your newest posts. Upload your first pin by clicking ‘edit’ and type in the weblink which is associated with your pin or choose ‘upload from site’ and put the web address of the post.

Pinterest For Travel Blogging Newbies

*Annoyingly, Pinterest is split testing, some people will see split board covers

2. How to Create Pins for Pinterest

Photos which are vertical (long), slim and bright get more attention. Currently the best size is 735 x 1102. I use Canva as it offers pre-set Pinterest templates. I edit all images on Lightroom before uploading to Canva, quality is key. You not only want pinners to click on your pins but you want them to pin them to their own boards too!

3. Call Out Pins for Pinterest

When I create a new article I always create a new pin (using Canva, see above) to support it. This lets me tell the world MY ARTICLE HAS LANDED aka, I create a ‘call out’.

Pins with nice images and catchy titles do well on Pinterest. For example, ‘10 Things to do in Ljubljana’. These pins grab even the shortest of attention spans as the reader knows that the article is going to be succinct.

Next I add the pin to my blog article. To do this I upload the Canva template sized pin to Wordpress, add to my post from the media library and then click the pencil on the image to manually resize to 350 x 525. I used to be able to directly save that pin to Pinterest and it would be large but something has changed so I am back to manually uploading the Canva pin to my Pinterest and adding info in edit section, so annoying.

I also add my SEO keywords in the alt tag section (the words I would like to rank for in Google and Pinterest). Finally, I write a quick sentence suggesting that the reader hovers over the pin and saves to their own Pinterest boards (see below for my pin call out for this article – Pinterest for Travel Bloggers).

Here is one of my most popular pins (not the best in my opinion) but there is a statement on it which obviously works!

Pack for success with this female travel packing list. What to pack from backpacks to bras and beauty. Catering for sun, snow, and long-term trips. (1)

4. Keywords on Pinterest

Like Google, Pinterest is a search engine. Users type keywords into the Pinterest search bar and pins associated with those keywords pop up. You want to be in the top line of pins and in order to do that you should use the keywords you want to rank for in the pin description (or the alt tag in Wordpress).

»»» Keywords are not just important for Pinterest, they help you rank of Google too which means you can get an enormous amount of traffic to your site. Come join our Facebook group Make Traffic Happen and check out our dedicated website Make Traffic Happen to find out more. 

5. Pinning & Sharing Pins to Increase Traffic

When I first started using Pinterest I searched for ‘travel’ in the search bar and added the most popular pins to my boards. I also followed 50 travel related accounts per day, to get some numbers behind me. This information worked for me, but with the development of research on how Pinterest works it has become clear that it is not a social media channel, it’s a search engine. However, you still want an audience to show your pins to when you first upload them.

Pinterest For Travel Blogging Newbies Pinterest Search

»»» Want to increase traffic to your site?
»»» Consider optimising every article you write. Scroll to section 9 for guidelines here

6. Group Pinterest Boards

You want to get access to group Pinterest boards so you can share your pins with others who do not follow you. Use Pingroupie to find group boards looking for pinners. Some have instructions on how to apply, just follow that (something like – go to this website and fill out a form). Others don’t, to find out who to contact delete the board name in the URL and hit return. This will take you to the board owner’s page. Click on any advertised social media and contact them politely. Aim for boards with lots of followers but not as many pinners (5000-10.000 followers and more than 20 pinners has been suggested.) Check the first line of photos for the ‘repin’ logo to see how many times the pins are pinned by pinners onto their boards (if none or very low numbers try another board).

Once you are on a board, add a quality pin every day. I have a spreadsheet with all the board names on it and I note down what I’ve shared and which board I pinned it to. Tailwind and Buffer are pin scheduling website so you can set up your pinning before hand.  <—- I can’t afford these just now! Boardbuster is use to re-pin older pins and keep them alive.

I’ve now started being invited to boards as opposed to asking to be on them. I’m having to knock back invites for ones that don’t quite fit our niche as I don’t have the time to commit to pinning every night. I know of bloggers who employ VAs (Virtual Assistants) as they too, as travel bloggers, see the benefit of using Pintersest to drive traffic to their sites, regardless of how big they are in the blogosphere.

*Update – I have started looking at Pinterest analytic and focussing on which group boards have the best repin and click through records, still keeping a record of what I’ve pinned. I like and pin from that group board too.

»»» Here’s a list of the Pinterest group boards I pin to group boards I’m active in

7. Pinterest Plugins for Your Website

There are many plugins which will connect Pinterest with your website – this will allow readers to pin any photos of interest from your site to their boards.

8. Pinterest Facebook Groups

Joining social media sharing Facebook groups has changed my life. Pinterest for Travel Bloggers sets up daily Pinterest share, add your pin to the list and add the others to your own Pinterest boards, other bloggers will do the same for you. I’ve recently joined another group who shares high performing pins (so we repin an original pin), I’m hoping to see positive results, the pin has been successfully thus far, why not push it further?

»»» Facebook groups are the gateway for networking. Here’s the 29+ I’m active in

If you found this useful?

Pin to your blogging Pinterest board for others to see!

Pinterest For Travel Blogging Newbies

Pinterest for Travel Bloggers

Obviously, Pinterest is just one tool in your travel blogging toolkit. It is possible that many of you actually found this post via Google – this shows the strength of good SEO which should not be ignored for social media! SEO is something I wish I had paid more attention to from the start however it has given me an excuse to revisit old posts which need  a bit of love. To find out more on my procedure for blogging check out this post tips to get more blog followers. Pinterest is guilty of creating high bounce rates – blogging needs a balance between all forms of traffic.

Pinterest now allows users to share affiliate links which is something I would like to explore in the near future! Is anyone using it? Let me know how you are getting on in the comments below. Annoyingly, Pinterest has removed the pin count and replaced the icon with a ‘reach graph’. If you make the pin bigger you can see how many repins it has enjoyed by looking at the ‘boards’ at the bottom. You can think about what design/topics works best from this.

Travel Bloggers Pinterest Weekly Task

Assuming you already have a Pinterest account set up (if you don’t, that is task 1),

  • Go to Canva
  • Select the Pinterest template
  • Create a stylish pin using the grids, templates, or free reign
  • Upload to your country specific Pinterest board (remember to edit / link to blog)
  • Join a Pinterest group board
  • Share pin with group board / like and add someone else’s pin
  • Join a Facebook share group and share your pin / share pins from other bloggers

Let me know how you get on the comments below! What worked? What can I tweak?

Next in the series:

Twitter for Travel Bloggers

Pinterest is so useful for traffic and ideas – what have you found that works?


I have no affiliation with any of the websites mentioned above, I just think they are great for growing your Pinterest following and creating very pinnable pins for Pinterest!