Are you planning on staying in a hostel on your next solo trip? If so, then you might be wondering how to survive a hostel as a single girl.
As a woman, you might be hesitant to stay in a hostel because of the stories you’ve heard about men staying there. But don’t worry, there are ways to stay safe in a hostel!
You've heard horror stories from friends about their experiences in hostels, and that can make staying in a hostel on your own and getting used to the communal accommodation daunting for a lot of people – especially if you’re a single girl.
Decide on Your Accommodation
Whatever solo trip you're planning, there are three elements to deciding on which accommodation you're going to stay in. Budget, Location and Quality.
If you're doing it all on a budget, then the cost of the accommodation will be your biggest priority, but you'll compromise on the location or quality, accepting that you might be a bit further out or there'll be shared facilities involved.
If you're looking for a particular location, be that based in the city or a countryside setting, these may come with premium prices if they're popular or idyllic, and so you'll end up paying more and depending on how much you're prepared to pay premium, may determine some of your quality options to. Quality will determine a higher budget, but if you can compromise on the location, you might be able to bring that cost down again. In this post, I'll be taking on a budget-focussed mindset which means you might've contemplated staying in a hostel but as a single girl, you're just not sure about it! I hadn't experienced staying in a hostel as an adult, nor on my own, either, so I challenged myself with the task of doing so, to see if it was a viable option I could use for my solo girl adventures for the future, and here's what I learnt.
Read the Reviews
The shared nature of a hostel means that there is more than just checking the standard of the room; you'll want to know that the visitors of the hostel find the environment friendly, and as a single girl travelling alone, you'll also want to know you'll be safe. Reviews from other travellers are helpful to gauging what the experience was like and whilst there will always be one outstanding review and one terrible review, you're looking for the general consensus of the vibe for the hotel and how safe people felt.
It's useful to review comments about cleanliness and safety, as well as how friendly and helpful staff are, and how the communal areas are used and enjoyed by guests as this is a key part of hostels and making the most of getting to know the other guests.
Make Plans and Stay Safe
If this is your first solo venture, being on your own in an unfamiliar setting may already far enough out of your comfort zone so far that choosing a hostel that has separate dormitories might help you to feel safe and comfortable, particularly as you get used to the shared nature of these spaces.
Shared dormitories are more common, with single-gender options available in many places, as well as mixed. Within each door, beds or bunks are allocated and can include lockable spaces and safes within the hostel, sometimes even in the room. This allows you to keep your most important items safe, and less important items such as your clothes remain in your suitcase. It's unlikely anybody wants the individual items from your suitcase but if you were worried, you could add a travel padlock onto your suitcase too.
It's also worth noting that whilst you don't want to catastrophise that something might go wrong whilst you're away, with any solo journey you should try and make plans that account for being without a charged phone or signal, losing your cards, or needing to deal with an emergency. Small back-up plans such as packing battery packs, having a written copy of important numbers, keeping cash on you, and having emergency funds to get taxis can be useful for ensuring you feel safe. Hopefully, you won't have to use any of them, but you'll give yourself the confidence that you have the resources to help get you through.
Get ready to talk to people
One of the prime advantages to staying in a hostel is that there are so many people to talk to . Hostels are chosen because of the environment, and that can beat the idea of sitting in a hotel room alone and not talking to anyone on a solo adventure for three days! You can even find that people want to explore the local area together, so whether you know much about your surroundings or are in explorer mode, you don't have to do it on your own and can enjoy sections of your trip with others.
Even if you'd prefer to explore and go on adventures on you're own, you can return on an evening to have food in the communal areas, exchanging your experiences and sharing your finds of the day to recommend to others, and get recommendations for the remainder of your stay too!
Most people using a hostel are in the same boat as you - you won't have to work particularly hard to strike up conversation as other people are looking to find people to talk to and spend breakfasts and dinners with too. Knowing that other people are encouraging of conversation and will likely want to engage with other travellers can be a relief for anyone worried about the social pressure of talking to others, but also not wanting to be completely alone for the entire trip.
My experience staying in a hostel was an enjoyable one. For £40 for two nights in London that meant I avoided train strikes and travel disruption, I was pleased to be nearer to the event that I would've had I travelled from Essex both days, saving me both time and money on the experience. I did have to use my emergency fund for the first time - but knowing I had funds available that allowed me to get to where I needed to meant I wasn't phased by the experience. My plan had to change, but my trip wasn't ruined - I spent my first evening talking to two other women travelling from different countries and experiencing London, and the rest of my time was spent going top the event, which I still made despite the disruption on my second night.
Hostels offer a cheap alternative that can put you in useful locations, whilst offering you a safe, community space to meet and talk to others, so that you don't have to spend your entire solo trip on your own!
"The Single Girl's Guide to... Solo Trips" is available from 1st December, with the pre-orders available now at half price! The planner helps you decide on your next solo trip, guiding you through choosing the type of trip, your accommodation options and how to mentally prepare for going away on your own. It also includes hints and tips for travelling solo so that you can enjoying your solo trip away, and can stop worrying you're doing it wrong. Order your digital copy of "The Single Girls Guide to... Solo Trips" planner here.