Today’s post is something a little different, while I’m off gallivanting around Europe: a guest blog from the lovely Jess Signet!

How to enjoy a comfortable hostel stay

Staying at hostels while traveling can be a great option for the budget-minded traveler, but there’s no denying that they’re not always the most comfortable places. No-one wants to sacrifice their comfort for the sake of their budget. But if you’re staying in a massive dorm or a place with dirty bathrooms and sheets or a place with unfriendly staff—well, it can be difficult to justify saving that money. Fortunately, you don’t need to choose between sleep or a few extra bucks. With a few simple tricks, you can increase your comfort levels, no problem. Here are my top seven tips and tricks to achieve a more comfortable hostel stay:

1. Pick a nicer hostel.

You definitely want to check the ratings and read the reviews before you book a hostel. Obviously you want to steer clear of any mention of bed bugs, filthy toilets, or anything like that, but I also recommend looking for a place with some atmosphere. It’ll make the whole situation feel a lot more comfortable if you’re on generally friendly terms with the other people staying in your room rather than avoiding eye contact! When in doubt, don’t opt for the cheapest option. It’s okay to stay in a cheaper option, but in most cases, the cheapest option is usually the worst.

How to enjoy a comfortable hostel stay

2. Don’t choose a place far from the city centre, even if it’s a lot cheaper.

Remember, you’ll still probably need to pay and spend some of your valuable time trying to get to the places you want to see. It’s worth it to pay a little bit more for a better place. Even if it’s $10 more than another place, it’s still probably cheaper than a hotel in the area! You’ll also generally find that the more popular hostels are closer toward the main attractions, so if you want to meet friends, you definitely don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere.

3. Choose the smaller room.

Sure, some people are able to sleep in a 20-bed dorm room, but that’s not for everyone! You could try using earplugs and an eye mask, but the thing is, if you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to be able to sleep. And if you’re not able to sleep, you’re setting yourself up for a pretty miserable trip. Increasingly, hostels are offering a broader array of room types. Some hostels even offer private rooms, (like the Backstage Hotel in Amsterdam) and they’re a lot cheaper than what you’d find at hotels!

How to enjoy a comfortable hostel staySome hostels (like Clink78) offer quirky, private rooms!

4. Look for rooms where you’ll feel comfortable.

If you’re a bit uneasy staying in a coed dorm, you can also often find all-male or all-female dorms. Benefits: you won’t have to worry about that couple “quietly” having sex, and you don’t have to feel quite so embarrassed when you open your bag and your underwear comes spilling out! And steer clear of the party hostel if that’s not your scene. Typically, you’ll find that there’s a sort of revolving door on hostel dorms in party hostels, with many guests bringing back strangers from the club or elsewhere. You don’t want to have to worry about that random dude stealing your things on his way out in the morning!

5. Snag the bottom bunk.

If you’ve got the chance to have a bottom bunk, grab it! Not only will this mean you aren’t stuck climbing up and down a squeaky ladder to get into your bed, but it also means that you can tuck a sheet into the frame of the top bunk and hide your space away from the rest of the room. Not only will this cut down on a lot of the light, but it will give you a bit more privacy. You may need to bring your own sheet, though, since many hostels provide you with just enough bedding to sleep beneath!

How to enjoy a comfortable hostel stay

6. Get a sturdy lock.

Even if you’re not traveling with electronics or other valuables, I’d grab a sturdy lock for hostel lockers. Hostels often say online that they have locks available, but more often that not you’ll need to pay a deposit to use these, or you’ll find that they’re cheap and nearly useless! Think you don’t need one? I’ve even read horror stories about people getting their shoes stolen at hostels, which isn’t something you ever want to have to deal with—especially not if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to replace items!

7. Make it feel like home.

In my opinion, a lot of what makes a hostel comfortable is your personal mindset toward it. If you spend the whole time creeping around and feeling as if you’re a trespasser in someone else’s home, you’re not going to have a comfortable stay. If you can kick back and relax in the hostel common room with a book or your tablet, you’re going to have a much more comfortable stay.

Get a group together and cook up some of your favorite foods in the kitchen, or make some friends and invite them for a movie marathon on the nights that you choose to stay in. If you’re facing an error message on Netflix, it’s because the site blocks you from streaming abroad. You can get around this by using a Virtual Private Network to hide your IP address though. There are plenty of little ways you can make the place feel like your cosy home-away-from-home, even if it’s just for a night. If you’re after more suggestions, check out The Travel Hack’s guide to making budget hotels feel more luxurious!

Do you frequently stay in hostels? What advice do you have for other travelers looking for a more comfortable experience? Share with us all in the comments section!

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Many thanks to Jess Signet from Tripelio for writing this fantastic guest post while I’m away. Jess has been obsessed with the beauty and the wonder of the world since before she could walk or even talk! She now blogs all about her incredible adventures on her site, and she aims to make travelling this incredible planet as simple, enjoyable, and exciting as possible for all her readers.