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The Dos and Don'ts of Hostel Life

An introduction to hostel etiquettes.

By: Tiffany Young + Save to a List

Hostels are great because it's a source of affordable accommodation for travelers and they come in all sizes, shapes, and colors! Each offers something different for everyone and sometimes it's more than a hostel - it's a home.

But sometime people don't know how to take care of their new home. I've stayed in plenty of New Zealand hostels as a traveler, but this time around I've come back and found work in a hostel. Here are a few good hostel etiquettes to keep in mind!

Hiking around Lake Tikitapu on a beautiful day!

DON'T: Steal from the hostel or travelers.

Once upon a time, I watched as these guys looked at their "options" on the shelf, grab my oil I had just put back, and use it as I cooked next to him. He only asked if he could use it after I said something. Not cool. Also, don't steal the kitchen supplies from the hostel. Or anything else really. Just don't steal. Okay?

DO: Leave behind things you don't need and label "FREE"!

Be a good backpacker and help out your community! Hostels often have a free box or an area for people to leave behind extra food or other things they can't travel with anymore.

Backpacking the Tongariro Northern Circuit at dusk.

DON'T: Arrive at your hostel at 10pm when you booked for 3pm. 

Hostels don't often have 24 hour reception. If you leave us hanging we'll either have to wait for you or you may get locked out. No one wants either of those things to happen!

DO: Communicate with your hostel.

Accidents do happen. So just be in touch with the hostel. They are human as much as you are and will likely understand the situation if you just give us a ring about your current situations.

The best 3 hour hike ever at Lake Marian Track.

DON'T: Leave a mess for hostel workers to clean.

We're not your parents. (Uh, your parents shouldn't be cleaning your mess either if you're mature enough to travel.) It is your responsibility to clean up your mess or someone else will unfortunately have to later. You wouldn't want to walk into a chaotic kitchen space when it's time for you to make dinner, would you? Do your part!

DO: Clean up after yourself (at a reasonable time!)

You're allowed to enjoy your meal while it's hot, but sometimes during rush hour there isn't enough cookware or space for everyone (especially during peak travel season.) So clean while your food is cooking! Save time and it makes it easier in the long run.

The infamous Roys Peak hike.

DON'T: Invite people to come over.

Every hostel is different, but it is not often that hostels allow visitors and when they do there will probably be a designated space and time for that. Hostels that don't allow guest usually make it a point that they are not welcomed (i.e. notes outside and inside.) You pay to stay in the hostel as do other people. No one wants a random at the party.

DO: Go out and find a spot to bring everyone together!

You'll make friends everywhere you go and sometimes they won't be staying at the same place as you. So go out and explore to bring the group together!

The perfect day for a sunset hike on the Pineapple Track.

End of story. This is not like a hotel where you book the room and you can do whatever you want with it. It is a space for you to feel at home with other travelers like yourself! Be considerate. Be kind. Share.

And be a part of the backpacker community! It's awesome, man.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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