If you are a budget-minded traveler and are looking for a way to stay some place at the lowest possible cost, then a hostel might do it for you. A hostel is an establishment that provides basic lodging and inexpensive food, and is used by students, workers, and travelers. Hostel rooms are typically shared as are the bathroom facilities. Here is what you need to know about hostels before you stay in one.

1. Research throughly. Hostels have sprung up all over the world. They provide a cheap night’s place to rest, but they are not for everyone. You should learn as much about the place as you can before booking a stay. Place a phone call to speak with a representative if you have questions.

2. Know your sleeping arrangements. Know that hostels feature shared sleeping arrangements. Some have a room or two that are private, but for the most part you will sleep in the same room as strangers. Look for single-sex stays although some rooms are co-ed.

3. Bring your own linens. Most hostels provide linens, but you may feel comfortable with your own sheets in tow. Hostel beds are typically changed as often as its occupants change, but you may feel more peaceful sleeping in sheets that you know have been cleaned.

4. Bring blankets too. Depending on the season, your hostel room may be very warm or it might be chilly. The latter sometimes in the summer, even. Just the same, consider your comfort by bringing with you enough blankets to keep yourself warm. And if you are particularly attached to your pillow, then bring one along too. Bath towels are usually provided.

5. Just keep it quiet. With more than one person in the room, you’ll soon learn more about people’s sleep habits than you might care. That includes snoring — what can ruin a good night’s sleep for anyone. Avoid the disturbance by bringing with you a set of earplugs. Some people bring with them a sleep mask to shut out the light.

6. Protect your valuables. Never assume that your valuables are safe when staying in a room with strangers. Most hostels provide a safe or a locker for a small daily fee. If so, make use of one.

7. Come and go as you please. Most hostels do not provide ’round the clock reception. You may be given a key card to gain access to the building, but you might be restricted from checking in at certain late hours. Check in is typically around 3 or 4 p.m. with checkout as late as 12 noon. Most hostels operate without a curfew.

8. Know your eating arrangements. Some hostels provide light meals for a fee. Others provide a communal cooking area where you are allowed to cook and serve up your own meals. And just as sleep areas are commonly shared, so are most eating areas.

9. Credit cards are usually accepted. Like any stay, most hostels require payment by credit card. Your payment secures the room and also assures that the hostel is paid. Expect that a local hotel tax will be applied to your bill. For example, in New York City, you’ll pay a 14.75 percent tax in addition to your night’s stay.

10. Internet/WiFi access is common. Your night’s stay won’t cost you much and you’ll typically enjoy one amenity that the high-class hotels charge extra for: Internet access. Moreover, your access is often via Wi-Fi, allowing you to check your email in your room, in the bathroom, while in the kitchen or in the courtyard.

Safety Concerns

As with any stay, you should be mindful that some hostels are safer than others. Consider the neighborhood where the hostel is located and the hostel’s reputation. Hostel guests like to share reviews of their experiences, what can help you gauge a particular stay’s appeal or lack of the same.

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