How safe are hostels really? I'm sure you'll have that one friend who travelled to every country you've ever heard of and more who will swear by the safety and comfort of hostels, but really, how safe are they?
This is a pretty popular question even among the most seasoned of travelers and the truth is, hostel safety and comfort can differ quite dramatically from place to place or hostel to hostel. For example, some of the Clever Travel Companion team members offered up their experiences and found that whilst in the deepest rural Thailand they found a hostel on beach with a jacuzzi, rooftop bar and bedside lockers for the grand price of $14 per night, in the centre of Sydney they found themselves in a $500 per week, 18 bed dorm with a single power outlet.
That said, safety and comfort tips will often run more or less the same. Here's some golden rules you should definitely live by if you're staying in Hostels.
1. Research a good one
Naturally the first thing you should do when considering a hostel is check out the place itself, select a good hostel with a reputation for safety and not the opposite. A really great resource for investigating whether a hostel is right for you is Hostelling International. Take a look on their site and you'll certainly rest easier.
2. Use the lockers
Don't feel like a geek or a loser by using the provided lockers. They're there for a reason and if you lose your passport or cash by not using them, you'll feel like even more of a chump. Contact a hostel beforehand and ask about the lockers, do they provide them? Do they cost extra? How safe are they? Where are they located in relation to your bed?
3. Use the lockers, but don't put all your trust in them
Ever heard the saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket"? It applies here. If people are up to no good, if the lockers aren't as secure as you'd hoped and just because its safer, keep your most valuable items on you at all times, even when sleeping. Clever Travel Companion clothing is designed precisely for this purpose, you can use the secret pockets to keep your cell phone, passport and cash on your person at all times and when showering or washing, a potential thief would never think to look in your t-shirt. The clothes are made from a soft yet durable cotton so sleeping in them is very comfortable and they'll last a long time. Think about it, sleeping with your passport in a secret pocket in a tank top under your pyjamas? I'd rather it be there than in a locker.
4. Ask the staff for security advice
In most hostels the staff are also travelers but even if they're not, they're the guys who know what goes on in their place of work, they'll be the guys to speak to if you have any concerns or need advice on staying secure.
5. Copy your passport and email it to you
Really you should do this before you leave the house on any trip, the second you leave your country it is vital that you have your passport at all times. If you lose it, the next best thing is a digital copy. In hostels however its probably a little more important you make sure you have a copy, with so many people coming and going through a single place, things are bound to go missing. With a digital copy you can show the staff and confirm with certainty its yours if they've found it.
6. Drink responsibly
You probably don't need telling with regards to drinking, you know your limits. That said, it's easy to forget when traveling that the same rules do apply. You probably will not have been in a situation like a hostel before; drinking with new people in a new place where you'll all be spending the night. Some people in the hostel may not even be guests, they could be strangers so watch where your alcohol is coming from, if possible only ever get your drinks yourself and keep your limits at the forefront of your mind.
7. If in doubt, travel in a group
You're certain to make friends whilst traveling or staying in a hostel, if any of your new found friends are heading in the same direction, don't be afraid to change your plans slightly so you can stick together. A solo traveler can make an easy target but a group is likely to be avoided by any potential criminals.