Most often if you’re staying in hostels you will have to either carry all of your luggage on your back or store it in their luggage room. While some luggage rooms are highly regulated, others allow you to come and go as you please. Luggage rooms are most often unlocked closets stuffed to the top with other backpacks and duffel bags, so unless you plan on locking your bag, it is not as safe and secure as you might be used to with a hotel. Some hostels will have lockers that you can use. These lockers will most likely not come with locks, so either bring your own, or see if the hostel has locks to rent out. If you do choose to bring your own lock, while the typical 30-number locks (see right) are probably the safest, you may have to suffice for a suitcase lock in the interest of weight on your back.
When you’re staying in your hostel, you are at a prime risk for being robbed. Most likely you will have your passport, wallet, a cell phone, and money with you when you travel, all of which can be stolen while you sleep. Locks may prevent someone from getting into your backpack but it may not necessarily stop them from taking your backpack altogether. For the most part, other hostel guests will respect your stuff, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Suggestions for where to put your valuables include putting your passport around your neck, putting your wallet either in your pillow or in your jeans pocket (but only if you plan on sleeping in your jeans), and even sleeping with your backpack like you would sleep holding a teddy bear (it is suggested that you still lock your backpack when doing this).
|Wall Art in a Hostel [Credit: Julie Wagner]|
As mentioned earlier, if you’re staying in a hostel backpacking through Europe, you’re most likely carrying everything on your back. While you may be tempted to bring a full sized towel along with soap and shampoo, carrying all that extra weight will get old after a week or two. Instead of bringing a full sized towel, bring a hand towel. It will be much lighter and get the job done (for the most part). If you have the money, feel free to buy a new travel sized shampoo and body wash whenever you run out, however, if money is tight, remember that hostels will have hand soap for free, and although rather unpleasant, they also get the job done.