Hostel Etiquette

Are you about to stay in a hostel for the first time and don’t know “the rules”? Have you stayed in hostels countless times but aren’t sure if you follow the unspoken rules? Have you stayed in hostels all over the world and you’re confident that you already know it all? No matter which category you fall into, you should read on to make sure you’re not “that guy” when you hostel travel. Nobody wants to dorm with a shitty roommate and hopefully you don’t want to be that roommate!


In most hostels they give you clean sheets when you check in and it’s up to you to make your own bed. It’s common courtesy to bring the sheets back to the front desk at check out. Don’t be afraid to turn your pillow and sheets the opposite direction of everyone else to face away from the light or windows. Your sleep is important!


If your clothes are wet and smelly, hang them outside of the room, in a sunny, well ventilated area. This is why most hostels have multiple clothing lines outside. Don’t hang items on the fan, or any other shared area within your dorm room, no one wants to smell your stink. If your hostel has laundry facilities, don’t put your clothes in the washer then leave for 8 hours, come back in a reasonable amount of time to remove your wet clothes and hang them so another guest can use the washer.


If you’re in a place with mosquitoes, be very mindful about lights, windows, and doors. Light attracts mosquitoes, so if the lights are on, the windows and doors should be closed. Fans will help deter mosquitoes, but they don’t solve the issue completely. Consider stopping by a local convenience store or hardware store to pick up an electrical mosquito repellant for the room if you’ll be staying more than one night and the room already has mosquitoes. These electrical repellants plug into the wall, are highly effective for up to 30 days, and don’t produce a human-detectable odor. We use them at our home in Brazil and they work wonderfully.


Don’t pee in the shower. No one wants to smell your piss. Don’t take a 30 minute shower. No one wants to wait hours to get cleaned up and go explore for the day. This is not your house. As I mentioned in my last post about Hostel FAQs don’t forget your shower sandals.

Hooking up
Full disclosure, I’ve never done it. But it’s an easy rule, just don’t. At least not if you’re in a dorm room. You may think you’re quiet and no one hears you, but trust me they do. Buy a private room from the get-go if you’re looking to hookup, or transfer to one if it’s available and you just can’t wait.


Be friendly, say good morning, talk to people! Be mindful of your mood, a smile goes a long way in all areas of life, hostel life is no different.

Quiet time

At night, sleep with your phone on silent. Don’t stay up late talking in your dorm on your phone or to another roommate. That is what the common areas in a hostel are for. Everyone is traveling from different time zones, so don’t assume just because of the time of day (or night) that it’s okay to be loud in your dorm.

Early mornings & late nights

Traveling schedules can get crazy, often calling for early wake up times.. and a night out dancing can easily turn into coming “home” at 4, 5, or 6 am in some countries. If you know you’re going to fall into one of these categories have your toiletries, towel, or whatever else you’ll need to access in the middle of the night organized and easy to reach so you don’t wake other travelers shuffling through your luggage.


Keep the lights off in the dorms unless it’s absolutely necessary. I usually travel with a little mini flashlight that I leave out on my pillow in case I come home late, and all cell phones have flashlights these days too.

The kitchen

Hostels have common area kitchens for cooking and food storage that all guests share. Put your name on your food. Don’t take what’s not yours. Leave it at least as clean as you found it. It’s simple really.

Posted rules

Hotels usually have a bullet list of rules at the reception regarding check in and check out times, quiet times, linens & towels, bar hours, etc. So if you’re unsure of your hostels specific policy regarding something, look for this list, don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask! Most hostel workers are travel junkies as well and are happy to help you with what you need!

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