The Introvert’s Guide to Hostels
Deciding to stay in a hostel is a daunting prospect for many travelers. As an introvert who relies on alone time to recharge after a long day of sightseeing, staying in hostels is even more daunting. I’ve decided to share my hostel tips for introverts to alleviate some common worries.
I’ve spent the last four months almost exclusively staying in hostels around Europe and have lived to tell the tale. In fact, I’ve thrived in hostel environments. Hostels provide obvious advantages for solo travelers on a budget and I’ll sing their praises forever for making expensive destinations like Switzerland, Paris, and Santorini possible for me.
Over the years, I’ve learned to adapt each hostel to my needs as an introvert. Today, I’m sharing my hostel tips for introverts so that you too can survive and thrive in the hostel environment.
Hostel Tips for Introverts
Choose your hostel wisely
Not all hostels are made equal. Pay attention to the way the hostel is presenting itself with images and descriptions. Look for words like “relaxing" or “charming" in the description instead. The reviews for Valley Hostel in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland pictured above used words like “quaint" and “cute" so I knew it would fit my style before I even arrived.
Take a glance through the reviews that former guests have left as well. The kind of language they use can be very telling. A bar crawl every night might sound like fun on paper, until your realize it means your roommates will probably be the loud, raucous type.
Look for inviting common spaces
It might seem counterintuitive to consider ample common spaces a good thing for introverts. Personally, I would always favor hostels with outdoor spaces like a patio or garden.
Spaces to encourage socializing might seem like a nightmare to some introverts, but think of it another way. More common spaces mean a better chance of finding a cozy corner of your own to read a book in or a more natural way to meet like-minded travelers. They also provide an alternative to your dorm room if you’re feeling overwhelmed by extroverted roommates.
Pod hostels are your friend
A pod hostel is a hostel that provides each traveler with their own “pod" or cubby to sleep in. Unlike traditional hostels with bunk beds, pods have closed sides and usually a curtain at the end. They also typically have outlets, shelves and reading lights in each pod. The image below is of CODE pod hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland that I would recommend over and over again.
In other words, pod hostels provide much more privacy than traditional hostels. They typically aren’t as social as traditional hostels, so they can be a great way to recharge your internal batteries if you’re feeling burnt out by the hostel scene.
Experiment with room size
As an introvert, my initial instinct was to book the smallest hostel rooms possible. Less people means a happier introvert, right? Not always. You might find yourself the only outsider in a group of three friends traveling together or, worse, the only introvert in a room of energetic extroverts.
I personally found that a larger room meant more chances of meeting people that I could get along with. Plus, larger rooms tend to be friendlier on the budget.
On the other hand, many hostels also offer private rooms. They are more expensive than shared dormitories, but less expensive than hotels.
Find what works for you and your travel style by experimenting with different hostel room sizes for yourself. This hostel tip takes some time to get right, but it might be worth it if you’re long term traveling.
Be the first to say "hello"
Another counterintuitive hostel tip for introverts. As introverts, we’re generally not the ones to jump head first in a conversation. When you’re sharing a room or bunk with someone, it can get really awkward if you don’t say hi.
To avoid a tornado of anxious “what should I do?" and “should I have said something?" thoughts, be the first one to say a quick hello. I found that getting the small talk and chit-chat out of the way early was always a more enjoyable experience than waiting until someone else involved me in the conversation.
If you find yourself enjoying the conversation, you might have a new friend or dinner companion on your hands. I’ve made some great travel friends this way. If the conversation is just so-so, you can go right back to burying your nose in your book knowing that they don’t think of you as the weirdly mute girl in bunk two.
Wake up early
If you find it especially hard to find time for yourself while traveling in hostels, the easiest way to carve out space for yourself is to claim it while everyone else is sleeping. Wake up 15 minutes before the rest of your room and you’ve got the freshest coffee from the (hopefully free) hostel breakfast, the first hot shower of the day, and time to read or journal in peace.
As a bonus, you’ll see a more authentic side of the city if you’re up when the locals are starting their days and you’ll probably beat the crowds to major tourist attractions.
Relax in the early afternoon
It’s not a foolproof hostel tip for introverts, but I’ve found that most hostel dorm rooms are empty in the early afternoon. The late sleepers have made their way out into the world and the newbies checking in haven’t arrived yet. Prime time to catch up on whatever it is you like to do on your own.
What do you think of these hostel tips for introverts? What tips would you add to this list?