For those who aren't quite sure, backpacker hostels in Australia offer budget accommodation, mostly in shared rooms with bunk beds. You might stay for one or two nights, or a whole lot longer.
Some hostels are full of quiet, sensible people, while others are known to be hectic party hostels. The best hostels sit somewhere right in the middle of that scale.
Read on for 10 things that you'll only understand if you've experienced hostel life for yourself... for everyone else there might be some surprises!
1) Sharing a bedroom with strangers
Yes, it’s strange to start with, but everyone is in the same situation. Privacy is virtually non-existent, so everyone respects each others space. Keeping your valuables in a locker is always a good idea, as is wearing some kind of clothing to sleep in, but remember that 99.999% of roommates you’ll encounter are no more a thief or a creep than you are.
2) The unshakeable belief that Fruity Lexia makes you sexier
In fact so does any wine that comes in a 4 litre box, but only, and I repeat only, when consumed within the walls of a backpacker hostel. Being seen drinking goon at parties in the real world will absolutely never, ever get you laid.
3) Getting the bottom bunk
How awesome does it feel when you check into a hostel and find that you’ve scored a bottom bunk with a power point next to it! Top bunks can sometimes feel a bit more private, but going up and down that ladder in the dark soon becomes an absolute pain.
4) Creating an entire meal from stuff left in the free food
It’s true that backpackers never, ever turn down a free feed. But aside from that, the concept of a free food shelf in the hostel kitchen is a little way of paying it forward to each other and reducing food waste. Need some rice or pasta to go with your dinner? Check the free food. Flying home today and don’t want to take your teabags and a jar of Vegemite with you? Leave them on the free food shelf.
5) Writing your name on your food bag
All your food lives in two reusable shopping bags, one on the kitchen shelf and one in the fridge. The chances are your food won’t get nicked, but if your bag’s not clearly labelled with your name, room number and departure date it will be thrown out by staff on fridge cleaning day, or end up on the free food shelf.
6) People having sex in dorms
While all the other beds are occupied. Yes, people do this. Even on top bunks. Most top bunks can handle it, but you won’t know for sure until you’ve tried. As a general rule, the noisier a couple are the less likely it is that they’ve ever met each other before. Think this is absolutely disgusting behaviour and you’d never do it a dorm in a million years? Try spending a year living in hostels and then we’ll talk again.
7) Needing about $10 in coins every week to do your laundry
Even if you do manage to wash your whites separately, girls can be assured that all white bras will end up grey after about six months on the road.
8) Knowing there's never a perfect time to get up
If you get up too early you’ll have to be quiet as a mouse because other people in your room are still sleeping. Same time as everyone else and there'll be a queue for the showers. Sleep in too late and before you’ve even got out of bed to brush your teeth the hostel staff will come waltzing in to change the linen on the empty bunk above you, do the hoovering, and maybe even stop to chat.
9) Going on long distance road trips with a bunch of people you’ve only just met
Back home you wouldn’t dream of having a good laugh with some random strangers at the pub then going on holiday with them a week later. But in the backpacker world, that’s exactly what you do. You might even go all in and buy a car together.
10) Friends disappearing from your life as suddenly as they showed up
You went up the coast sharing tents, beers and maybe even boyfriends, but that’s no guarantee you’ll even see their face on Instagram again once you’ve parted ways. But don’t despair just yet. There’s a really high chance you will form friendships that last a lifetime, you just won’t always know which ones they are until you’re somewhere further down the track.
Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
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