Are hostels safe?

Whether you're planning to tour Europe on a budget or backpack around the world, you'll probably stay in a few hostels. Hostels are significantly less expensive than hotels (especially in Western Europe), and most travelers end up enjoying the experience. Crashing in a hostel is also a great way to connect with other travelers. Hostels tend to be safe and well run, but there are always exceptions. Following a few safety tips can help you avoid any problems.

What is a hostel?

A hostel is a cross between a no-frills hotel and a dorm. Each room features multiple bunk beds, along with shared shower and toilet facilities. Most rooms can accommodate anywhere between four and 10 travelers. While you won't get much privacy in a hostel, the low cost can be well worth it. After all, you traveled overseas to see the sites, not to lounge around all day in a luxury hotel room. Many hostels have female-only rooms, but most rooms are unisex.

Finding a safe hostel

Sharing a room with strangers might sound risky, but most hostels are as safe hotels. After all, it isn't easy to steal someone's stuff with a bunch of other people in the room. Before you travel, check the online reviews for hostels and look for comments about safety and security. And research the area to see if anyone has experienced problems with crime.

How to stay safe when staying in a hostel

Protect yourself by following these tips:

  • Arrive during the day and ask the receptionist to show you the room before you pay. Women: Look for hostels with women-only dorms or floors.
  • Store your valuables in the hostel locker whenever you head out to tour the sites. Bring a padlock, as most hostels require you to supply your own lock.
  • Don't leave your passport, credit cards, or other important documents in your backpack or bag. Keep everything on your person in a money belt or travel pouch.
  • Sleep with your electronic devices inside your pillowcase or sleeping bag.
  • Personalize your laptop or smartphone with stickers (or disguise it with tape) to make it look less appealing to would-be thieves.
  • Drink responsibly and stay alert, especially if you've just arrived in a new place.
  • Listen to your gut and don't be afraid to walk away if you have any doubts about a particular hostel.

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