Hostel Life – What it’s Like if You’re NOT a Party Animal

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I write this a month after settling in Brisbane and 8 weeks after arriving in Australia. For the entire time, I have been staying in Hostels. Hostels are cheap easy accommodation for backpackers. They offer central locations with plenty of opportunities to socialise and meet with like-minded people. As a solo traveller, it is a fantastic way to meet new people and make friends. But what is it like to live in a hostel if you are not a party animal? 

My Relationship With Alcohol

I’m 27, and quite old for my age. I have a childish side but not in the parting sense. When I was 18 I enjoyed the few occasions that I went out clubbing with friends but as I got older I realised I valued sleep and a fresh head the next day a whole lot more. By the time I went to university at the age of 21 I was over the clubbing scene. Before I went I convinced myself I was going to revisit my late teens and party throughout freshers and make loads of friends. 

Instead, I arrived a little nervous, met my roommate, who was fab and up for a laugh but was similar to the real me that wanted to get a good nights sleep. At Bournemouth University freshers lasts 2 weeks. I think we went out a total of 2 times and the latest I got back to bed was 1 am. 

I have had the odd night out in recent years where I have been enjoying myself with close friends and really let loose but in general, I prefer a takeaway, pj’s, a bath and an early night to getting drunk and being out until the early hours. I did love dancing if only I had the confidence to dance like a nutter before 10 pm on 2 glasses of wine!

Solo Travel and Alcohol 

I was very aware that coming I was on my own and I needed to be sensible. I now know my limits and have more self-control to stick to them I also know that I don’t function well without sleep. For me enjoying a full day is more important than letting loose on a night out. On my 18 Day East Coast Tour I was sensible. There were a lot of early starts and a lot of long days, so for me, there weren’t many opportunities to really let my hair down alcohol wise. 

So as an introvert who doesn’t drink a lot and loves her sleep, how have I dealt with hostel life?

It has certainly tested me. On the tour, we were not in any one place long enough to complain. We didn’t stay more than 2 nights at one hostel. Our first Hostel in Syndey which was a “Wake Up Hostel” really set the bar. The rooms were clean and modern. The bunkbeds where sturdy each with their own light and a plug socket and the communal facilities where decent. From Sydney onwards, there were some less attractive options. 

We had smaller rooms, bigger rooms, noisier rooms and in Noosa, we pretty much slept outside in a glamping experience. Most nights I was cold, particularly in Noosa, but most nights I did not notice any noise. I think on a lot of occasions we had the longest jam-packed days that we were all so tired and ready to hit the hay at around 10 pm anyway. 

Mixing it Up

When Sophie and I left the group we had to mix with more people in the hostel rooms so I had my first experience of a mixed hostel. We stayed at Bounce. It was a lively party hostel, and we were staying in a 10-bed mixed dorm. The actual hostel was decent. Again we had our own lights and plugs and sturdy beds. But the bar at Bounce was bouncing until the early hours and we felt like we were right next door. Somehow I still managed to sleep ok. By this point, I thought I was a pro and that I could handle hostel life. It was more the constant living out of a suitcase that was frustrating and I wanted a normal routine. 

As Sophie and I travelled south the Hostels became more questionable. The bunk beds at Base on Magnetic Island where the squeakiest beds I have ever slept in and meant I had a night of very broken sleep. In Agnes water, we stayed in a beautiful little hostel that was really lovely. The only fault was it was freezing. It was like being back in Noosa, we felt like we had slept outside. 

Living in a Hostel For More Than A Week

Arriving in Brisbane I knew the hostel. It was the same hostel we had stayed in on the tour on the way up the coast, Base Backpackers. I love to have something familiar to me when I know everything else was changing. This is where Sophie left me, I was on my own and looking for work so to know the hostel and some of the area was reassuring. I actually ended up in the exact same room as when I had been a few weeks before. And this is where I stayed until this week. 

On my first night, I experienced the female solo traveller welcome I had been told about. As soon as I arrived I was invited out for dinner and drinks with my new roommates. They were lovely and I had a good time. It was nice to come back to the hostel after a day of job hunting to talk to familiar people. I got to know their habits within a couple of days and everything was good. It was as people started to come and go that I started to struggle more and more with hostel life. 

Life in a Hostel Long Term is Tough

I was hoping that settling would be good that I would love the routine and I could spread out a bit being in one room for a while. Finding a job was a lot harder than expected so I ended up staying a lot longer than expected. This meant I got to room with so many different people. In some cases this was brilliant in other cases this was a nightmare. I met some lovely people. Some which I connected with instantly and I am still in touch with and hope to meet up with again this year.

Others who drove me insane. I have stayed in a female-only room so I thought that it would be more pleasant than a mixed room. But everyone has their own routines, habits and quirks. Some people stay up late, some go for nights out. Others get up early for work. The finest of them all come in at 2 am have a shower, blow-dry their hair and then go to bed. 

People young and old have stayed in the room. The older ladies waking every few hours to use the bathroom and some making the strangest noises. One morning I cut a lady up in the queue for the bathroom as she spent 10 + minutes going in and out of the bathroom getting all the things she needed. I had an interview that day so just jumped in the shower while she was deciding on her socks. 

Don’t Let it Put You Off

I have had some of the worst nights sleep I think I have ever had in the last few weeks. When it seems never-ending looking for work and just hoping to find something so you can escape hostel life it can get you down. But even though my tolerances for people are being tested, the good people I have met make it all completely worth it. If I had taken that first sales job I was offered and moved out of the hostel I never would have met some of the girls that I now consider friends and good connections to have in Australia should anything go wrong. 

Every few days I have a good encounter with a fellow traveller who we can share out experience and struggles. Just today I was sat watching a Gary Vaynerchuck video on YouTube a guy came up to talk to me about his interest in motivational speakers and personal development type stuff. He said he struggles with the other guys in his room going out every night when he would rather stay in and learn and better himself, watching and listening to that kind of thing. 

I think this shows that no matter what kind of person you are there will be parts of your personality, interests and hobbies that you can find some kind of connection within others. I have met people who are travelling because they have come out of relationships, people who are travelling because they don’t know what career that want or they are not ready for one yet. People who are into personal development and just nice down to earth people who are welcoming to everyone no matter what that idea of a good evening is. 

To Sum Up

Hostel life is hard, whether you are a party animal or a good book and an early night kinda girl. But look for the positives and they are not hard to find. The people and experiences you get as a result are well worth the struggles. My sister told me before I left to take an eye mask and earplugs. They didn’t really appeal to me until last week. Now I wish I had listened to her. So my advice would be to take the good with the bad and bring an eye mask and earplugs. 

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