The following is a guest post by fellow travel blogger, Jess Signet from Tripelio.
Traveling is one of the most incredible experiences you can have in your life. That’s an undeniable and largely unquestioned fact. However, it’s also fair to say that when traveling it’s easy to miss some of your favorite home comforts. When moving around constantly and staying in hostels, your “home life” can become quite impersonal and formulaic. However, this can easily be remedied with a few simple changes to turn your backpacking hostel into a home away from home. Whether you’re in the middle of Thailand or traveling through the United States, these tips will help you to feel right at home in your hostel no matter what country you’re in.
Build A Home Cinema System
Let’s face it, one of the greatest home comforts that there is, is snuggling up in your pajamas with your duvet and settling down for a movie marathon. Even when traveling, there are some nights where you don’t want to go out and would rather just snuggle in. Unfortunately, many hostels aren’t equipped with lounge areas, and the ones that are usually don’t have a TV—especially not a TV with all your favorite shows and movies on.
Luckily, there is a solution, and it doesn’t involve lugging around all your favorite DVDs and home cinema system. All you have to do is grab your phone, tablet, laptop or whatever piece of technology you have brought with you, and find a cozy corner. This can be in the hostel lounge, dining room or even just your own bed. Curl up, log on to Netflix or another of your favorite streaming sites, plug in your headphones and shut the world out.
Check out our recommendations for the best travel movies streaming on Netflix.
So maybe it’s not the same as surround sound and a widescreen, but it’ll definitely help make those lazy days in the hostel a little bit easier to cope with. However, be sure to remember to use a VPN when using Netflix abroad as much of its content is geo-blocked so you might not be able to access your favorite shows.
Personalize Your Hostel Bed
When hostelling, your bed is basically your only private space. Unfortunately, many hostel beds can leave a lot to desire in terms of comfort and coziness. However, it’s an undeniable fact that if you personalize your bed space, you’ll automatically feel more at home. This can be done easily no matter how lightly and heavily you’re traveling. Whether you’re bringing your own blankets and pillows, or double up scarfs, cuddly jumpers and travel cushions to create a makeshift bed of your dreams!
If you’re traveling with non-digital photos (you know the kind you print!) you can even stick them up if you want to really go for it. Sure, other hostels users might think you’re a tad crazy, but the familiarity and comfort that it will bring you when you return from a long day out and settle down for bed is unmatchable and totally worth it.
Get to Know Your New “Family”
One of the best ways to feel at home in a hostel is to make friends with the people around you. Many of us are guilty of just checking in and then spending all our time there doing our own thing and ignoring our neighbors, aside from the occasional “hi” when you pass each other in the breakfast room. Hostels are a great place to meet a whole range of interesting people, and once you feel comfortable with those around you, you automatically feel more comfortable in your environment.
This also refers to the hostel staff. More often than not, people who work in hostels do so because they’re friendly, interesting people who love to travel as much as their guests. Make friends with them, and you’re sure to get some great tips and hear some interesting stories, as well as maybe even wrangle another scoop of cereal out of them at breakfast time. Plus, once you’ve formed relationships when traveling, you never know where in the world you’ll meet up with them again.
Make Yourself a Home Cooked Meal
Lots of hostels have kitchen facilities, and more often than not, we don’t go near them. It’s easier to grab a bite to eat from the restaurant across the road or the local takeaway than actually prepare your own. However, nothing christens a new home better than making and sharing a lovingly cooked meal in its kitchen (just don’t leave a mess and be one of ‘those’ hostel people). It’s surprising how much performing every day tasks such as cooking can make somewhere feel like home.
You could even splurge on extra ingredients, cook a massive pot and share the food with other guests. This is a great way to make friends, get conversations going and maybe even get some help with the washing up! It can even be made into a full days activity, starting off by spending the morning browsing the local market and getting tips and recipes for making the local cuisine before heading back to your home away from home and cooking up a feast.
Choose the Right Hostel
Finally, not all hostels are equal. Every hostel has a uniquely different feel to it and this overall atmosphere goes a long way to determine whether you feel comfortable there or not. When booking your hostel, try to get an idea of what you want. Some people aim for social, party hostels, equipped with bar and resident bar crawl tour; whereas others want peace and quiet and more family-friendly fun. Even the difference in decoration and aesthetic style is important when decidinng which to choose.
By identifying what you want, and what is important to you in order to feel at home, you can do your research and pick the perfect hostel for you to stay in. Doing this also increases the chance that you’ll make some close friendships during your stay as many guests will have done the same thing and therefore will be extremely likeminded. There’s no better way to feel at home than to find a place that you feel comfortable in, with people who you genuinely get along with.
How else do you make a hostel feel like home?
It’s certainly true that no hostel will ever feel completely like your home, but with these few easy steps, you can certainly go a long way to improving the situation. Every traveler is susceptible to a bout of homesickness now and again, so having a few tactics to relieve that is always a wise thing to do. If you have any more tips on how to make a hostel feel like home, then be sure to comment below and share them with the world!