Beds inside a hostel room

Are Hostels Safe? (Honest Guide & Tips for 2022)

One of the best ways to cut down on travel expenses is by opting for a hostel room instead of a hotel room. But of course, many people get a little twitchy when they hear this and wonder, “are hostels safe?

I’ve stayed in tons of hostels over the years, and my simple answer is: yes, hostels are safe! But there are some things you should do to protect your personal safety.

Once you’re familiar with all the do’s and don’ts of hostel life, you’ll come to find it’s actually one of the most fun ways to travel. And if you want to take it a step further, then you’ll find there are plenty of hostel jobs available.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

Are Hostels Safe?

Generally speaking, most hostels are very safe to stay in. However, all travelers should be aware of the potential risks and protect themselves accordingly. Hostel life can be incredibly rewarding, but you do need to be careful of petty theft and ongoing issues with the pandemic. 

If you’re finding yourself pondering the question of “are hostels safe?”, then have no fear! I’ve stayed at hostels all over the world, and I’m here to give you the lowdown on the reality of hostel safety. There are so many hostels around the world, and with a few essential travel tips, travel insurance, and research, you can have incredible experiences at them. 

Our Pick
HostelWorld
4.7

If you’re wondering how to book a hostel, then look no further than Hostelworld. They have a worldwide selection of hostels, each rated and reviewed by real travelers.

Things to Know About Safety in Hostels

The author's friends sitting on a colorful hotel in Bogota, Colombia
A colorful hotel I stayed at with some friends in Bogota, Colombia

Covid-19 Safety in Hostels

While hostels seem like the antithesis of Covid-19 safety, there are surprisingly a lot of ways to stay healthy and safe at hostels. 

These days many hostels are taking their cleaning and sanitizing procedures very seriously. Hand sanitizer is readily available, and depending on the country, the hostel might ask you to wear a mask in common areas. Other hostels are reducing the number of guests they allow in the dorm rooms to limit close contact. 

If you’re still worried about Covid-19 safety, but want the hostel experience, just book one of the private rooms! They give you all the benefits of staying at a hostel with a little more privacy. 

For an added layer of protection, grab some travel insurance with Covid-19 protection. One of my favorites is World Nomads travel insurance because it comes with a really comprehensive plan. 

Crime in Hostels

Like anywhere else, crimes can happen in hostels. Since you’re staying in a communal environment with lots of strangers, it opens the door for more crimes to occur. But you can minimize the risks by being prepared and protecting yourself. 

💰 Petty Theft – The most common crime that goes down in hostels is petty theft. To protect yourself from this, leave valuables locked away in your provided locker and never leave your electronics out charging, even if you trust everyone in the room. The Pacsafe Venturesafe is perfect for securing your valuables and is one of our most recommended travel backpacks.

🛑 Other Crimes – More dangerous crimes have happened at hostels. Trust your gut and if you don’t feel comfortable somewhere, leave immediately. It’s always better to lose a few bucks than it is to potentially put yourself in jeopardy. 

Common Scams in Hostels 

There aren’t really any scams that are hostel-specific. Other than maybe getting your stuff stolen. But you should still be mindful of the most common travel scams because scammers do target areas with lots of tourists. 

👜 Pickpocketing –  The most popular scam in many countries is pickpocketing. This tends to be more common in areas with lots of tourist traffic, like hostels. Whenever you go out exploring, wear a money belt under your clothes to keep your cash safe. 

🚕 Taxi Cons – There are a number of different taxi cons. Such as the “broken meter” scam where the driver shuts their meter and tells you they’ll calculate the price on their own. Hostel guests who are excited to see a new place are often targeted for these types of scams. To avoid this common scam, always ask how much it’ll be for a ride before you get in or use a reliable rideshare service. 

🆓 Free Stuff – This scam might sound a little counterintuitive, but it’s very popular around the world. Someone will offer you a free bracelet, food item, knick-nack, etc. Once you’re eating or wearing it, the item suddenly costs money, and you need to pay up. Never accept something you’re not willing to pay for. 

Solo Female Travelers’ Safety in Hostels

Solo female travelers have a whole extra set of things to worry about when it comes to their safety. But that doesn’t mean they can’t safely stay at hostels. 

I traveled around Asia for six months as a solo female traveler, and I stayed at all types of hostels. It was amazing, and I absolutely love hostels, but I used common sense to keep myself safe. 

I tend to feel comfortable staying in co-ed dorms depending on the country I’m in. However, if you aren’t comfortable in a co-ed dorm, there are almost always female-only dorms or private rooms available for an extra cost. 

You should also research the location you’re visiting before deciding on staying in a mixed dorm. 

👉 Pro Tip: When booking your hostel through Hostel World, filter your search for “Female Dorms.” This will give you hostels that have the option of female-only roommates.

Our Pick
HostelWorld
4.7

If you’re wondering how to book a hostel, then look no further than Hostelworld. They have a worldwide selection of hostels, each rated and reviewed by real travelers.

9 Safety Tips for Hostels

Tip #1 – Lock Up Your Valuables

A quote displayed in a hotel

One of the biggest travel tips to keep your stuff safe is to lock it up whenever you’re away. It’s easy to feel safe at a hostel once you get in a groove. Everyone is so friendly and ready to be friends. But, the truth is, you never know whose coming or going from a hostel. 

It’s always better to lock your things away at the hostel with your own combination lock. Even when you’re just taking a quick shower. At the very least, it gives you peace of mind to go have as much fun as you want without worrying that someone is stealing your things. At the most, it saves you from losing everything. 

Tip #2 – Know the Types of Hostels

The author with her new friends on a Krabi Balcony Party Hostel
Hanging with some new friends at a party hostel in Krabi, Thailand

Choosing the right hostel for you on HostelWorld depends on exactly what you’re looking for. And, you’ll definitely want to spend some time figuring out what type of hostel you like because it’s a nightmare if you’re not in the mood. 

There are all different types of hostels out there: 

  • 🧒 – Youth hostels 
  • 🇪🇺 – European hostels
  • 🎉 – Party hostels
  • 🛏️ – Chill hostels
  • 💻 – Co-working hostels
  • 🌳 – Eco-hostels
  • 🏰 – Luxury hostels

If you’re a middle-aged couple on a worldwide excursion, you might want to avoid a youth hostel that will likely attract a lot of late nights and noise. If you’re a party animal with a group of friends, you’ll probably want to steer clear of a serious co-working hostel. 

👉 Pro Tip: Keep in mind that staying at a party hostel is no joke. When they say party, they mean partying all night long. So, only stay there if you’re ready for that ride. Alternatively, these types of hostels usually have bars that you can visit for the party and then return home to a quiet bed when you’re done. 

Tip #3 – Join Bar Crawls or Walking Tours

Tourists wandering in an area in Bangkok, Thailand
(photo: i viewfinder / Shutterstock)

Hostels aren’t just a budget-friendly way to travel the world, they’re also a terrific way to make friends with fellow travelers. You’ll probably make a bunch of friends when you spend time in shared spaces at the hostel. 

But, if you’re having trouble breaking the ice, a great hack is to join a bar crawl or walking tour with GuruWalk. These are automatic social settings as everyone is there to meet new people and have an amazing time.

Tip #4 – Book Private Rooms

View of a treehouse-style hostel at night in Colombia
A treehouse-style hostel in the beach town of Palomino, Colombia

I’m a total introvert at heart, so I know as well as anyone how overwhelming hostels can get. Luckily, there’s a pretty easy way to enjoy the benefits of staying in a hostel while still having a bit of privacy: booking a private room. 

Staying in a private room at a hostel will always be a little more expensive, but they’re usually cheaper than renting hotels or AirBnBs throughout your trip. Plus, you’ll still be able to meet like-minded travelers in the communal spaces. It’s the best of both worlds!

Our Pick
HostelWorld
4.7

If you’re wondering how to book a hostel, then look no further than Hostelworld. They have a worldwide selection of hostels, each rated and reviewed by real travelers.

Tip #5 – Be Considerate of Other Travelers and Hostel Staff

A homemade dinner served in a hostel in Vietnam
A homemade dinner at a homestay-style hostel in Ha Giang, Vietnam

When you’re staying in a hostel, you need to make a conscious effort to be considerate of the people around you. That includes the other hostel guests and staff. 

Keep it quiet at night in the dorms when other people are trying to sleep. On the flip side, if you’re waking up early, don’t snooze your alarm a million times. Clean up after yourself when you use the kitchen or laundry facilities. These are just the basic courtesies of staying in a place with a bunch of other people. 

👉 Pro Tip: It’s pretty common to have an early flight, train, or tour. If you are getting up at the crack of dawn, try to pack your stuff the night before. That way, you can just grab your bags and go without disturbing the dorm too much. 

Tip #6 – Get Travel Insurance  

View from a hostel's bathroom in Colombia
This was the insane view from a bathroom at a hostel in Minca, Colombia

You should never embark on any trip without the safety net of travel insurance. This is especially important if you’re going on a big trip and staying in hostels. You may even want to consider investing in an annual travel insurance plan.  

If your stuff gets stolen or if you get sick and need to return home, your travel insurance will have your back. Even if you don’t end up needing it, it feels good to know you’re protected if anything goes down. 

There are lots of travel insurance options out there. But, out of all of them, I’d go for World Nomads travel insurance. It’s top-of-the-line, reliable insurance that almost every seasoned traveler has in their back pocket. 

My Top Choice
World Nomads
4.7
Whether you’re gone for a week or a year, World Nomads travel insurance is a great idea. Protect your things, your bookings, and yourself.
Pros:
  • Simple & flexible
  • Balances price & quality
  • Upfront transparency about covid (no insurer covers all covid risks, but at least they explain it!)
Cons:
  • Not available to seniors 70+ in USA (or 65+ in other countries)

Tip #7 – Consider Work Stays

Colorful sky over a beach in Langkawi, Malaysia
Sometimes you’ll get lucky enough to find a hostel right by the beach, like this one in Langkawi, Malaysia

Many people want to travel the world but think it’s just too expensive for regular people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are lots of ways to make a trip more economical. Yes, you can stay in hostels, but you can even take it a step further by working at the hostels you’re visiting. 

Lots of hostels offer young people a chance to work a few days per week and stay at their accommodation free of charge. Thankfully, you can find jobs, look at reviews, and apply for jobs via the online service Worldpackers.

But finding a hostel job is easier than you might think. Most of the time, all it takes is asking. I met people in my travels who successfully wandered for years this way. It’s the perfect solution to cut down on accommodation costs.

Tip #8 – Bring the Hostel Necessities

People laying on a giant hammock in Colombia
This hostel in Minca, Colombia was well-known for its giant hammocks over the depths of the jungle

There are a few items that you’ll absolutely need if you plan on staying at hostels. A padlock for the lockers. An eye mask and ear plugs for when you’re going to bed. I’d even recommend bringing some melatonin for when you’re having trouble falling asleep (trust me, it’ll happen). 

Besides the sleeping necessities, you’ll need shower stuff. Pick up a water-resistant toiletries bag, like this Bagsmart Toiletry Bag Travel Bag, and a pair of flip-flops. Remember, you’ll be sharing a shower with potentially dozens of people. So, you don’t want to walk into those showers without shoes. 

The list goes on, but this covers the basics. 

🏨 Read Next: What are the differences between a hostel and a hotel?

Tip #9 – Read Recent Reviews Before Booking

Two people on a pool with an overlooking of nature
When you stay at hostels, you could be paying super low prices for incredible amenities

Staying in hostels can be an incredible experience. That is unless you end up in a bad one. A bad hostel can mean anything from being dirty or outdated to being straight-up dangerous. Even though hostels are generally safe, you still want to make sure. 

That’s why everyone should comb through the recent reviews of a hostel before booking it. Especially solo female travelers. If you end up finding great reviews, amazing! Book away. But, if there are some questionable stories in there, start searching elsewhere. 

Our Pick
HostelWorld
4.7

If you’re wondering how to book a hostel, then look no further than Hostelworld. They have a worldwide selection of hostels, each rated and reviewed by real travelers.

FAQs About Safety in Hostels

Why should you not stay in a hostel?

There are a few reasons to avoid a hostel including noise, lack of privacy, and not knowing the people you’ll be sharing a dorm room with.

Will my stuff get stolen in a hostel?

Chances are you won’t get your stuff stolen at a hostel if you’re using smart judgment and making an effort to keep your valuables safe. Most hostels provide lockers to stow your things away, although you should always use your own padlock.

Are hostels scary?

Hostels are far from scary. Even though many people have heard horror stories about staying in hostels, they’re actually incredibly fun and a perfect way to save money. Hostels make it easy to find friends as a solo traveler.

How do I know if a hostel is safe?

The best way to know if a hostel is safe is by reading the hostel reviews before booking. You can find the most reviews on Hostelworld. Other travelers will tell you the truth about a hostel. If it’s dirty and loud, they’re going to say that. If the front desk personnel and hostel staff are incredible, they’ll tell you that too. Trust other travelers to find the best hostels. 

👉 Read Next: Hotel or Airbnb – Which is Better?

***

Thanks for reading my safety guide to staying in hostels. You’re officially a pro at hostel safety! Get ready to have a blast and find loads of new travel buddies. If this is your first big trip, don’t miss our guide on what to pack to travel the world.

Have fun in hostels!

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