A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
In my last post I raised my concerns about staying in an 8 people mixed hostel room. Now I’m back, safe and sound, even happier than ever. So, no worries! Even if I am a single, still-in-her-teenager-time Asian backpacker, it’s perfectly fine to be in an 8 people shared room in a hostel. But here are some tips to keep in mind: (I’d like to give some warnings before I draw a beautiful picture of my own experiences)
1) Double check the comments from previous visitors about the hostel/hotel you’re about to book.
I checked half of the 1000+ comments on a German website about the hostel I’m staying in. Most of them were positive, despite the fact that the location right in the middle of red light district is really a negative description for single female travelers.
2) Prepare your own stuff!
Although some hostels provide towels, locks, etc etc, it’s always wise to bring your own just in case. I brought (too many) stuff that really helped me during my stay. And bringing your own stuff is now a burden at all. Maybe it’s just because of my previous experiences of staying in a dormitory at boarding schools. 🙂 Oh, and to prevent awkwardness at night and during sleep, bear with it and keep your underwear equipped with you…
3) Don’t get back too late.
I would say 9 pm is the latest time (summer time) when female backpackers should get back to their base. I always got back at 8:30 pm, when the sky was not completely dark. And it was not yet dangerous to walk across the red light district. If you find fellow travelers, you can of course come back slightly later, but do keep in mind that some of your roommates might prefer to sleep early.
4) Be careful, but not too anxious.
Say hi to your fellow roommates with sincere friendliness! The world is not that dangerous or scary, just keep an eye out for possible happenings. Do remember to tell your family or friends the address of your hostel, their phone number, and your phone number.
5) Keep the room clean for the convenience of the hostel and visitors after you.
We’re nice backpackers and we’re united as one; so we are obliged to behave ourselves, aren’t we?
Now, let’s see some of the amazing things I experienced!
1) The hostel was incredibly clean. Usually hostels or hotels have a weird, unpleasant smell, but when I stepped in the hostel I was instantly welcomed by a sweet smell of lemon (-flavored mopping/cleaning/allesreiniger liquid). And the hostel rooms? Why on earth were they cleaner than my own apartment? Everything was shining and I dared not to step on the floor. Not even a piece of dust can be found. Superb!
2) I met so many interesting people! In my room there were two Japanese guys, a girl from Taiwan, a French businessman, and people all over the world coming to the city for a light show. I talked and talked and talked with my roommates for several hours each evening. I learned some Japanese, knew much more about Taiwan, and had a deeper knowledge about French higher education. We were so happy that laughter filled the whole hostel room. I was quite sad that I did not say goodbye properly with my roommates (because I got up too late). Take care, my friends!
3) King breakfast + funky music. Staying at a clean hostel with free breakfast saves so much time for a hungry backpacker. Tea, coffee, muesli, cornflakes, milk, yogurt, toast, butter, chocolate butter, chocolate cake, jam… When you finally finished choosing your own king breakfast, the jazzy funky vibes keep you energetic for a whole day.
In a nutshell, it is really money-saving to stay in a hostel, and 8-people mixed rooms are much more relaxing and safe actually. This can be a lot of fun, but still, be careful. I think I’m already planning for my next stay in another hostel!
P.S. If someone wants to know more about the hostel where I stayed, please shoot me a private message; otherwise I’ll be advertising and hmm… I guess they need to pay me for that? 😉
by Xueyan Xing (coming all the way from China; studying at Leiden University College The Hague)
Glad you enjoyed your first backpacking experience! It’s definitely the best way to see the world, meet interesting people, and get a free breakfast into the bargain 😉
Hi Andre, I was just about to tell you about it 🙂 Thanks again for your advice last time, it was really helpful! And I hope to see you on campus some time.
No worries! I always love to talk about travel and backpacking 😉