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South American Hostel Tips

When backpacking in South America it pays to know a few things to help you prepare your self for staying in hostels.

Below is some advice from our team who have seen the inside of many hostels in South America.

 

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  1. Be respectful of others and their property, though there may be others less than respectful you should always endeavour to be a good housemate.
  2. Choose one of those travel towels which dry quicker, as damp towels tend to smell up a room and its never a good idea to put anything wet in your backpack when moving to the next destination. You can rent towels at a low price at hostels usually, and some even give you them free.
  3. Take a lock with you as many hostels provide lockers but no lock. A good combination lock is better as you don't have to worry about misplacing a key.
  4. Take a marker pen to write your name on your food items as many hostels require you do this, but their marker pens usually go walk-about.
  5. Buy your own food to prepare your self if you really want to save money, and the more contributing to the cost of a meal the cheaper it is, so don't be shy to ask if others would like to have a communal dinner.
  6. Always check to see if your hostel offers free pick-up from bus terminals. If you get there by yourself they most likely won't pay for your taxi just because you didn't know.
  7. Book exchanges are common in hostels, sometimes it is one for one, others you have to exchange a book and pay a small fee on top. Bring a few with you from home, as usually English books are hard to find. Unfortunately if English is the only language you speak, then be warned that sometimes English books will be replaced with books written in other languages by travellers who speak English as well as their own language. Probably the only disadvantage of having English as your mother tongue when travelling!
  8. A Swiss Army knife is actually a very useful thing to take with you to hostels, because the can opener and bottle opener are always going missing. Just remember to put it in your backpack when flying places and not in your pocket or carry-on bag.
  9. Many hostels offer a booking service for hostels in your next destination, which is convenient especially if arriving late at night or early morning to your next destination.
  10. Before heading out of the hostel for a big night, make your bed, set out the clothes you are going to sleep in and make your toiletries easy to access for your return. No-one appreciates a drunk person returning home making noise rummaging through their stuff and turning on the light. In-fact try to take a pocket torch out with you for this same reason!
  11. Always leave something on your bed to show new people that that bed is taken. It sucks coming home to find papa bear sleeping in your bed, But its not their fault if there is no indication that someone has already claimed it. A few hostels assign you to a bed, or get you to write your name on it with a non-permanent marker pen.
  12. Pull your sheets off your bed before you leave, it helps the cleaner realise which beds need changing and ensures that the next person isn't sleeping in used sheets. Many hostels require that you bring your sheets to reception when checking out.
  13. Before getting out of the shower always remember to check that you have your soap and shampoo, you wouldn't believe how many people forget this and it becomes expensive when having to buy new ones all the time.
  14. Showers are communal, don't forget to bring flip-flops (otherwise called thongs or sandals in some countries). This is for obvious hygiene reasons!
  15. An unfortunate fact when backpacking South America is that many toilets require you to put all used toilet paper in bins found by the toilet. Nothing but human waste should be flushed if the hostel puts signage up which says not to flush toilet paper. Many South American sewage systems cannot cope with toilet paper, and imagine a hostel with blocked toilets. Don't do it!
  16. If the kitchen runs out of dish liquid, or the bathroom runs out of toilet paper, kindly tell the staff as they are not mind readers and will more than likely re-supply it if they know.

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