We are not claiming any romantic idea of all hostels in the world are filled with rainbows and unicorns. In fact, there are many negative hostel stories and experiences. A laptop was stolen, a DSLR camera, shoes, or only the tooth brush. (There are some odd stories, really!)
Now, there are always exceptions in life – and so is here!
A hostel can take a lot of actions to become a safe place!
This starts with the location of the hostel itself, secure doors, and ends with secure lockers and trusted staff. A safe hostel always offers lockers, and takes more steps to ensure a safe environment for the traveler.
If a hostel has no locker, it is usually a red-flag for us for not staying here.
A safe hostel always offers lockers!
Hostels do even more. For instance?
A common action hostel workers take, is exchanging information about rude or shady guests. If there is a thief or trouble-making guest around an area or country, hostels share names of the person to warn other accommodations. This is something you as a guest normally do not see, but behind the scenes hostels take many actions to ensure a safe stay.
Think about it, a hostel has no interest in getting into a stealing issue. Imagine the damage it can cause for a hostel if people get mugged in the area or thing stolen.
There are still “honesty boxes”!
Do you know what’s as o-called honesty box?
For instance, you can take a cold drink out of the fridge, and you leave the payment in the honesty box right next to it. The fridge is not locked or anything. Anyone can take a drink. And you do not pay at the reception or anything.
There is a certain level of trust the hostels puts into their guests. The first time we came across such a box was in Porto, Portugal. WOW! There were over a 50€ in that small, ceramic piggy bank – and nobody even dared to steal.
You see, sometimes this system works. But again, truth be told, other hostels removed their honesty-payment system due to bad experiences.
Always bring Padlocks
Again, only choose hostels with lockers. This is key to stay safe.
The padlocks will help you to lock up your stuff in the locker; obviously. You can also buy or rent one at the hostel, but this ends up costing more.
Plus, here is another smart tip. You can use the padlock to actually lock your day bag as well while walking through the city, or at the airport or train station. It will reduce the chance of someone pick-pocketing you.
Important: get a padlock that fits all sizes. I recommend this padlock with a thinner lock on top. It will fit all sizes.
These hostels are obviously taking another step in the safety-game.
Yet, always remember to bring your own padlock anyway. As stated, your own padlock helps you as well with your day bag and during transportation.
1st-hand traveler experiences
We love to include experts.
As this topic is also quite a crucial one, we contacted befriended travelers who frequently stay at hostels.
Also, the Hangout Hostel in Singapore and Penthouse Backpackers in Osnabrück, Germany gave us their opinion and what they do to ensure safety at their hostel. So, here we go:
1. Lavi from Lavi Was Here
Lavi from Lavi was here is a travel blogger and adventure junkie who recently spent 9 months backpacking in Central and South America.
If I were to add them all up, I’ve probably stayed in over 100 hostels in my travels and I can count on one hand how many questionable situations I’ve ever witnessed or experienced. I really do think hostels are safe.
Quite frankly, I feel safer sleeping in a hostel dorm room of any size with other travelers who are essentially strangers than if I were to staying a hotel room alone. When traveling in a foreign country, especially alone, I feel more comfortable when I’m surrounded by others.
For example, I’d rather walk in a crowded street than an alley by myself. Makes sense, right?
Everyone is in the same boat in hostels; we’re all in a new, unknown environment, so there’s a level of trust there. I honestly believe that most people are inherently good people and that we look out for each other in the traveling community.
Sure, we’ve all heard some horror stories: stolen items, unsafe situations, but these are a result of people not hostels. For every untrustworthy person in a hostel, I am certain there are at least 5 people you can count on to be there for you even if you don’t know them very well personally.
Yes, I’ve had my phone stolen in a hostel.
But then I’ve also had people I barely knew find my phone on a different occasion and keep it safely for me. The best hostels work hard to make sure that their accommodation is safe for the guests because there is a lot of human interaction among strangers.
If safety of belongings is an issue, most hostels offer lockers. If personal safety is worrisome, private rooms are usually available. Hostels are a place to connect with people from all over the world and I’ve met some of my closest friends in hostels.
If I thought hostels weren’t safe, I would have missed out on some of my most treasured travel experiences.
2. Emily from Emily Travels
Emily is a close friend and award-winning travel blogger at emilyluxton.co.uk. She is on her mission to explore the worlds culture, and she takes her followers and readers with her along the journey. We asked Emily about her safety concerns at hostels.
Personally, I think most hostels are perfectly safe – as long as you’re sensible.
I’ve never had a problem in a hostel, except on one occasion when my toothbrush was stolen from the bathroom! Most hostels have lockers available, so carry a decent padlock with you and make sure to store all your valuables inside the lockers.
Top tip: the lock sizes can vary quite a bit so it’s worth carrying two padlocks of different sizes (here is a the ultimate hostel packing list).
Usually, it’s worth splurging a little bit extra on a better hostel as the security may be tighter – for instance, a 5 Star Hostel. I prefer to book online, as that way I can check reviews in advance and see how other travelers rate the security at the hostel.
Be careful with your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. As long as you’re sensible, you shouldn’t have a problem staying in a hostel.
3. Hangout Hotels in Singapore – storing laptops?
The Hangout Hotels in Singapore are well-known high-quality hostels and hotels in Singapore. Their rooms come with extra secure lockers, and we are big fans. Therefore, we asked the team for their advice. Here is what they said.
Guest of our dorm beds will be awed with not only the comfort of our beds (no bunk beds but single beds!), universal power socket, individual reading light, available storage space with key lock (shown in below pic with arrow) and lastly, personal electronic safe box!
The exterior dimensions of the lockers are H230/ W430/ D410mm which probably can’t fit in most laptops.
However, we do have additional storage area with pointed arrows and it can be locked. The available storage dimensions of this cabinet measures approximately 17”(L), 31”(H) and 15”(D) so storing laptops and more shouldn’t be a concern at all.
4. Gloria from The Blog Abroad.com
Our friend Gloria from theblogabroad.com is one of the most inspiring bloggers we know.
You always see her smiling, on every single photo – she keeps her positive and powerful attitude all the way. Gloria also stays at hostels along with other type of accommodations. We were curious on what she has to say about hostel safety.
Are hostels safe, Gloria?
The concern of safety in hostels is a reasonable one, and as someone who’s easily stayed in over 100 hostels around the world, I’ve yet to have a single thing stolen or ever felt in danger.
If you travel with any valuables (expensive jewelry, camera, laptop) you should always bring a lock with you. Most hostels will have a locker or cubby for you to lock things away at night or while you’re away. If not, they will never deny you the right to place it behind the reception desk or in the area of a worker, under 24/7 surveillance.
You can also sleep with valuables inside your pillow case, especially if you’re a light sleeper, so if anyone were to try and tamper with your pillow, you’d wake up immediately. And if you’re a female, you have the option to stay in all-female dorms or even private rooms to ensure your safety even more.
It’s all about using your better judgement, but at the end of the day, the people at that hostel are just friends you haven’t met yet. They’re on your side, probably traveling on a budget, and understand the sacrifices you’ve made to be traveling, because they did too.
5. Cathrin from Penthouse Backpackers in Osnabrück
Cathrin is the owner of the Penthouse-Backpackers Osnabrück. After a couple of years when she was back home in Germany she found a job in Osnabrück – a small and cosy town and instantly felt at home. For the first time in her life she thought about settling. And here it was, that idea talked about so often while abroad: opening a backpackers hostel.
I often hear the question: „is it safe in a hostel?“
Well, I travel now since about 25 years, and I only stay in hostels. Never in private rooms – only in dormitories.
Has something ever been stolen? Nope.
Not in a hostel that is. I’ve been victim of pickpockets sometimes in various parts of the world. On the streets. In cafés, on the airport.
To have a look on the safety in hostels ask yourself: when I travel, what do I carry? Would I like to squeeze another pair of boots into my backpack? Especially boots of whose owner I know he/she’s got those smelly feet that made all of us gasping for air in the 10 bed-dorm?
Ok, laptop. mobile phone. C’mon – do you want to tell me, you’ve never seen these gadgets and you don’t have your own?
Would you steal someones knickers? Why then to assume someone would steal yours?
Of course you should be sensitive and take precautions.
ALWAYS, always travel with a lock. I have added 2 steel cables (tiny and thin) to my backpack to always be able to lock it somewhere, even if it is just the bedpost. You are right: they could easily be cut.
But imagine: there is this dorm you are in. Someone wants to get his/her hands on something that isn’t his/hers. It would most of the time be like opendoor-snatchthenearestpack-outasquickaspossible……. Keeping this in mind your pack will be safe even with a pair of ribbons!
Don’t have the fanciest looking stuff, I feel much more easy since my pack survived the first trip through Kenya with all those dusty truck-floors it laid on. It doesn’t look adorable (although I ADORE IT FOR SURE) and so it is safe. My mobile and camera I easily load up together with the other travelers on the main plug in the room, with 45 different cables, gadgets laying abound.
My money I lock in my backpack, when in the shower – other than that I have money and passport under my pillow.
oh, and I always, always choose the top-bunks. Harder to snatch something from!
What’s more important, is your choice of hostels.
The smaller and more familiar the hostels are the lesser you are prone to have something stolen. The more anonymous and hotel-like hostels are a different story and the bigger a hostel is, the more people are only a number and not a face with a name. It can be easier to hide for someone.
Another aspect of safety, especially for women traveling, is: “will someone touch me?” well, for one: there is a female-only dorm in many hostels nowadays. For myself I prefer mixed dorms, less bitchy and there is a better feeling of protection amongst the guys and girls and I experience mixed dorms more considerate of each other – it is not a secluded bubble but life as it really is. Only on a smaller scale, in a dorm.
See that dorm as your room at home. Shared with like-minded people. Okay, you haven’t met them since yesterday, but they still are looking at the world very much like you. Curious, open-minded and friendly. They trust you. Why not trusting them?
So all in all: yep, hostels are safe.
They are as safe as your room at your friends place is. They ARE your friends places. Come and check us out.
6. Lolli, owner of Lollis Homestay in Dresden, Germany
Lollis is an experienced traveler. He stayed in numerous hostels all around the world, and is the proud owner of Lollis Homestay, the coolest hostel in Dresden. Here he shares his opinion of hostel safety:
“In general yes, but thefts might occur. Robbery is almost never an issue in a hostel, because people around you means security.
Avoiding thefts is very easy: Opportunity makes the thief, as they like to say in Germany.
So make sure you go to a hostel, which provides lockers and preferably a safe at the reception. I would not necessarily lock all my socks and t-shirts, but the valuables should always be secured. Usually that’s very easy: Lock it in the lockers provided, don’t leave valuables unattended. Then usually nothing happens.”
Summary: Are Hostels safe?
You can ask all travelers in the world, and you will get endless opinions and hear plenty of different stories.
A toothbrush was stolen, some socks, a camera, or just nothing at all since 25 years. A hostel can take a lot of action to make the place a safe accommodation as well as the traveler.
For staying safe, we recommend bringing your own padlock and a proper backpacking kit.