5 hostel safety tips for shared travel accommodation

Booking a private room in accommodations that include shared community spaces can be a great way to not only save money while traveling, but also to meet like-minded travelers. Alternatively, to save even more money, you could consider staying in a hostel dorm, where you will share both the sleeping space and the community space.

NerdWallet – NerdWallet

According to a 2020 survey by Hostelworld, an online travel agency specializing in hostels, 53% of respondents opted for a shared room over a private room. Almost three-quarters of bookings made on Hostelworld are for dorm-style accommodation.

These types of travel accommodations have their benefits, but it’s also important that you feel safe in these situations. Here are some safety best practices you can follow to ensure your trip is fun and incident-free.

1. Choose an apartment that has a lock on every room

If you plan to rent a room in an apartment, look for a room with a locked door. This way, when you leave your room, you can be sure that other guests won’t have access to your belongings.

Some short-term rental websites share this information before booking so you can make the safest decision possible. For example, on Airbnb, you can go to the “Home Security” section of a listing to see if it includes the detail: “Lock bedroom door. Private bedroom can be locked for added security and privacy.” privacy.

If you don’t see anything mentioned, read the reviews or contact the owner to ask before booking.

Also remember to ask the host who has access to the apartment and/or building.

  • Do all guests get a set of keys for building entrance and front door?
  • If the building or apartment has access via a secure code, who has access to the code?
  • Can former guests, for example, access the property?

2. Bring a lock for your luggage when staying in a hostel dorm

When planning to stay in a hostel dorm, carry at least two padlocks: one for your luggage itself and one for the personal locker which you will ideally have access to.

Hostels come in different shapes and sizes. Some have dorms with lockers big enough to hold your entire suitcase. For example, when I was staying in a dorm at the Selina Hostel in Lisbon, Portugal, I had access to three lockers: one under my bed, one above my bed, and a small staff.

However, some hostels do not provide lockers for travelers, and even worse, sometimes the entrance to group rooms may not be secure. When I was traveling to Bariloche, Argentina, I stayed in an old hostel with these two realities. It wasn’t an ideal scenario, but luckily I had a lock for my luggage. I was always able to keep my things safe and luckily had no issues.

3. Don’t leave your belongings unattended

If you’re staying in a shared space, try not to leave your belongings unattended or outside of a secure locker, even if it’s just in your room. In a hostel dorm, if you leave your purse, phone, passport, or laptop in the room while you’re not there, you’re taking a risk.

If something is stolen, it can be difficult to find out who stole it; the culprit could be a guest leaving, someone visiting another guest, etc. It’s best to avoid this scenario altogether by never leaving your belongings unattended or unsecured.

4. Leave your valuables at home

According to a 2019 survey by insurer Jewelers Mutual Group, 20% of people have lost or stolen their jewelry while traveling, and only 1% have their jewelry recovered. It’s an unfortunate position and it can definitely ruin your trip.

When on vacation, it’s best not to pack your valuables at all, especially if you’re staying in a dorm or a room in a short-term group rental. The last thing you want to worry about while on vacation is having an expensive watch or handbag stolen and filing an insurance claim.

If you like to wear fancy jewelry, buy costume jewelry or a cheaper alternative before your trip. Or better yet, buy something local to your destination – you’ll look good and have a new piece of jewelry with a keepsake attached.

5. Get travel insurance so your belongings are covered

Speaking of theft, there are additional steps you can take to protect your belongings during your trip. Before leaving, remember to take out travel insurance. If you already have a travel credit card, check to see if it includes free travel insurance.

Travel insurance policies include Loss of Baggage and Personal Items coverage, which provides reimbursement for lost, stolen or damaged baggage. Look for policies that cover your belongings for the entire trip, as some policies may only cover your luggage while traveling with the common carrier (i.e. flight, bus, train, etc.).

Often, compensation for lost baggage and personal items has a total item limit, a per-item limit, and a specific item limit. Check the list of exclusions in the fine print of the policy to find out what is covered and what is not.

Protect yourself while staying in a shared space

Staying in a dorm or a room in a short-term vacation rental is an easy way to save money while traveling. If you are staying in a hostel dorm, bring two padlocks so you can secure your belongings. If a vacation rental is your preference, look for rooms that have locks.

Do not leave your belongings unattended or unsecured when you are not in the room and avoid traveling with valuables to avoid being the victim of theft. If you’re worried about the theft of even your less valuable items, travel insurance can help you have peace of mind.

The article 5 Hostel Safety Tips for Shared Travel Accommodations originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Linda G. Ibarra