Staying in hostels can be fun and also pretty affordable. They are a great way to make friends, especially if traveling solo. Usually people staying in hostels are looking to meet other travelers and make friends. While I have stayed in quite a few hostels with no issues, I have had things stolen and I have heard quite a few stories of people having their things stolen. Everyone staying at the hostel is a traveler and probably on a budget so for the most part other travelers aren’t looking to steal from you; having things stolen from hostels however does happen. There are some extra precautions you can take to keep your stuff more secure and minimize the chances of waking up to your phone or wallet being gone.
Having a lock for both your bag or suitcase and for lockers adds extra security. I have heard of locks being cut, but it’s less likely to have someone go through that effort.
Keep valuables like your laptop locked in your locker overnight. I would even recommend locking up your phone. I had my phone under my pillow, and I had always thought that it was safe enough there. I unfortunately had someone in the middle of the night take it while staying at a hostel in Berlin. Other people in the room also had wallets and laptops stolen right for their bed that night. I woke up early that morning to the girl in the bed above mine exclaiming “they also took my wallet!” and a guy in a corner bed throwing his bedding on the ground roughly replying with “No! Mine too!” There was a lot of screaming as people started to wake up and check their belongings. So, consider charging your phone when getting ready for bed or in the morning before leaving the hostel and then lock it up at night.
Most hostels have lockers in their dorms for travelers to lock up their things but make sure before booking. You can check on apps or sites like “Hostel World”. I stayed at a hostel in London that did not have lockers. My stuff was fine, and nothing happened but it’s just nice to have that extra precaution and it is something I would make sure a hostel offers.
Book rooms with less beds:
Stay in rooms with less beds and less people. I didn’t think anything of the amount of beds when I first stayed in hostels. For example, my boyfriend Camron and I were in a 40-person dorm room in Berlin when his phone was stolen. More people in a room just makes it harder to know who is staying there. Unfortunately hostels in Germany are not required to have security cameras and with so many people in that room I was told nothing could be done.
Look at reviews when booking a hostel, it may help you weed out any places that have less security or are known for robberies. Again, Hostel World is a great app to book and read reviews for hostels. The hostel I stayed at in Berlin had decent reviews, but they also had a few mentions of things getting stolen. I didn’t really look through the reviews until after Camron’s phone was stolen and I was curious.
You can always leave valuables at the front desk as well. They will lock things up for you. This is usually even more secure than having your things locked in your room. A lot of times I leave my laptop with the front desk during the day to be locked up. It just feels safer than leaving it in the room while I am out exploring.
Research the city and neighborhoods:
Do your research about the city you are traveling to, staying in hostels in some places may be less safe or there may be specific scams that you will want to be aware of. After the robbery in Berlin, someone told me that hostel robberies were common in Germany because there are no security cameras in hostels.
Split up valuables:
Split up your money between different bags. If a bag gets stolen, hopefully you will have a credit card and or cash in another location. You can also put copies of important documents like your passport in different bags. I misplaced my wallet for a couple of days once. Luckily I had other cards with me stashed away and then later found my wallet in my backpack. It is always good to have a backup plan.
Find a group to go out with:
Especially if traveling solo as a female, pay attention to who is staying in your room, and if going out late at night or to bars, try to find other people to go with. Trust your instincts as well, if something feels off or you are uncomfortable, listen to that.
*Also, I know this can be feel awkward and be tough but if someone in your room is making you uncomfortable, ask to switch rooms! Most hostels, the good ones at least, will want you to feel safe and should accommodate you.
Look for hostels with locked doors for each dorm room:
Good hostels will have security measures in place like a key card or code to unlock individual dorm rooms. I don’t think I have ever stayed in a place that didn’t have locks for their dorm rooms, but some places had extra security. In some hostels I have had to have a key card to get around the building in general.
Most people traveling and staying in hostels are doing the same thing as you, traveling. They are not looking to steal your stuff. It seems in my situation the people who stole items from the hostel dorm knew what they were doing. They more than likely were not travelers and had done it before.
One of the craziest things about my night in the hostel in Berlin, is that with up to 40 people in the room, none of us woke up during the robbery. Over eight people had things stolen from electronics to money. This unfortunately happens and these tips are just in case to help minimize the chances of something going wrong. The last thing you want is your bag stolen and to be left without clothes. Hostels are a great experience and as long a you make smart decisions, pay attention to your surroundings, and read the hostel reviews you will be fine. It is a great way to meet people, and add to your travel experience.