When I’m on the road, I don’t spend a lot of time in my room, so why pay $100+? All I’m looking for is a shower, a bed and a place to keep my backpack. Hostels fit the bill.

Here’s the top six things I’ve come to terms with since falling in love with hostels.

1. Noise.

In Heidelberg I slept in a room of six people, one we affectionately dubbed “Snorelax” and another “The Zipper King.” You can imagine how we all tried to fall asleep before Snorelax. The Zipper King waited until the dead of night to unzip every pocket on his backpack, looking for some long lost sock… or something. I learned to be thoughtful when digging around in my stuff while bunkmates are in bed.

I also came to terms with some noise. You can huff and puff or say something snarky, or you can roll over and fall back asleep.

2. Talking to strangers.

The true beauty of hostels lies within the community. There’s casual chatter as you pick out your clothes in the morning. Breakfast includes shaky conversation in a couple of languages. If you’re new to the hostel scene, don’t be shy! It’s a great excuse to make friends, score new recommendations and sharpen your language skills. Some hostels host social events like pub crawls our outings so you can make friends.

I’ve found great restaurants, heard about tourist traps to avoid and learned to love milky tea thanks to hostel friends. It’s like Yelp IRL.

3. Not controlling the thermostat.

At home, I set my A/C or heat to my desired setting and sleep like a little kitten. In a room full of bunks, the temperature can be hit or miss. Ask for an extra blanket or sleep without one.

I’ve sweat it out in a stuffy room of eight. I’ve also pulled covers off empty beds to have some extra late-night warmth. Be warned, air conditioning is not the status quo even in Europe.

Be sure to pack pajamas too, in case it’s hot and you sleep without covers or your need to use the restroom at night. It’s bad manners to show your undies or birthday suit if that’s what you usually sleep in.

4. Bunkbeds.

Nothing makes you feel like a child like sleeping in bunk beds. It reminds me of sleepovers as a kid and late nights chatting with my little sister before bed. Climbing up and down is a bit of a pain, but remember that twin-sized bunk was 30 euro a night and a queen bed at a hotel is 150 euro. I’ll take the ladder.

It’s a little tight, but you’re going to be asleep so you won’t remember most of it.

5. Changing clothes.

I did enough musical theater in high school, that I can slip in and out of outfits mid conversation without blinking. In hostels I don’t want to be totally naked in front of other people, but sometimes you gotta get out of those jeans and into jammies, ya know?

I avoid the awkward locker room moments as much as I usually lay out my clothes the night before (to avoid being the Zipper King) and get dressed and out the door in the morning. Of course, if the room is full or or too many dudes, I drag my backpack to the bathroom for some privacy.

6. Telling people I stay in hostels.

“You stayed in a hostel?”
“You slept in bunkbeds?”
“Eww.”
“We don’t stay in hostels, we prefer hotels.”

Some travelers turn their noses up on boarding house-style accommodations because they are perceived as gross, for teens and college kids, too wild, too unsafe or too alternative.

They can be all of those things, but do your research ,and read the reviews. I’ve stayed with all kinds of people from all over the world in hostels. Sometimes I’ve been the first person to go to sleep before a long day of hiking in Costa Rica and other times the last after a late night at a Dublin pub.

Generally when I’m on the road, I’m out and about seeing and doing and eating and drinking. My bed is simply for crashing at the end of the day. I don’t need to pay for a snazzy room to hold my suitcase while I’m out making memories.