Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes. That doesn’t mean there aren’t cases where women find themselves in unsafe situations while on their own in hostels, but it isn’t nearly as common as many people seem to believe.
Even if, as a women who travels solo, you’re not terribly troubled by the idea of staying in mixed dormitories by yourself, you may have loved ones who are concerned about you doing so. And, when being realistic about your safety, it can be tough to believe the people waxing the poetic about their amazing hostel experiences, so here are some practical points and advice regarding the safety of hostels for women traveling solo.
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Everyone’s in the same boat as you
Hostels tend to attract the niche clientele of people, often on the younger end, looking to see the world on a budget. This means that typically the people around you are as interested in causing problems as you are. They may be more social and curious, and some might come off too friendly, but it’s usually harmless.
© Jennifer Wankmuller
There are precautions you can take
Plenty of people don’t think twice about leaving their belongings strewn about the dormitories, but that may not be the best idea. Oftentimes, keeping your stuff in your luggage is enough of a deterrent. Anyone looking to steal anything will go for the stuff simply lying around. Many hostels have lockers where you can store particularly valuable items. If your hostel doesn’t and you’re concerned, get yourself some luggage locks. You can lock your bags, and even go the extra mile to lock them to your bed frame.
Getting to know your bunkmates can also help the situation. If you know a thing or two about each other, they’re even less likely to cause any problems. However, if unwanted attention from men is your concern, there are things you can do to help avoid that as well. Women shouldn’t have to do these things and men should just keep themselves in check and all that jazz, but if taking precautions such as not changing around them or not coming back to the room drunk is going to help you feel safer, then by all means do it.
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The staff is your greatest asset
Hostels tend to have a large number of travelers on staff, meaning they’re often sympathetic to any situation you might find yourself in. For example, if you at all feel uncomfortable in your room for whatever reason, tell them and ask to be moved. Aside from within the hostel itself, they can also help you stay safe wherever you may be traveling, whether that involves setting you up on trusted tours or simply telling you what parts of a city to avoid.
© Jennifer Wankmuller
Your safety can be more expensive, but it’s worth it
If you’re really not comfortable staying in a mixed-sex room, look into hostels that have accommodations separated by gender. They’re usually slightly more expensive, but are still affordable. If you can’t stand sharing a room at all, sometimes there are great deals on private rooms. Most hostels that have lockers will charge you to use them, but it’s much cheaper than replacing lost valuables. If you end up in a room you’re not comfortable in, your best options may involve upgrading to a more expensive room. The point of staying in hostels is to travel cheaply, but nothing is worth more than your safety. In the end, don’t be afraid to blow a little more money to be comfortable and truly enjoy your trip.
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Cover photo © Jennifer Wankmuller