There are many little add on costs of living in a hostel which can bite into a travel budget over time. Whether it’s paying a couple dollars for your laundry every time, paying a fee to use the linen, or the cost of using internet at the hostel, eventually it all adds up. The tricks I’m going to give you are my underground tips on saving money while living in a hostel, and therefore some of them may be against hostel rules, or just a little bit bad ass! It’s therefore at your own risk if you follow these tips, and it’s also probably a good idea if you keep them on the lowdown (although I’m aware this is slightly ironic considering I’m posting them on the internet, but I thought I’d share them with you so shhhhhh!)
Pay nothing for your laundry
One trick I learned on my first backpacking trip around Australia was how to get my laundry for free. For those who may never have stayed in a hostel before, most hostels offer basic laundry facilities in the form of a washing machine and dryer. You usually have to pay a couple dollars, or whatever the local currency is to use it, by entering coins into the little slots at the top.
One trick a room mate showed me to use it without paying, was by taking some cotton buds, removing the cotton bit at the end of each, and then insert them into the slots until it clicks. It does take a little while to master, and the first time took me a good 30 minutes just to get one to click, but after that it was easy. Once you’ve filled all the slots, you push the leaver in and it should start.
An important thing to note however is this only works with a certain type of washing machine. I’ve posted a picture below of which type of slots this trick works on, and which it doesn’t. Also, I’m sure the hostels wouldn’t be happy with you doing this, so you do it at your own risk! Oh, and obviously I would never do this at any of the hostels I stay at…
Most hostels I’ve been to give you basic linen/bedding for free, provided you hand it back at the end of your stay. In some hostels however, they charge you a fee for using there linen, and make a no sleeping bag rule to try make you pay up. Personally, I usually just go somewhere where it’s free, or pay the small fee, but if you are on a really strict travel budget and want to save money, then just lie and say you’ve brought some with you! I’ve yet to go to a hostel that has ever checked…
You can then just use your sleeping bag, but make sure to put it away every morning before any cleaners or staff come in the room. It’s not exactly crime of the century, but it usually saves you a small bit of cash. Personally, I can’t be bothered getting up early each morning to put a sleeping bag back into my backpack, but if you really need the cash then it could help (so long as none of your hostel buddies grass you up!)
I’m sure a lot of backpackers probably do this already, but when you helping yourself to the free complimentary breakfast in the morning, I always like to use the bread they put out to make 3 or 4 sandwiches for later in the day, or make a flask of tea for later. Hostel breakfast is usually very basic, so you don’t really have much variety or choice, but if you use it to make 2 sandwiches for lunch, and then 2 for dinner then you’ve saved yourself any food money all day. Not exactly appetising I know, and it’s definitely not a balanced diet, but then a backpacker’s lifestyle isn’t exactly that healthy anyway, so as along as you don’t do it every single day I doubt it will make much of a difference!
Sneak someone else in!
If you get caught doing this you will definitely get chucked out your hostel and will probably loose your deposit too, but when I first started out backpacking and was really poor, I used to do this to save some cash.
Essentially, my friend and I would take turns at paying for a bed in a hostel. The person who paid for it would take all the bags up to their room, and the other person would come over at night and just crash in the same bed. This works particularly well with hostels which don’t have a 24 hour reception, for the obvious reason that there is no one to question you when you come in, so long as one of you has a key.
That being said however, I have done this at hostels where they do have a manned reception at all times. The reason for this is because if you were coming back to the hostel with other people who stay there, only one of you would need to use your key to unlock the main door. So if they see you un locking the door with your key or swipe card, and someone else is walking in with you, they usually just assume they are someone else who stays at the hostel, especially if they’ve seen you both around during the day.
In one particular hostel I stayed at, there was a 24 hour manned reception, and also bouncers on the door every night checking your hostel pass or you couldn’t get in. I’d already been staying at the hostel a couple weeks, and unrelated had got really friendly with the reception staff and the bouncers, so I would just give my pass to my friend to walk in ahead, and then the bouncers would usually just let me in because they already new I stayed there. On the occasion I would get asked for my pass I would just say I’d forgot it, they shout over at reception and the guy would just wave me in because he knew I stayed there. Unbeknown to them my friend had already made it up to the room 10 minutes earlier.
Note: If you are in a position where you don’t know the reception staff, they will usually just ask your name and what room, and possibly for some ID. This trick has never failed me once, because when they check, all the details are there because you have booked up there. They may then walk you to you room, in which case, even if your friend is in the room, they will just assume he/she is another backpacker staying in the room. Alternatively, you can just get them to wait in a common room somewhere until you text them to say the coast is clear.
There are many little ticks you can do in a hostel to save some money that aren’t following hostel rules. Far too many for me to mention! These days however, I don’t struggle for money like I used to when I first starting backpacking, so I usually don’t bother, but it can save you money. Just be aware however, that if you get caught you could loose your deposit, or even get chucked out the hostel. It’s at your own risk that you follow any of these tips, and I take no responsibility for your actions, but if you are on a really strict budget then it may be worth a thought.
For more tips and tricks on how to save money in the hostel, you can visit www.onlinesavingshack.com. This site would surely provide you some easy and fruitful ideas.