BRenting a private room in accommodation that includes shared community spaces can be a great way to not only save money while traveling, but also meet like-minded travelers. Alternatively, to save even more money, you can consider staying in a hostel dormitory, where you share both sleeping space and community space.
According to a 2020 survey from Hostelworld, an online travel agency specializing in hostels, 53% of those surveyed have opted for a shared room over a private room. Almost three quarters of the bookings made on Hostelworld are for dormitory-style accommodation.
These types of travel accommodation have certain advantages, but it is also important that you feel safe in these situations. Here are some good safety practices you can follow to make sure your trip is fun and hassle-free.
1. Choose an apartment that has a lock on each room
If you are renting a room in an apartment, look for a room that has a lock on the door. This way, when you leave your room, you can be sure that other guests will not have access to your things.
Some short term rental websites share this information before you book so that you can make the safest decision possible. For example, on Airbnb, you can go to the “Home security” section of an ad to see if it includes the detail: “Lock bedroom door. The private bedroom can be locked for added security and privacy.
If you don’t see anything mentioned, read the reviews or contact the owner to ask before you book.
Also remember to ask the host who has access to the apartment and / or building.
- Do all guests receive a set of keys for the building entrance and the front door?
- If the building or apartment has access via a secure code, who has access to the code?
- Can former clients, for example, access the property?
2. Take a lock for your luggage when staying in a hostel dormitory.
When planning to stay in a hostel dormitory, plan for at least two locks: one for your luggage 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 stayed in a dormitory at Hostel Selina 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 offer lockers for travelers, and even worse, the entrance to group rooms can sometimes 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’ve always been able to keep my things semi-secure and luckily I haven’t had any problems.
3. Don’t leave your belongings unattended
If you are staying in a shared space, try not to leave your belongings unattended or outside a secure locker, even if it’s only in your room. In a hostel dormitory, if you leave your purse, call, passport or a laptop in the room while you are not there you are taking a risk.
If something is stolen, it can be difficult to know who stole it; the culprit could be a guest leaving, someone visiting another guest, etc. It is 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 the insurer Jewelers Mutual Group, 20% of people have lost or stolen their jewelry while traveling, and only 1% get their jewelry back. It’s an unfortunate position and can definitely ruin your trip.
While on vacation, it’s best not to pack your valuables, especially if you’re staying in a hostel 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 purse stolen and filing an insurance claim.
If you like to wear fancy jewelry, shop for costume jewelry or a cheaper alternative before your trip. Or better yet, buy something local at your destination – you’ll look great and have a new piece of jewelry with a keepsake attached.
5. Purchase travel insurance so that your belongings are covered.
Speaking of theft, there are extra steps you can take to protect your belongings while traveling. Before you go, consider buying a travel insurance policy. If you already have a travel credit card, check to see if it includes free travel insurance.
Travel insurance policies include a lost baggage and personal items coverage, which provides reimbursement for lost, stolen or damaged baggage. Look for policies that cover your belongings during the entire trip, as some policies may only cover your luggage while you are traveling with the common carrier (i.e. flight, bus, train, etc.).
Often the lost baggage and personal items coverage will have 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 by staying in a shared space
Staying in a hostel dormitory 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 to secure your belongings. If you prefer a vacation rental, 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 falling victim to theft. If you’re worried about even your less valuable items being stolen, travel insurance can help give you peace of mind.
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Elina Geller writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @themissmiles.
The article 5 Hostel Safety Tips for Shared Travel Accommodation originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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