Emergency Situations in Hostels: What To Do, Where To Go

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Emergency Situations in Hostels: What To Do, Where To Go

How to Deal With Emergencies in Hostels

I have stayed in hostels all over the world and for the most part have had no real issues. Your typical hostel problems consist of having annoying people in your mixed dorm, waiting for a late check-in time, or being grumpy over the bland continental breakfast. Here’s a guide on what to do if you find yourself in an emergency situation in a hostel, where you are uncomfortable or afraid, and need help.

1. Assess the Situation and Do Something About It

There have only been two times in the over twenty-five hostels I’ve stayed in that I experienced emergency situations. The first was in Gdansk, Poland, when I was staying in a hostel that did not have 24 hour reception. In the middle of the night a group of drunken men came into the hostel, being very loud and trying to open the doors to everyone’s rooms. They got into one of the dorms and started trying to pull some girls out of their beds, or else get into the beds with them. These poor girls were so terrified. They left their dorm and knocked on another door until they were let in, where they safely stayed the night.

In a situation like this, where no reception is available to help, you have to think on your feet. Being harassed by 6 foot tall drunk men at 3am is definitely frightening, but the girls refused to just deal with it. They escaped to another room where the door stayed locked and they stayed safe. If you feel uncomfortable in your room, you can always try knocking on another and explaining what’s happening to whomever answers. I bet they’ll be willing to help, even if it’s in the middle of the night. Just continue knocking. If that doesn’t work, try going to the common areas, such as the lobby or kitchen. You can even stay in the bathroom if you feel really unsafe.

2. Work With the Other People in Your Dorm

The other time I experienced an emergency situation was in Venice, Italy, staying in a 16-bed female dorm. In the middle of the night I was woken up by somebody shining a flashlight in my face. I was half-asleep and could hardly see anything except that whomever was shining the flashlight was going around and shining it into every single one of the beds. I waited quietly until I heard their footsteps exit, and then I went back to sleep. About an hour later I was woken up again by the flashlight in my face.

This time I was mad, and yelled, “What are you doing?” Other girls also woke up and started getting out of bed to see what was happening. The person soon left the room. When I got up I could see that our door had been propped open by one of the tables from the hallway. I immediately closed and locked it. The girls and I conversed and decided that we would do something about it if he came back again. We also promised to go to reception together in the morning to report it.

It turns out that guy had been pushed into the Canal earlier that day by one of the girls in our dorm. He’d come to seek vengeance on her, but luckily, she hadn’t come back to our dorm that night. It is scary to think what might’ve happened had she been there, but it was re-assuring to know that the other girls in the dorm were willing to work collaboratively in case the situation had gotten worse.

 The view from my recent hostel in Paris, March 2018. This was a double-room. I asked at reception to share the room only with a female and they acquiesced.

The view from my recent hostel in Paris, March 2018. This was a double-room. I asked at reception to share the room only with a female and they acquiesced.

3. If Reception is Available, Go There First

Reception should be able to help you with pretty much any problem, especially in an emergency. The most important thing is not to just withstand whatever the problem is. Ask for help, it’s your right! You aren’t paying to stay in a hostel to be uncomfortable or afraid. I have asked for help at reception many different times, for many different reasons, and I didn’t care if anybody thought I was being paranoid or annoying.

Once it was because people were smoking cigarettes in our dorm and I refused to stay there. Another time it was because I was in a dorm full of snorers and I couldn’t sleep AT ALL, so I asked to be moved. You won’t lose anything by asking! If reception is not available, ask for help among the other people in the hostel. There should be posted information at the reception for emergency medical services or police as well. This is part of traveling in hostels, being prepared for things to not always go as planned. Use your common sense and problem-solving capabilities to handle whatever problematic situations arise, and you will be okay!

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 Writer of this article is Heather, 24, co-founder of the Female Travel Collective.  She used to live in Hawaii and is now on a big trip through Europe.

Writer of this article is Heather, 24, co-founder of the Female Travel Collective.  She used to live in Hawaii and is now on a big trip through Europe.