How to stay secure in hostels and guest houses

Volunteering & Travel Advice / 31 December 2017 How to stay secure in hostels and guest houses

Your volunteering trip is an amazing opportunity to experience new things and make a real difference. So you can relax and feel confident while away, here are a few simple tips on how to stay secure in hostels and guest houses from our friends at

Leave your valuables at home

Less stuff means less stress and fewer chances for things to go wrong. You don’t need all your expensive electronics or jewellery while you are away. Make sure that anything you do take has the appropriate insurance, take photos and keep the relevant documents.

For the essentials it may be easier to buy cheap replacements once you have arrived. A mobile phone with a local network. A cheap watch that won’t matter too much if it gets damaged or lost. Your hostel might have a computer with internet access or you can look for an internet cafe nearby.

Travelling light isn’t just about the weight you carry in your pack or your baggage allowance. It frees your mind too. Get a deeper, more meaningful experience without all the trappings of home. It’s also sensitive to the local community, who you are there to work with and benefit.

Going out and about

Pickpockets and thieves are drawn to tourist hotspots all over the world, looking to take advantage of distracted visitors. In the same way, international travellers and volunteers can attract negative attention.

There’s safety in numbers so try to stay in a group. An advantage of a busy hostel or guest house is that there is bound to be someone who also fancies a trip to the shop or into town. Tell other people where you are going and how long you expect to be.

Only take with you what you need when you go out and about and be careful not to display expensive items when you don’t have to as it can attract attention.

A money belt is a discreet way to carry your cash and cards. You might also want to have a personal alarm. These are small, inexpensive devices that emit a loud alarm when you press a button or pull a pin. They scare off attackers or thieves and also attract help from nearby. Hopefully you will never have to use it, but having an alarm can give you extra confidence.

Basic security steps at your accommodation

Your accommodation will be aware of these issues and should have basic security in place. Make sure you follow their procedures and get into good habits early.

There can be a lot of comings and goings in hostels and guest houses. Meeting new people is a wonderful part of volunteering and travelling abroad! Get to know the staff too, and always be polite and courteous. The more people you recognise and are on good terms with the easier it will be to spot someone who doesn’t belong.

Many hostels and guest houses have a safe you can you use for valuables, so ask about that and put the essentials in there. For belongings you leave in your room a simple padlock or wire mesh bag might be enough to deter an opportunistic thief.



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