Almost Fearless

A Digital Nomad’s Hostel Survival Guide

Today’s guest post is by Derek Johanson, from

For the digital nomad, hostels can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they provide cheap rooms and great social atmosphere. But on the other hand, they provide endless sources for distraction.

As a digital nomad, you’ll inevitably end up staying in hostels along your travels. Here’s a quick survival guide for making it out alive with your job or business still intact.

If You Stay In A Hostel Don’t Work There

Find an internet cafe or somewhere with Wi-Fi nearby to get your important work done. Hostels are full of people who are on vacation. They have very little interest in working or understanding of those who are. They will distract you and try to pressure you into doing something.

It’s easier to not give them the chance. Get out of the hostel to do your work.

Don’t spend this time checking Facebook or Twitter. Power through your most important tasks and save your social media time for back at the hostel when distractions are welcomed.

Get An Eye Mask And Earplugs

I’ve stayed in a 22 person dorm room before. Imagine the amount of noise 22 people make during the night. People come in and out, snore loudly, turn the lights on, and have sex. You name it, it goes down in hostels.

If you need to get a good night’s sleep, get an eye mask and earplugs. You may look funny, but even the most vigorous sex noises will be tuned out.

Put Limits On Your Drinking

Hostels are synonymous with alcohol consumption. It doesn’t matter what night of the week it is, some one or some group is going to be drinking at the hostel. If you’re anything like me and like your liquor, it’s very easy to get caught up with the crowd.

If you have work that needs to be done the next day and a clear mind is necessary you’re going to have to either a) put a limit on your drinking or b) avoid it all together.

The best strategy for avoiding it is staying out of the hostel until later in the evening. Go have a long dinner and write a little bit. Chat with some locals before returning to the hostel. Usually, people will have gone out by this time and you avoid the peer pressure.

Meet The locals

I see it time and time again. A large group from the hostel goes and out and just talks amongst themselves. What’s the purpose of being in a foreign country if you’re not going to interact with the locals?

The digital nomad is traveling because he or she wants to experience something new and exciting – like a culture.

If you don’t know any of the language, learn some. You’d be surprised how far even just a basic knowledge of the language will get you. Most of the time, a little bit of alcohol is the only conversational lubricant you need to have hours of fun with locals.

Local friends will keep you out of the hostel and show you real city, not just the tourist spots.

Finding An Apartment Is Easier Than You Think

If you’re going to be staying in a city for a long time, then an apartment is the way to go. It shouldn’t be too hard to find one if you do a bit of digging. Check the local newspaper and ask the hostel workers.

I’ve now found 4 different apartments in Central and South America in 7 months with very little trouble. The best site I’ve come across for getting an apartment fast is Also try and can even negotiate long term stays at some hotel/resorts. All you have to do is ask.

Don’t get me wrong, hostels are fun. I’ve made great friends and had some awesome experiences staying at hostels. I’ve been the one pressuring people to go out on several occasions. But, if you’re a working digital nomad with a ton of work to get done and you can’t avoid staying in a hostel, you’ve got to have some distraction diversion plans.

Derek’s philosophy on life can be described in two words, ‘Live Uncomfortably.’ His blog chronicles his experiments in micro testing his philosophy and creating his personal lifestyle design.


Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”