Using an inn/hostel as overnight accomodation on a bushwalk

“Home is in your head.” Author unknown

Inns/hostels can make comfortable and convenient overnight accommodation on overnight bushwalks and saves you carrying sleeping gear.

Hostels can fill up quickly, so be sure to book in early. Check what equipment such as bedding, cooking and food supplies you need to carry, and what time you need to be out of your room in the morning.

Check Checking your Inn/Hostel

Before you leave on your bushwalk, double check a few things about your accommodation.

Location & contact details
Make sure you know where the accommodation is located, and how to get to it from the bushwalking track. Check what you must do if you arrive later than expected, i.e. will the reception still be open or do you need to contact an after-hours receptionist?

It can be helpful to carry a contact number for the accommodation in case you have trouble locating it, or you want to alert your host that you are running late.

Booking details & payment
Print out a copy of your booking reference (or have it readily to hand on your mobile device). Clarify how you’ll pay for your room booking, and don’t forget to carry your credit card. If it’s possible, making an advanced payment can be a great way to alleviate stress around the booking, however, you’ll probably still want to carry a method of payment to settle up for additional extras (e.g. breakfast, phone calls etc.). Check that they accept the payment method you intend to use.

Bedding, linen & toiletries
Some hostels provide all linen and toiletries, while others expect you to bring all of these. Double check so that you’re not caught out. It makes a lot of sense to lighten your pack by avoiding carrying an extra sleeping bag and towel that’s not needed.

Double check the food situation: is there a meal provided with your booking, or will you need to carry in some/all of your food?

Arrival/departure times
Hostels/inns usually have arrival and departure times. Double check you know these in advance and plan your bushwalking schedule accordingly.

Use in field Using an inn/hostel as overnight accomodation on a bushwalk

Hostels and inns can be great places to meet other bushwalkers as well as relaxing and recharging after a long day on the track.

In some inns and hostels, you’ll have your own private bedroom, whereas in others, you could be sharing in a dormitory with several others.

If sharing a dormitory with other people, it’s helpful to have an eye-mask and earplugs as you may find it noisier or louder than usual and harder to sleep.

Care & Maintenance Looking after your inn/hostel room

In a private room setting, treat the room and contents with care, and report any damaged items to management. Respect your neighbours, keep noise to a minimum after 10pm and try to make as little noise as possible if you have an early departure.

In a dormitory setting, be considerate to your other roommates: look out for them and share the space respectively. Be friendly: have a chat to your other roommates, check they are ok. Share tips, snacks and ask people if they want to join in your card game.

Keep noise to a minimum in the evenings and mornings: people are on different timetables, with some people getting up very early, or falling asleep late. This is particularly true when sharing a dormitory with several other people. In a dormitory, turn main lights off after 10pm: use a head torch if you want to keep reading or need to enter/exit the room.

Keep your gear tidy and organised: don’t leave gear lying around a shared dorm room. Instead, find out where you can hang out your wet gear so that it doesn’t smell and annoy others.

If you’re leaving early in the morning pack as much as you can the night before. For those sharing in a dormitory, finish packing your final pieces of gear away from people sleeping, and preferably out of the room.

In shared bathroom facilities, keep shower lengths short, and leave facilities clean for the next user.

Selection Selecting a suitable inn/hostel

Although it’s far more common in Europe to stop at hostels along a multi-day walk (e.g. The El Camino Trail), there are some options to do this in Australia for example on the Great North Walk and Six Foot Track. It’s worth keeping this in mind as a great option to avoid carrying heavy packs and enjoy some creature comforts along the track.

Here are some things to think through when selecting a suitable inn or hostel on your trip.

On some trips, the track may go straight past a suitable hostel, whereas on others, you may need to detour off the track. Consider how far you need to detour to get to the hostel and factor this in when assessing if it is a good option. If the hostel is a significant distance away, it may be better to organise a taxi pickup or consider other options like camping instead.

Single or shared room
It can be fun to share a dormitory with others, but it’s not for everyone. In a dorm with 4-8 other people, there will be a lot of shuffling and scuffling noises throughout the night as people settle down, change position, and hop up during the night to use toilets.

Some people are susceptible to noise, and find it incredibly difficult to sleep with other noises and sounds. If this sounds like you, then a shared dormitory is probably not the right choice! However, if you’re reasonably comfortable that you can sleep well enough in a room with others and still be able to function well on the track the next day, then it might be the right choice for you.

If you’re looking into group accommodation for everyone on your trip, bear in mind that everyone will have a different budget to you. And an amount that might be reasonable for one person could be extremely tricky for someone else. That’s why it’s great to provide options. Hostels often have a couple of different room setups that cater to different budgets: private en-suite rooms being at the high end of the spectrum and 10-bunk dorms at the lower end. The main thing is to be upfront and transparent with your party about what the expected costs of the accommodation are. Don’t forget to check for hidden costs (e.g. meals, linen).

Some hostels will provide meals, whereas others won’t offer any. Check in advance to find out and be prepared. If the hostel is in a community, you may be able to go out for a pub meal in the evening, however, if the hostel is remote, then you’ll be relying on the hostel to provide (or bring in your own food).

Facilities and access
Lastly, check what facilities come with the hostel and that access will work for you and your group. For people with mobility restrictions, check critical issues including things like that rooms have minimal steps and bathrooms are wide enough to access, and with support railings. Likewise for other types of impairments or disabilities within your group.

A few websites that may be useful when searching for accommodation: