TOP HOSTEL RULES – The don’ts of staying in a dorm room.
When traveling, I almost always stay in hostels. And, in dorm rooms in those hostels. Besides cost, they are the best way to meet other travellers. I enjoy this (generally under 40) age group the most. And, after nine years and 60 or so hostels per year, I have rarely had problems getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Not surprisingly, most people staying in hostels are also interested in a peaceful night and as a result are a respectful bunch. Staying in a dorm room with strangers can have challenges though. This may be their first dorm room experience and as a result not understand the unwritten “code of conduct”. Here’s how to be nice to your roommates.
Here are some handy tips to make your hosteling experience all the better.
1. Showers. Don’t treat shared bathrooms like a spa. Everyone can shower in 7 minutes or less. If hot water is precious, take a “navy shower” – turn on the water only to wet yourself and rinse shampoo and soap. Dry your feet before stepping out of the shower. Shower outside the rush hours of early mornings and late evenings to avoid queuing. If showering early in the morning, collect all the necessary stuff, put into a plastic bag and it is possible to exit the dorm and not disturb your neighbours.
2. Lights out from 11 PM to 7 AM. Carry a headlight if you need to see at night.
3. Departing early? Pack completely the night before and finish outside the room in the morning. Plastic bags make a lot of noise. Don’t rummage in the room.
4. Good quality earplugs can be a god send. Have some custom fit or try wax ones. This is the only way to deal with a snorer. Almost as valuable are eye covers for “dormates” who turn lights on at inappropriate times.
5. Snoring. If you are a snorer, it is not unreasonable to accept that dorm rooms are not the place for you to bunk down. It is just not fair to the other 5-15 people sharing your sleeping space. If you have a snorer in your room that even ear plugs can’t deal with, try asking for another room or ask the front desk to remove the offender to a more private space.
6. Think before you hit the light switch. Head lights or smart phones are invaluable. And if you’re the one blinded by the lights, eyeshades work well.
7. Romance. Leave at the dorm room door. There are better venues for romance (a private room or behind a sand dune).
8. Odours. Lay off the beans. We’re all human. Think about that pack towel that you have used five times as they can be rank – wash them regularly or hang them outside. A sour beer/booze breath odour pervades many a dorm room after the boys have a night out.
9. Keep your clothes on. Be sensitive that your neighbors might have differing comfort levels when it comes to naked you.
10. Don’t be the guy with the phone. Phone calls, Email and twitter dings, and alarms at 4 AM are inconsiderate (use the vibrate mode).
11. Don’t be the dorm room slob – suit cases in the middle of the floor, your possessions spread all over the place, hanging your wet towel on other people’s space. Those lessons about tidiness you ignored while growing up? They’re coming back to haunt you. Use the in-room lockers or store your pack under the bed.
12. Don’t lounge with laundry. Some people hang their just-washed trekking gear around the dorm room, looping bras around bedposts and stringing socks over the windowsill. The musty smell alone is an issue. Most hostels have drying rooms where guests are encouraged to hang their wet clothes.
13. No pinching. While borrowing someone’s belongings is fine if you have their consent, taking them altogether is quite another. Your moral compass knows the difference. If you need to borrow, ask. And try to keep your own essentials out of sight.
14. Heat/Air Conditioning/Open Windows. This is a delicate issue. Many people (and generally women) sleep “cold” and turn on the heat. But I am a very “warm” sleeper and always travel with a light sleeping bag. I love a cold room and like windows open for ventilation. As a result this is a frequent source of conflict. I prefer to not sleep in mixed dorms for this reason. Try to negotiate with your dorm mates what works for everyone.