A Brief Guide To The World Of Hostel Dorm Rooms

Dormitory rooms in hostels and backpackers. Love them or hate them they are usually the cheapest form of accommodation and a necessity to travelers looking to save a few bucks. Being a long-term budget traveler myself, I am very familiar with the world of dorm rooms and have had my fair share of interesting, surprising and memorable experiences within the walls of a dorm. Drawing from these experiences I have put together a list of tips, dos, don’ts and some basic dormitory etiquette that hopefully helps you become a great dormitory roommate if you aren’t one already!

Have an Eye-Mask and Earplugs/Earphones

If you are a light sleeper these items are going to save your life. There is no doubt that at least once in your dorm room experiences someone is going to be unnecessarily switching the lights on and off and making an uncalled for racquet while you are trying to sleep. Instead of letting the frustration boil up inside you and result in you making a flippant comment, why not just slap on an eye-mask and listen to some calming music through ear phones. Ear plugs work wonders too.

If You Have an Early Departure, Pack the Night Before

Heed these words! Contrary to popular belief, packing is not a quiet activity. It involves rustling and shoving and squeezing and pushing that all come with a variety of exceptionally annoying noises if you are trying to sleep. If you know you are leaving early the following morning, try and do most of your packing the night before as to not wake up your roommates when you leave. Whenever I notice a roommate has left without waking me up I am eternally grateful to them.

Make Friends, But Party Outside of the Dorm

There’s nothing better than meeting a like-minded person in your dorm room and it often happens because hey… you’re both budget travellers so you have that in common already! It can be tempting to have a full on slumber party where you get cosy on each other’s beds, paint your nails and show each other funny videos. And if you are the only people in the dorm, by all means go ahead! But as entertaining as this can be, it is exceptionally annoying to have people take over the dorm with their own agenda and bouts of endless giggling. There are plenty of common areas in most hostels where you can get your friendship on!

The infamous Balmer's Hostel in Interlaken, Switzerland

The infamous Balmer's Hostel in Interlaken, Switzerland

Bring a Small Headlamp or Reading Lamp

Very few dorm rooms, although there are more around these days, come with built in reading lamps. If you enjoy reading in bed before you sleep, it is essential for you to have your own lamp as you can’t expect the rest of the dorm to allow you to decide when the main light goes on and off. A small light is also super handy if you have lost something in the dark and need to find it without waking everyone else up.

Keep Track of Your Belongings

I really do want to have faith that my fellow roommates would never steal from me but it has happened before where items have gone missing from my dorm room. Most backpackers and hostels offer a locker facility and I would suggest keeping all your valuables in a locker if you are staying in a dorm. It’s also a good idea to keep your other items under your bed as people may trip over them if they come stumbling in after a night out.

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Dorms offer a truly unique experience and although they can come with their fair share of issues, snorers, drunk people, weird smells, etc, it is an experience that I truly recommend. Even if you’re not a budget traveler, you should stay in a dorm at least once in your life. There are even some luxury dorm rooms out there where you will find the occasional mid-sixties couple crashing for the night before embarking on their 14-day cruise!