Throughout my two years on the road, I have slept in over 100 beds around the world, have had over 1,000 different roommates, and have gathered stories that require a bottle of wine to be discussed. I had no idea what to expect when the trip started or what it would be like to live in a room with eight or more different strangers at a time. The closest thing I could relate it to was living in a college dorm room at the University of Kansas, but oh dear was it nothing like that.
Whether you are an experienced backpacker looking for a laugh and something relatable to read, or you are just about to head out on your first backpacking experience, please keep in mind these tips on how not to be the most hated person in the dorm as you spread the travel love! Also- you may be grossed out by a few stories mentioned here (you have been warned!) Happy travels my friends. 🙂
Put your clothes on. No seriously. You would think that you wouldn’t have to tell people of adult age to do this, but there are so many females (yes ladies, its you) that walk around naked in the dorm room for an excessive amount of time. I understand if you just got out of the shower and are changing clothes so you are naked for a couple minutes, but those travelers who walk around naked for at least 30 minutes- stop, just stop. It’s not fair for the other people in the dorm room that have to see that. (This is a specific shout out to the two German girls in Cali, Colombia who just did not know how to keep their clothes on.)
Keep your area clean. I think people tend to forget that a dorm room is a communal space and that people need to be able to walk around to the bathroom and into the room. There have been so many times where I have to step over items littered all over the floor in order to get to my dorm bed. Most hostels provided lockers- use them so that your panties and shoes are not littered all over the floor for others to step over.
Take a shower and use soap. Please shower. Everyone can smell you and I promise no one likes you for it. All of us want to be able to sleep in peace and be in our dorm room without having to smell the BO next to us, especially when it’s in a place like Leon, Nicaragua where there is only one fan and the temperature is above 100 degrees (true story).
Be courteous when returning after a late night out. I get it. You’re drunk and that super hot Australian guy didn’t want to take you home so you have to cry to your best friend back home over skype about how it could have been and yada yada, but don’t. No need to turn on the lights when you enter the dorm room either because everyone but you is sleeping. You probably have a phone with you (because you wanted to document your drunken night out), so please use the light on it or something to find your bed. I found it very helpful to leave my pj’s, glasses, and contact case on the bed by my pillow before heading out so that I wouldn’t have to go searching for it at 4:00 am.
Don’t use the communal bathroom as your personal laundry facilities. It is never a pleasant morning when I walk into the communal bathroom in the dorm to brush my teeth and I look down in the sink and there is a pair of wet and bloody pair of underwear (true story that happened in a hostel in Buenos Aires). Ladies: please, please, please just DO NOT. I am getting grossed out all over just thinking about it again, EEK.
Keep it in your pants. If you want to touch yourself or have sex with your significant other, friend, or person you just met at the club that you wont remember in the morning then please please please get a private room instead of camping out in the top bunk. I know people have used the bathrooms as well because there has been more than once when I have walked in to take a shower in the morning and there is a condom on the floor. GROSSSSSSSS people, just gross. Throw the condom away or just splurge the few extra bucks between the two of you and just get a private room!! We all beg of you!
Only your bed is your bed. When you are traveling solely out of a backpack and a twin bed is all you have to call yours for an evening, space becomes sacred and territorial! There will be times when you want to hang your towel or bathing suit up to dry for the evening after that awesome surf lesson in Nicaragua, but please only do it on your bed. Space is sacred and you want to make friends – not enemies in the dorm rooms.
Use only your stuff. As a backpacker, you travel with everything you own and use literally on your back. You have spent time to decide what you want to bring, how much of a certain product, and how heavy you want your pack to be. Items that you carry on your back are sacred and sometimes devastating when lost. In that case, if you are in the dorm and you see a lotion on someones bed and you think, “why not, no one will know.” Don’t do it! In general, backpackers are very giving and open individuals- ask first if you really want to use something. Don’t ever ever take something of someone else’s.
While all backpackers have had some horror stories of staying in a hostel dorm room, there is nothing comparable to it! Without hostels, there are so many friendships that would have never been formed from a simple, “Hey- wanna grab a beer with us?”, as soon as a newcomer walks in the dorm. Try a hostel out- 9 times out of 10 it will be a good experience, and you never know- you may meet your future travel bud or best friend!
Leave a comment below and share one of your dorm room experiences!