I love to stay in hostels! I know that when people get to my age that it is less common to hear a statement like this, but it is true. I love meeting travelers from all over the world, sharing travel experiences, and making new travel buddies when I’m traveling solo. However, hostel life is not always perfect; in fact it can get downright annoying.
I want to write this post to share a few unspoken rules about staying in a hostel- specifically a hostel dorm.
1. Mess: When you are staying in a dorm it is not polite to leave your things scattered all over the floor. In fact, if I need to step over your things to get to the dorm room door that is really too much. It would be best to keep your things in the locker provided. I wouldn’t even care if you things were spread out all over your bed- or even under the bunk beds, but if it blocks the walkway, it needs to be cleaned up.
2. Lights: If it is after 10PM and most of the dorm beds are full of sleeping people, it is not polite to leave the lights on. This is what head lamps are for. Everyone understands that if you were out partying and you didn’t think people would be asleep at midnight that you might have turned on the lights by accident. When you see people sleeping this is when you grab your head lamp or cell phone and take care of business. One should certainly NOT leave on the light when most of the room is sleeping.
3. Shower: If there is an attached bathroom and there are 7 other girls who might need to shower, use the toilet, or get ready to go out, it is not very courteous to take a half hour long shower. I have super thick hair that almost reaches my ass and I can personally tell you that I can shower AND shave my whole body in less than 10 minutes. If you want to take a long shower do it during the day when there isn’t a line of people waiting for the bathroom.
4. Laundry: I am a firm believer in traveling carry on only whenever possible. This means that you will need to periodically wash your clothing. Again, if there is a line of people waiting for a dorm bathroom, that is not a good time to wash ALL of your clothing. The easiest thing to do is to wash your underwear and socks that you just wore while you are IN the shower. It should only take a couple of minutes. You can also re-wear a shirt a couple of times and you might not even need to wash your jeans unless you are tromping through some mud. Most hostels also have very affordable laundry service if you let your stuff get to the point where you have a big pile of clothes to be washed.
5. Sex: If you want to have a good time with someone get your own room…or at least do your business while nobody else is in the room! I don’t want to see or hear your private business.
6. Vomit: If you had a bit too much to drink and need to be sick in the bathroom then do it. By all means do it in the attached bathroom (much better than a trash can or the middle of the floor), just be sure to clean it up afterward so others can use the bathroom after you.
7. Noise: Most hostels set quiet time at 10 PM in the dorms. I always wear earplugs so I don’t wake up when people come in late. However, if I hear you chatting with your friends in the dorm while I am wearing earplugs that is a sign that you are too loud. If you still want to hang out after 10, do it in the common area, you will most likely meet other like-minded people.
8. Kitchen: I don’t think I have ever been in a hostel kitchen that does not have a sign that says, “Clean up after yourself!” Yet every time I go into a hostel dorm I still see dirty dishes piled in the sink! I don’t like to do dishes either. Heck, that is one of the main reasons I have a maid! However, when I stay in a hostel and I cook something I clean up after myself so someone else can use the dishes after me.
9. TV Room: I don’t watch much TV, but in Cusco I was waiting in the TV room for my bus. While I was there I was shocked at how rude some people can be when it comes to using a common area. If you are watching a show for an hour and it comes to an end, it is not rude for six people to come into the room and take a vote to watch something else. It is certainly not a good reason to start yelling at someone. You have had your turn and now it is time to share! As I used to tell my pre-schoolers, “sharing is caring.” Adults share too.
10. Smoking: I am a non-smoker, but I know people who smoke and generally they are courteous when they do so. When I was in La Paz, I just ran into a hoard of discourteous smokers. It is courteous to smoke outside! If you have the option of smoking in a well ventilated covered area without any walls and a courtyard without any ventilation, choose the well ventilated area! If you want to smoke, do it, just be conscious of those around you.
Most of the time when I stay in hostels I don’t have these problems (like the Beehive in Sucre- wonderful place and great people), but on my last trip I came across people who were breaking one rule after another. Try to be polite and try to be courteous because first impressions are everything. Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you wouldn’t do something at home, don’t do it on vacation.
Do you have a hostel horror story; share it below! Do you have more rules to add to this list?