The worst night of my life happened at a hostel in Cork, Ireland.
Ok, I’m exaggerating but it was miserable.
I decided to save 2 euros and spend the night in a 6 bed co-ed dorm, instead of a female only dorm.
I was still a relatively new traveler, and every penny counted. How bad could it be?
I ended up spending the night with 5 very Irish, very drunk men on a bachelor’s weekend. I almost always book all female dorms now because it is WORTH the extra few dollars.
Why they didn’t cough up the extra 10 euro between them to buy the 6th bed I will never know but it was AWFUL.
They came home at some terrible hour, yelling and singing. They turned the lights on. One tried to crawl into my bed, thinking it was his. I pushed him out onto the floor, and there he stayed.
He slept the entire night on the floor. Snoring.
They all snored. Loudly, like they were trying to communicate with the dead. The deaf dead. I tried listening to my iPod but it didn’t help. I was so tired and frustrated, I cried the entire night.
Thankfully it was only one night, and my next group of 5 roommates were a mix of men and women, totally pleasant and easy to get along with.
One of them snored, but this is to be expected when sharing a room with strangers.
That’s what earplugs are for, but they cannot compete with the angry blasts of air coming from the noses of FIVE DRUNK IRISHMEN.
It was at some point during that miserable night that it occurred to me that there’s no written list of rules on how to behave kindly at a hostel. Some will post quiet hours, or even set the lights so they can’t be turned on, but this is rare.
It’s mostly a jungle out there, and you’re expected to behave accordingly.
There does seem to be an unwritten code on hostel behavior, and for the new and uninitiated, I thought I’d write it down for you, 7 helpful hints to being respectful. This way you can avoid having everyone think you’re the worst. That is no way to make friends, my friend.
How to Not Be the Worst Person in a Hostel:
Don’t turn the lights on after 11pm or before 7am.
This makes you a d*ck. If you happen to be the first one in the room that night after these hours, then go for it. Have a dance party. Otherwise buy a head lamp, put it under your pillow and don’t be that buttface who wakes everyone up because you can’t find your toothbrush.
If there is a bathroom on suite, limit your time to 15 minutes.
Do not go in there and treat it like your personal spa. Take a shower, dry off, get dressed and move out. Bring a small pocket hand mirror on your travels if you need to do make-up or recite your daily affirmations. Be kind and think of others who really need a pee.
Don’t have sex in the dorm room.
Just don’t. It’s gross and no one wants to hear it or see it. Get a room if you really need to get off. Most hostels have single private rooms, and then you can get weird all night without everyone knowing how many moles you have on your butt.
Avoid plastic bags if possible.
This might sound dumb, but in the middle of the night or early morning this is THE WORST SOUND EVER. The rustling sounds like a small animal building a nest next to your head. If you must, try to get things in or out of them at more appropriate times. Plan ahead. You’re smart, you can do it.
If you are leaving early AM, pack the day before.
Basically, if your plane/train/bus leaves at anytime between the afore mentioned “no lights on” hours, do your best to pack before that time. Put everything in its place back in your bag and leave out the few things you need, shoes, toothbrush etc.
It’s really not that hard, and then we don’t have to listen to you moving around at 4am, looking for your favorite traveling hoodie. It makes you a nice person, and it’s that what we all want?
Use headphones when using your devices.
Or go to a common space. Personally, the number one thing that annoys me is that clicking sound when someone types messages on their phone. It’s like water torture to me. But regardless, if you are watching a video, checking your Snapchat or calling home, use headphones.
No one wants to hear the 4 minute video of cats making human-like noises. Or if you think they do (let’s be honest, cat videos are fun) then ask and make a friend!
If you happen to be with a large group, book all the beds.
This is rare and maybe not cost effective, but weigh your 5 friends and one stranger against the extra few bucks. You can then mostly ignore the previous 5 rules because it’s now a private room.
I nearly murdered those five snoring Irishmen who wanted to save money by booking a room at a hostel for their stag weekend. IT WOULD HAVE COST THEM 2 EURO EACH FOR THE EXTRA BED. I’m not bitter. I’m totally over it.
You might not always be able to follow these guidelines, because life happens. Or perhaps the hostels have their own rules so go with those. Ask any seasoned traveler, and they will tell you there’s always the one pain who ruins everyone’s night.
You can’t please everyone all the time, but you can do your best to not be awful and share a public space in peace. That’s all anybody wants.
What unwritten rules do you follow when hostel living?
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