For those that haven't travelled much, will be travelling in the near future or have just started their round the world adventure, this is for you to learn the 'rules' for backpackers in hostel or general hostel etiquette. For those who are avid travellers you will probably agree with most of these. We've all met these people on our travels.
1) Stealing people's food - Many a backpacker has encountered this at some point. They get to the fridge for their morning breakfast and some greedy thief has stolen all their milk, bread, cheese etc. It's very frustrating, especially when you are on a tight budget. Remember, it could happen to you and is just a really shitty thing to do.
2) Complementary Rice / Pasta or Tea & Coffee - On the same theme free things provided in the hostel are a bonus, you might get free tea or coffee, rice, pasta... Be considerate, don't take the whole container or pack just because it's there. It's for everyone to share, not just for you.
3) Having sex in a dorm - After a few weeks of traveling I think all backpackers come to the conclusion that they will, at some point, hear people having sex in their dorm room. So if needs must and you have to have a bit of rumpy pumpy in the dorm, go ahead and do it. But do it quietly. We don't all want to hear every moan and groan, nor do we wish to hear what you would like them to do with their tongue or fingers to drive you wild. If you want the throes of passion and want to be loud, upgrade yourself to a private room where you can act like animals all night long.
4) Farting in a lift - It's not big, it's not clever and it's just vile. Walking into a cloud of bottom gas is bad enough, but being trapped and confined in a small elevating box for several floors having to smell (and taste if ripe enough) and having your gag reflexes tested to the limit is nobody's idea of a good time (unless they have some peculiar fetish, which we'll discuss another time).
5) Turning on the lights - Now until about 11pm/midnight, it's generally acceptable to have the lights on in a dorm but any later starts to grind people's gears, especially when they have to be up at 6am for a bus/plane. However at 4 in the morning (unless the whole room is up) it is not acceptable. Nobody cares if you are drunk and can't find your phone, it's not an excuse to turn the light on, invest in a torch. Don't be a douchebag.
6) The after 9am rule - Continuing on from the above. Complaining that people are making too much noise after 9am because you have a hangover is tough. People have different agendas and after 9am, most people are up for their day. If you have a hangover, deal with it, sunshine, especially if you have woken them up the night before. ;)
7) The before 9am rule - If you are the one that is leaving/going to work a rule applies to you also. Not everyone wants to be woken up at 6am because you have to catch a flight or a bus and are frantically packing up all your belongings or trying to do your make-up. Pack them all the night before so you are ready to leave effortlessly and quietly in the morning and do your make-up in the bathroom or expect a few sharp curse words from everyone else.
8) Plastic bags - NO, JUST NO! These are the bane of most people's lives. The rustling through plastic bags sends anger through even the most patient of people. Every movement echoes around the room, forcing it's way so unseductively into your eardrums, scritching and scratching at every rustle. It will definitely garner you more than just a few death glares and a threat of the plastic bag being wrapped around your head.
9) Talking on the phone in the room - 'Oh My God, she did that with him and a cucumber, no way!'... Firstly why you'd want to have a private convo with your loved ones in front of strangers baffles me, but when said convo turns into an argument with a partner back home or intimate details that makes people wish they had cut off their own ears, it's time to leave the room and find somewhere private to talk.
10) Unpacking your backpack - Now if you feel the need to get your entire wardrobe out of your bag, then do so. But the floor is not your new drawer and my bed is not a shelf for your dirty clothes. You may find that your stuff gets launched into the bin if you don't abide by this one. Be considerate! Don't take up half of the room and have your things cluttering the whole dorm and hanging on other peoples beds.
11) Clean up after yourself - This sort of follows on from the unpacking your backpack rule. Although hostels try very hard to keep everywhere clean, it would be much easier, and much more pleasant for your fellow travelers if you cleaned up after yourself! There are no magic cleaning fairies hanging around to wipe up after every spill, or wash up your dishes ready for the next person. The kitchen and dining areas are for everyone.
12) Clean yourself! - Shower every day, wash your dirty clothes, ask for clean sheets after 2/3 days, and please wash your trainers if you have smelly feet! Don't wait for mould and fungus to grow on your bed, body or clothes, no one wants to be the one to say you smell.
13) Computers/laptops - Just because wifi is free or cheap, you really shouldn't be on it for longer than half an hour a day, especially if you don't know many people in your room. It seems rude, you seem boring, you haven't come halfway across the world to spend countless hours on Facebook checking to see what your mates did on their night out or how cute your sisters kitten looks and you really are missing out on meeting some potentially great people. You're in a hostel, have fun, talk to people!
Adhering to the above 'rules' will prevent you from being 'that guy'! There are many more "unspoken rules" for general hostel etiquette, these rules are not usually posted on a wall or given out when you check in, but are something that all backpackers should really know (seriously, why aren't the above just common sense?). Or maybe the hostels should hand the unspoken rules of general hostel etiquette out to everyone... what do you think?
Happy travels everyone!