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How to Stay in a Hostel Dorm Room Without Going Crazy

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Staying in a hostel dorm room is a necessary and routine part of backpackers’ lives. In fact, sleeping in a hostel dorm room is one of the quintessential experiences of budget travel.

These dorm rooms provide plenty of benefits; such as the opportunity to socialise with other travellers and they’re an inexpensive place to sleep. Sharing a dorm room will help you make some of your best friends and you’ll probably meet people to travel with to your next destination, but they aren’t without their share of drawbacks too. Even if your roommates follow proper dorm room etiquette throughout your stay, you may still find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of sharing a room with a dozen other people.

Whether you’re a hostel long-termer or about to go on your first backpacking trip, you may find yourself needing some extra guidance when staying in a shared dorm room at a hostel. Here are a few tips to help you stay sane when your hostel roommates are driving you crazy:

6 ways to avoid going crazy when staying in a hostel dorm

1. Bring Small Comforts

Privacy is perhaps the biggest sacrifice you’ll make when staying in a hostel dorm room. To make up for it, bring some small comforts with you. For example, packing the pillow you typically sleep with can take up a lot of valuable room in your backpack, but it may help you feel more comfortable about sharing a room with strangers. To you, that luxury may be worth the space it takes up in your bag. A pillow can also make long journeys on a bus, train or plane more comfortable.

In addition, you may want to pack a few items that can help create the illusion of privacy. For instance, if possible, choose a bottom bunk so you can put a sarong or towel up as a makeshift curtain. To block out the sound of your roommates when you need some quiet time, try earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. A sleeping mask that covers your eyes can help block out the light that someone turns on at three in the morning; as an added bonus, it signals to others that you don’t want to be disturbed right now.

nomads st kilda hostel dorm
Nomads St Kilda has privacy curtains already attached to the ‘pod’ beds

2. Sleep During Quiet Hours

In a shared dorm room, it’s likely there will always be something that makes it difficult to sleep, especially if it’s your first night there. Between partiers who come back late at night, early risers who want to make the most of their day, and your own troubles sleeping, getting some shut-eye may feel impossible.

However, some hostels observe nightly quiet hours from 10 or 11 p.m. until 7 or 8 a.m. (this varies between hostels, so be sure to check what your quiet hours with reception when you arrive). Alternatively if you really need to catch up on your sleep, do it during the day when everyone else is out exploring. Whatever your hostel’s quiet hours are, do your best to sleep then. This will maximise your chances of getting a full night of undisturbed sleep. If you sleep better, you’ll feel more like yourself, be better equipped to deal with your roommates in a pleasant manner, and enjoy your time traveling more.

3. Leave the Hostel

Avoid spending too much time at your hostel, and in your dorm room in particular. It’s all too easy to hang out with your new friends, sleep in later than planned, and only get out for a little bit of sightseeing. Hostel life can be addicting, but sooner or later, you have to get out and see your destination.

Take a break from your roommates and go walk around the city you’re in. Walking is the best way to get to know a new place. Not only is it a great way to get some exercise in without actually exercising, you can take your time experiencing your destination. You don’t have to worry about rushing from attraction to attraction; you can take your time drinking in this city and forget about your crazy roommates altogether. When you finally make it back after a long day of walking around and exploring, you’ll be tired, relaxed, and probably won’t even mind seeing your fellow hostel-mates.

byron bay lighthouse walk
Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk

4. Take Care of Yourself

When you haven’t slept well, have a stomach ache from all the junk food you’ve been eating and have a hangover, slight annoyances can easily go from no big deal to the end of the world. It’s difficult to enjoy yourself if you feel sick, unwell, or just not 100% yourself.

To enjoy your travels as much as possible, it’s vital to take care of your physical health. Having a drink with your fellow backpackers and chowing down on local delicacies are all part of the experience, yes, but that all takes a toll on your physical and mental health. It’s nearly impossible to not go crazy when sharing a dorm room with a bunch of strangers if you’re feeling under the weather. And while there’s no guarantee your roommates won’t be aggravating anyways, it’s much easier to forget about them when you don’t feel physically miserable.

Check out some healthy food options for a backpacker budget.

5. Respect Your Roommates

Always be respectful of your roommates at the hostel. Even the ones who you can’t stand, even the ones who make you want to scream, and even the ones who aren’t respectful to you. You may not want to, but your time at this particular hostel will be all the better if you don’t escalate any situations or start any conflicts.

Almost everyone you meet in your dorm room will be kind and respectful of the shared space. However, every once in a while, you’ll encounter someone who is clueless, selfish, or simply unpleasant to be around. If you really can’t stand to be around them, go down to reception and see if there is another bed in a different room available. Hostel staff want you to have fun, so whenever possible they’ll help you to move rooms.

staying in a hostel dorm
Be nice to your hostel dorm roommates!

6. Embrace the Experience

Sure, it may be frustrating if someone makes dinner in the kitchen and doesn’t clean up after themselves or worse, borrows your clothes without permission. But that’s all part of the experience! These are moments you’ll be able to look back on and laugh about after the fact. That story about your wacky roommate in Brisbane may end up being one of your favourite memories of your entire trip.

At the end of the day, do your best to make the most of your stay at the hostel. This experience won’t last forever, so embrace all of it, both good and bad. In a weird way, you’ll probably miss it when it’s over, so be sure to enjoy it while it lasts.

Author: Madison Ann Baker is a writer, Netflix-binger, and pop culture enthusiast who lives in Idaho. Literature and linguistics are her two passions, both of which she studied in college. She enjoys writing about animals and health and wellness, but dabbles in a little bit of everything. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Borador, Dash, and re-reading Harry Potter.

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