Perspectives: living the dorm life

You’ve done it. You’ve heard of others doing it. You’ve told stories about them doing it.

Aaaah yes, inconsiderate, noisy dorm life. Whether it’s the rustle of a plastic bag late at night, the sounds of a not-so-discreet couple, or the flicking on and off of lights – there are so many reasons to hate, and love, hostel sharing.


1. What has your most shameful dorm behaviour been?

I have no sordid tales of shame to tell, but I used to be very attached to my headlamp that I would whip out on the odd occasion for reading, searching in my bag or toilet navigation purposes. The aim of said headlamp was to be as unobtrusive as possible, but on my last backpacking adventure it was revealed to me by a friend that this light is actually quite obnoxious for fellow dorm stayers. Oops!

2. Mixed or single sex dorms?

I used to go either way on this, but after staying in an enormous 20 bed dorm in Singapore and coming out of the bathroom to find a British army guy unashamedly toweling himself off then parading around the dorm fully starkers for a good half hour with absolutely no intention of putting  his merchandise away, that kind of changed! These days I would tend to book a female dorm if it’s available, but will stay in a mixed dorm if it’s the only option.

3. Best hostel dorm you’ve ever stayed in?

I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels. Some really nice and some incredibly dodgy. Often hostels seem to meld together to form one continuous bed-hop during a trip, details blur together. One hostel experience that does stand out, however, was my first foray to a “flashpackers” back in 2006. Flashpacking was a relatively new concept at the time, and I couldn’t believe how clean and new everything was at the Flamingo Hostel in Krakow (especially the bathroom!). It was all enhanced by a great bunch of fellow guests and a party in the lovely, comfortable lounge room into the wee hours.


1. What has your most shameful dorm behaviour been?

I’m a pretty considerate traveller (in my humble opinion). My most shameful behaviour would have to be actually agreeing to stay in a dorm at all, knowing full well that my other half would be properly merry after a planned night out on the lash for a girlfriend’s birthday in Paris. And therefore prone to snoring. And snore he did. After barging into the dorm, and banging around getting ready for bed at 4am, he proceeded to snore so much that not only was I worried that the walls were going to collapse from the shaking of his bunk against them, that the other dorm occupant left the room at 5am on a Sunday morning. When nothing in Paris is actually open. Oddly, our only other dorm mate was TheRationalOptimist – who claimed not to hear his snoring at all!

2. Mixed or single sex dorms?

I have to admit, although mixed dorms are handy when you’re travelling in groups or with your partner, as per above, guys can really snore. LOUDLY. And while ear plugs do go some way to assisting, there are just some guys (usually drunk, often my boyfriend) who are louder than any foam plug can handle. For that reason alone, I’d go with a girls only dorm if I could. Plus, I can get changed without having to go to the bathroom.

3. Best hostel dorm you’ve ever stayed in?

The Cranky Croc in Bogota, Colombia has got to be up there. Great security – the bunks are spacious (big enough for two average sized people) and under each one are two big drawers that you put your own lock onto – big enough to pop your whole pack into, AND with power sockets on the inside for safe and secure charging of your gear. I was in a six person dorm (and yes, there was a snorer – but we’re still friends) and while it was pretty cosy, because there were only six of us it didn’t seem crazily packed with people. Plus the doonas were soooooo warm.


1. What has your most shameful dorm behaviour been?

I’ve never engaged in dodgy dorm behaviour myself but have witnessed it. I was once asleep in the bottom bunk of a dorm room in the Cranky Croc hostel in Bogota, Colombia. Suddenly I found myself awoken by the serenading sounds of muffled love making in the neighbouring bunk, which quickly turned into loud and frantic sex. If that wasn’t bad enough, the couple sleeping in the bunk on the other side of me took that as their queue to start shagging, so I was wide awake at 3am (along with everyone else in the dorm) being surrounded by quivering bunks.

2. Mixed or single sex dorms?

When I’m a backpacker on a budget, I will stay at whichever is cheaper.  I don’t mind getting changed in front of men or even seeing their dirty undies balled up on the floor, but on the whole, men snore more frequently and louder than women. This is easily solved by the use of ear plugs however, a staple of every well-prepared backpacker.

3. Best hostel dorm you’ve ever stayed in?

One of the most memorable hostels I’ve stayed in was La Iguana Perdida, or the Lost Iguana, in Santa Cruz on the shores of the beautiful Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Of course the rooms were comfortable and more than sufficient for any traveler that makes it to these shores by local boat, but the best things about this place are the communal shared dinners, the Saturday night cross dressing parties (they have an entire room filled with clothing for you to put together a suitable outfit!), and amazing views of the volcanoes towering over the glassy surface of the lake.

la iguana perdida guatemala cross dressing party


2 thoughts on “Perspectives: living the dorm life

  1. Pingback: Can you have too many holidays? How to travel more. | Laugh Lots, Travel Often

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