Traveling Using Dorm Rooms in Hostels
Traveling alone can get very expensive, if you take accommodation into account. A private room has only one, fixed price, no matter how many people stay in it. So if you’re on a budget and not traveling as a couple, the concept of a dorm bed can be a life-saver. Not only does it save a lot of money over time, it also allows the additional benefit of interacting with fellow travelers. This is not to say that dorm rooms in hostels don’t come with their set of disadvantages as well. We’ll cover both sides of this experience in this article. So let’s begin.
When should you consider traveling using dorm rooms in hostels?
- If you’re on a budget
- If you don’t care about your quality of sleep
- If you’re in the mindset of meeting new people
You shouldn’t travel using dorm rooms if:
- You need your quiet place and privacy
- You need your sleep. This is very important for digital nomads, who need to be working the next day. You might actually be losing money if you can’t focus on your work.
The disadvantages of sleeping in dorms – and how to mitigate them
Lack of privacy and personal space
Dorm rooms can be an annoying environment if you’re not in the suitable mindset: you are not alone, people may be watching you, there may not be enough electrical plugs for everyone, shoes may smell and beds may be squeezed too tight together. If you need your space, or you’re just feeling upset, everyone can tell and they will react accordingly. This will not create a good atmosphere. Cheer up, smile, greet people when they come in – embrace the fact that you’re sharing a room and your experience will be rewarding.
The difficulty securing your belongings
Naturally, many more people have access to your stuff in dorm rooms, than in a private room – whether it’s your equipment, suitcase or phone when you’re charging it. The best way to overcome that is to pick a room or hostel that has lockers (preferably big enough for your suitcase). Also, try and increase your awareness to the possibility of theft. In addition, in dorm rooms it’s much easier to lose your stuff, or leave something behind, just because of the general messiness of many people cramped together. Try being as organized as possible and not spread out too much, not only to decrease chances of theft, but as an act of respect to your fellow roommates.
If you use dorms extensively, you’re bound to encounter one of the following uncomfortable situations: weird people who seem insane or homeless, someone having a nervous breakdown, a person with terrible hygiene, people having sex and more. That’s life, and some people have issues. The best solution for women is to stay in female only dorms. Men can mostly hope for the best. You can also try and pay a premium price for a room with less people (the best will be four beds) or a higher quality hostel. Most importantly, accept that sometimes you will have bad luck with roommates – don’t confront them, just change the room or hostel on the following day.
Lack of Sleep
This is, by far, the biggest drawback of traveling using dorm rooms in hostels. The combination of people arriving late, checking in early and packing their bags on early mornings, not to mention snoring – make for an intermittent night’s sleep . As a traveler, it’s a part of the fun, but if you’re working the next day, this could be a drag. However, you can greatly increase the quality of your sleep by picking a hostel that’s not party oriented (those tend to have drunk, talkative people coming in late) and paying extra for a room with less people. Staying with four people instead of 10 is a bit more costly, but contributes to a more relaxed and secure experience. And lastly, if your sleep is easily disturbed, consider sleeping with earplugs.
Hostels also tend to be much noisier over the weekend. If you need your sleep during that time, either opt for your own room, choose a hostel outside of city center, or even better – travel to a hostel in the courtly side. People there will go to sleep early, in preparation for their nature walks in the morning.
Best platforms to find dorm beds
Know the best type of dorm-room and hostel for you
Dorm rooms come in great variations – usually the eight-bed dorms are packed and the four beds provide a lot more space. Some hostels offer bigger rooms (e.g. 20 beds) which are not bad at all, as the room is divided into sections. You should always look at the room photos to see how much space and comfort they offer. You can always ask to change rooms, if you feel you want something better – trial and error is key.
As for the hostels, there are three basic types, each designed for a different mindset and person. It can be somewhat tricky to classify which is which, so below are a few identifying signals, mostly depending on the reviews from the websites mentioned above.
It usually has the word “party” in the name, has a pub on the premises, and entertains a younger crowd (ages frequently appear in reviews). Those hostels are all about meeting other people, but chances are you wouldn’t get much sleep there.
Those are mass hostels with hundreds of beds. They’re good for meeting other tourists and are low on surprises. Some may even look like hotels with dorm beds (which is a growing trend recently). Those usually have above average reviews in a large quantity, a good location and can be a part of a network of hostels around the region.
This is an apartment style hostel that still has more tourists than locals in its mix. People there are usually chilled out and cool and the sleep is good. They might be empty from time to time, but you can create close relationships with the staff to make up for that. You’ll see by the photos they don’t have many rooms. Reviews for these hostels will be plentiful, although not as many as the factory hostels, and most reviews will be a above average. Their location is not always in the city center.
When you’re looking for a bed to book, try to find hostels with the newest reviews. This shows you the latest situation in the hostel (things change fast). Also always look at the check-in and check-out hours, especially if you arrive late at night. While you’re at it, also check for hidden costs. Some places charge for bed sheets, towels, breakfast, city tax (mostly in Europe) and even for internet use. Finally, make sure you have a screenshot of the amount you have to pay – to avoid overcharging or wrong exchange rate.
Dorm rooms in hostels etiquette
When traveling using dorm rooms in hostels, you can only be responsible for your own behavior, but this will affect how people act around you. Here are some basic dos and don’ts when you stay in dorms:
- Don’t turn off the lights before 11PM/midnight, unless everyone is already in the room sleeping. Don’t turn on the lights if you get in the room late as well – use your phone instead.
- Arrange your belongings before lights off – both your bag and your shower kit. The same goes for checking out early – organize everything in advance, before you go to sleep.
- When you enter the room late at night with your friends, don’t whisper – it’s even worse than speaking. Simply don’t talk after lights out in dorm rooms.
- Did you hit it off with someone? Great! Don’t bring them to your dorm room to spend the night. Get a private room.
- Keep your stuff organized. Not only is it polite to keep the room tidy, but it will greatly decrease the chances of your stuff getting stolen or left behind.
- Accept what may come and be friendly. If you’re staying in a dorm room, don’t expect the same level of comfort and control as you have in your own room. Accept that things can get challenging and don’t be grumpy. If you’re sick or in a bad mood, get your own room for your own sake and others. Be nice, smile, contribute to the good vibes of the room.
- If shared toilets and showers are few, be in and out as fast as you can. Also eave them as clean as you found them. And if you like long showers – try using them at off-peek hours, like early mornings or late nights.
All things considered, traveling using dorm rooms is really a great way to save money. It canalso be the best way to meet your next traveling buddy, or even your future husband or wife. You just have to remember to keep a lite attitude and roll with the punches. Even if one room may not be the best, the next may be an experience of a lifetime.