He Said/She Said: Hostel Pet Peeves

He Said/She Said: Hostel Pet Peeves

We have done quite a bit of communal living as we have traveled, staying in people’s homes while Couchsurfing, hotels with shared bathroom facilities and the traveler favorite, hostel dorms.  While these experiences have enriched our journey beyond measure, hostels in particular have given us our fair share of headaches as well.  Below is the short list of our hostel pet peeves.

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HE SAID…

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Insert random strangers, shake, and see what happens.  Hostels are the last bastion of alchemy, all the mixing in the world won’t produce gold, but you’re sure to get some interesting results.  The best part of hostels not knowing what you’re going to get in terms of rooms, facilities, people and experience until you’re there.  This creates a lot of frustrating experiences but many hostels are doing a lot to make stays better.  These are the great ideas I’ve seen and wished others would do to shorten my list of pet peeves.

Small dorm rooms (3-5 people).  The traditional dormitory has a row of bunks in a great big room, sleeping 12-20+.  With each additional person in a room the noise increases exponentially and the comfort diminishes greatly.  Newer hostels have broken up that long room into many 3-5 bed dorm rooms.  Guest get the same budget price of a dorm room, use about the same amount of space, but everyone is more comfortable with a quieter room, more security for their things and a snorer annoys just a handful instead of everyone.

Building smaller rooms also does another thing, it reduces the space and crowd to hang out in the sleeping area.  This is actually a benefit, people use the dorm area for changing and sleeping rather than eating, socializing and hanging out.  Provided there is ample and comfortable common areas this makes things a lot more comfortable, those wanting to sleep can do it in peace.  Those that want to socialize can do it in the areas meant for that, usually stocked with affordable beer, movie rooms and people that want to hear theories of the long-term traveler.

A great way to do dorms, individual pods in Reggae Penang Hostel.  Each pod was solid, very quiet, had its own shelf electricity and light.

Bed curtains and individual lights do a great job helping those who want to sleep and those that come in late.  Instead of having to turn on a central light, revelers can stumble to their bunk and turn on the light on their bed to arrange whatever they desperately need to arrange in the middle of the night.  With the other beds having full height and width heavy curtains those that want to sleep don’t have to deal with the commotion going on in the room.

As you can probably guess at this point, my hostel pet peeves are completely centered on sleeping.  This is the activity that I value the most in a hostel, my ability to sleep, when I want.  I love the hostels that are working to keep sleeping areas clean and quiet, while providing great entertainment, company and social spaces.

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SHE SAID…

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I love the idea of communal living.  I get me energy from people and sharing resources just makes sense to me on an environmental and social level.  I’m all about community, peace, tolerance and all that hippie shit; but sometimes it’s nice to have your own space, your own bathroom and a kitchen all to yourself.  Staying in hostels non-stop can really wear on you, especially if you spend every night in a dorm room with a mixed bag of travelers.

Once you get over the privacy issue, which you have to pretty quickly to survive at a hostel, the dorm room becomes like a giant sleepover.  In fact every night has the potential to be the most fun sleepover-party you have ever attended.  You just hope that three people don’t crash your party: the anti-flashlighter, the plastic-bag-wrinklier or  the exploding-backpack-carrier.

The anti-flashlighter gets under my skin because regardless of how many people might be sleeping or what time it is, because they refuse to use a flashlight they have to turn the room light on to find their toothpaste, then to find their toothbrush and a third time to put it all away.  Please just use a head lamp, torch, flashlight, whatever it takes to spare us from being awakened by the bright glow of the fluorescent flood light overhead.

The exploding-backpack-carrier is rather comical unless of course they put their exploding backpack right next to yours.  This is the person that arrives in the dorm and immediately spreads out their stuff everywhere.  They’ve got clothes on a line from one end of the room to the other, towels draped over their bed to dry and the contents of their bag strewn all over the floor.  This, much more than public display of affection, makes me want to say “get a room!”

The plastic-bag-wrinkler could be the worst offender of the three.  This is the person that has seemingly decided to wrap up every item they are carrying in plastic bags and then needs these items at 3:00 am.  The noise is so loud in a quiet dorm room that immediately you are jolted from sleep assuming you are under attack.  As the plastic bag wrinkling marathon continues for what seems like forever you toss and turn in bed hoping it will end soon and wondering why they could possibly need to open so many plastic bags at this hour.

With all my hostel pet peeves aired, I have to say that I wouldn’t travel any other way.  Sure if we were traveling on a larger budget we would get our own room, but I love all the quirky people you meet at hostels and besides there is the potential every night of having the best sleepover-party of your life.

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Comments

» Bka :
Apr 5, 2012

As you know, we were hostel virgins until our downunder travels…..as you also know, our 50 nights with “strangers” was arguably a highlight……the main difference being we spent the extra 10-20% for a private double room…..we ran into a number of 28 plus something’s who were staying in private rooms having had there share of bag crinklers, backpack exploders and anti torchers…..easy for me to say spend the $$$, but peace, privacy and ones travel sanity has a price and this is one place where I believe it is money well spent…….my 2 cents or 2 bucks a night perspective……love you….be safe dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, there is such a thing as travel sanity?! Just kidding, I totally agree with you on spending the $$ on a private room and often times we do. However, dorm rooms are not only much cheaper in many places, but sometimes the only thing available when you haven’t planned ahead. I do hope that this post doesn’t turn anyone off from the hostel experience because in a private room I would argue hostels are better than hotels!

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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