Have been thinking about basic “don’ts” when staying in hostels and dorms, now that I’ve got a year under my belt, so here goes a little list.
The Hostel Rules and the Dorm Rules:
1 — Be quiet. Look, this is simple and clearly the most violated rule of dorm rooms. From about midnight to 8 am, give or take, people are actually using the dorm room for sleeping. Try to be respectful of that. Don’t have a huge drunken conversation with your best buddy in the middle of the room at 3 a.m., when you get home from an “epic” night at the bar. Don’t party in the hallway right outside when people are trying to sleep. Just shut it.
2 — Keep areas clean — you Mom isn’t there to pick up after you. Common areas, kitchens (especially), and please God, don’t eat in the dorm room and leave your frickin’ dirty dishes there afterwords.
3 — No sex in the dorm room — First, yes, we can hear you. This is not an activity that is done in complete silence, at least if you are doing it with any degree of proficiency. And look, if you want to do it in public, don’t get all pissed off if I pull up a chair and offer play by play critique. FYI — this particular prohibition includes having sex without a partner. It is never appropriate to hear “Fire one!” in a dorm room.
4 — The dorm room is not the laundry room — Don’t string up a line down the middle of the room to dry your clothes. Even worse, don’t spread them out on my bed or hang them off my bed. I really don’t need to be that close to your wet socks after you got in from a five day hike.
5 — I shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t steal anything — Travel karma is a bitch and more importantly, there is a truly horrible place in hell for any traveler that steals from another.
6 — Speaking of travel karma, pay your tab with the hostel — A lot of them are cool enough to let you run tabs for staying there. Try not to ruin it for those of us that aren’t trying to scam the system and appreciate business people trying to make a living and make a traveler’s life a litte easier.
7 — Be friendly. Introduce yourself around — Hostels are a great way to meet people, especially if you are a solo traveler and for those of us that are mostly traveling solo, a friendly hello and an offer to go get a beer with you and your friends is quite welcomed.
8 — If you are leaving in the morning… PLEASE pack your stuff up the night before — Having someone pack their backpack at 5:30 a.m. is really, really, really annoying.
9 — Hostels are not clothing optional — what is the deal with 20something guys just wandering around all day without shirts on? Yes, I’m sure the girls think you are “all that,” but put a damn shirt on and act like a grown up for once.
10 — On that topic, sleeping naked is not an option, or at least, not an acceptable one — Last thing anyone wants to see when they wake up in the morning after a good night out is you rolled over away from your blanket, letting it all hang out.
11 — Carry a flashlight or torch when you go out at night — Coming home at 2 am and turning on the overhead light to find your locker and/or bed is completely unacceptable.
12 — Turn your cell phone ringer off at night — Some guys in my dorm room in Cape Town were getting text messages all night one night. Beep, beep. Beep, beep. Closest I’ve come to flushing an electronic device down a toilet.
13 — Hell, just turn the damn cell phone off entirely — You are in Bangkok and your emotional boyfriend wants to check up on your night out and talk about your relationship. You know where it is appropriate to have that conversation?? Not in my bedroom. At least take it to the hall, or better yet, the common area or outside. Check that, just book a flight home — I’m sure you two are perfect for each other. Start the marriage now.
14 — Buy your hostel workers a drink every now and again — Most of them are just fellow travelers working there for a free place to stay — they aren’t making any reasonable money. Offer to get them a drink. They deserve it for putting up with the idiots they have to deal with every day.
15 — Glad you had a great night out… Throwing up in the dorm room is unacceptable — You can make it to the bathroom. Promise. Or at least the hallway.
16 — You know why the food in the ‘fridge has a name written on it? Cause it is not yours. Don’t take other people’s food.
17 — I know we are now in the ones that make those of you that have never stayed in a hostel say, “really? People do this?” The answer is yes, they do. Don’t borrow other people’s things without asking them. That is not a community towel — I promise. And if I wanted you to watch my DVDs, I’d offer to watch with you. Just buy me some drinks.
18 — Did I mention to be quiet?
I’ll have more when I stop to think about it some more. The things people do out here. . . .
EDIT — just reviewed some old posts and forgot…. don’t watch porn on the public computers. My friend Diana has also done a great list of hostel rules and tips.