Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
When Hostels Are Terrible
Sex in the Dorms
Now, I completely understand that months on the road with no action can be difficult, but really, you can be more creative than that. First of all, the shower is a perfectly acceptable place to have sex – and your hostel roommates will thank you for it. Or, why not add a little romance to the special night and splurge on a budget motel room? You could also take this opportunity to cross some things off your bucket list: having sex under the Eiffel Tower, having sex on the London Bridge, or having sex on the Italian Riviera. Basically, you could be having sex anywhere but in the hostel dorm. While I've had a few encounters with these offenders, the worst was in Interlaken, when the girl on the top bunk came home inebriated with a random guy from the bar. Not only did she wake me up with all the shaking and moaning, but also her bra somehow got tossed onto my head during the exchange. Let's just say it was very awkward the next morning.
I know people who snore can't help it but if you know you snore loud enough to wake up the whole building, please splurge on a private room. Many hostels offer them, so you'll still be able to interact with other travelers and still have the whole social experience of backpacking. Once in a 10-person hostel room in Buenos Aires, the guy next to me was snoring so loud the rest of us stayed up all night. Since I was the closest to him, I was given the task of waking him up every five minutes to tell him to roll over. His response? "Stop waking me up. I'm sleeping." Must be nice.
Dealing with Different Body Temperatures
Everyone runs on a different temperature. While some people deem 70 degrees to be tank top weather, others will have long sleeves and jeans on. When you're in a hostel, however, you need to judge how the group feels. If everyone else is sweating and for some odd reason you have a chill, ask reception for an extra blanket. Don't make everyone suffer. During a trip to São Paulo, I was in an all-girl's six-person dorm. The room always seemed to be on the humid side and we were all constantly opening the windows and turning on the fan. That is until one girl who "had a cold" decided that since having air blowing on her would make her sicker, we should turn off the fan, seal all the windows and breath in her germs. Unfortunately, she had the bed near the window and total control of whether it was open or not – not cool.
People Who Smell
Backpackers get a bad rap for not making enough use of the showers provided at the hostels. And even when laundry hasn't been done in weeks, it can seem like an unnecessary waste of time and money. Please trust me, it's not. Take a shower and do your laundry. I don't care if you need to skip a meal in order to pay for the laundry, do your fellow travelers a favor and do it. When I was in Rio de Janeiro, I actually had a guy who smelled so much like sweaty gym socks, the rest of us in the dorm would go to bed late and wake up early just to stay out of the room. Not to mention, we all now had to take extra showers and do extra laundry to get the smell off us.
Food Being Stolen
I understand that times are tough, especially when you're a jobless backpacker on the road. However, stealing other peoples' food to save money or because you're too tired after sightseeing all day to go get your own food is unacceptable. If it's not in the "community cabinet," don't touch it. On a trip to Rome, I went to the grocery store and purchased ingredients to make a killer omelet for dinner. I made sure to get enough stuff for two nights, as the next day was a holiday and the shops would be closed. After a day of sightseeing, I came back to find everything gone aside for one egg and a can of beans. So while someone enjoyed my delicious meat and cheese omelet, I got to live on crackers.
This is usually the fault of the hostel more so than the backpackers, but regardless, it's annoying. Why are there 100 forks and knives, but no spoons? How am I supposed to eat my cereal without a bowl? From a plate? Out of a saucepan? There are certain staples a kitchen should have – spoons, forks, knives, bowls, plates, cups, a frying pan, a pot and a can opener. I think a wine opener is also pretty important, but that's just me.
Obviously, everyone has different lifestyles and travel schedules. While one backpacker may love exploring a city's nightlife and staying out until sunrise, another may be the type who enjoys waking up at 7:00 a.m., sightseeing for the day and calling it a night. Sometimes people have to catch early flights, while others may not need to wake up until noon. Because of this, you need to expect a bit of shuffling and rustling at inconvenient times. That being said, you can make everyone's life easier by doing some pre-preparation. If you know you're going to be stumbling back to the hostel drunk at an ungodly hour, lay out your pajamas and a bottle of water before you leave for the night. Have a train to catch at 5:00 a.m.? Pack the night before so you only have a few odds and ends to take care of in the morning. Not only is it courteous to other travelers, but it saves you time and allows for some extra sleep.
No Shower Time
Usually when staying in a hostel, you do not have a private bathroom. Keep this in mind when getting ready. Other people are waiting to use the bathroom and shower, and it's annoying when people use up all the hot water. Of course, we're all thankful you're taking a shower – remember, people who smell are annoying – but also keep in mind you're backpacking. Nobody is expecting you to look like a supermodel on the road.
Have you ever had an annoying hostel experience?
[flickr photos via sidewalk flying, nist6ss, LizaWasHere, kimba]