About 6 weeks into my travels I carelessly dropped my phone and fucked the screen, and this clumsy mistake cost me £118.00 which I really didn’t need.
Up until that point I’d been happy to spend a little bit extra on private rooms (never paying more than £10 a night) as the thought of staying in dorm rooms was daunting and I wasn’t keen on the idea of sharing a room with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I’m also a light sleeper so the thought of lack of sleep was also off-putting especially as I’m not a nice person when I’ve not slept well.
Now that I had this extra expense I needed to claw back some extra money so I decided to bite the bullet and get over my fear of dorm rooms. It can’t be that bad, right? I read up on “dorm etiquette” from some established travellers and thought, ok it seems like there are some rules and being a considerate person I naively assumed most travellers would extend the same consideration…do they fuck!
I will admit some dorms were great (and Japan’s were the cleanest and most comfortable) and some of the people I met were lovely, but in the end I found sharing my space with a bunch of strangers to not be my thing and here’s why:
1) I’m introverted and I like my space at a time which suits me, I want to be able to shut the door on the world. Admittedly, staying in dorms did force me to be somewhat patient and not killing anyone feels like a great accomplishment, so if that’s all I can take from the experience then that’s fine with me.
2) Being introverted I find that my energy levels plummet if I’ve spent too long around people. I need space to recharge my batteries, this means I don’t want to see anyone even out the corner of my eye even if they’re quiet (there are only a handful people in my life where an exception is made, strangers are not on that list!). I want to be alone with my thoughts, or reading, or whatever. It’s not personal and it’s taken me years to realise that this is my way of re-energising. Being in a hostel environment and not being able to escape and be in solitude makes me irritable, that’s not good for anyone.
3) How many fucking times does one need to zip and unzip one’s suitcase…at God knows what time in the morning? What could possibly be so important that you have to disturb everyone who’s sleeping. Yes, sleeping, because that’s what most people do at 2am….they sleep! Also, people…pack your shit the night before leaving at a reasonable hour for the love of God!
4) And if it isn’t the zips on bags it’s the rustling of plastic bags. It’s up there with the top 10 list of annoying sounds in the world. Rustle, rustle, rustle! Here…let me put that bag over your head, don’t fight it’ll be over in a matter of minutes!
5) Personally, I like to sleep with the lights off and I think 11pm is a reasonable time for the lights in a dorm to be off (especially with most hostels providing personal lights). That’s right….OFF, not on, off, on, off, on all fucking night. Even with an eye mask it’s still not cool. Get organised people and get a mini torch so you can see where you’re going and don’t disturb others.
6) Some people are just inconsiderate, actually a lot of people are inconsiderate! For example, in one hostel in Singapore a group of 3 girls were staying in the dorm (I think they were Russian) and went off for a shower around 11.30pm. I had a bus the next morning and had to be awake at 6am. I turned off the main light and had my personal light on, I’d just booked some accommodation and was nearly ready to switch off. The girls came back in their towels, switched the main lights on and one of them starts clipping her toe nails (eurgh gross…just get the fuck out). After about 10 minutes I said I was switching the main light off so they need to use their personal lights, “oh yes, no problem”, they said. I switch off my personal light and settle down to sleep, it’s about 12.30am now. For 1 hour they talk and talk! There’s a reason for a common room bitches. I got my own back by making as much noise as possible at 6am.
7) Sex in dorms! I read about it and thought to myself, no way does this happen. I can confirm it does and I’ll say no more except GROSS!
8) SNORING…yep, that’s the one that broke me, I can’t handle it even with the best earplugs you can get (it will be a deal breaker for any future relationship!). I wonder if anyone has ever been stabbed in their sleep from snoring like a foghorn? Maybe I should be the first and be a hero! There’s an ongoing debate as to whether snorers should be made to get private rooms because they, after all, are the ones keeping everyone in the dorm awake. Of course, snorers will argue that non-snorers should get a private room. And if you think it’s mainly men that snore, think again, the women can just be as bad! A friend and I were both defeated one night at 2am when two ladies in our dorm were snoring in synchronisation. I ended up on the reception sofa and she was outside smoking incessantly lol! We eventually returned to the dorm after 5am and I shook one of the lady’s bed and shone my torch in her face. She was fucking good…didn’t even stir! To be honest, I’m actually just jealous of snorers as they seem to be able to nod off straight away, yet us poor, light sleepers are left feeling like zombies and if you’re getting on like me it takes days to recover from one night of no sleep.
So will I ever sleep in dorms again?The answer is probably not if I can avoid it. The way I see things is that I’m responsible for my happiness and whilst the above really grates my soul, there is not much I can do to change things. The only person who can change is me, so what that means is I have to take charge and remove myself from situations that I don’t like. I could argue and argue that this and that shouldn’t happen, blah, blah, but I’m just a drop in the ocean so why bother wasting my energy.
In some countries like Cambodia, for example, you can get a dorm room for about £2.00 a night which is amazing for one’s budget. But, at what cost? If I won’t be happy is saving a fiver worth it? No it’s not. I am proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone and at least seeing what all the fuss was about. But for my sanity and peace of mind I have reverted back to private rooms and I feel much happier for it.
What are your thoughts on dorm rooms? Do you love ’em or hate ’em? Please comment below.