Skip to Content

Hostel Etiquette – 12 Terrible Mistakes to Make in Hostels!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Let’s have some real talk here about hostel etiquette. Yeah, we’ve all heard the how to make friends and influence people tips blah, blah. But, something I feel isn’t being addressed are the things you should never do in hostels. 

I don’t feel bad anymore to finally admit; I’m getting to the age where I feel too old for dorm rooms.

Call me a bad traveller if you will, but I can no longer handle 3 hours’ worth of sleep because of the inconsiderate attitude people exhibit!

I am naturally a light sleeper and if you can relate to that, you know that sleeping can be really difficult. I’ve tried earplugs and sleeping masks and all the rest. If there is noise or disruption, I’m gonna be disturbed from my beauty sleep.

Hostels are like my worst nightmare. It’s pot luck as to whether you get a good crowd or a bad one.

Hostel Etiquette: What NOT to do

Yes, each hostel will have its own set of rules and regulations. That’s a given. But, you see, there’s a certain unwritten hostel etiquette you need to follow when sleeping in dorms all over the world to avoid being THAT traveller.

Too many people just ignore it, are unaware, or don’t care. My advice? Don’t be that backpacker!

Yes, granted people can’t help things like snoring but it’s actually the other stuff I have gripes about. The stuff that’s just simply disrespectful to the other travellers that are in the room with you that night.

Dorms are cheap, yes. But that doesn’t mean it gives us a license to discount our respect for others. Yeah, I said it.

These are the 12 things you should never do in hostels. From a tired, admittedly grumpy, backpacker.

12 things you should NEVER do in Hostels

1. Have skype sessions/phone calls in the middle of the night

I get it, timezones are always a challenge. You may want to arrange a call with someone who’s eight hours behind you and catch up about all the adventures you’ve been having. But, does it have to be in the dorm room at 1 am?

I get that you have headphones on but, are you honestly thinking we can’t hear you talking back? Take the phone call outside of the room, please!

2. Pack your whole backpack in plastic bags

I’m up for organising my bag as much as the next person, I have a whole bag full of e-bag packing cubes if you’d like to take a look. And, yeah, things need to be waterproofed when we’re in countries that see rain.

But, does it have to be supermarket plastic carrier bags?

Honestly, as much as it seems a good and cheap idea at the time the constant rustling of plastic starts to drive people nuts!

Organise your bag how you want, but please, please do not start unravelling or repacking your whole bag in those noisy things when people are sleeping.

3. Have sex in the room

This should even have to be said. But, still, people do it all the time! NO ONE wants to hear it. End of.

I understand hotel rooms can be expensive in certain countries but, if you really can’t handle the lust, go in the bathroom.

Don’t subject people to listening to your love-making all-night shudders.

Quite literally; Get. A. Room.

4. Turn the big light on at 3 am

If you’ve landed from a night flight and have just checked into the hostel, fair enough. But, don’t turn on a massive light at 3 am and not expect people to be mad about it.

Phones have a torch, most hostel beds have a reading light, get a head torch. Use these instead of turning the main light on. Your fellow travellers will appreciate it.

5. Watch videos on your phone late…without headphones

You may think that you have the volume on as low as you can hear but, trust me, people can still hear it. As much as it’s great listening to the latest episode of Narcos on Netflix while I sleep, I really could do without it.

Please get a pair of headphones and listen to them in the comfort of your own ears.

6. Take 30 minutes in the shower in the morning

It’s so convenient having a bathroom inside the room as you can easily grab your washing kit and not have to do the awkward run from your bed into the cold outside.

But, please understand that there are 6-10 people in this room that also need to wash or use the loo. People may have tours to get to or trips planned, or just want to leave at a decent time in the morning.

I had a record time of 40 minutes in a girl’s bathroom in Prague. In the end, I had to bang on the door and ask to go to the bathroom.

There weren’t public toilets on any other floor I could access. Please be considerate of others when using the facilities!

7. Play drinking games in the room, when people want to sleep

I get it. Drinking is part of travelling in some places, socialising and having a good time. And hey, I’m definitely up for having a few drinks before a big night out. But, if someone asks if it’s okay to sleep and to move along, don’t carry on drinking.

There are plenty of places to carry on the party and have a laugh, in the social area, at a bar etc. plus, some people may not drink – did you think of that?

8. Whispering conversations that are not whispering conversations

So, you come in from a night out and decide that it’s totally necessary to have a chat in the room at 2 am. So, you’re whispering to keep the noise down. Well, guess what? News flash, we can still hear you.

I don’t care about that boy that’s ignoring you, that you had the craziest night or your plans for tomorrow at that time of the night.

I’m sleeping, have the chat outside.

9. Pack your whole backpack for your early morning flight in the room

Your flight’s at 5 am and instead of packing your bags the night before, you spring out of bed and start to manically open your locker and start shoving stuff in your backpack.

In the process, you’ve disturbed everyone who just wants rest for the next day.

Top tip: Organise your bag the day/night before so that you’re not stressed and your fellow roommates aren’t disturbed.

Overpacked backpack? Here’s my list of what to avoid packing

10. Leave your phone alarm going…and going…and going..

Everyone sets an alarm unless you’re the type of person who believes in having no plans which are cool too. But, once you’re alarm goes off, please turn it off.

There are always the snoozers and those that jump out of bed. I’m sure most of us are the former. Just turn it off so the rest of us can’t hear it when you go into the shower, please?

11. Make the dorm your personal bedroom

As much as I’d love to see the whole contents of your backpack strewn all over the dorm floor, this is as much everyone else’s space as it is your own.

Personally, I don’t do this as I’m paranoid about someone nicking my stuff.

It’s surprising but girls’ dorms are way worse than mixed. The bathrooms include a lovely dose of loose hair, tongs, and products all over the sink!

There are lockers available, use them.

12. Hog the charging points

So there are two sockets between 8 people and you’ve decided to charge your MacBook, GoPro, iPhone, and camera batteries all in one night? Great!

We all rely on technology nowadays and all need electricity. Prioritise what needs charging now and then allow others to charge. When it’s fully charged unplug and leave it free. Or, bring an extension lead and share the love

Follow this hostel etiquette and you’ll be fine

Now look, I’m probably gonna get some hate for this and I guess we all have an idea about what’s counted as annoying and a valid disturbance in a Hostel.

But, as someone who has stayed in hostels all over and has had these problems more times than I can count, I’m simply done.

I’m tired of sleep not being respected just because I’m paying less money and I’m tired of being tired. I value my rest, especially now I travel on the road and blog. I need sleep to be able to function.

All I’m asking is that the next time you check into a hostel, you give a little consideration to those around you. We would all rather be in a private hotel room but we’re not. So, please try and allow some of us to sleep.

Thank you – from a cranky traveller.

P.S. Please leave any funny hostel nightmares in the comments below! I’d love to hear them.

Like it? Pin it!

hostel hate