When you’re on the road and wanting to save money on accommodation, staying in dormitory rooms in hostels and backpackers is a great choice. I love staying in dormitories, because it’s such a good way to meet new people AND save money at the same time! When sharing a room with others, there are things you need to be aware of, however. In my experience as a backpacker, I have found the following five items to make your stay in a dormitory so much more comfortable and enjoyable.
This item is at the top of my list for a reason. I have forgotten to take a padlock before and it makes life very difficult! Part of the stress of backpacking is having to keep an eye on your things all the time. Most hostels and backpackers offer lockers to store valuables in, but often this requires bringing your own padlock. Carrying a padlock is essential, so that you can store your valuables safely in a locker at the hostel before venturing out for the day. Knowing your valuables are locked up safely takes a huge weight off your shoulders while you’re out exploring!
Where lockers aren’t provided, attaching a padlock to a closable area of your suitcase or backpack is a good alternative.
Small torch or head torch
This is extremely useful when staying in a dormitory. Nobody wants to be that annoying traveler who comes into the room late at night and needs to turn the light on to find their toothbrush. Respect the other travelers, some people need to get up early in the morning, so don’t turn the light on at 3am. Instead, have a torch ready so you can easily find things at night without disturbing everyone else. Even better, head torches give you the freedom to have both hands free, making the search for your toothbrush much easier. Many mobile phones have built in torches anyway, which is also a good alternative.
It’s unavoidable – when staying in hostels and backpackers, 90 percent of the time, you will find yourself in a room with either someone who snores, has a cough, or makes a racket when they come rolling in drunk in the middle of the night. Using earplugs is hugely helpful in cutting out unwelcome noises which would otherwise disturb your precious sleep. I am not a heavy sleeper, especially when in a foreign environment, and earplugs have honestly saved me from having to spend my days wandering around like a zombie!
External charger for phones/cameras
Sharing is caring when staying in a dormitory, and sometimes this means having the grace to let your neighbour use the last free plug to charge their phone overnight. This can throw your own plan off, however, so having a portable power source with you gives you the freedom and flexibility to charge your items whenever you need to, without having to be gracious and share with others. This is also extremely useful when on the road and your phone or camera dies. Before owning a portable charger, I remember missing more than one great photo opportunity because my camera had died!
Plenty of (plastic) bags
Backpacks and suitcases can become a chaotic mess of mixed up clothing and washing items, which can be extremely frustrating. Having separate bags for everything helps you to keep everything in order, making it much easier to find items without having a suitcase explosion all over your dormitory floor. Some dorms are really small, and no one wants to be the one whose stuff takes up the whole room. Having bags to separate items and washing in your backpack or suitcase can help in maintaining organisation and avoiding the sprawl of your things across the dormitory.