Tips for Being a Good Dorm-mate

After spending most of our trip’s first 5 weeks in dorm rooms, Arienne and I have had the pleasure of experiencing good dorms and bad dorms. While the hostel is responsible for the dorms facilities, many times it is the people staying in them who make the difference between a good dorm experience and a bad one. Here are some tips for being a good dorm mate, in “do” and “don’t” format.

Photo Credit: Teerapun


  1. Get to know your dorm-mates: Even if it’s just a quick hello with a couple of questions about their trip or where they’re from, getting to know your dorm-mates will make the atmosphere much lighter and more comfortable. Listening to the way people talk about themselves or their trip can give you a few hints about their personality, which will make it much easier to know how to communicate with them in the event you want something.
  2. Use the main room light sparingly: Obviously during the day time this isn’t such an issue, however, especially at night, it is best to think of the main light as the “everyone light.” If everyone is awake, use it. If not, try not to use it. If the light goes on and everyone is sleeping, you will have about 1 minute before somebody starts to get grumpy. After that you will have about 2 or 3 more minutes before somebody tells you to turn it off in either a polite or rude way. So as a courtesy to your dorm-mates, invest in a small pocket/head light. If everyone is asleep, turn on the main light if you have to, get to your pocket/head light, and switch the one on and the other off. Remember, if you come in late and disturb a person’s sleep, they are much less likely to care about being quiet in the morning when you are trying to sleep.
  3. Maintain some sort of modesty: Despite what you may think, you are not an Adonis. It is not attractive.
  4. Cover up the light on your chargers: You would be surprised how one little LED can light up a room. So put a piece of tape or something over the light if you are going to leave something charging overnight. If the charger isn’t charging something, simply unplug it. Your dorm-mates will thank you.
  5. Have your stuff ready for early mornings: If you know that you are going to be getting up early (i.e. before 8am), it is extremely considerate to prepare your stuff the night before. Most travelers carry their clothes in plastic bags and those can be really noisy, especially if you are desperately searching for specific parts to your outfit. So as a favour to yourself and sleeping dorm-mates, prepare your clothes for the next day the night before and leave them folded up either beside or at the end of your bed. (Note: I have done this a number of times and it works wonders!)
Photo Credit: Teerapun


  1. Make the dorm a common room: Unless everyone is on board, do not think of the dorm room as a common room. That means that in the presence of other uninvolved guests, do not break out lots of alcohol and regale EVERYONE with your story of last night’s conquest. The same even goes for having even any sort of full voiced conversation between regular sleeping hours. The dorm room is for sleeping. The common room is for talking, drinking, and any other sort of gallivanting.
  2. Think of it as your room: You are sharing this space with everyone. That means that this isn’t your room back home where you can leave your stuff strewn all over the floor. This also goes for the bathroom. Usually everyone has to share one sink, one toilet, and one shower, so it will not be viewed kindly if you have left all of your toiletries all over the place or gobs of toothpaste in the sink.
  3. Leave the room at any point with lights left on: This rule performs economical, environmental, and social services.
  4. Leave your dirty laundry in plain sight: Looking at dirty clothes means smelling dirty clothes. Smelling dirty clothes is not cool. This will sour the atmosphere in your dorm room rather quickly.
  5. Make your business other people’s business: If you are going to engage in sexual activities with another person, people, or yourself in the dorm room, under no circumstances should you allow any of the other dorm mates to know about it. Sounds, smells, accessories… you name it, make it all disappear permanently. Please note (especially you, Mr. Lone Ranger from a hostel that shall go unnamed) the garbage can in the dorm bathroom is not an appropriate place for disposing evidence. I know it can be difficult to find a better place to throw it all away, but it’s really disgusting when the garbage is full of disposed sailors. Nasty!

Have any additional tips for being a good dorm-mate that should be added to the list? Share them in the comments section below.

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