Couple vs Dorm Rooms

by Poi on December 15, 2010

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I think it is a very good idea for every travelling couple to give dorm rooms a go, especially if this is your first backpacking trip, dorm rooms are such a big part of the backpacking experience, we felt the need to experience them at least once.

I know it’s a bit unusual for couples to get dorm rooms, being a couple usually means keeping yourself to yourself and spending time together, you wouldn’t go away for a romantic weekend and sleep in a dorm room so why do it when your away. I guess the simple reason is that you’re already spending a huge amount of time together and staying in a dorm is a really easy way to meet other travellers.

Some of our favourite times travelling have been whilst staying in a dorm room. The first of our three times so far was in Hangzhou, as we were there for a week we shared the room with a lot of different people from other parts of China, South Korea, America, Holland and Israel of all ages. We got to know all of them at least a little bit and spent a great last night sitting round enjoying some drinks with those who were left.

Dorm rooms in China

Hangzhou Dorm Room

Our second time in a dorm was in China again, this time in Nanning. During this stay we shared with two German lads and two American girls both of who we met again in Hanoi (where we stayed in a dorm for the third time) and even ended up on the same Ha Long Bay tour as the American pair.

We both really enjoyed the change from a private room and felt that it kind of gave us a taste of the feeling of a solo traveller, walking into a room full of strangers and making friends with people you may not have met otherwise. Staying in a dorm is of course not for every couple but I would recommend trying it, even if it’s just for a couple of nights, just follow my not so handy tips and try to enjoy the lack of privacy:

Get a bed next to each other – If your anything like us, you have probably divided up all your possessions between you. I have lots of Kirsty’s stuff in my bag and she has lots of mine, it’s just the way stuff fits into our bags. In a private room this is fine, you’re not waking anyone else up when asking for what you need in the middle of the night. In a dorm room be prepared, have you got your book? Torch? IPod? Or maybe your favourite teddy you can’t sleep without? (I don’t know? I’m trying to cater for a wide audience here)

Take the Arguments Outside – No one wants to hear you argue over where you’re going the next day or why you spent the whole hour on the beach eyeing up other girls. Take it outside, dorm rooms are a place of rest and relaxing after a long day.

Get some Pajamas – Your partner may love you walking around naked but you may get some unwanted attention if you start doing it in front of 20 strangers!

Try and lay off the funny business – Trying out a dorm rooms is meant to be an experience but it does come with sacrifices, you don’t have the privacy you are used to, so think twice about what you get up to and remember other people are staying in this room too…. or maybe just wait until everyone else is out?

Be approachable – Try not to keep yourselves to yourselves like you would in a private room, if you’ve made the effort to stay in a dorm room, try and get involved. Be friendly and approachable, you might meet some great people and have some fun or…. you might be in a room full of idiots but at least you’ll have your partner fighting on your side and it’ll be an experience.

Okay so the tips may not be the most helpful but the point is that – Dorm rooms are worth experiencing and we survived so why wouldn’t you.


{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica December 16, 2010 at 1:16 am

I’ve yet to do the dorm style hostel experience… still out on whether or not we want to invest too much time into that one. 😛
Erica´s last blog post ..Hometown Tourism – Santa Rampage-Santa Con


Poi December 16, 2010 at 2:28 am

Always worth a go! Maybe we’ll end up in the same one at some point. Can’t wait to meet you guys, bet it will be a lot of fun!


Tran December 16, 2010 at 5:43 am

Biggest challenge for couples wanting to have the dorm room experience? HI hostels. They have separate rooms for males and females but free condoms at the front desk (at least in Sao Luis, Brazil).
Tran´s last blog post ..Tips for Purchasing Plane Tickets in Brazil


Andrea December 16, 2010 at 8:32 am

Really? I would think they would try to discourage people having sex in a public dorm…that’s kind of inappropriate isn’t it? I mean, I know people do it, but still!
Andrea´s last blog post ..Caffeine and Cocoa On Tap- The Chocolate Bar at The Langham- Melbourne


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Yeah I never thought I would see a place promoting sex like that, easier to wash the sheets I guess though….


Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World December 16, 2010 at 7:38 am

We love dorm rooms when we’re out traveling. It’s usually cheaper and also, after spending 24-7 together during the day… it’s nice having other people around us to talk to (and talk about) :p
Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World´s last blog post ..What I’ve Learned in 2 Months of Blogging


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm

We couldn’t agree more!


Andrea December 16, 2010 at 8:30 am

These are great tips! John and I met in a dorm room but I have to say we have no plans to stay in any on our upcoming travels. Not that we have anything against them and we love meeting people at the hostels. It’s also going to cost us more. But I think we’ve gotten used to our privacy and we’ve both experienced them so not too much of a draw for us. I also had the lovely experience of sleeping in a dorm room with John and he had too much to drink and was snoring. Some little brat threw batteries at our heads instead of just waking us up the nice way. So maybe that experience is influencing me on this one =)
Andrea´s last blog post ..Caffeine and Cocoa On Tap- The Chocolate Bar at The Langham- Melbourne


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm

As you guys have both experienced dorm rooms a lot before on previous trips it makes more sense to go private. This being our first trip we wanted to give them a go.

and yeah it can’t be nice trying to sleep while waiting for something to come flying at your head, helmets?


Erin December 16, 2010 at 8:39 am

I have to admit we have no desire to stay in dorm rooms. The only time we do is when there is no other choice – like on the salt flats tour in Bolivia. I just value privacy too much, and find it difficult to sleep with other people making noise.

I understand it’s a good way to meet people, but then so can hostel common rooms. If you can do it though it’s a good way to save money in expensive destinations.
Erin´s last blog post ..A Digital Nomad Budget- 3 Months in Bolivia &amp Peru


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm

We don’t tend to spend more than a few days in a dorm and we’ve only stayed in them when there hasn’t been a common room. I agree about common rooms, we’ve started conversations with people almost over nothing other than just sitting round.


Ali December 16, 2010 at 10:30 am

I’ve never stayed in the dorms even as a solo traveler b/c I’ve only ever taken 2-3 week trips so I don’t worry as much about the extra cost. But I think these sound like great tips! And you just have a funny way of delivering your ideas 🙂
Ali´s last blog post ..A Day in London


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Thank you! If you nearly giggle once I am happy!


Julia@Turkey's For Life December 16, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Had a good chuckle at this post. I have to say, we’re private room people. We’ve tried the dorm experience and I can’t be doing with it. I just don’t like sleeping in public. 🙂 I has limited us I guess because we have to save up extra cash to pay for the private rooms.


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I guess the problems with dorm rooms is they are going to be different every time, it’s luck who you end up with.

We’ve been really lucky so far and that’s maybe why we like them so much?!


Globetrottergirls December 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm

We have to agree with Erin – we just value privacy too much to sleep in dorm rooms, although sometimes there’s no way around it (when there’s no free private rooms). Sometimes it’s fun, when there is a great bunch of people in the dorm, but most of the time, we prefer hanging out in the common area at the hostel but then sleep by ourselves 🙂 We’re happy that we are not on such a tight budget that we can afford private rooms (which often are only a little bit more expensive than dorms anyway).
Globetrottergirls´s last blog post ..The day I became a volcano climber


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm

It’s all down to what you enjoy more, if it costs a bit more but you sleep better for the next day it’s got to be worth it right?


Annie December 17, 2010 at 5:57 am

I love dorm rooms! Maybe a bit too much but I guess the idea to me is a kind of big sleep over and I’ve heard so many great stories about meeting people on your travels, although come to think about it I’ve never personally met anyone that I have kept in touch with in a dorm room…

Anyway, the BF and I tend to book dorm rooms because they are cheaper and since we live together at home we don’t mind sharing our room. It’s fairly circumstantial for us; i.e. we have a private for our quick 2-day jaunt to London this month but a big dorm for St. Patty’s in Ireland because the more the merrier at that party!

I have to say, I didn’t think it would but by the end of our 17 day trip over the summer, we wished we had booked our last nights in a private, then again we came home after so it wasn’t so bad!
Annie´s last blog post ..6 Months Blogiversary!


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm

After a while in a dorm we are always happy to have a bit of privacy again so I know what you mean.

A big dorm party for St. Patty’s in Ireland sounds like a lot fun!


Randy December 17, 2010 at 10:12 am

Generally, Beth and I will stay in dorm rooms to help with the budget. If it has been a travel day, then sometimes we will splurge for a private room. On those days, I’ve found that it’s just nice to have your own space. In Italy, we discovered bed and breakfasts. For the price of both of us to say in a dorm room, we could usually find a b&b that included free WiFi and breakfast.
Randy´s last blog post ..New Years Eve on a Budget- London


Poi December 21, 2010 at 10:52 pm

After a long travel day I think I might go crazy in a bad dorm situation, don’t blame you on that one.

I wish breakfast was included at more places!


Jenneil December 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

I am so hesitant to try out the dorms, but I know I will regret it if I don’t. Thanks for the tips Poi 🙂


Poi December 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm

No problem, look forward to hearing how you get on!


Bob December 23, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I get a room to myself even when I’m on my own if I can afford it. Last time I stayed in a dorm style room I got woken up by a drunk dude climbing into bed with me – and it was pretty clear he wasn’t interested in going to sleep, if you catch my drift.


Poi December 24, 2010 at 11:19 am

haha sorry to laugh but that’s pretty hilarious! I think if something like that happened to us we would be put off for a far while as well!


AudreyDez December 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Interesting post, it makes me rethink about the dorms. As a couple, we thought we would only get private room in our upcoming trip, but maybe we’ll try a dorm! I saw a lot of female only or male only dorms, I thought they were almost no mixed ones. If we come across one, we’ll sure give it a try, since it seems like a good way to meet people! Although, the boyfriend makes a lot of noise while sleeping so I don’t think people will like us if we stay more than 1 or 2 nights, hahah!

Thanks for the advice!:)
AudreyDez´s last blog post ..A choice to make


Poi January 2, 2011 at 11:45 pm

We’ve not come across anywhere that has tried to split us up for the night, don’t think we would do that!

You should try it for sure, if you don’t like it you can always change and then come back here and blame us 🙂


Ayngelina January 2, 2011 at 11:30 pm

A big NO to couples ever having sex in the dorm room. There is no time when everyone is out of the dorm without a chance of coming back and it’s extremely awkward.

That’s what the bathroom is for 🙂
Ayngelina´s last blog post ..2010- The year bacon got a little crazy


Poi January 2, 2011 at 11:51 pm

haha forget my post that is the best advice on here!


Chris November 17, 2011 at 1:50 am

I just realized I’ve never had a couple in any of the dorms I’ve stayed in. I can’t spend too much time with ANYONE so I reckon I would pass my girlfriend off to the other girls in the dorm and have a night out with the guys if it was me!


Poi November 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm

haha.. it’s been alright in the dorms we have stayed in – we always go in them when we want to meet some new people


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