Some private rooms, though, are too small to do many of these things. Like my room in Rivas, Nicaragua

A Backpacker’s Guide to Enjoying a Private Room

When backpacking solo we often find ourselves greatly accustomed to sleeping in a hostel dorm room with 4-12 other people.

The dorms are living organisms in themselves. There always seems to be someone sleeping, no matter what time of day, and there are always people in the bathrooms.

Some of us who have been on the road for a very long time have gotten so used to living in dorms that we get bored the few times we reward ourselves with a private room.

Zagreb Hostel
In and Out Hostel, Zagreb, Croatia

But, we miss having the people around when we have a private room. We feel like we’ve been tucked away from the world, stuffed in a closet. Dorms are such a great place to meet people – especially if you’re travelling solo.

I recently was given a private room in Campo Grande, Brazil and in my boredom I compiled this list as a guide for things to do once you, the backpackers, are put in this stressful position of having a private room. This is my Backpacker’s Guide to properly making use of your private room.

  • Go into your suitcase or backpack and just throw your clothes all over the room.
  • Build a fort out of the mattress, blankets, pillows and whatever else you can find.  Invite friends.
  • Have a “room party.” Make invitation fliers and post them all over the hostel. Then at a certain point in the night shut off the music abruptly and demand everyone leave.
  • Wear a t-shirt around that says “Girls/Boys I may not be very pretty, but I’m pretty sure I have a private room”.

Hook Up Culture in Hostels

It should be noted that private rooms are a commodity. In hostels, there’s definitely a hook up culture. The only problem is that there is rarely any privacy. Thus the private room often isn’t for “alone time”, but to help people share some time with that special someone.

Ok, back to the list.

  • Take a 32 minute long shower.
  • Recreate your favourite movie scene in front of the mirror. Be sure to leave your door open so passerbyers can watch.
  • Walk around naked for at least an hour. Don’t forget to close the blinds on your windows first. Oh, and close the door after your play.
  • Sleep in until 1 in the afternoon without caring what anyone thinks of you.

Is it Hard to Sleep in Hostels?

Honestly, yeah a little bit.

Everyone has their own itinerary and schedule when they travel. Some people are there for the parties and are out late. Personally, as a travel photographer I’m up early for sunrise and to explore. Others follow a more normal sleeping pattern.

So, when you’re staying in dorm rooms – or honestly even private rooms at the hostels – bring ear plugs and an eye mask.

Ok, here are some more ways to stave off boredom in a private room.

  • Sing really loudly and then occasionally reach your head out into the hallway and yell “Hey Sinatra! Keep it down!”
  • Laugh really loudly and keep saying things “Oh (insert your own name here) you are the funniest person I have ever met.”
    • Then walk around the hallways and introduce yourself to everyone who may have been in an earshot. Be sure to wink.
  • Run tiny laps around your room, preferably wearing gym clothes and a headband.
  • Walk into the dorm rooms from time to time and say things like “oh so this is what a dorm room looks like” and “sheesh, it would be horrible if someone started snoring in these tiny dorm rooms.”
  • Buy a set of toy army figures and play war.
  • Jump on the bed. *Note: watch for ceiling fans.

Hostels in Europe

Depending on the country, hostels in Europe are either a bargain or rip off. In some countries hostels are basically organized as a way for people to meet other people. There are places that a dorm bed is essentially as expensive as a private room in a cheap hotel.

However, you’re mostly paying for the hostel services and vibe. And to potentially deal with someone trying to complete my list. Here are more things to do in private room at a hostel.

  • Keep poking your head out of your room and saying “where is my room service? I ordered it hours ago!”
  • Invite dorm stayers to go on tours of your private room.
  • Set up a lemonade stand in your doorway.
  • Put a sign on the door saying “No Girls allowed: Brendan’s secret hideout.”
  • Ask people if they want to play hide and seek. Once you get a game going just go hide in your private room with the door locked and watch TV.
  • Make a list of what people should do when the get a private room. Don’t forget to check them off as you go.