10 December 2013

Dorm room etiquette

This is the first in a small series of travelling tips - little things I have learned or been taught whilst travelling, which I share in an effort to repay my debt.

Are you returning to your dorm room late at night - so late that some, maybe even most, would refer to it as "the early hours of the morning". You've had a drink or two, possibly; or maybe something more interesting.

You stumble in to the dorm room, having made a hash of getting the key in the lock, and turn the main lights on. You look around to find a room full of people who were up to that point sleeping (or in some cases, were sleeping to the point you started trying to unlock the door and who are now wondering if it is too late to start taking bets on if/when you'll manage to unlock it), and who are now trying to block the bright lights from their eyes.

Do you:
1) Realise your mistake; turn the lights off and work in the dark / by torchlight?
2) Leave the main lights on for 10+ mins and faff around with the stuff in your locker?

The correct answer is 1, of course; the all too common answer is 2. For those who stay in dorm rooms regularly this is about as surprising as death, taxes and having taxi drivers take the piss.

Dorm rooms are shared spaces and we all know that - if you sleep in them you accept that people will come & go at different time. Some will want or need to sleep late, others want or need to be up early - noises & light will happen at times you wish it didn't. If you can't accept this, don't sleep in dorm rooms.

Dorm rooms are shared spaces and as such we should all know better - coming back in to a dorm at 2am and turning on the main light is just dickish behaviour. Don't.

Consider the benefits of getting stuff out of your bag/locker before you head out - having everything to hand for when you return. Random nights happen, but honestly most late nights are predictable.

Consider the benefits of a torch when travelling, even if not camping - it gives you light to work by and keeps the room dark for everyone else. Bonus points for a torch which also has a red light, which is far better for dorm rooms and helps you keep your night vision. Head torches work best as it gives you free hands to actually do things with, although they aren't as suited to having in your back pocket for whilst wondering the dark, pot-holed streets of Samarkant, for example.