The Sounds That Keep You Up In A Hostel Dorm

Alla Gonopolsky
4 min readApr 25, 2019

It’s not all snoring and sex

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

I travel about six months a year. Sometimes I stay in dorms to be more social and save a few Mexican pesos, Sri Lankan rupees or, on this particular day, Portuguese euros (like regular euros, but now you know where I am.)

Hostels have become more trendy and luxurious as 30-somethings and digital nomads join the boozy college backpacker abroad. For $10–20/night, your dorm accommodations may include rooftop terraces, heated pools and down blankets.

But no amount of privacy curtain fabric will block out the noise that comes from sharing a bedroom with 5 to 9 co-ed strangers. Before those half dozen alarm clocks go off at vastly different times, here is the soundtrack of a typical night for us unfortunate light sleepers:

The Munchies. British guy in the bottom bunk eating the crispiest potato chips in existence. In the dark. At 4am. The crunching volume could wake the dead. From the relative absence of bag crinkling, one can only assume Pringles. Or that he poured all the Doritos onto his naked body and disposed of the bag while I was still asleep.

Paranoia. Ukrainian guy across the room tries to lock the cubby inside his sleeping compartment for a solid twenty minutes. I know Ukraine isn’t the safest place in the world, but good lord. Just put your passport under your pillow next to your weapon of choice.

Breathing. I don’t mean snoring. I mean breathing. Like yoga class ujjayi style breathing. Perhaps this person is doing his nightly pranayama exercises or guided meditation app with headphones in, not realizing how loud the exhalations are. Or how creepy they sound in the dark, nowhere near a yoga studio.

Sleep-talking. Before hostels, I had no idea so many people regularly talked in their sleep. “What time is breakfast?” “I work on boats.” And my personal favorite, “Where’s the wheelbarrow?!” In normal sleeping arrangements, somewhere between zero and one person is privy to these drowsy rambles. But in a dorm there are substantially more witnesses. And REM-sleep disruptions.

Giggling. I’ve been guilty of this one myself. Environments that call for silence are predisposed to laughing fits. Libraries. Funerals. Okay, maybe not funerals. But…

Alla Gonopolsky

Binge traveler. Book author. Yoga teacher. World's Least Annoying Millennial.