Creating privacy in a dorm room is very difficult to achieve, especially since someone is always around. If you’re like me, your room back home was your sanctuary where you could go to get away from it all, to have some peace and privacy. This doesn’t happen in hostels, especially in the dorms. Noise and lights at all hours of the day and night are part of life and can be very irritating at times. There are ways to mitigate these problems though, to find some bit of privacy where you can get away from it all and just be by yourself.
The most important thing about staying in a dorm is moving to the bottom bunk as soon as possible. The top bunks are absolutely the worst places to be sleeping. Top bunks have absolutely no privacy and are notoriously loud and shake the most. If you check in, realise that you are most likely going to be stuck in a dorm room on the top bunk unless you are really lucky. Usually after a few days, you can move to a bottom one but you need to be quick. Try and wake up somewhat early so you can relocate your belongings the second someone checks out. Bottom bunks are premium space in dorm rooms so it is critical you are faster than your room mates at moving. Early bird catches the bird! The longest I ever spent on the top bunk was a straight 19 days, it was hell.
Once you have the bottom bunk, privacy is much more easily achieved as you can make a bunk fort using blankets, jumpers (hoodies), towels and just plain clothes. My recommendation is you buy a cheep blanket somewhere as this is the best way to cover a large area efficiently. My bunk fort is made up of a wall on two sides, a towel and blanket on one long side and a towel and a jumper on the final side. Obviously the best bunk is the corner one so you don’t need as many items to cover the sides.I can sleep at any time day or night because I can make it dark enough that light coming in through the windows or from the room lights don’t bother me. I might not be alone in the room but I am in my subroom!
Noise obviously is a problem in a dorm room as people have different schedules and different amount of respect for their fellow room mates. I have discovered I can fall asleep with headphones playing in my ears and I won’t hear anything at all. If you play music from your phone, you can wake up to your alarm without a problem as it too plays through the earphones.
Eventually you will get to the point that no matter how much light is coming in or noise, you will be able to fall asleep but it can take a while to get used to. I highly recommend making a bunk fort for your sanity and the ability to sleep at any time you please, not just when everyone else decides it’s time for lights out. You might be sharing a room with 7 other people (sometimes more) but remember, privacy can be achieved.
Some things to note, your bunk fort will fall apart from time to time. This is usually do to the person above you moving or changing sheets as they undo your stuff in the process. They are usually rude about it too and will not fix it for you, bastards. The best way to avoid this is to use some zip ties or duct tape (see my article on why duct tape is so important) to capture the materials through the cracks so that they are still supported by something when the bed above you is moved around. Gravity sucks but you can over take it if needed. If you are only going to be in your bunk fort for a short period of time, using zip ties or duct tape isn’t worth it, just deal with the pain of redoing your fort every now and again. Anything over two weeks though, it is worth securing the sides of your bunk fort.