Travel Story Tuesday: An Ode to the Hostel Shower

Becky is this week's Travel Story Tuesday host, and is treating us to a rant shared by all budget travelers: hostel showers. Whether you've experienced the hostel shower or not, Becky's writing is hilarious and definitely worth reading. Also, you should go look at her print shop and photography, since she's a pretty incredible artist too. 


To say that I’m a budget traveler would be putting it lightly.
I’ve been known to stretch 60 euro over the span of three days for everything associated with being a living person: food, water, shelter.
I’ll sleep on the floor of a train in the bike room (and I have)… I’ll sleep in a 40 bed mixed dorm in the grungy basement of a Munich hostel (This is ill-advised, FYI. I prefer the train floor.) I’ll sleep on an airport floor, an overnight ferry floor, really, any kind of floor. And I’ll do it happily if that means I am able to relish in the experience that is new places, new people, and new life.
This also means, unfortunately, I’ve become incredibly well versed in the sketchy shower experience. From spigots with a bucket, to dirt floors, I’ve had some less than spa-like experiences. For the sake of time, I will boil it down to my top three most unfortunate repeat experiences had in the run-of-the-mill hostel dorm shower whilst backpacking through Western Europe.  

Myself, my massive pack, and my even bigger hair enjoying some record breaking heat and humidity in Venice. 

Misfortune #1:
You have an endless amount of miscellaneous crap to bring with you to the shower room, because, let’s be honest, this is your only chance to change clothes without ten strangers being in the room with you. This is also the only place to locate a mirror, and where you brush your teeth. So, you haul into the shower with various bottles, brushes, tubes, and clothing. You get in your shower stall, get all of your litter organized and sorted so nothing gets wet. You turn on the water and feel so happy because you are finally going to wash off the filth of the bus/train/metro/cab. You’re washing your hair. Shampoo drips in your eye. You reach for your towel…
You’re reaching for your towel…
It’s. Not. There.
You shut off the water. (Somehow, this seems like the best option. This will help, right? No. It won’t. You are undeniably wet, and you definitely forgot the most crucial item to the post shower process.)
You contemplate dashing unclothed to a neighboring to stall for some TP (Maybe a whole roll will do?)
No. This is a co-ed space, and you just don’t need the added attention this sopping sprint would bring from the creepy Peruvian two doors down who couldn’t seem to get enough of you in the hallway.
No unclothed dash.
You think about drying off with your dirty clothes and then realize that there would be no point in showering, only to rub all that public transport filth back on you.
You turn the water back on because now you are just a dripping wet idiot with shampoo running in your face. At this point, you may as well enjoy the rest of the shower.
The only solution is a sort of flat flat-handed squeegee maneuver to remove the bulk of the moisture, followed by an air dry that takes an absolute eternity. One would think forgetting your towel once would be enough to ensure you never forgot it again. One would be wrong.

Posing and being awkward with some Beefeaters at the Tower of London. I may or may not have LOST. IT. in that place, positively oozing with the essence of medieval.

Misfortune #2:
You get into the shower after a long day of traipsing your nerdy body to every historical sight between here and the next town over, on busses, metros, trains, and any other form of mass transportation you could procure for cheap/free. You carefully and painstakingly ram-rod all of your shower miscellany on the 2 inch shelf that you are expected to fit everything on because it happens to be the only space behind the half wall where the water doesn’t reach. (You then take a moment to curse the poor design and query why this drudgery hasn’t been remedied by some Scandinavian space planning genius. Are you, or are you not in Europe?!) You accept the situation and turn on the water. It comes on full blast and is ICE COLD! You jump behind the wall for shelter and realize that you are still, somehow, getting wet. You look down… so is your towel (I use the term towel loosely… chances are, what you really have, is some sort of shammy situation, touted by REI to be lightweight, compact, and quick dry. Note the total absence of words that are ever used to describe an actual towel.), and your clean dry pajamas. After assessing, you quickly turn off the water. You stand there, dripping and freezing, contemplating your next move. You could gather up all of your stuff, attempt to wrap yourself in the shammy, and dash into another shower, but, again, you’re in a co-ed shower, and there’s still the matter of that proverbial Peruvian. You could get dressed and forget the shower all together, but you are already drenched. You may as well finish the job. So, you pile all of your dirty clothes on top of the rest of your stuff, turn on the cockamamie shower-head again, and hope the water gets hot and your stuff stays dry. The water does, eventually, get hot… but your stuff definitely does not stay dry. You must now “dry off” with a damp shammy and wear wet pajamas to bed because they are, of course, your only pair. Backpacking, FTW.

Visiting the Acropolis. One of the most mind-blowingly ancient places I have visited. It was nearly abandoned while I was there due to a historic heat wave (this day it was a balmy 113F), but what a way to experience such sacred places. In silence.

Misfortune #3:
The issue of the free spirited shower curtain.
This is re-occurring, and I have no solution for it. You see, there seems to be an illusive draft in almost all hostel showers that no one but the curtain seems to feel. You are wet and soapy. The curtain is blowing willy-nilly and sticking all over you. You try desperately not to let your mind roam, but all you can think about is the vast quantity of hostelers gone before who have also been pasted onto the curtain. Your mind wanders out of morbid curiosity to the varying levels of personal hygiene. You are trying not to think about the fact that this shower curtain is probably dirtier than the last evening news exposé told you your dirty sponge is.
Suddenly your shower must last no longer than the BARE MINIMUM of time… you wonder why you took the time for shower shoes, when you probably just had 20,000 different types of microbes and fungus rubbed all over your body. Athletes foot? B!&@# please. ATHLETES BODY.

Despite the problematic EVERYTHING that is showering in a whatever a $2 a night hostel provides you, the moments I have spent in hostels and the days surrounding those endlessly miserable showers have been the richest of my life.

So, grab your passport, and check yourself into the shadiest place you can find, because Life awaits. (Unfortunately, cleanliness does not.)

Have a story you want to be featured on Travel Story Tuesday? Email me at taylorpierce@comcast.net, and we can chat!
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  1. Ugh, I HATE it when shower curtains molest me! It's the worst - and deffo not consensual!

    Ach, you have no name/URL option. My google account is different - I'm Charlotte from CharlotteSteggz.com!

    1. I do one of those moves like there's a spider on my back I'm trying to flick off, when the shower curtain sticks to me. Definitely the worst.

      And sorry about the URL thing! I've found and followed you anyways :)