Whether you’re moving into a new home with housemates, or travelling in a group that would require you to share a room, there are certain rules that — for everybody’s comfort — we must be aware of and abide by.
Unfortunately, some of us get so lost in our own worlds that we tend to forget about others, while some others have also experienced some very nasty roomie situations … but we’ll get to that later.
So here we have a gentle reminder on how to be a good roommate — no, the perfect roommate — and an all-around good person to share a room or house with. Keep this guide in mind the next time you’re booking a group vacation or a girl’s/guy’s weekend out.
1. Keep the Bathroom Clean, at All Times
We don’t know about you, but we’re sticklers for having clean bathrooms wherever we go. Nobody likes a dirty or smelly bathroom, right? And we definitely prefer if counters and sinks were clear of unwelcome things i.e. hair, toothpaste bits, and other questionable things. Toothbrushes belong in your own personal kit, or in the holders provided, and hairbrushes are meant to be stashed away and not kept on the counter where everyone can see how many hair strands you’ve lost that day!
Also, ensure that the toilet seats are clean before you leave the room — it’s good practice to glance back at whatever mess you may have made or ‘cleaned’, just as a precaution. Oh, don’t forget to replace the toilet paper if you’ve used it all up … and do it the right way too (this means the roll should be over, not under).
Roommate disaster experience: “I knew my new travel roommate was on her period because well … she most certainly left ‘evidence’ everywhere she went, especially all over the toilet seat, bathtub and on the bathroom floor!”
– Khadijah P.
2. Don’t Underestimate Budgeting, and Be Truthful about Your Finances
Holidays can be quite costly, especially if you’re going somewhere where the currency exchange is exorbitant, and if it’s prolonged and jam-packed with fun activities. The thing is, we know that some of us may experience this thing called FOMO (fear of missing out), and when that feeling intensifies, we may just say yes to everything without actually thinking about the repercussions.
Let the others know that you only can afford X amount, and everyone can then plan accordingly. Don’t expect others to pay for you — yes your friends love you, but maybe not that much and this might put a strain on the friendship.
Pack a little extra cash, just in case, for that ‘unplanned’ party or extra shopping, too.
Roommate disaster experience: “I once went on a holiday with my friend who wasn’t truthful about her budget. She could only afford the flight tickets as well as the hotel room, but nothing else. I had to fork out the rest for her food, drink and other activities we planned along the way. Safe to say, that was the last time I ever planned anything else with her!” – Christina S.
3. Ask before You Borrow
Just because you’re sharing a room doesn’t mean you can borrow without permission. Sure, you may have forgotten your toothpaste or shampoo or something that people wouldn’t think isn’t that much of a hassle to ask for. But out of politeness, always ask before you use, even if their previous answer was a yes.
Another important note: in the event that there is food available, be sure to replace them as soon as you can after you’ve consumed them.
Roommate disaster experience: “The hotel had left a welcome dessert and snack combo for us in the fridge, along with a sweet note saying that they have packed it into two separate bowls. I had gone out for a minute to get some things, and I came back to witness my roommate wolfing down BOTH bowls’ contents! There was literally nothing left for me!” – Sharifah Kamaruddin
4. Pack the Necessary
We don’t know what it is but no matter how meticulous we are, there are bound to be things that just slip our minds and luggage. It could be something we deem insignificant enough to give a miss during packing, but then we’d realise it was needed after all.
Whatever it is, make sure that you have a proper list of things to pack as well as a collection of ‘just in case’ things. You just really never know!
Roommate disaster experience: “My holiday buddy once told me that she didn’t have any toothpaste, so I told her to go ahead and use mine. The problem is, I noticed that she didn’t bring her toothbrush either so I was wondering what she meant when she said she was ‘done’ cleaning her teeth. Afterwards, I noticed that my toothbrush was wet and ‘used’ after she came out. That was it. I ran out and bought a new toothbrush.” – Anna Wong
5. Let There Be No Surprises
There are two kinds of surprises: the good ones and the downright bad ones. Some good ones include getting a free meal from the hotel, or your roommate getting you a nice gift from the shop she went into down the road. Those are nice. Some, however, can be quite jarring to the point where they set the holiday off-course. If you had plans to go out with your friends, make sure that you get the details correct, like when one of them is expecting extra company for example.
Don’t impose sudden changes in the itinerary without consulting your group, and especially without their permission. Plus, you never know how uncomfortable some of them may be with your decision.
Roommate disaster experience: “My holiday roomie actually didn’t tell me that her significant other was joining the trip halfway through, so you could imagine how uncomfortable I was with him suddenly moving into our room too! Sad to say, a holiday that I was very excited about took a sudden turn, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t wait to go home!” – Angelina Fernandes
6. Ensure There Is Time Away
It can be quite stifling to constantly be with someone all the time, especially when you’re on holiday. Unfortunately, for reasons such as safety and budget constraints, we’d be forced to share a space with someone else. However, this doesn’t need to affect to a point where you feel like you cannot enjoy your holiday properly.
Just because you’re sharing a room, doesn’t mean you can’t spend time elsewhere (somewhere safe, that is) such as the poolside, the bar or any other spot that would guarantee some quality quiet ‘me’ time.
Roommate disaster experience: “I had a very clingy roommate that wouldn’t leave me alone no matter what I did. I just really wanted some time off even if it was just five minutes, but he would even come with me to the lobby downstairs or to the shops nearby. One time, I was hitting it off with a girl I met at the hotel bar, and he wouldn’t stop badgering me about when I was planning on going back to the room. My potential date eventually got uncomfortable and left us.” – Henry Tan
7. Be Flexible, and Prepare to Have a Good Time
When on holiday, it pays to be organised. But it is also good to play it by ear and change plans accordingly, especially when circumstances change such as the weather and timing. Be ready to adapt, and go with the flow. After all, they do say some of the best moments in life come totally unplanned and unexpected.
That being said, make sure you put your best self forward and be prepared to enjoy things as they come. Nobody likes to be on holiday with a killjoy or a sourpuss!
Roommate disaster experience: “I had a travel buddy who was just so hard to please, and nothing would work for him at all. He would always have a complaint or something negative to say whenever we planned something during our holiday. The entire holiday was just full of tension, negativity and all of us were glad to be rid of him when he fell sick!” – Mathevan R.
8. Take Photos, but Don’t Stay Glued to Your Phones
There is a certain hype about places that are Instagrammable, we understand that. However, that shouldn’t take precedence over the fun times and bonding sessions that you should be focusing on.
Yes, take the photographs and post about them, but don’t let them impede the mood or moment!
Roommate disaster experience: “One girl was so obsessed with taking photos of every single thing, and insisted on a ‘wefie’ or a ‘selfie’ whenever the chance presented itself that it had started to become annoying. She even asked us to take photos of her constantly! We missed out on a lot because she wouldn’t give us a break, and it was tiring! What’s the point of looking good when you don’t remember anything else about the trip, girl?!” – Nur Atirah
9. Last but Not Least, Don’t Forget to Say Thank You!
Thank you for coming with me on this trip.
Thank you for being such an excellent roommate!
Thanks for the memories!