As the founder of a small group tour company aimed at connecting adventurous, working professionals in their 30s and 40s, Jennifer Gaskin knows a trick or two about surviving a room share with strangers – and friends. See unmappedtravel.com
Be prepared: if you're going away with a friend who's a snorer, pack ear plugs. Your roommate may also like to watch TV, read or be on their phone in bed, so an eye mask is always handy. I'm quite a cold person, so I don't like air-con, whereas others do. So thick socks and a hoodie come in handy if the room temperature isn't quite right for you. A tip: I seem to always share with snorers. A loud cough that disturbs their sleep usually also disturbs the snoring … for a while.
Decide what's the most important thing for you in the room. For me, it's having the bed by the window, not the one beside the bathroom. So, at the outset, offer up something that's not so important for you, such as being the first in the bathroom in the morning, or the one who gets the luggage rack.
Bring something to do together to break the ice and start to build a rapport with the stranger you're going to be living with. Perhaps a couple of face masks or a bottle of wine will do the trick. Then, later, if there are tricky conversations to be had – such as leaving dirty laundry on the floor – you'll have already gotten to know that person.
Give each other space. If one person is having a shower, the other might go out for breakfast, or for a glass of wine during evening showers. And the night before, have a conversation to agree what time you'll get up, have showers and pack bags. Some people are quick in the shower whereas hair washing always takes time: ask if they're planning to wash their hair in the morning.
Building a better group dynamic is easier if you're sharing with a different person each night, so the travelling party can't form little cliques. It might just be that you don't get along well with a particular person, but by rotating the room shares, everyone can build a rapport with everybody, and not just form pairs. Of course, you can request that two people stick together, but if two people are really struggling, it gives them a chance to share.