How to Deal with Tiny Spaces [Go! Girl Guides Article]

Crossposted from Go! Girl Guides, where I’m a contributing blogger. Check out the site for more great articles from other freewheelin’ travellin’ girls that go!

The old adage goes that you get what you pay for, and unfortunately when we’re talking about hotel rooms, that means budget rooms are often smaller. If you’re traveling somewhere where space is a real commodity, cities like London and Hong Kong, for example, you’re going to have to make the best of being cramped in a small hotel room or hostel.

Here are some tips on living in small spaces on your trip:


Pack Accordingly

When you pack your stuff, use that time to organize. Think about your itinerary for the next few days and order your luggage accordingly, by putting the stuff you’ll need near the top of the bag so they’re easy to pull out.

Better still, pack a foldable duffel bag to act as a day-bag if you can, so you can stow your larger bag out of the way (on a train or in a plane) but still have your essential stuff nearby. You’ll be grateful not having to snuggle up to a large bulky backpack when you go to sleep. It also helps to have a soft day-bag, or one that can double up as a pillow in a pinch, so that hugging it to sleep in a cramped seat is no hardship.


Organize Your Items

If you don’t even have that space for a day-bag (yikes), then you need to get smart about packing. One useful tip is not just to pack your stuff into bags within your bag, but to pack them into different types of bags, so that it’s easy for you to pull out what you need without looking inside. The satin bag has the lingerie, the linen has the clean clothes, the weird handle has the toiletries…

The idea is that you want to use your bag to keep everything together; you don’t want to pull out all your stuff when you have no place to put them, just the essentials when you need them. If you’re a naturally messy person like I am, it takes some effort to stay organized, but you’ll find it all worthwhile when you don’t have to sleep in a pile of your clothes!


Hooks, Lines and Suckers

When there’s very little floor space, having somewhere to hang your stuff is a lifesaver. Make use of any available banisters, walls or hooks that you can find in the room, or bring some of your own along just in case. Carabiners which you can hook on your backpack or use to extend hook space are helpful, and string or rope stashed in your bag can double as an excellent clothesline between bedposts. Suckers are great for bathroom tiles but when all else fails, revert to the good ol’ plastic bag.

If the small space is killing you, just remember: you only need to be in your room to spend the night. During the day, you’re traveling! Get out and explore!

I have stayed in some seriously small rooms on my trips, especially once I started travelling with my friends and on my own and have less budget to afford a decent sized room. But even so, some hotels are just really, really small, even for the price you pay!

Two legendarily small rooms I’ve stayed in that I’ll always remember:

The Berjaya Eden Park Hotel in London with my parents. I can’t remember what special deal we had, but we got the room cheap and it had one of the tiniest bathrooms I’ve ever seen. Notably, they don’t show the toilet in the pix on their website, but here it is.

That's me standing in the doorway of the toilet. It's so small that that's all of the toilet I could take a picture of!

And it’s not just me! Check out their Trip Advisor page for more reviews from fellow tourists who’ve stayed at the place. I’ve heard that hotels in London are generally small because they’re quite strapped for space, but that toilet is insanely small.


The Dragon Inn Hostel in Mongkok was also pretty small. Basic amenities were there, and it’s a hostel so it’s not that surprising. Hong Kong accommodation is also not very cheap and like Hong Kong they are extremely strapped for space; we were but students back then, so we put up with it.

Luckily there were only 3 of us were in the room for 4 - we used that bed on the left to put our luggage on. The person taking this picture was standing in front of the doorway of the toilet

I didn’t manage to get a picture of the toilet, but it had just enough space for a toilet bowl with a shower above it and a sink next to it; you had to shower while sitting on the toilet bowl! We were so relieved that our hotel in Taiwan (Da Shun Hotel) was so much bigger at an equivalent price!

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