Nobody wants to be on top
I can be incredibly entertaining in the dark. Not that anyone ever gets to see it, but stick me in a top bunk with a full bladder and an infrared camera and you’re in for some merriment. The first bit isn’t so exciting, the bit where I lie there pretending that I might be able to ignore the fullness of my bladder and fall asleep without having to perform the difficult task of clambering down to ground level in the dark. But once I’ve realised that a toilet trip is inevitable, then you’re in for some fun.
Even though I’ve been backpacking for long enough to know that it’s impossible for anyone to climb down from a top bunk without waking up everyone else in the room, I still try. Bunk bed manufacturers add to the fun by adding huge gaps between the ladder rungs as if they haven’t actually designed the beds for people to climb up and down. And so in the middle of the night, I’ll start my descent, throwing my legs over the side of the bed like something out of the Ministry of Silly Walks. Sometimes I’ll find myself stuck halfway down the ladder because I’ve tried to go down it facing outwards instead of inwards and I’ve run out of flexibility. Then I try a sort of pivot in midair, grabbing onto the frame of the bed, as I perform a 180° turn, hoping to land nimbly back on the rung. Sometimes the person beneath me will have used all the rungs as a handy drying place to hang their wet towels and clothes, which makes the descent down the ladder even more precarious than usual. Or they might have left their phone charger on the floor with all three prongs facing upwards ready to pierce my foot just as I thought I had finally made it to the safety of the floor.
Basically we’ve all left our enthusiasm for the top bunk behind in our childhood, along with our ability to eat an entire candy floss without feeling sick. Ideally we don’t want bunk beds at all, but many backpacker hostels favour them because they can cram more of us into one room. With lots of people in one room, all wanting to charge their phones, dry their towels and sometimes throw the entire contents of their bag into a big messy heap on the floor beside their bed, the smartest thing to do is to choose a bottom bunk near an electrical socket, preferably with enough space around you that you can create some storage and drying space if you need it. But before you hang your brand new bikini on the bunk bed frame to dry, you should definitely check that nobody has stuck any used chewing gum to the frame first – as I found out a little bit too late at a hostel in Melbourne recently.
If scientists were going to create an equation for finding the best bed it would look something like this: