sleep terrors and a naked boss: when coworkers share hotel rooms

Traveling for work can be stressful – the bad airport food, the jet lag, the unfamiliar bed. Now imagine that at the end of a long day, you head back to your hotel for some down time … but your coworker is sharing the hotel room with you.

If you’re in an industry where people never share hotel rooms, the idea of sharing sleeping space with a coworker probably sounds preposterous. But it’s a common practice in some fields (nonprofits and academia, to name two).

And it can be just as fraught with problems as you might imagine. Today at Slate, I wrote about the many, many ways making employees share hotel rooms can go wrong. You can read it here.

{ 326 comments… read them below }

  1. Fortitude Jones*

    As someone who has a yet undiagnosed bowel issue that is currently being somewhat managed by medication, I am so thankful I’m in an industry where this isn’t a thing, especially since I’m going to a weeklong conference with my new manager and team in three weeks (start my new job in two – yay!). I would be horrified at the prospect of these people I don’t even know finding out that I have this issue (I’ll be fully remote, as is the rest of my team), not to mention feeling incredibly sorry for my poor roommate who would have to smell the bathroom in the mornings *shudders*. I get that this is a cost saving mechanism for some people, but I almost think that if a company can’t afford to have employees get their own rooms, maybe they don’t have the funds to have people traveling period. But that’s probably not feasible, reasonable, or practical for some industries.

    My condolences to those who have to share rooms with colleagues.

    1. Anon for this*

      I am in such an industry. I’m a woman, and discovered at almost the last minute that I would be sharing a room with a male colleague. We got there, and there was ONLY ONE BED in the room (at least it was big?). I totally trusted him, but the really awkward thing was that I had a small crush on him that I was trying very hard not to do anything about because there was a large age gap and I was all of 22. Fortunately, nothing happened. A few months later, he was transferred, and then so was I, and we never spoke again. But…geez.

      1. Anon for this*

        Oh sorry – I thought I’d hit the button to reply to the thread rather than to you specifically!

      2. Cedarthea*

        UGH! When I was about that age I was on a canoeing course as part of my work, and they had tents for us and I had to share with a man in his 50s who didn’t get why I was very uncomfortable with it. I bought my own tent the next day and never go camping without it.

        Later on when I worked as a wilderness guide I did share tents with co-guides of all genders and ages, but somehow because of who we were it was a really respectful situation, we made sure everyone had privacy and that sleeping was just sleeping and no big deal. That said, they were big tents so that helped. But I was always able to bring my own tent, which I did when I didn’t feel comfortable and we were all cool with it.

      3. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, that is incredibly awkward and a potential safety issue. I’m glad nothing happened to you.

      4. AnonEMoose*

        Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope nope…

        I’m glad that things worked out ok, but ugh, what an awful situation!

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I know, right?! The whole thing is horrifying enough, but that’s the part that makes it truly awful.

          I share a bed with my husband and my cats. I might do so with my mother, my sister, or my best friend if there was dire need. That’s it, that’s all.

          With a coworker? OH HELLLLLLL NOOOOO! I’d at least ask the hotel for a cot or roll away bed, or extra bedding so I could sleep on the floor, if there wasn’t a way to at least switch to a room with 2 beds.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            I’ve shared rooms with very close female friends. Mostly when younger. I’m much more hesitant to do so nowadays.

          2. Liz*

            I’m not married but same. I have and will share a bed IF NECESSARY, with my mom and certain friends. Even with friends I STILL feel funny about it. Mainly because I am a restless sleeper, snore like a warthog AND just don’t drool, but slobber like a St. Bernard. I’d be MORTIFIED if i ever had to share a room with a CW. My mom and friends all know about my sleep habits and I’m STILL embarassed by them. I’d get my own and pay for it if need be!

            1. Kat in VA*

              Tooth grinder, sleep talker, catathrenia sufferer (I hold my breath and let it out very sloooowly, with sounds ranging from a squeaky balloon to what the husband swears are porn actress sounds), sleep in a tank top and undies, and prefer not to share a room with anyone other than my closest family.

              Also…I can’t poop when other people are around. Period. I have a big house with many bathrooms and jokes are made about “Mom’s poop closet” (the guest room bathroom) but if I had to share a hotel room with anyone other than my husband (and even then!), that particular function is shut down much to my dismay and distress.

              (The five days I was in a cabin with 22 other people and two bathrooms was sheer living hell.)

      5. Yvette*

        Alison, How is that even allowed? I know you have to often point out that some things some employers do really aren’t illegal, despite how they may fly in the face of all that is logical, but this has to violate something!!!! Hostile work environment, something? This has to be a sexual harassment suite in the making. One bed?

      6. Anonyish*

        AARGGHH! Who the fuck thinks for a moment that is OK when they book rooms? Even if they don’t give a shit about their staff, do they not give a shit about the potential legal case when someone gets assaulted?

        A friend once discovered that at an academic conference the single rooms requested for her (sole woman traveling) and her supervisor were not single rooms, but a suite with saloon doors… Fortunately her supervisor, though as sensitive as a brick, declared immediately this was totally unacceptable, and when told by the hotel that there were no other rooms he went off and slept on the floor of the room of two older male attendees in the group until he could sort out an alternative. Still not ideal, but not his fault and the best option in the circumstances.

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          I can see this happening if the person had a gender neutral-ish name and the person booking the rooms was in a different office, but there needs to be some kind of contingency in place, even if it costs the company money. This is completely not okay and I would be livid.

          When I worked in hotels I remember having a few room switch emergencies – they’re stressful, but possible. I’d suggest anybody facing this kind of situation to tag team – one person talk to the front desk and one person to somebody from the company. This should never be allowed to happen.

        2. Anonny*

          Even if it was a pair of co-workers who you knew would never, ever commit sexual harassment whilst awake, there’s always the possibility that one of them is a sleep-cuddler or something which could make things very uncomfortable.

          1. Amy J.*

            Yup. I once, when much younger, shared a bed with a female friend at a convention, something we’d both agreed upon in advance. She was a lovely human being but I woke up with her snuggled up to me and it was extremely uncomfortable. I’d share a bed with my mom or daughter in an emergency, but otherwise it’s the husband or no one, LOL. I don’t even want to sleep with anyone else but those three in the same room honestly.

          2. Kat in VA*

            Sometimes my husband will wake up with me anxiously patting his face or his arm, or smoothing his hair down…in my sleep.

            I can only imagine how that would translate to a coworker…especially one of the opposite sex.

      7. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Not to upset the commentariat too much but… this has also happened at another company. Not to me, so I can’t provide details, but it was a company with fewer than 10 employees and the (male) owner went to a business convention with a senior employee, as usual. But her predecessor had been male — and the boss didn’t think to change the reservation to get two beds, let alone two rooms. She had to deal with assumptions for _years_.

      8. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Are you serious? That is absolutely unacceptable to expect opposite sex colleagues to share a room.

      9. Kettles*

        They expected a 22 year old woman to share a bed with a much older man on a business trip?????

        And rather than offer to sleep on the floor, or make other arrangements, the older, more experienced colleague just went with it? Before anyone jumps down my throat, this isn’t a gender thing – if I were expected to share a bed with any colleague, of any gender, especially a younger one, I would sleep on the floor before sharing a bed with them.

      10. Traffic_Spiral*

        Oh hell no! I had that happen once with a friend on vacation, and I called the hotel management and insisted that we be given separate beds. There was a lot of “we aren’t that kind of friends, and you don’t get to decide that for us!”

    2. Quickbeam*

      A weird work/travel/roommate story….decades ago I worked for a government agency and had to share a room with a woman from another agency for a statewide training. I had picked up the Gideons bible and was flipping through it. She asked me some bible questions which dovetailed into religion question (I’m no theologian…I was just bored). After about an hour she knelt down and asked if she could confess to me. Turns out she had been having sex with underaged clients.

      I would have paid money to not be in that room but I told her she needed to turn herself in or I’d have to. She did and I had to testify at her trial. She did several years in women’s prison.

      It still haunts me. Wrong place, wrong time, TMI, you name it,

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Wow. Yuck. What a horrible thing to have happen. On the other hand, if you hadn’t been there fiddling with the Gideon, the problem could have gone on for years.

      2. Robin Sparkles*

        Wow well this topic led to a story I did not see coming! Sorry you had to live that.

      3. Cedarthea*

        Thank you for protecting children/youth. Making those calls and hearing those things are never easy, but thank you, for doing it.

      4. Lobsterman*

        That’s horrible of course but … she went to prison and the victims got help (hopefully) so the things that should have happened did happen.

  2. CatCat*

    I felt exhausted just reading this. O_O

    I’m grateful that sharing a room has not been an expectation in my career.

      1. Jadelyn*

        On the other hand, #notallnonprofits – I work at a nonprofit and have never even once been asked to consider sharing a room. When we send 4 people to a conference, we are booking 4 rooms.

        I mean, yeah, nonprofit sector still has its issues, but I’d hate to see people scared off by an assumption that may not be accurate at all.

      2. No real name here*

        Or work at a super-scrappy non-profit that never, ever does business travel for anyone below C-suite. Problem solved! Hah!

      3. Lunita*

        I’ve been at nonprofits my entire career and have never had to share a room when traveling. I’m appalled that some people have had to share beds! Ewww.

      4. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’ve worked for nonprofits for many years and at all of them, each individual had her or his own room without being pressured to share.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I’m facing it for the first time for a company retreat and I’m willing to put up with it for what I get out of it (last year it was a free trip to Morocco, so if you’re telling me I can chill in Marrakech and all I have to do is share a hotel room, well…I’ve done a lot of group tours, I can handle it) but any other time and I’d be looking for whatever my next job was.

      1. Artemesia*

        I did this many times when I was young. WE didn’t get full compensation for conferences and such and so the only way we could afford to go was sharing rooms — sometimes 4 to a room in the early grad student days, but later 2 was typical. I could do it then, but when you get older it gets harder to do. And the issues for which you need privacy are more likely.

        Requiring someone to room with someone of the opposite sex is outrageous — I have heard of it being done, but aside from camping situations where there are lots of people there and little privacy, it is outrageous. In addition to the small chance of assault, there is the large chance of reputational damage. I’d have sacked out on a couch in the lobby before I would have agreed to do that i.e. room with male boss. Women have enough trouble being accused of sleeping their way to the top without being put in a compromising situation like that. Some things are just ‘nope’ regardless of how much of a fuss is required. Almost certainly another room could have been found if the person put in this situation had insisted.

  3. AvidReader31*

    I’ve always been thankful that I never had to share a room while traveling. But I know that one admin (A) demanded to share a room with the other admin (B). The other admin (B) was a good sport and willing to do it, but after 12-14 hour days, it had to be exhausting to come back to the room with another person. B was too good of a person because while A was a sweet person, she was EXHAUSTING. This room sharing went on once a year at conference for about 15 years. No way in heck would I have put up with that.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Why in the world would Admin A be asking to share a room if that wasn’t an expectation? And why didn’t Admin B push back on this or have her boss do it if she was uncomfortable saying no?

      I don’t expect you to know the answers to these questions, just ruminating on the absurdity out loud I suppose.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Uh, yeah, if a coworker insisted to share a room with me – naming me by name – when sharing a room is not even an expectation – I would really wonder what’s going on. This is beyond weird. “No, Admin A, I do not like you in that way!”

        1. Drew*

          I do not like you, Admin A,
          I do not like you in that way,
          I do not want to share a room,
          I do not — wait, sorry, wrong post.

          1. wendelenn*

            I do not like you, Admin A,
            I do not like you in that way,
            I do not want to share a room,
            I do not want to watch you groom.

            I do not like you, Admin A,
            I do not like you in that way,
            And if you think I’ll share a bed,
            Then you are messed up in the head.

    2. Justme, The OG*

      My two project directors share a room. I have repeatedly told them that they do not have to, but they ask to.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I mean, I have a dear friend who would one million percent choose to share a room with someone on a work trip even if he didn’t have to! He’s a classic, full-blown extrovert — he recently was slightly sad to have gotten an entire row to himself on an international flight because it meant no socializing with a seatmate for 12 hours.

        1. Mr. Tyzik*

          An empty row on a plane sounds like heaven.

          Spending time with this guy sounds like hell.

          1. Parenthetically*

            He’s genuinely a lovely guy, and a very intuitive person with excellent boundaries, so he can read the non-socializer’s cues and leave them alone, but he does always hope to run into other social extroverts in situations like that!

            1. Aurion*

              On my last flight I sat next to two people whom were, as far as I could tell, absolute strangers to each other…and yet on the 1.5 hour flight they (a man and a woman) had not stopped talking for more than 15 seconds and had gone through everything from childhood pets to dating woes and most recent breakups. The two had told each other more stuff in that 1.5 hours than friends I’ve known 3 years. (Both of them, however, smartly read that I was not a talker and other than kindly passing me some napkins to wipe up a spill, left me entirely alone.) And yet, after they disembarked and wished each other well, as far as I can tell they went off on their separate ways (based on separate lines and no attempts to talk to each other before and after they cleared security).

              If that sounds like your friend, Parenthetically, I’m genuinely in awe of him and people like him!

              1. Robin Sparkles*

                Ha this sounds like me – I can share more with random strangers than I can with close friends sometimes.

              2. Artemesia*

                I always end up seated in the row in front of these people who don’t shut up for a second and of course sort of shout their banal life histories over the throb of the engines.

        2. Alexander Graham Yell*

          Whenever I think I am the extrovertiest extrovert in existence, I am going to remember this story.

  4. Save One Day at a Time*

    It’s an expectation especially for women in nonprofits. Occasionally there will only be one male, or a small number, and that’s who ends up getting to room alone

      1. Save One Day at a Time*

        I’ve also found that female EDs might share a room with another female in management, whereas as male ED would just get their own room

    1. Washi*

      Same. It also ends up feeling a bit weird to me to break people up by gender (though I get that many women would be even less happy sharing a room with a man than another women.) In one instance, I shared a room with a female director 3 levels above with me, and would have actually been much more comfortable sharing a room with my male coworker at the same level, whom I knew very well.

    2. Light37*

      I once went on a business trip where I was the only woman. Two men had to share a room and I got my own. They were not delighted, but the boss did make it clear ahead of time. (They didn’t have to share a bed.)
      The trip turned out pretty well for me in the long run, as I ended up living in that hotel for seven months a few years later while on a temp job. I didn’t know the area well outside of that hotel and the nearby shopping center, but it made my life much easier on that job!

        1. JustaTech*

          It means that everyone will probably pack pajamas when they might not have otherwise. (Ask me how I know!)

          Forewarned is forearmed and all that jazz.

    3. Emily K*

      Yep, I worked at a tiny nonprofit with a exec director and three staff under her, two of us female and one male. The ED got her own room because she was the boss, the dude got his own room because it wouldn’t be appropriate to force opposite sex staff to room together, and me and the other woman got to share a room because it would control our travel costs.

      Luckily it was only once or twice a year that all four of us went anywhere together – most of the time I traveled alone or just with my boss, who definitely still wanted her own room which left me with my own too.

    4. PrgrmMgr*

      Yep. I worked for an organization that mostly let me get my own room while traveling, but twice had the request to share a room couched in “your coworker is uncomfortable staying alone”. Maybe that’s true? Maybe it’s cultural, both were natives of Spanish speaking Caribbean islands. Either way, I’d rather indulge my introvert nature at the end of the day alone and always found that request annoying (but never spoke up about it, because it felt mean to say “she’s a grown woman, why can’t she sleep in a room in a major hotel by herself?”).

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        Why would that be mean? I would be wondering the same thing! (And I would refuse to share as I NEED my alone time to recharge.)

  5. Janeitenoir*

    As someone who will, as of tomorrow, be sharing a room with her boss while at a conference for a few days, I’m mostly just grateful she’s usually very nice. But introvert me and extrovert boss interacting non-stop is going to be stressful even so.

    I’m in libraries, FYI – where this seems pretty standard.

    1. LaDeeDa*

      Wow. Good luck! I would take earplugs and a book, journal, my iPad, and when I got back to the room very clearly state “I need some down time, so I am going to put my earbuds/earplugs in for a while.” Hopefully, that is enough to let her know you need some space. Good luck!

      1. Anonysand*

        This x 10000000000. I once went on a 10-day overseas trip while working at a state college (helping to chaperone 18 college kids across Europe, ugh) and had to room with my extremely outgoing coworker/former supervisor. She and I discussed it in length before the trip, and I let her know that I would be doing all the things LaDeeDa listed above. I also brought earplugs and an eyemask for myself (so she could stay up as late as she wanted), as well as a set of earplugs for her if she needed them since I can snore when I get congested. She was really respectful once we talked about our needs and there was no roommate trouble at all. Good luck on your trip!

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          As a super extroverty extrovert, I would really appreciate a roommate having that conversation with me! It’s a convo I have with roommates in general because I know my “I need this to function” level of interaction is a lot of people’s “I need to be alone for a month to recover from that”, but I’ll make sure I bring that up with people if I ever have to share a room. I’m perfectly okay to be told “I need quiet time with my book” or even “In the next day or two, can I get an hour or two in the room by myself?” so that I can plan to give people their own time.

      2. Janeitenoir*

        Thanks! I also have anxiety issues, so I’m planning on doing just that as much as I can. I’ve been in this role for under a year though, so it’s a balance of needed downtime versus required networking.

        1. LaDeeDa*

          I was at a training/certification thing a few weeks ago. It was a small group of us, they were all very extroverted and we were together in class for 9 hours a day, and then we were together every evening for dinner and studying. It was a lot for me. Thankfully I had my own room ;) I did a couple of things– at lunch, I would grab my plate and find a quiet place in the hotel for about 40 minutes, and then the last 20 minutes I would grab a coffee and sit with a group. At each break, I would take a little walk to a different floor of the conference area and find a restroom there–giving me a bit of privacy and a few minutes to decompress. I also didn’t join everyone for breakfast, I kept a few things in my hotel room- protein bar, protein shake, etc., to give me a bit more downtime.

          I was truly exhausted by the time it was over, the weekend after I got home I didn’t see or talk to anyone for like 3 days. I don’t think I even turned the TV on until the last day. I was DONE with people- especially 18 extreme extroverts. I really did adore everyone there, it was just a lot!

          I hope you are able to find a balance that works for you!

          1. Janeitenoir*

            Thank you! I’m planning on opting out of most group dinners and finding a quiet spot somewhere to chill with my laptop and knitting. My best stress relief (my fiance and dog) are not there, but hopefully Netflix has something very relaxing. I foresee Great British Bake Off in my future.

      3. Are you a banana?*

        Yes, that’s what I’ve always done in similar situations. I’m in academia, where virtually everyone is a fellow introvert, but nobody has ever been anything less than respectful about boundaries (and I suspect, probably grateful for the clarity). It is, however, still horrible, and I’ll never stop hating it.

    2. Lazlo Whitaker*

      I feel fortunate that neither the public library where I used to work nor the academic library where I am now expect employees to share rooms. My current library will send fewer people to a conference and have them report back rather than make people share rooms. As much as I like my coworkers and managers from both jobs, I would find it incredibly difficult to share a room with any of them.

    3. Treecat*

      Ugh, yes, I am also in libraries and a lot of folks share rooms for conferences. I pretty much refuse to do this, not because I dislike my coworkers but because I just want that time alone. I am fortunate that my institution does not force us to share rooms and that I can just pay the difference out of pocket if the costs are over the institution’s allowance. That is an expense I am more than willing to eat. Good luck, I hope your experience goes as smoothly as it can.

    4. Anona*

      When our office still made us share rooms, someone suggested the policy of never having to share a room with someone in your reporting line. I think that’s super reasonable!
      I’ve shared with my boss before, and it was so awkward.

      1. Janeitenoir*

        That sounds reasonable! The issue is that all of us going are in her reporting line – and of course, it’s review season (not that I think it’ll affect my review if there are issues)

        1. Anona*

          Yeah, in that case our office would have had her stay in her own room (when they made us share rooms). I feel for you. I hope it goes OK!

      2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        My hubby had to do that once because the major international conference the office was going to was in a city that was not cut out to host a major international conference. They sent six guys, fortunately they had at least booked early enough to get rooms with two beds…..
        Apparently the conference center was also too small for the number of attendees. Poor planning on the part of the organizers, though apparently this was also the best attended conference the group had ever had…..

    5. Anon for today (and probably tomorrow)*

      I am a librarian and I have started paying out of pocket so I can have my own room.

      Most of my roommates over the years have been nice enough, but I need my own room these days. Those conferences are work and I need my privacy and the ability to not be “on” all the time.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        VRBO and AirB&B is my standard go-to for most conferences these days. My big standard isn’t even, ‘Does it have enough bedrooms?’ It’s, ‘Does it have enough bathrooms.’

        ALA in New Orleans last summer: 5 bed, 5 bath house on Magazine. At half of the hotel costs even if everyone shared a room. A side benefit is having a kitchen. No $13 muffins for breakfast. We shop, I pay, we have decent breakfasts. We could all go to our rooms and chill at the end of the day.

  6. Clawfoot*

    I was once in an industry where sharing hotel rooms was standard. I was also working with my husband at the same job at the time, and at first the company resolutely refused to let us room together. We had to raise quite a stink to get to room together instead of with near-strangers.

    I hated that job so much.

    1. Busy*

      I don’t even get the logic. Are you high-schoolers on your class trip or what? What was their reason?

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      They refused? resolutely, at that? It makes no sense whatsoever! Did they say why?

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      That is so bizarre. I would think having the married couple room together would be a no-brainer.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Right? It would make the room-planning just that little bit easier since you don’t have to ask who they want and try to figure out how to match everyone up happily.

    4. CmdrShepard4ever*

      My guess is they had a rigid policy against having males and females room together.

      I think the company missed out on saving some money. They could have made you and your husband share a room with a third person. You and husband could share bed 1 and the other coworker could sleep on bed 2. /s

    5. Clawfoot*

      The logic was as CmdrShepard4ever guessed: a very strict “no fraternizing”/no male-female sharing a room. Typical blind application of the rules without paying attention to the actual details.

      Funny story: the first trip we ever took was just a one-night stay, and we had no problem getting a room together after applying for such to HQ. It turned out later (after we’d been denied a room together for a later trip) that they thought we were sisters. Same last name, and my husband’s name is typically feminine (think something like “Ashley” – a traditionally male name that’s today unusual for a man). Didn’t hurt that our first names are alliterative, which I supposed helped them assume siblings rather than spouses.

      When they realized we were spouses, however, they tried to refuse to let us share a room. It’s surprising how hard we had to fight to get them to let us, but we weren’t going to let it go.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        That’s interesting. I wonder if they would have let you share a room with an opposite sex sibling? Given a choice I would prefer to have my own room, but if I did have to share a room with someone I would prefer to do so with my sibling rather than a coworker. We actually shared a room till I was about 12 years old, they are 4 years younger than me.

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        That’s so ridiculous. I used to work with a married couple and when there were travel opportunities that had thin margins, it was great that they could share!

      3. Parenthetically*

        Boy, if ever there was a time to urge people to reflect on the PURPOSE of a rule!

  7. Art3mis*

    I don’t travel for work, but this would be a big nope for me. Sometimes some friends of mine will want to go to a fan convention or something and offer to double up to save money. Nope. My own room is worth every penny.

  8. oliphaunt*

    I don’t know that this is standard in academia. For grad students, yes, because our funding never went that far, but for faculty/staff? Most of my colleagues have their own room at conferences.

    1. Anonysand*

      When I worked for a state college, it was the standard for us. And mostly for the same budgetary reasons as you’d find in most non-profits.

    2. morningnightowl*

      When I worked in college athletics, sharing rooms was definitely the norm – even for higher-level staff, aside from director-level. Luckily when I traveled, it was with an almost all-male staff and I often got a room to myself! If not, I shared with a coworker who’d become a close friend. I still cherished a room of my own when I could, as I got more rest than I ever did at home!

    3. Are you a banana?*

      My sense is it varies a lot by region and type of institution. Ivy / major R1? Grad students only. State college? More likely for everyone. I’m American but teach in Europe now and it’s much more common than I was used to back home.

    4. Me (I think)*

      I’m in academia, on the staff side. For years we took our whole office of 12-15 people on a 3-day retreat in the mountains. Meetings, nice meals, hanging out, etc. Usually stayed at a nice lodge or a B&B. The guys had to share rooms. The women had to share beds. The VP had a private room or suite. One year I ended up sleeping on a couch in the hallway (by choice.)

      Just. No.

    5. Alucius*

      In my field, I would say the majority share rooms, even up to the level of senior scholars unless you’re at a VERY prestigious place. There’s no formal policy at my school, but not enough professional development funds to make a solo room a worthwhile course of action.

    6. Anon for today (and probably tomorrow)*

      My national conference typically costs me between $1,250 – 1,750. I get a whopping $850 a year for all professional development.

      That’s why people double up.

    7. Artemesia*

      Most faculty get limited dollars for such travel and so are paying a lot out of pocket so if they are getting single rooms, they are probably paying a good bit of it. Some very lush research grants cover the expenses, but college funds are usually X per year and not enough to cover costs — and then there are often $ limits for meals and for hotel rooms that are not always realistic.

  9. Jennifer M*

    I’ve experienced a mixed bag. At my first full time job, if we were on work travel, we got our own rooms. Sharing a room wasn’t even in the realm of possibility. However, if we had a departmental retreat, the default was sharing a room for anyone other than the SVP, though if you were willing to pay the difference between a double and single occupancy, you were allowed to. Next job I can only recall one retreat and I’m 99% sure I got my own room, but at that retreat I was a special invite from a different department so I don’t know if I was treated differently. That job evolved into an overseas placement to a country where it would not have been acceptable to share rooms on travel.

  10. Peaches*

    Ugh, I hate even reading about this!

    I’ve only had to attend one overnight trip for work (and will hopefully never have to again!) However, I had to share a hotel room and it was awful (it was especially irritating because my company can absolutely afford to get everyone their own room). I completely agree with those who say you have to feel like you’re “on” all the time and have no chance to decompress when sharing a room.

    On the evening that I had to share a room, we had an employee dinner at the hotel restaurant at 7:00 P.M. (this was after a 10+ hour conference, so I was already exahusted!) Most of our team stayed at the restaurant until very late into the evening, having drinks and chatting. I went back to my room “early”, around 9:30 P.M. just to have some time in the hotel room alone to shower, get settled into bed, and watch TV before my roommate for the night returned from dinner. Just the thought of having to brush my teeth, wash my face, and take my contacts out while being within feet from a coworker sounded horrible. It’s not that I disliked the coworker – I just find that time to relax in the evening after work SO important.

  11. stebuu*

    As somebody who actually does have night terrors, I am SUPER thankful I am in an industry where sharing hotel rooms is essentially unthinkable.

  12. LaDeeDa*

    I would stay at a cheaper hotel than do this. I would rather stay someplace other than the conference site that was cheaper than share a room. I don’t even share a room when I travel with friends- I am a really light sleeper and I also wake up really early, and I need alone time!

    I would think this opens up the company to all kinds of potential lawsuits— didn’t AAM just have a letter recently about a guy who gets drunk and belligerent when he shares a room with coworkers?

  13. Steggy Saurus*

    Lots of times there’s the expectation in academia that people will share, especially in state schools with very tight budgets and draconian reimbursement policies. But my absolute nightmare experience was in grad school, when I unexpectedly ended up sharing a bed. The woman I shared with is gay, and ended up feeling me up while we were in bed (I never did find out if this was intentional or unintentional). As a result, the next night I waited until super late to go up to the room, hanging out in the hotel’s tiny bar, and ended up instead being hit on by a random man who wanted me to go join him in his room.

    Needless to say, after that, I have absolutely refused to share rooms at conferences. Until my current managerial position, I just paid the difference to stay alone. Now, as a manager, I set as high a dollar amount for travel as possible and leave it up to the staff member to decide whether they want to share a room with a friend (not a coworker) or not.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        I am pretty sure she was awake. At this point in my grad school career, I was no longer on campus and knew I’d never have to see her again, so I practiced my standard avoidance tactics and didn’t say anything. :)

        1. Oh So Very Anon*

          This is where the “flying elbow technique” comes in handy. BAM! “Oh, I’m sorry, did I hit you? I sometimes do that in my sleep. You’ll be safer if you stay well on your own side.”

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Augh, that’s terrible! I’m sorry that happened to you. Luckily, I’ve never had to share a bed while on an academic conference, but unfortunately sharing rooms does indeed happen in private higher ed institutions as well. In my experience, the budget has very little $ for travel/conferences, so you’re expected to double up with same-gender colleagues in your department, or same-gender colleagues that you know from different schools who are attending the conference/meeting, if there aren’t any in your department.

      I can generally handle that, but it’s really about the comfort of both parties, isn’t it? I have it on good authority that in the last few years I snore like someone tossing chainsaws into a wood-chipper, so that would be awful for a co-worker/colleague. Luckily, my travel has been solo, although I don’t believe my current employer requires people to double up.

    2. JJ Bittenbinder*

      I am so very sorry that that happened to you. That’s truly awful, and you deserved to feel safe and comfortable, both in your hotel room and in the bar.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        It was pretty unpleasant at the time, but at least I can look back and laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing now. And fortunately, the guy in the bar took a simple no quite well (and there were plenty of other people around, so I never felt in danger). :)

  14. Chaotic Neutral*

    I would never share a room. I’m barely willing to share a hotel room with my own tween children, let alone a relative stranger.

    1. Not My Real Name*

      I took my kids to NYC for a couple days last week. I certainly didnt want to share with my teenaged daughter and she definitely didnt want to share with me. Sharing with my 9 year old son was fine. But I wasn’t paying for 2 adjoining rooms. So there we were, all 3 of us in NYC hotel rooms.

      1. Asenath*

        When I was growing up, my family always shared tents or hotel rooms – that’s six people in one room. When there were get-togethers at my grandparents, there were relatives everywhere – in the one spare bedroom, on sofas, on cots in the laundry room or basement, in a tent or camper in the back yard. We often shared beds, usually with a relative near your own age and of the same sex, unless you were infants or married.

        That was then, and this is now. And that was family. I wouldn’t share with some co-worker from work, and I am fortunate that sharing hasn’t been expected on any of the work travel I’ve been on. I think it would be enough for me to find some excuse not to travel for work.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I was once stuck sharing a hotel room with my then-boyfriend, my mother, my stepfather, my grandmother, and a hound dog when we were all traveling for a family wedding. That night, I learned that I would not have made it through the winter in a pioneer family all sharing a one-room cabin. I think the only one who had a good time was the dog.

          For work, sharing a bed is a hard no and sharing a room is a “maybe, but probably not”, depending on the room and the person – certainly it’s something I’d avoid unless it was a trip I really wanted. I know from past experience that I can sleep on hotel room floors and in the front seat of a car, so my options are often pretty open in awkward situations. (I’ve certainly slept on the floor in a non-sleeping room to get my own room on both staff retreats and fan events at someone’s house.)

          For fan conventions, I shared rooms, but not beds, with random internet fellow-fans back when I was on more of a budget, but now will only share with one particular friend or else get my own room since I can afford it. (I used to be pretty involved in a small internet community, so I’d end up rooming with people I’d never met before but who could be vouched for by a mutual connection. It always worked out fine, but this is something I stopped doing once I had more money.) I’m lucky enough to have met one person who is basically my fan-travel-SO, in that we always travel and room together for cons if we’re both going and are really, really comfortable with each other so it’s like traveling as part of a team rather than just saving money (things like having a trusted person to watch all of your bags while you go use the restroom at the train station, or someone to split the driving with who shares your taste in roadside attractions). They happen to be of a different gender than I am, but I would choose them over a random same-gender roommate any day. It’s kind of a wash between sharing a room with them versus staying alone so it just comes down to whether or not we are both planning on renting rooms at the same con hotel.

  15. Hotel GM*

    I found the aversion to sharing hotel rooms moderately amusing. I do literally thousands of room-nights in business a year with companies that put people with roommates (work crews/air crews/roadies/etc), and it typically runs smoothly.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      It might be running well typically from your perspective, but that doesn’t mean that it is from the individual perspective. I mean when would you hear about it going poorly? Only in the most catastrophic circumstances.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I mean, how likely are you to hear about the kind of problems being discussed though? If I (as a rational person) am being driven bonkers by my coworker’s apneic snoring or lack of pajamas or whatnot, why on earth would the hotel management hear about it?

      1. Hotel GM*

        A little bit. I just find the difference between blue collar workers and white collar workers amusing.

          1. Kat in VA*

            Yeah, the implication that blue collar workers are somehow more chill and white collar workers are uptight stiffnecks is irritating at best.

            I shared a hotel room with my mother in law exactly twice (separate beds). I love her to death. She also snores like a bandsaw/chainsaw cross with a few choking frogs here and there for variety…and that cuts right through any earplugs anyone ever makes on this planet. The second time, I swore never again and I love love love her.

            I value my sleep. White collar, blue collar, or something else collar.

        1. bibliospork*

          My blue collar dad was at home on weekends only most of my life. He always has his own room unless one of my brothers was working the same job. I think you’re making the wrong distinction here.

        2. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

          My union contract has it written in that we don’t have to share hotel rooms with our colleagues, so.

    3. Not Today Satan*

      Why would a guest share issues they had with their roommate–let alone things that aren’t “incidents” but just that they felt really uncomfortable–with the hotel manager?

      1. Hotel GM*

        You would be surprised about the things people complain about that’s outside of the hotels control. One thing related to companies with roommates that happens is when one wants housekeeping service while the other doesn’t, so the “Do Not Disturb” sign gets left out, the room doesn’t get cleaned, and we get guests upset at us because of their roommate’s actions, which can lead to negative reviews, unfortunately.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          And that’s the kind of thing you’d hear about. People aren’t likely to complain to hotel management about not having enough down time, their roommate’s boundary violations, etc.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            *grabs room phone, dials, fumes*
            “Hello, hotel management? My senior librarian is NAKED!!”

            1. Artemesia*

              LOL. I am also still obsessed with the person upstream here who ended up having to share a bed with a male co-worker. Imagine if she were assaulted how that report would go:

              ‘I am reporting a sexual assault’
              Describe what happened
              ‘well we were sharing the same bed in the hotel room and . . .
              Wait what? You were sharing a bed with him?

              It goes downhill from there.

          2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

            I worked at a hotel front desk in college, and I’m pretty sure I heard things that would curl your toes. A minor sampling (remember this is only what was reported to the front desk or argued about in the lobby/during check-in/out):

            1) you can’t have the bed by the window again tonight
            2) I’m not wearing ear plugs, you get to stay awake so the buzz-saw snoring doesn’t keep me up
            3) put on some ******** clothes, I don’t want to share a room with a naked hag
            4) can you force my room-mate to wear these pajamas please?
            5) they stole my underwear
            6) he used my toothbrush
            7) confiscate his penthouse magazine please
            8) call my boss and force him to pay for another room because my assigned roommate keeps “jacking off” in the main room
            9) she’s using her “powers” to read my mind while I’m sleeping

            I don’t even want to know what wasn’t “discussed” in the lobby or tattled to the front desk; because you know this was only the tip of the iceberg. And no, this wasn’t a very cheap hotel – we were rated as two and a half dollar signs on TripAdvisor, and routinely got 4 1/2 to 5 stars (from the people not kvetching about rooming with a ‘naughty’ coworker).

            1. Elmer Litzinger, spy*

              I work night audit and we once had male/female co-workers show up for a conference under the assumption that they would book a room for the female at check in so they could have separate rooms. Yeah no. We were sold out and had been for weeks. Huge amounts of shouting, etc. We did set up her own reservation in two days.

              I got a call at about 2 AM from two very happy drunks saying they decided they would continue sharing.

        2. Essess*

          I went to a big national conference once (not work-related so all the costs were out of my own pocket) where the housing arrangements were made by the parent organization. All we were supposed to do was show up at the hotel. We already knew that we’d be sharing rooms with strangers but it was supposed to be 2 people to a room. I check in and I’m informed that they had overbooked the rooms so we had 3 people in a room with 2 beds, but I was assured that as soon as another room opened up that they would let me know and move me to the new room. I ended up sleeping on the couch for the entire week. Every evening I would have to grab sheets and make up a place for me to sleep on the incredibly uncomfortable lumpy couch and struggling to get any sleep. At the end of the week, I was very grumpy and told my room mates that I was going to complain about having to pay my full share for a $450/night room when I was forced to sleep on a couch and make up my own bed every night. That’s when one of my room mates piped up… “oh, they called the second day and said they had a room for you but I told them that we were fine the way we were.” I WAS LIVID!

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I find the question “why are you strangely averse to Thing X?” when there’s a link in the OP to a Slate post with a half-dozen examples of how Thing X can go bad, moderately amusing.

    5. Ivylaughed*

      I think it helps (as a former techie) that there’s a very different work relationship there versus an office environment. Especially when you’re on tour. There’s far fewer polite boundaries because you’re spending all your time together anyway. I’ve shared things with fellow techies I’d never share with my current office people. I’d be horrified to share a hotel with my coworkers now, but during tech week? Oh good, a place to sleep, I’ve already snapped at you twice today, goodnight.

      1. Antilles*

        It’s also different when you’re traveling with the same people regularly and consistently and have a chance to really bond and become sorta friends…rather than office workers sharing rooms, which are typically just thrown together based on whatever the project/conference needs happen to be for that particular trip.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, I did a lot of theater and seeing naked people is just par for the course in that type of setting. Modesty is a foreign concept when you have thirty seconds to change clothes in a 5×5 space just off stage.

        But in like 95% of professions, it would be super inappropriate.

    6. Parenthetically*

      “it typically runs smoothly.”

      Surely you understand that the problems you see as a manager of a hotel are mostly non-overlapping with the problems people are discussing here. No one is going to come to the front desk and say, “I’m not getting down time! I feel frustrated about the bathroom situation! I just want to watch my stupid home-makeover shows in peace and not have to play gracious host to my coworker and his toxic farts!”

      1. Elmer Litzinger, spy*

        Yeah they do. I’ve had someone come up in the middle of the night saying “Bob is snoring way too loud. Please tell me you have a room I can rent.” Luckily for him, I did.

        People will overexplain about why they’re getting their own room all the time. Their room getting too drunk is a popular one.

    7. Utoh!*

      I’m sure many of those people you book are forced to room together. I don’t feel bad at all wanting my own room when on a business trip. I don’t live with my coworkers and have no close relationship with them, so sharing a hotel room would be way too close for my comfort. Going on a business trip is stressful enough, having the opportunity for some down time after the business has concluded is imperative for me.

      Hell, I even have to work in some down time when I’m traveling with hubby, so it’s not just coworkers.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I travel on business and when I do I expect to spend 12-14 hours per day in meetings, have lunch and dinner with colleagues and counterparts and generally be bright and vibrant for the whole time. I accordingly need time on my own at night not speaking, gathering my thoughts and having a very long bath with a Lush bath bomb in.

        In my view I’m doing my company a favour travelling on business, I’m rearranging my personal life to do this travelling. I enjoy it, but it’s work not a holiday. Like Utoh, I don’t live with my colleagues and we’re not close friends. I am used to my own space and that’s a priority for me. Yes you bet I would kick back if I ever had to share a room with someone.

        We don’t stay at the Ritz, we’re usually in the Premier Inn (UK) or something similar abroad but I expect a comfortable room of my own, working WiFi and decent water pressure.

    8. Asenath*

      I think the level of aversion depends on what is expected in an industry as well as personal preference.

      Maybe gender, too. I remember visiting a family friend in a nursing home many years ago. I learned that they normally placed more women (2-4, I’m not talking dormitories here) than men per room. Single rooms were scarce and some people could only pay the lower fees for the shared rooms. The reasoning was that men complained more about their room-mates and the women didn’t mind – in fact, the women liked the company! I think that the experience as reported was correct (that the management had tried putting more men into their shared rooms, and they had complained but the women didn’t) but I don’t know if it’s still the case, with all the social changes that have happened.

      1. fposte*

        I also think it’s one of those spiral situations, where the less standard it becomes the more annoying people will find it.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I think maybe the women didn’t know that complaining was an option. Or they didn’t want to make waves. Or they thought that not complaining about living with three roommates will get them brownie points and somehow result in them having fewer roommates down the road.

        1. Asenath*

          The woman I knew best there wasn’t afraid to complain or unwilling to make waves – I would expect the rest of them had a typical range of personalities, some willing to complain, some not. No way you’d get a private room there because you were nice and compliant – it was all down to one being available (ie the occupant died), the potential new occupant being able to afford one, and (if there was more than one candidate) their position on the waiting list.

          Much later, under a different management, I suspected another reasons – people who made their roommates miserable sometimes were offered a private room for no extra charge.

          1. Asenath*

            Of course not. But I don’t agree with the assumption that “no complaints” means “women are too downtrodden/timid/unaware of the possibility of getting change through complaints/whatever to complain”. It certainly doesn’t apply to the situation which I knew, in which the family friend, although a woman of my grandparents’ generation, had a strong and direct personality. I also had no particular reason to assume all the other women I met there more briefly all fit into one category – some might have been unable for some reason to complain, others certainly weren’t. I can’t speak for the men – my visits were to the women’s floor.

            1. Kettles*

              I don’t think any of those are the case and I was commenting more on general circumstances. In my experience, women complain less because nobody listens.

              1. Asenath*

                Our experiences have clearly been different – which is only to be expected. There are a lot of cultures and sub-cultures out there.

    9. TexasThunder*

      I once had hotel reception brightly suggest that since they were overbooked I might have to share a bed with my boss.
      I looked at them like they were insane.
      After a free and frank exchange of views, they conceded they actually had a suite they could upgrade me to instead. My boss got the penthouse

      1. feministbookworm*

        HA! I’m glad you got your own room! My partner and I have the exact opposite problem trying to get only one bed in a hotel room (the hotel staff see two female names, and assume we MUST want two beds…)

      2. Artemesia*

        I watched my boss and his male associate director get told the same thing. I assumed they would agree to share a room under the circumstances. It was a lesson to me to watch him say ‘absolutely not’. We booked two rooms; you need to find us two rooms. They ended up walking one of them to the hotel across the road.

        1. TexasThunder*

          I find when faced with unreasonable requests goodnatured incredulity combined with a complete unwillingness to budge work well.
          The shrink I see regarding my ADD once observed “I don’t think you really have a problem saying no…”.
          I considered it and responded a measured” Yes…”, He burst out laughing.
          The idea of rolling over on something like that would simply never occur to me.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, my husband worked for a time delivering vehicles. There would be crews of 3 or 4 guys and they would share a double room and took turns on the single room if it were only 3 guys.

      He said it wasn’t too horrible, but was very happy when his turn came for the single room by his self!

    11. dramalama*

      Just FYI, pretty much every work crew I’ve ever been on hiding problems from hotel staff was a priority above even hiding problems from your crew chief. If you were even partly responsible for getting the crew banned from a hotel that would be the end for you with that company (and anyone else who heard the story).

      1. Hotel GM*

        I can believe that. I know that I’ve directly gotten several people fired and a few different companies by calling the travel coordinator and complaining about their employees smoking in our nonsmoking rooms while on work trips (tobacco or otherwise).

        1. $!$!*

          So your hotel charges the smoking fee AND you preemptively call the company’s travel coordinator to complain? Or does the company call you to complain about the fee and then you explain that it’s a smoking fee? Because… the fee seems self explanatory. Just curious. I don’t smoke in hotel rooms, tobacco or otherwise

          1. Hotel GM*

            No, we just evict smokers outright, because companies typically refuse to pay the fee and it’s not worth souring relations with the client. Calling the travel coordinator is more of giving them a heads up that their employee was kicked out.

          2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

            When I worked hotels in college our policy was to call the travel coordinator/company representative to let them know to expect the extra charge because the room was smoked in. And that was done because we found there was a lot less arguing with us when the bill came in when we were upfront about the extra charge and why.
            And yes, I also had to call a few times about stolen sheets or bedspreads. We didn’t bother if you took a towel – but every towel in the room is also not a normal mistake (yes had to make that call as well, HR didn’t sound surprised that time though).

        2. Frequent business traveller*

          …and right there is why I book my own rooms and get reimbursed.

          To be clear, I’m not a smoker and never have been. But I don’t want some random hotel manager calling my company to complain about some perceived slight.

          Shame on you. I wonder whether you could even make a tortious interference claim stick against the hotel.

    12. Rusty Shackelford*

      How odd that you think the problems people have with room-sharing are the type they’d share with the hotel manager. Do you expect them to call you and complain that their roommate snores, or takes too much time in the bathroom, or won’t leave so they can make a personal phone call?

      1. Envy*

        In my experience as a Hotel Night Worker you don’t hear about it because their complaining but because they are asking for help. Wondering if we have earplugs or aspirin which they need because of their roommate. Or just asking if they could sit in the lobby or breakfast seating area for some quiet time away from the roommate.

        1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

          This! Or because you accidentally overhear them argue about whatever it was in the lobby the next morning.
          But you also get some that just are so frustrated by what they are dealing with that any normal sense of boundaries got thrown out the window. That at least was what I chalked up the more outrageous requests to back in my hotel days.

    13. Vicky Austin*

      I’m with you. I worked for a non-profit for years, and I had to go to plenty of conferences and share rooms with co-workers, and it was never a big deal for me, and I don’t recall anyone else complaining, either. The rooms were always single-gender, except for those two years when the ED’s wife worked with us, and she and her husband shared a room. Every other year, he was the only man and so he had a single.

  16. Not Today Satan*

    I recently agreed to go to a conference for the first time since starting at this employer, and then I had a moment of terror where I realized some nonprofits make you share a room. I was fully prepared to say I couldn’t go if we had to share.

    I honestly wouldn’t even consider going along with it. I have anxiety and am super introverted; I’d absolutely lose it if I didn’t have any privacy. Thankfully though, I have my own room.

  17. Lepidoptera*

    I’d like some dexterity lessons from the commenter who was quoted as liking to eat popcorn while knitting. Please explain how you eat a messy snack without turning your project into a grody mess.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      1. Eat unseasoned popcorn that was popped with a light amount of oil.
      2. Wash the project carefully when you’re finished with it.

      I am not the OP.

      1. EH*

        I’ve been known to use chopsticks when eating chips or something else greasy while knitting or playing video games.

    2. Andy*

      i have a gross but amazing solution that’s ONLY appropriate if you have the whole bowl of popped corn to yourself: i pick up pieces w my tongue. they just kind of stick to the tip? Don’t let your mom catch you!

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I am now trying to make “popcorn lizard” scan to “Pinball Wizard” from Tommy. I will report back if I manage to make this work out.

          1. Marthooh*

            He’s a popcorn lizard
            There’s got to be a trick;
            The popcorn lizard’s got
            Such a subtle lick.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          I mean, every kernel your tongue touches sticks, so it’s not like you’re leaving wet pieces in the bowl. I’d say no shame required. He knew this about you when he agreed to marry you. ;)

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Variation: wear hoodie backwards, use hood as “feed bag” for extra no-hands convenience.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          I have a Snuggie with a weird centered chest pocket that’s PERFECT for hands-free feed-bag snacking.

          My dad once saw me eating popcorn out of a bowl with the tip of my tongue, made fun of me for it, and then promptly adopted it as he realized the wisdom of my grease-avoiding ways.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I can’t knit and eat ANYTHING at the same time. Too much interruption, even without the mess. (Yes, I have taken advantage of this to keep myself from snacking on occasion.)

      1. Chinookwind*

        This would be the number one reason I knit – to keep my hands busy and away from food.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I wish I could figure out how to READ and knit. Audiobooks aren’t so much my thing, and I read too fast to make turning pages by hand a viable option. I wish the Kindle app had a way to voice-activate page turns. :P

  18. Elizabeth Proctor*

    I worked at a well-funded private university and there was no sharing rooms there. But we ran a free fellowship that involved a trip and fellows did share rooms on the trip. They weren’t colleagues with each other though.

    Now I’m at a small well-funded non-profit and that would never be a thing here either.

    1. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Also the assumption that people should share rooms with others of their gender is very heteronormative.

      1. Vicky Austin*

        Eh, I’m a straight woman and I’d rather share a room with a lesbian coworker than with a gay male coworker. The lesbian isn’t likely to put the moves on me, and knowing that my male coworker likes dudes and not chicks isn’t going to prevent me from feeling awkward and embarrassed to see him in his boxers.

  19. lnelson in Tysons*

    This almost reminds me of a SVP who thought that a team building retreat would be a good idea for those who survived the lay0ffs.
    He took it upon himself to assign who would be bunking with whom. Except for him of course he was going to have a room to himself. The office manager told him where he could stuff that idea and booked a place where everyone could have their own rooms.

    1. Antilles*

      Nothing like “a team building retreat” that includes a subtle message that you’re superior to them since you don’t need to share a room.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        This combines a couple of today’s letters into one! Teambuilding, bosses who need to reiterate that they are superior, to name 2. Someone should write a poem about it, and then someone else should rewrite the “draft.”

  20. Bunny Girl*

    Reading this made my skin crawl. I’m one of those people that doesn’t like to travel at all, it doesn’t matter if it’s for work or fun. The thought of having to double up with a co-worker makes me vomit. Luckily I haven’t run into this situation, but I would definitely push back if it was suggested that I share a room with a co-worker.

  21. anonCPAP*

    On snoring – The final conference of multi leg business travel was at an expensive resort where my company roomed my manager and I together for one night (individual rooms were the norm).
    I’m a snorer but didn’t understand up until that night, the severity of my problem.
    I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night to see my boss sitting at the end of his bed staring at me with horror and disbelief. He said ” Jesus Christ! How does your wife sleep? I thought you were going to suck the sheets off the bed! ” I had a sleep study soon after the trip.

    1. Liz*

      I’m sorry but i am going to remember that phrase and use it. I’m a snorer too so i can sympathize. My good friend’s husband says she snores so loud it will take the paint off the wall.

    2. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

      It’s really hard to not LOL at my desk in this open plan…

      I’ll have you know that “suck the sheets off the bed” is now my go to expression for describing severe snoring.

      I sleep with a CPAP, BTW, and hadn’t realized how badly I snored before I got it until my wife told me.

  22. Ann Perkins*

    Alison, thank you for speaking out about this practice. I’m in finance and at my company it’s the norm. I’ll be pumping during my next conference and am trying to figure out the logistics of that as well as mustering up the strength to ask for my boss to cover the cost of my own room when in years past I’ve had to share with a stranger. It’s nice to see so many other people who think it’s a bad practice to have coworkers share rooms.

    1. Whatever*

      I had to share a room once when pumping and hated it. It didn’t occur to me until later, but employers are supposed to guarantee you a private place to pump that is not a bathroom. Sharing a room with someone would not guarantee that place. Might be a worthwhile way to bring it up.

      1. fposte*

        Federally, that only covers non-exempt employees, unfortunately, and even there there are loopholes.

  23. C*

    My company seems to be in the middle on this. I’ve only traveled for business a few times, but never had issues getting a single room, but for the annual sales meeting room sharing is expected. You can pick roommates, but if you don’t have someone to pair up with you get assigned randomly.

    I never had to go to an ASM (thankfully) but a coworker one year shared with one of the sales reps who brought other reps back to the room every night for sex. N. O. P. E.

      1. jolene*

        Pull out your phone and tell them to make it extra fun for the camera. That’ll deal with it.

  24. CM*

    I had to share a room recently on work travel. I wasn’t looking forward to it but figured I’d deal with it. Then I woke up at 3 a.m. to whispers and giggles… which I tried to ignore until finally I looked up and saw a man taking off his clothes and getting into bed with my roommate! (I’m a woman.) I STILL tried to just keep my eyes shut and go back to sleep, hoping they would go to sleep too, until I heard more rustling and whispering. Finally I sat up and very clearly told them that I was awake, this was not acceptable, and he needed to leave. My roommate mumbled, “We weren’t doing anything,” and thank goodness a few minutes later he got up and left. Next time I have to share a room on a work trip I’m going to push back a LOT harder.

    1. HollyWeird*

      Wow, I experienced that a lot when I was traveling and staying in hostels in college but cannot imagine on a work trip!

      1. LaDeeDa*

        Oh yeah, I saw a lot when I was in college and grad school backpacking across the world and staying in hostels. But they were strangers, usually kids, and certainly not my colleagues!

    2. WellRed*

      O.M.G. Were you rooming with a college student or something? (sarcasm). My god. Getting down to business with a coworker in the next bed! I can’t even

    3. LaDeeDa*

      OMG no!!! That is insane! People really are ridiculous and seem to have no boundaries or common courtesy.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Ugh that was my pet peeve in college; roommates trying to get it on with random people with me being in the room! One time when sharing a room with a male friend and a female friend on vacation, they actually made out in the same bed with me (she and I shared a bed, he had his own, but I guess the urge just happened to strike them when they were in my bed next to me). A lot of people seemed to think it was no big deal, I always thought it was gross and boundary-crashing – and we were all college students at the time – not middle-aged coworkers who REALLY should know better! I do NOT want to ever see that side of the people I work with! Geez! Good on you for kicking him out! Also, ffs, couldn’t they have gone to his place instead?!

      1. Wherehouse Politics*

        Yeah I don’t get the “don’t make a scene/don’t confront” about this sort of behavior. I’d sit up, turn on the light and demand the visiting sex partner to leave- as in “get out Get Out GET OUT. NOW.”

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yup. “Hi, we haven’t met – what’s your name? Bob? Nice to meet you, Bob. Now get the fuck out.”

      2. Vicky Austin*

        That’s just so disrespectful. It’s right up there with throwing wild drunken parties in your dorm room when your roommate is trying to sleep.

  25. Anon for Layoffs*

    I only found out this was a thing when I took my most recent job late last year. I previously worked for a non-profit for almost 9 years and then a for-profit for 5.5. The idea of sharing a hotel room with a coworker was not something that ever crossed my mind. Then I took this job and there was a lot of travel during the first 4 weeks of my employment, that my boss’s EA planned for me, since I wasn’t on payroll yet when the arrangements needed to be made. Imagine my HORROR when I found out I was “assigned” a roommate for the first trip. I immediately went to my boss and told him I wasn’t comfortable sharing a room. He is also new to the org, and thinks sharing rooms is highly inappropriate so he told me I didn’t have to. Other long time employees still do it, but I don’t. I just book my own rooms when I travel.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      I’m so thankful that, even though I’m not yet on payroll and my soon-to-be-new employer is booking my accommodations for an upcoming conference, the hotel where they’re all staying is booked solid, so they’ll have to put me up in a separate hotel altogether. Hurray!!!

  26. LaDeeDa*

    For those that have had to share a bed— every hotel/motel I have ever stayed at has had cots on request. So request. Request! Request!

    1. Clementine*

      I’ve been in lots of hotels in major cities where rollaway beds are not an option. But of course if it is, and one is in that terrible predicament, insist on one.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      If it’s a big enough conference, all of the rollaway beds may have been snapped up by the time you get there, so while it’s a good back-up plan, my primary plan would be to at LEAST make sure the correct number of beds have been requested.

  27. Likestosleepnaked*

    Back in the day I was the only female in an engineering department. There were five males and me going to a convention in LV. The director wanted his own room so they told me I was going to room with a male engineer. While we were friendly I would never want to room with anyone, let alone we are both married. I told them I don’t think my husband would appreciate that, they told me to ask! So I did, my husband gave me the “seriously?!” look. I didn’t back down. The director had to share a room. I didn’t hear the end of it the whole trip.

    1. LaDeeDa*

      Hopefully, that was a long time ago, and you now have the confidence to stand up for your own comfort and not passing it off as your husband’s comfort level being the priority. The fact that they told you to ask your husband is appalling…

      1. thebluecastle*

        Its possible they knew the only way their request would be taken seriously was to reference their husband. That frustrating and problematic but maybe its the only way they felt comfortable navigating this or were able to navigate this.

        1. LaDeeDa*

          Oh yes, absolutely. That is why I said I hoped it was a long time ago and since then they have learned to have a voice. Hopefully, things have changed where employers don’t expect a woman’s husband to give her permission for such things.

          1. Kettles*

            It’s not so much as them learning to ‘have a voice’ as it is the company choosing to listen.

      2. Likestosleepnaked*

        Yes it was about two decades back. I only said yes to get my husband’s opinion to humor my boss. There was no way I was going to share a room with someone I was uncomfortable with (even if my husband said ok! But then that would be a whole another issue, right?) My boss complained about lack of privacy, snoring, etc. during the trip. I’m like “that is why everyone needs their own room!” I wasn’t selected to go on any more conferences at this firm.

    2. Michelle*

      Thankfully, I’ve never had to share a room on work trips. I can imagine the reaction my husband would have if I asked him if he was ok with me sharing a room with a male coworker. He would ring my boss to say he doesn’t normally get involved in my work issues but since they asked his opinion it was hell no, my wife will not be sharing a room with a male coworker. Probably a few other things that are not appropriate to post in public.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Mine would start with, “my wife is allowed to say no for herself” and end with that same opinion that they were crazy if they thought that either of us would be OK with that arrangement.

    3. Close Bracket*

      Good thing you were married, or you would have been sharing that room, from the sounds of things.

  28. KayEss*

    I always remember the time my boss (the owner of a toxic small business) decided at the last minute that she did, in fact, want her PA to attend a conference with her because she suddenly realized that otherwise she’d have to take her own notes/actually do something other than drink wine and schmooze and gave the poor young woman (this was her first job) the choice of sharing a room with the boss’s similarly-aged son (attending for nepotism reasons) or sleeping on a cot in the room shared by the boss and her husband. The PA didn’t feel like she could push back without losing her $15/hour paycheck, and it took the office manager putting her foot down to get the boss to pony up for another room.

    (Note that she also expected her PA to con her way into the conference for free without by claiming she had bought a ticket and then pitching a fake fit that she wasn’t on the list. The office manager had to also shame her out of that plan.)

    1. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

      Wow. That’s… disturbing. Good for the office manager looking out for the PA’s well being.

    2. Sara without an H*

      I’d love to hire that office manager. I hope she went on to bigger and better things.

    3. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      If your boss thought that lying and then throwing a fit was such a great way to get in the conference, then she should have given the PA her ticket and been the one trying to con her way in HERSELF.

  29. Anona*

    So terrible! I hate sharing a room with a coworker. I’ve done so on a few business trips (I’m in academia), and after the last one, I mentioned to my boss that I’d be happy to do less professional development if it meant that we wouldn’t be sharing rooms anymore. Thankfully, we’ve worked together a long time, so he was understanding and sharing rooms is no longer required. I’ve stayed in air bnbs to save our office money. I’d vastly prefer that to sharing a room!

    I’m such an introvert, and there have been 2 business trips that happened in quick succession at a time that my family was undergoing a crisis. It was miserable to have to go back to the room and act fine, when all I wanted to do was cry. I ended up taking long baths, just to have some alone time.

    1. Anona*

      Oh, and the times when I was going through a family crisis, it also made talking on the phone so awkward. I didn’t want to share personal details, so I’d leave and go awkwardly walk around the hotel hallway when I was on the phone. Or I’d time calls for when my roommate was at the gym, and would have to end them abruptly when she returned. Reason #100 why sharing rooms shouldn’t be a thing.

  30. Pinky Pie*

    Early in my career, my office went to a convention. It was expected we room share as we were a state agency, it was our major yearly conference at a very expensive resort. It was also Summer and the South so the air went out. We ended up having to bed share then….


    I’ve only had to share rooms with coworkers a few times. Once was at the beginning of my career, I shared a room with a lovely coworker who let me know that she sometimes needed to use a sleep mask and that it made noise. In the two weeks at the training, she never used the mask.

    Another time a I shared a two bedroom, two bath efficiency apartment. That was actually fun.

    Once in New Orleans for a conference, I was sharing a one bedroom junior suite with a colleague. She had arrived a day ahead of me, and her dry cleaning and I arrived the next day. She had spent that day in a tshirt and jeans physically working to put up our conference booth. Did I mention this was in the summer? Anyway, she was so painfully modest that she DID NOT SHOWER from the day I arrived to the day we departed-6 days later. I kept thinking that she could have easily changed after a shower in the bathroom, or wore a robe (nice ones provided by the luxury hotel) over her pajamas. She was ripe.

    The funniest time I shared a room with a colleague was when every hotel/motel in Hartford was booked, and the whole group of us (male and female) had to stay in a motel about 10 miles out of town. We were all sharing rooms, I was with a female colleague who was married to one of the other managers on the trip. This company frowned on married couples working together so they used different names at work. Her husband had arranged to throw his roommate out for his wife to join him, so I would have my own room. The first night, she left to join her husband. After a few minutes, there was a knock on my door. It was her husband’s roommate looking to bunk with me! I laughed, did not open the door, and cheerfully sent him on his way down the hall.

      1. TANSTAAFL*

        He wound up in a room with two other guys. I don’t remember the exact arrangements since this was in the early 80’s. It was funny how he was pleading with me to let him in. He knew it wasn’t happening.

        1. J.*

          It sounds really miserable for that dude. Not that you should have had to felt pressure to let him in, but it’s not particularly funny that you had to be intruded on by a male coworker or that he was displaced without a secured place to sleep.

          1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            To me it doesn’t necessarily sound like the guy didn’t have a secured place to sleep so much as he was hoping he could use a sob story to get into her room and maybe “get lucky”.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think once I did share a “Suite” at some B&B type hotel with another female coworkers. We did have individual “bedrooms” that connected to a common area with a sofa and tv. I can’t remember if the bathroom was shared though? Probably it was, but I don’t recall this being too horrible and it was only for one night or something.
      Normally this wasn’t a required thing, so I’m not sure why we did so. Must’ve been full or something.

      The coworker at the conference not showering though… EW! I mean, you should’ve offered her some alone time in the room in the mornings or something.

      1. TANSTAAFL*

        And she wore that dirty tshirt and jeans every night to go out. We were there for 6 days or so. There were plenty of opportunities to bathe when I wasn’t in the room. It was so bizarre.

  32. MissDisplaced*

    Oh! These are so bad!
    I’m so thankful I’ve never worked anywhere that required sharing a hotel room. I would only do so if it was an emergency, such as cancelled flights/weather or the like where you might not have alternatives.

    It’s funny though because I did see that Airbnb is advertising for corporate rentals.
    At work we actually considered renting a large Airbnb house in a very expensive city instead of hotel rooms at various different hotels. Each individual still would have had their own private bedroom though. The team was up for it, but corporate said NOPE for legal reasons (and in hindsight corporate was probably right).
    There are so many potential issues with the sharing, I’m really shocked so many companies still force this upon employees.

    1. Rebecca*

      I totally agree! My husband went on a work trip once and the area was pretty remote so there weren’t many hotels. The company rented them a nice home through AirBnB but the whole thing seemed weird to me. When I’ve traveled for work, it’s usually with coworkers I’ve never met (we all work remote), and I wouldn’t love sharing an AirBnB with people I’d never met before. Not without a door I could lock and a private bathroom, or at least a bathroom with a lock. It’s amazing to me that more companies don’t outright refuse AirBnB, actually.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        But don’t most bedrooms and bathrooms have doors you can lock? They have in every normal* house I’ve lived in.

        *I’ve lived in some odd places that were exceptions to this, but they also wouldn’t have been suitable to be Air BnB rentals either.

  33. Quinalla*

    This is not a thing in my industry, thankfully, you are expected to get a reasonably priced hotel room (not motel) of your own. If it is a conference, sometimes people will choose to share suites, but you have a room of your own still, just share common space that is usually used for informal gatherings at night.

    I am pretty much not bothered by sharing a room personally except as an introvert I’d generally prefer not to share, but would never want to force someone to share a room with a coworker, so much potential awkward!

  34. JJ Bittenbinder*

    I had read all of those when they appeared EXCEPT for the naked boss. it’s not the worst one, but…

    Oh, no, wait a minute. It is the worst one. Never mind.

    1. Anonny*

      I’m scrolling through the comments but in the back of my head I’m like


  35. Teapot Gal*

    I work in a field that seems to be enthused with room sharing (earlier stage tech companies) and it’s…horrible. My first ever business trip about 14 years ago involved sharing a 3 bedroom house. There were 9 of us. Luckily there were 9 beds, but still.

    Or there was the last trip I went on where first there was talk of bed sharing, then, there were 6 people put in 1 room (3 sets of bunk beds) where 2 of those people ended up sleeping on window seats just to get a little privacy.

    Every single company I’ve ever worked at that budgeted for private rooms was like a miracle sent from heaven.

  36. ugh*

    I am in an industry where it’s pretty standard to share rooms while traveling, which in general is awkward and not what I’d prefer but I can make do. My first year in the field as a professional, though, I traveled with a colleague who brought along her year-old baby and we shared a room with one bed, which was just as ridiculous as it sounds, and in retrospect I think I would have had a LOT of ground to push back. I wish I had. Instead I just shared a room and a bed for three nights with a woman and her baby. (I was so far removed from parenting/etc that I didn’t even realize that there’s a big debate around bed-sharing etc but in retrospect that’s one more reason, amid a hundred others, that that was messed up and in retrospect even as I’m typing this I’m getting irritated at that job for putting me in that situation.)

    There were many many boundary issues with that colleague, but things like that really really didn’t help.

    1. Rachel in Non Profits*

      That’s crazy! I actually did bring my baby to a work conference and share a room with someone else…. But the story is a bit different.

      My 6 month old and I were sent by my nonprofit to a conference in Chicago. We had a room to ourselves and when I checked in I saw that it was a room with two queen beds. I also saw a large group checking in including a lady with a sleeping bag and sleeping pad. I went and struck up a conversation with her and found out that she was planning on sleeping on the floor as the fifth person in a double Queen room from with ladies from her church. I invited her to share my room if she liked knowing that I had a baby. Turns out she was a mom of six kids and love babies. She was very happy to sleep in a bed for the week-long conference and we became good friends.

  37. many bells down*

    I had to share hotel rooms when I worked for a YMCA. The director would send us to educational conferences, entirely on the Y’s dime, so not only did we have to share rooms, we had to share beds. 4 women in a room with 2 queens, usually.
    One year we arrived at the hotel to find 4 of us had been assigned to a room with only one bed. I went to the front desk to sort it out and they said at first that they didn’t have another room and we could have a rollaway bed. But, I said, we’d need TWO rollaways. She said no, that’s a fire hazard.
    I said “Look, I’m sorry, but I am 6 months pregnant and I’m not SHARING a rollaway bed with anyone” and then they magically found the correct room for us. Fun times.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Yep, I went to teachers’ conferences for years with four to a room — when we qualified for a grant that enabled us to stay TWO to a room AND in the conference hotel we all felt like we’d won the lottery!

  38. Elizabeth West*

    Bleah. I’ve only had to do this once, at a very large conference. Fortunately, the coworker was also a childhood friend with whom I had shared many sleepovers, so it wasn’t too weird. We got a suite and I slept (albeit fitfully) on the lumpy sofa bed. As far as rest, the two days were exhausting for other reasons, but they gave us the rest of the week off—paid—after we returned.

    I think I’d definitely push back if an employer wanted me to share with anyone else. I usually don’t sleep well in hotel rooms anyway, and I need to be able to adjust to my preferences in order to rest enough to be on top of my game.

  39. It's a fish, Al*

    I work in an industry where sharing is the norm, and while it’s not my absolutely favourite thing, for those of us who spend 4-5 months a year sharing with random co-workers, you do get used to it, and you absolutely don’t continue in the industry if either (a) you can’t hack it or (b) you are so unpleasant to room with that nobody will willingly do so.

    As an introvert who can put on a convincing extrovert facade, I’ve actually found myself, if not enjoying the rooming, not finding it to be nearly as terrible as I’d imagined. I look forward to rooming and chatting with far-flung colleagues (whilst hoping I’m not assigned to someone who snores).

    The more time you spend like this, the better you all get at carving out pockets of privacy. I think we’ve all become pretty stellar at communicating boundaries. Sometimes my personal bubble might only be 6 inches around, but dammit it is still there!

  40. CDNRx*

    At our annual conference the expectation is to share rooms or else pay half yourself. My first time going, I didn’t really know anyone else so I was assigned to share a room with someone I had never met. The most awkward thing ever. We are professional people and this is ridiculous. That was the one and only time that happened. Years after, I brought my family with me and paid the difference.

  41. One In Four*

    I am agog at this. I’ve never even heard of a work trip without your own room. Ever.

    I come from a country where even students don’t share rooms unless they actively choose to, and then they would typically have an unconventional room shape to provide privacy screening and light baffles.

    Most importantly, though, I’m a sexual abuse/assault survivor. I HAVE to be able to shut and lock a door to feel safe at night and suffer frequent night terrors, sleepwalking, dissociative episodes etc during periods of high stress such as hey maybe business conferences. As none of that has any relevance to my day job my colleagues have never known and there is absolutely no way I could entertain the idea of sharing a room even with the very closest of them, and I would have to refuse the trip if management was adamant.

  42. JKP*

    I know a lot of people think if a business can’t afford separate rooms, they can’t afford the trip, but in my experience it was less about the budget and more about the availability of rooms. When I’ve traveled, it’s always been for big industry conferences where there’s a room shortage even with most everyone sharing rooms. One conference I go to every year actually has a lottery to draw names for who gets rooms next year at the actual conference hotel. Otherwise, you have to land a room at one of the few surrounding hotels. Generally they all sell out 6 months before the conference, and that’s even with everyone doubling up on rooms. One year I couldn’t find anyone to share with or any available rooms near the conference and had to stay at a hotel 2 hours away and drive in every day.

  43. DCGirl*

    I worked at a Big Five accounting firm that dated its existence to the merger of two of the formerly Big Six accounting firms. For the first few years after the merger, roommates were mandatory at the big firm-wide tax managers conference, and we were frequently told that because the hotel contracts were negotiated years in advance it wasn’t going to change in the near future even though there were howls of protest about it.

    It sent boodles of people to their doctors to get notes documenting their snoring, for example, and people would do all sorts of things to get out of going to the conference. I knew one woman who scheduled her planned hysterectomy that week, saying it was the only availability her doctor had.

  44. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    Adding to the chorus of “I work in a nonprofit,” my job is scheduling a retreat this June at one of our regional offices. They sent out a poll asking each attendee if they’d prefer to share a hotel room, share an AirBNB, or sleep on the couch of a local employee.

    Yup, that’s right: one of the accommodation choices is literally sleeping on a stranger’s couch.

    1. LaDeeDa*

      WHAT?! Have heard what the results are?
      I wouldn’t have much of an issue sharing an AirBnB, where we each got our own room- and hopefully our own bathroom and then shared a common space. Even that is pushing it for me, but I could tolerate it.

      1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

        I have not yet heard the results. I put in my vote for a shared hotel room over a shared AirBNB: if I’m sharing someone’s space, I’d rather be sharing the space of one person – the coworker OR the host – rather than both. I know there was pushback the last time they sent out this poll, so they miraculously came up with the money for more hotel rooms or AirBNBs… but still need the couches to fall back on.

  45. LaDeeDa*

    Until coming to AAM on a regular basis I had no idea how common this practice is. Does your organization have conduct policies in place for this sort of thing? I just keep thinking it could really open up the org for lawsuits.

  46. Maria Caterina*

    The first thing that comes to mind for me: if your unexpectedly caught in a situation where you didn’t know your were sharing a room (god forbid a bed) what are you supposed to do about your pyjama situation? My pyjamas are not scandalous but I wouldn’t want my coworkers to see me in them! I’d have no backup.

    Of course don’t make people share rooms, or beds on business trips but I cannot stop thinking about finding myself in this situation and not having appropriate/more conservative pyjamas on hand…

    1. Clementine*

      Imagine if there’s a fire alarm in the hotel. Just for that reason, I’d make sure to always have acceptable pajamas on a work trip.

      1. Exhausted Educator is Exhaustes*

        Yes, I was at a conference once where a fire alarm went off at one of the conference hotels around 11 p.m., and sure enough, it was the usual conference crowd downstairs in their PJs while things got resolved (no actual fire). For that reason, my PJs for work trips are always something like sweats and a T-shirt with a lightweight hoodie on hand.

        1. Essess*

          Agreed! I don’t wear pajamas either (feel claustrophobic when sleeping in them) but I have had fire alarms go off in many different hotels over the years during the night. I take a pair of sweatpants and tshirt and set them next to the bed so I can grab them and run.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      This is a frightening thought, because, when I assume I’ll be alone in the room, I do not pack any sleepwear! Should probably start now, for all the reasons listed on this thread!

  47. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    Making employees share hotel rooms is downright disgusting. I agree that if a company is too cheap (or can’t afford) to provide employees with their own hotel room, they shouldn’t be making them travel.

  48. roisin54*

    I’ve been really lucky so far because A) I’ve only had to do this twice and B) it was fine both times. The first time was only one night, and we were both so tired we just went right to sleep when we got back to the room. The second time I was sharing with a co-worker that I’m friendly with outside of work so I knew we’d be fine. Most of the time I get my own room.

    I grew up going on vacations having to share a room with my entire family, and sharing a bed with either a sibling or a parent. So I suppose sharing a hotel room with a co-worker doesn’t phase me as much. I realize I’d be singing a different tune if I hadn’t been so lucky the two times I’ve had to share with a co-worker though.

    1. roisin54*

      Also, as someone who had night terrors as a young child I can attest to the fact that people who have them do not remember them. I didn’t even know I had them until my mom mentioned it when I was in high school (by then I didn’t get them anymore.) Evidently my screaming always woke up the whole house and freaked everyone out. My parents for some reason decided not to tell me about them, and managed somehow to convince my sibling not to say anything about them.

  49. nym*

    A friend of mine had to share a room with a coworker at a conference we both attended. My friend was early-stages pregnancy at the time, not yet ready to announce, but had to tell the coworker because she was dealing with morning sickness and the coworker was very concerned for her. She lost the baby a few weeks later, still before she was ready to tell anyone at work. I have to imagine it made the recovery process so much worse to not be able to keep her miscarriage as private as she wanted…

  50. Sleepytime Tea*

    I went to a work conference that was for new employees and we all were assigned random roommates. My roommate was very nice, but when it was time for bed, she started playing hard core rap music on her phone. I was thinking she was going to be putting on headphones or something, but nope, she had the volume up, set the phone next to her bed, and went right to sleep. Didn’t even say anything to me about it, like it was totally normal and something everyone does at bed time.

    Luckily I am almost deaf in one ear, and I rolled over so that my good ear was in the pillow, and I was able to sleep. But I was just shocked that she
    1) wouldn’t ask if I was ok with music playing all night long
    2) that she would have the music that loud
    3) didn’t consider that some people might find that type of music offensive and we were at a *work* conference (I didn’t, but boy do I know some people who would have been very upset about it)

    It was for 2 nights, I think. I just found it super strange. I thought for sure she would be putting headphones in or something. I was so worried because I was sharing a room with a stranger and I sometimes talk in my sleep and I worried I would disrupt them. Instead, I had a roommate who blasted rap music all night long without a thought.

    For that (for-profit) company, it was definitely policy to share rooms unless you were a manager, but you were given the option to pay the difference to get a room for yourself, or your department could make exceptions for whatever reason if they had the budget for it. What’s interesting is that it was totally normal to me that we would be sharing rooms and I didn’t question it whatsoever, and then I worked for another company and just the thought of that was shocking to them.

    Gotta say though, I strongly prefer my downtime and not having to worry about being “on” with a co-worker when traveling. It’s so exhausting, and at this point I would probably try to spring for my own room if in that situation again.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      What the what?! I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep! Does she do this at home too? Does she live alone or do her family members just roll with it? So many questions.

  51. brightbetween*

    I’m also in an industry where sharing rooms is common (local government/public library). That expectation is changing somewhat since we got a new director, but the reimbursement rates are still often too low to make getting your own room feasible (our guy who does the reimbursements said they’re 10 years out of date, so, yeah). Most of our travel is for conferences and if you can get a room at a conference hotel and conference rate, they will usually be able to justify the reimbursement. However, they can’t guarantee that until after you submit it, so it could potentially be rejected after you’ve spent the money.

    Back when sharing rooms was more the norm, I fortunately only had to stay with coworkers who were also my friends, so it was okay.

  52. NGOMG*

    This is the norm at my non-profit. I’m a pretty easy going person, but agree it’s horrible. My worst experience was when I was in my mid 20s sharing a suite with my 50-something male boss. He kindly gave me the bed and took the pull out couch, but I could have done without him strolling into the room in his sleeveless undershirt and pajama pants with a bottle of wine to share after a long day in the field. I honestly don’t think he had I’ll intentions but it was soooo awkward.

    Recently it’s been more common to get shared Airbnb’s with private bedrooms. Those have actually been a lot of fun, but also make it hard to break off for some solitude at the end of the day.

    My husband is a professor and also has to share at certain conferences.

  53. Sara without an H*

    I’ve shared rooms with colleagues at conferences mostly because university travel reimbursements were never enough to cover a private room and let you eat at the same time. It mostly worked because you could choose your own roommate. This was one work situation where a little TMI could be helpful: “No, I don’t smoke, I prefer to have the lights out by 10:00, and as far as I know, I don’t snore. What time do you need to get up in the morning?”

    I don’t recall any really bad situations, since I usually roomed with people I was already friendly with. The one conference that was a bit of a challenge was when I shared a room with our head of purchasing, and she was trying to close the fiscal year using a laptop, cell phone, and frequent calls to our book keeper back at the library.

    All of this was back when I was much younger. Now that I’m old and cranky, I don’t think I could do it. I like to end my days with peace, quiet, a glass of wine, and a nice book. If my boss wants me to travel anywhere, she needs to factor that into the budget.

  54. ZucchiniBikini*

    I’m stretching my mind to think if I’ve ever been asked to share a room for work travel, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t. However, what’s becoming common for travel in one of the industries I consult to (tertiary education, in Australia) is to rent an Air BnB if a few people are travelling together. They seem to really like it, as it gives them more space and flexibility to prep food if they want to and somewhere to relax. However, there are definitely no shared bedrooms that I’m aware of.

    Of course, as a grad student, I room-shared many times when going to conferences (money being what it is in grad school). I recall one time when we piled 5 of us into a room with one double and one single bed. I was one of the floor-sleepers!

  55. Rebecca*

    A few years ago before an offsite meeting, a VP emailed all of the meeting attendees to suggest we consider sharing rooms in order to cut costs. My direct manager told my colleagues and I that he wouldn’t require us to do so, which is a good thing because I would have refused. First, we work for a multibillion-dollar, global corporation, and it is ridiculous that a dozen people staying in a midprice hotel chain for three nights would threaten the financial solvency of any part of the business. Second, I am a professional on a work trip, not on my junior year abroad. The nature of these meetings is fairly relentless – breakfast with the team around 7, start the meeting at 8, lunch in the room, more meetings until 6, then dinner or a group activity until about 10…at that point, I’m cooked and just want to be alone behind a closed door in a quiet room!

  56. Martha*

    I work in academia and I’ve had to share a bed more than once. Usually the reason is that the beds are unequal, e.g., one luxe inviting bed and one rickety portable cot or uneven sleeper sofa. When that happens, my colleague and I usually eye the beds and agree to share the good one. Fortunately, I now earn enough money that I can afford to pay for my own room. Also, this sort of travel happens a lot less now that preliminary interviews are often scheduled via Skype instead of at professional conferences.

    Honestly, it’s not the bed that bothers me so much (though I don’t like it), it’s the shared bathroom, which can get very unpleasant, particularly after we eat unfamiliar restaurant food.

  57. iglwif*


    I’ve never had to share a room with a co-worker (THANK HEAVENS) but I used to work in an academia-adjacent field where room-sharing for conferences, etc., wasn’t super uncommon, so I always knew I was lucky my company didn’t require it.

    Once I went to a Very Famous Book Event in Germany, and when I checked into my hotel room discovered that the shower was (a) clear glass on 3 sides and (b) IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM. (You know that Euro-style setup with the toilet in its own room and the sink and shower/bath in a different room? Like that. But the toilet room had a door and the rest just … didn’t.) I instantly began imagining the horror of having a roommate in that situation!

    1. UKDancer*

      I think I’ve stayed in that hotel, (or a similar one) in Germany when at a conference. I was also really glad that I had a room to myself. Even with my boyfriend I wouldn’t want that design of a shower room. It’s way too exposing.

  58. Anon for this one*

    I once got a job to change their policy of co-workers sharing beds to just sharing rooms. The push back from everyone, including management, was surprising. I had so many bad experiences to reference!!

  59. Cheshire Cat*

    This happened to me once. I was working for a local government & one year the national conference was held in our state. The department selected three of us to go, and she did as well. But she’d forgotten to request travel money in the budget, so to cut costs she booked us *one* hotel room. Four women. Two beds. One bathroom. We all did our best, but it was not pretty.

    The boss also didn’t want to spend money on food; she expected us to get dinner at the vendor receptions (which were all appetizers). Uh, no. And since we had carpooled to the other town and the boss wasn’t the one driving, the colleague who drove went straight to restaurants each night. Boss fumed and rolled her eyes a lot. The rest of us enjoyed our food. :)

    1. Cheshire Cat*

      My colleagues and I tried to get a second hotel room, too, with the intention of splitting the cost between us. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do so(long story)

  60. Kms1025*

    Just. So. Much. NO! If I were told I had to share a room, I would simply say that makes me very uncomfortable. If I had to pay for own room, I would do that first. And never again agree to travel for that business. And the hotel manager above closely borders rude with assumptions about blue and white collar room objections. And calling to “rat” people out knowing they might be fired! What hotel do you work for so I know NEVER to stay there.

    1. Close Bracket*

      > And calling to “rat” people out knowing they might be fired!

      After the 857th time somebody has smoked in a non-smoking room, I’d be calling employers, too. In fact, it wouldn’t even take that many. More like three. Maybe two. Probably after multiple calls from companies that had booked rooms complaining about the smoking charge, the GM got pro-active about letting them know.

      Anyway, getting fired for smoking in a non-smoking hotel room on a work trip is such an easy thing to avoid. Don’t blame the GM for being a rat. They are under their own pressures regarding cleaning rooms. Blame the smoker for not going outside (in the case of tobacco) or for not abstaining (in the case of other things).

  61. Onyx*

    It’s not just non-profits that do this, my company makes people share rooms as well…which I find bizarre and kind of cheap since we’re not an early stage start-up. Directors and above get their own room.

    I think it’s tacky, but I’ve decided it is not my hill to die on since I don’t travel much for my role. However, I would draw the line if I had to share the bed(!) with someone.

  62. Apple*

    I once was forced by my non-profit education employer to share a motel room with a relative stranger for over a week. When that arrangement ended because the relative stranger found a new position, they sent me to stay in an affiliated member’s home, on their couch. I did this for a couple nights until I protested enough to go back to the motel by myself. Then the employer sent me to a city I had never been to for a permanent position with 36 hours notice. They arranged for me to sleep on an affiliated member’s living room floor for an indefinite period of time.

    Then they were upset when I spent unstructured time during a morning of onboarding paperwork and meetings trying to find housing on craigslist.

  63. Claire*

    Totally off topic, but “Sleep Terrors and a Naked Boss” would make a great title for a horror novel. Or maybe a psychedelic novel, sort of like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

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