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While traveling in couchettes and sleeping in hostels, I realized that a lot of them lack a very basic amenity — a curtain for privacy.

Is it possible to buy a portable curtain that you can easily install in a couchette/hostel bed? Ideally it would come with suction cups, velcro attachments and normal hooks for maximum coverage of grip surfaces, as well as a light-weight black curtain.

Unfortunately I couldn't find anything on Amazon/eBay/travel blogs. Perhaps I missed something and it's actually up for sale?

  • 4
    You could very easily make one, from suction cups with hooks and a curtain (of whatever style you require) with holes/eyelets – Rory Alsop Jan 13 '15 at 8:49
  • There are several option for suction cups, but I couldn't find any light-weight velcro hooks. Bottom couchettes often have no other options for attaching a curtain. – JonathanReez Jan 13 '15 at 10:20
  • You can easily buy hooks with a circular sticky pad. Just attach your velcro to that. – Rory Alsop Jan 13 '15 at 10:47
  • Have also seen sheets from the top bunk used to create a 'privacy shield' around the bottom bunk, for couples sharing. -1, would not recommend. – Mark Mayo Jan 13 '15 at 13:31
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    A towel (ask the front desk if you didn't bring one) hung on the top bunk, while in sleeping the lower one. Enough privacy for me. Don't expect to be popular after you bring a huge modern electronic curtain that slides smoothly protecting the precious sleeper inside :) – Ayesh K Jan 13 '15 at 15:59
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Some better hostels actually do have curtains around their bunk bed, both top and bottom, but they are not many out there (but it becomes more common). Same for couchettes, some night trains have curtains but again that's not the norm.

I doubt that there is anything purpose built on the market. I think it would also be pain to carry such a thing with you all the time.

I sometimes used towels or blankets borrowed from the hostel and just stuck the top end under the mattress of the top bunk. Of course this is much easier if you have the bottom bunk.

I also used my mosquito net sometimes, it gives a little bit of privacy.

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+50

You could most definitely build one yourself by using shower curtain rods, of the type that have suction cups at their extremities, and a regular curtain. These rods are usually built using two concentric cylinders of different diameters, so that the narrower one slides inside the wider one. The usually look like this (image courtesy of Bricorama):

Shower curtain rod suction

The rod attaches to the wall using the suction cups at its extremities, and the pressure on the cups is maintained by a spring within the two cylinders. A great schematic I found on this website shows this in action:

Shower curtain rod spring

These bars usually come in standard sizes, of which the longest seems to be 220cm, which should accommodate most hostel beds and train couchettes. They can be made out of metal or plastic, the former being more appropriate when going through security checks, as @SpaceDog suggets. Ultimately this solution requires carrying two rods of size 120cm each (as well as the curtain, of course). Whether this is a travel solution is up for discussion.

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    Great idea. You can also get them in plastic to, which might be better for going through security. I guess if you found a smaller one, traveled with the curtain wrapped round it and tied it to the outside of a bag it's might work. Much like travelling with a tent. I also wonder if you could mod other telescopic poles (like tent poles) to do the same thing. If you were being really ambitious, and had a big towel, you could put holes in it so it doubles as a curtain -- and also a towel drying rack. Hmmm, that's totally the sort of thing SkyMall could sell if they hadn't just gone bust. – SpaceDog Jan 28 '15 at 1:54
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    This is extremely impractical - impossible to set-up on trains, and you'll generally need three of those for full privacy. – JonathanReez Jan 28 '15 at 12:49
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    @JonathanReez I don't know if it's impossible to set-up on trains. I think it depends on the couchette. To be fair though, the whole concept of carrying a travel-compatible privacy curtain for hostels and trains is inherently impractical. – JoErNanO Jan 28 '15 at 13:06
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    @JoErNanO The curtain itself can be light and portable. The only issue is finding hooks which can be fastened to most surfaces encountered in hostels and trains. If made from plastic, these can be potentially practical as well. – JonathanReez Jan 28 '15 at 13:10
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+50

Buy three suction cups with hooks, some nylon cord, solid cloth.

Cut the cloth into two panels, sew a tube along one edge or buy some grommets to place along one edge or get some double sided velcro (hook one side, loops the other) to sew tabs along one edge.

Thread the nylon cord through the chosen attachment method on the cloth, tie a loop at one end to slip on a suction cup hook, leave the other end untied.

Put one suction cup on each end wall and one in the middle of the roof or bunk above. Hook the looped end of the cord to one of the wall mounted suction cups, hang the exposed cord in the middle on the top suction cup hook, then gently tie the un-knotted end of the cord around the other suction cup hook.

Viola, privacy curtain, tucks into a corner of your luggage, a few ounces of extra weight, only a few bucks to make and as cool looking as you want (all sorts of cloth colors and designs ;-)

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