The Ultimate Hostel Packing List: 43 Things You Can’t Go to a Hostel Without


If you’re preparing for an epic hostel adventure, you’re in the right place! Whether you’re a first-timer wondering what to pack when staying in a hostel or a hostel pro looking for new gadgets, our ultimate hostel packing list is here to lighten your load. From dodging snoring roommates to mastering the art of communal showers, we’re the hostel experts who have you covered with all the must-have gadgets and gear. So pack your sense of adventure along with an open mind as we take you off the deep end into everything you need to pack for a memorable hostel stay. 

Traveler sitting on hostel bed in Bangkok, Thailand
Photo: Rawpixel | Depositphotos

Must-Haves for a Hostel

Travel Backpack

Why do avid hostel stayers use backpacks instead of wheeling bags? Travel backpacks are beloved for their versatility and convenience, allowing travelers to navigate through crowded streets, trains, and narrow hostel corridors with ease. Plus, backpack lovers can enjoy the freedom of traversing off-the-beaten paths since they won’t be hindered by stairs, uneven terrain, or unpaved roads. While our overall pick for the best versatile backpack goes to the Osprey’s Farpoint 40, every traveler and trip is different. Figure out how to find your perfect pack and see our other top picks for the best travel backpacks here

Microfiber Towel

Seeing as several hostels charge upwards of five dollars for the use of their towels, it’s a good idea to bring your own towel along so you can avoid this cost. A microfiber shower towel like this one is ideal as it is fast drying, rolls up extremely small, and is soft to the touch. Having your own towel is also great as you can use it as a curtain on a bottom bunk if the hostel you’re staying at doesn’t offer curtains for privacy. 

For the luscious long-haired beauties out there, including you boys with the graceful mullets, a quick-drying hair towel is the perfect small addition to your hostel packing list. Unlike traditional towels, microfiber hair towels are designed to absorb moisture rapidly, reducing drying times significantly. This is especially handy if you have thick hair that takes a long time to dry and/or if you won’t have access to a hairdryer! 

Flip Flops

Flip flops, plakkies, thongs, sandals; whatever you want to call them, make sure you pack em’! Regardless of whether you’re at a cold-climate hostel or in the heat of Thailand, a pair of flip-flops will protect your feet from highly contagious fungal and bacterial infections found in communal showers. These are great non-slip shower sandals available for both men and women. 

Ear Plugs and Eye Mask

Sleep like a log instead of listening to your bunkmate saw logs all night by packing a good, comfortable pair of earplugs! Trust us, a ticket to the “snorechestra” is not a fun experience. Staying in a shared dorm room also means you’ll be sharing a room with travelers on different sleep schedules than you. Avoid being woken up by late-night arrivals or drunken roommates using the overhead lights to find their way and purchase a blackout eye mask to go with those earplugs.

This all-in-one eye mask and headphones is the ultimate hostel travel hack for a good night’s sleep. With the all-in-one eye mask and headphones, you’ll have built-in headphones that hover over your ears, allowing you to fall asleep to a Netflix show, white noise, or a podcast to drown out those whale sirens beside you. They also double as a headband to keep long hair off your face or as an eye mask, so that you’re not awoken by the lights of those rolling in at four in the morning from the bar!

Cash and Cards

You should always carry some cash in the country’s currency that you’re visiting and a card when checking into a hostel. Oftentimes, you’ll need to put a deposit on a bed or room using a card, so it’s best to make sure you have a credit or debit card that is taken in that country (not all countries accept all debit/credit cards) and that it has space for up to a $150 USD deposit. You can find deposit amounts on hostel websites to know exactly how much you’ll need in advance. Another situation you might come by is a hostel that only takes cash at its on-site facilities (bar, laundry room, restaurant, café), or a hostel that offers discounts for paying in cash upfront (more common in Asia). Be prepared for any situation and have a variety of ways to pay so you don’t get stuck loaning a twenty from another hostel stayer. 


While there are plenty of awesome people to meet in hostels, you never truly know who you’ll be bunking with. It’s hostel best practice to bring along your own reliable and durable padlock to safeguard your valuables in lockers, especially since hostels don’t claim responsibility for lost or stolen items. Give yourself peace of mind knowing all your favorite outfits and electronics are locked up and safe. We highly recommend against using a key lock, as you can lose the key and access to your stuff. These TSA-approved luggage and locker locks are small enough to fit on every sized locker and sturdy enough to withstand many beatings. 

Toiletries Bag

Travelers wondering what to bring to a hostel should seriously consider adding this waterproof hanging toiletries bag to their packing list. Its thoughtful design includes multiple compartments and pockets, offering ample storage space for all your grooming essentials like razors, body wash, and a toothbrush. The wide base and hanging hook offer various ways to access your toiletries even in cramped hostel bathrooms, saving precious counter space. Plus, the waterproof and durable material means you can use it as a shower caddy with peace of mind knowing the items you’re not using in the shower will still be dry and clean. 

If you already have a toiletries bag but like the idea of a hanging shower caddy so that you’re not sitting your razor, shampoo, and bar of soap on the dirty shower floor, then check out this compact mesh travel caddy. It dries fast and easily folds into a small compact size when not in use. 

Refillable Toiletries Containers or Travel-Size Toiletries

There are two types of hostel travelers: the ones who buy travel-size shampoo and conditioner and the ones who buy refillable containers for shampoo, body wash, and conditioner. Both are very easy ways to travel from hostel to hostel, but using these TSA-pre-approved and refillable bottles is the most eco-friendly and budget-friendly route to go. This way, you’ll reduce unnecessary plastic waste, and when you come across a hostel that offers free body wash, shampoo, and conditioner pumps, you can load up your refillable bottles without spending so much as a penny! 

Refillable Water Bottle

Many hostels offer water jugs and water-filling stations so that savvy hostel stayers can refill their water bottles. Bringing a refillable travel water bottle is not only an excellent way to ensure you’re hydrated but a great way to reduce plastic use and save money on water, too. This stainless-steel bottle from Hydro Flask will keep cool beverages cold for up to 24 hours and warm drinks hot for 14 hours. It is also BPA-free and dishwasher-safe. 

Day Backpack

A daypack is an absolutely essential thing to pack for a hostel stay, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time out of the hostel. While there are plenty of travel daypacks with features specifically for day hiking, the Osprey Daylite Plus pack is the perfect all-around backpack for both city and countryside touring. This compact yet spacious day pack weighs just 0.88 pounds, making it incredibly lightweight and easy to carry during day trips or excursions around town. Plus, it stores up to 20 liters with its cleverly designed pockets made to enhance your organization. One of its standout features is its versatile and comfortable padded straps, which effortlessly transform it into a duffle bag, offering flexibility. 

Travel Insurance

Stephen King once said, “If you want to play, you gotta pay,” and that logic applies to traveling, too! You never know what can happen on vacation, and whether you’re planning on touring Asia, Europe, or South America, accidents do happen. So give yourself peace of mind knowing you’ll be covered for all situations and won’t end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills by purchasing travel insurance. SafetyWing offers travel insurance for as little as $10 USD per week, making it a no-brainer for travelers and savvy hostel stayers. 

Portable Charger

Travelers should always bring a portable charger or power bank like the Anker 313 Power Bank with them when staying in a hostel to ensure they can keep their devices charged and stay connected while on the go. Hostel rooms often have limited power outlets, and it’s common for multiple guests to compete for charging spots. With a portable power bank, you can conveniently charge your smartphones, tablets, cameras, Kindle, and other electronic devices without having to wait for an available outlet. It’s also quite a handy item to have when you’re out exploring a city or hiking as you can charge your phone on the go without worry that it’ll die before you can find your way back to the hostel.

Universal Adapter

While you probably have plenty of plugs at home, investing in a durable and versatile universal adapter is essential since plenty of countries have different electrical plugs. Instead of purchasing a new plug in every country you arrive in, save space in your pack by purchasing a universal adapter with all the plugs for every continent. The best universal adapter largely depends on your usage needs. If you’re bringing gadgets or laptop chargers that require a North American electrical plug, then choose an adapter with an input electrical plug and USB plugs for multi-charging. You’ll also want to consider what you’ll be charging as you may also need an adapter with a USB-C port. This universal adapter features two USB-C plugs, two USB-A plugs (regular USB), and a front plug that can fit any electronic plug from any country, allowing you to charge five devices at once. You can learn how to pick the perfect travel adapter and see our other top picks for the best travel adapters and converters here.

Diverse group of travelers socializing at a hostel
Photo: GaudiLab | Depositphotos

Health and Safety

First Aid Kit and Medication Kit

As an avid traveler and hostel junkie, I can personally tell you a first aid and medication kit is the one thing most travelers never bring with them. While you will have access to local pharmacies and medical help in other countries, it’s never a guarantee you’ll be near a shop or hospital when emergency strikes (especially if you’re backpacking in remote areas), or that you’ll be well enough to get yourself to a pharmacy to pick up medication (try getting to a pharmacy with diarrhea). While you’ll almost always find other hostel travelers who are willing to help you out by going to the pharmacy in your stead or by sharing their own first aid kit, it’s always best to pack your own. Don’t be the traveler that’s unprepared! 

Pack a medication kit that has supplies for all situations like Polysporin for cuts and scratches, Gravol ginger pills for nausea and upset stomachs, Extra Strength Tylenol Cold night and day pack in case you get a bad cold, Advil for hangovers and aches, Benadryl for allergies or bee stings, After Bite to relieve bite itches, Imodium for diarrhea, and, of course, your own daily medication. You can find almost all of these medications in a travel-friendly size or you might already have them at home and can organize them in a portable medication organizer. The best and most cost-effective way to put together a good emergency kit is to separate your medications (both daily and emergency) in one pouch and your first aid material in another. We highly recommend this clip-on travel first-aid kit as it already comes in a compact waterproof and moisture-proof case with must-have first-aid materials like sterile gauze, bandages, alcohol pads, tweezers, and more. 

Travel Lysol Wipes or Hand Sanitizer

There’s a world of possibilities when you travel, but there is also a world of germs. You can never truly trust whether a hostel is exercising a thorough cleaning schedule, or an airplane for that matter, but that’s where these handy travel Lysol wipes come in! Use them to wipe down your bunk bed, shelves, toilet seats, airplane tray, cell phone, and much more to prevent getting sick on your trip; especially in hostels where there are plenty of common spaces filled with people. You’d be surprised which surfaces you clean come back dark and dirty on the wipe, so give yourself peace of mind by cleaning your personal areas yourself! 

A small travel-size hand sanitizer also proves invaluable in protecting against germs and bacteria. It’s handy to have in case the hostel forgets to refill the soap or you need a quick hand wash on the go. With this hand sanitizer case holder that features a carabiner clips, you can easily bring your trusted hand sanitizer everywhere you go! 


Travel brings about many pleasures in life: new food, new friends, and the possibility of a new exotic lover. Look, we get it! You’re on vacation and when the sparks fly, they fly. But be a responsible adult and don’t rely on others to be packing; bring your own condoms (yes, that means you too, ladies) and make memories, not babies! We recommend Trojan Ultra Ribbed condoms, and you nosy readers can find out why for yourselves ;)

RFID Passport Holder/Wallet

Did you know that thieves can use RFID technology to read your passport chip without you even knowing? Yes, it’s scary to think that sensitive information, like a passport, is susceptible to contactless identity theft, but there is a way to protect yourself and your information while on the road! With this waterproof RFID-blocking passport holder, you can ensure your passport and credit cards won’t be physically damaged or virtually stolen on your watch. The holder features four card slots, a passport pocket, two clear windows for IDs like a driver’s license and a visa card, and a pocket to hold a boarding pass. It also comes in over 25 different colors, so you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety! 

For those who would prefer to keep all their money, credit cards, and IDs in one spot, check out this tri-fold RFID-blocking wallet and passport holder, or see our list of the best travel wallets here

Keychain Self-Defense Siren

Travelers heading to a hostel should seriously consider investing in the Original Defense personal keychain siren, especially if you’re a solo traveler. This compact and powerful device offers peace of mind and enhanced safety in potentially dangerous and unfamiliar surroundings. Its loud alarm emits a piercing sound of 130 decibels when activated, effectively drawing attention to anyone within 1000 feet of a threatening situation. This proves invaluable in hostel environments where security concerns may arise, especially for solo travelers or those staying in dorm-style accommodations. Plus, its compact size allows it to be easily attached to keys, backpacks, or purse straps, ensuring it’s always within reach when needed most.

Bed Liner Sleep Sack

The Tough Outdoors bed liner and sleep sack is a must-have for hostel dwellers seeking both comfort and cleanliness. Its soft, breathable fabric ensures a cozy night’s sleep, while the durable construction offers protection against questionable hostel bedding situations — no more worrying about mystery stains or creepy crawlies! Plus, its compact design makes it easy to pack and carry, so it’s ideal for backpackers on the move. With a guaranteed lifetime warranty, can you really go wrong? 

Travels in the dorm room at a hostel
Photo: | Depositphotos

Entertainment & Work

Kindle E-Reader

Calling all bookworms! Can’t decide which reads to bring on your next adventure? Instead of struggling with indecision, do yourself and your back a favor by ditching your physical books and picking up this lightweight and compact Kindle e-reader. There’s no need to lug around those extra 10 pounds in books on your back as the Kindle e-reader will put thousands of books at your fingertips. Plus, with its impeccably long battery life that lasts for weeks, you’ll rarely have to worry about plugging it in as it will be charged up and ready to go! 

Back-Up Storage Device

Travelers and digital nomads should seriously consider purchasing the Seagate Portable External Hard Drive when backpacking from hostel to hostel for its reliability and convenience in safeguarding important data on the go. This compact and durable storage device offers ample space to back up crucial files, photos, and videos, providing peace of mind in case of unforeseen mishaps, such as loss, theft, or damage to electronic devices. Imagine being in a bustling hostel common area, working on a freelance project or editing travel footage, when suddenly your laptop crashes, leaving you on the verge of losing hours of work. In this dire situation, the Seagate Portable External Hard Drive comes to the rescue, as you can quickly restore your data from the backup, ensuring that your progress isn’t lost and deadlines are met. 

Cell Phone Flash Drive

We’ve all been there; you arrive in a new country and everything is so eye-catching and new that you wind up with 300 photos on your phone on the first day. Many of us struggle with phone storage, especially on vacation when you’re constantly downloading e-tickets, itineraries, and hostel reservations. Instead of spending hours scrolling through your pictures and deleting videos, pick up a flash drive for your phone. Whether you need an iPhone flash drive or an Android flash drive, these handy travel-friendly memory sticks plug right into your charging port and can download hundreds of photos and videos, freeing up valuable storage space on your phone. 

Travel-Size Portable Speaker

Bring the good vibes and good times with you no matter where in the world you are with the Wonderboom portable speaker from Ultimate Ears. I have carried this lightweight speaker with me everywhere, from the heat of Down Under and Asia to the cool temperatures of Canada and the French Alps, and it has survived everything in the last four years! The speaker has a great full sound that’s loud, a long-lasting battery life of up to 14 hours, and can be easily clipped onto a day pack with a carabiner without wear and tear being done on the speaker. It’s also dust-proof, water-proof, floats when in the water, and, for my fellow butterfinger friends, it’s drop-proof up to five feet.

Noise-Canceling Headphones/Earbuds

Imagine you’ve arrived at your hostel when suddenly, you realize the hostel is Party City with banging music and nowhere to relax with a book or laptop. That’s where the Bose QuietComfort Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones come in! These headphones offer an unparalleled level of comfort and convenience, allowing you to immerse yourself in your favorite music, podcasts, or movies while blocking out that 20-year-old wannabe DJ with his speaker by the pool. With their advanced noise-canceling technology, you can escape the hustle and bustle of crowded dorm rooms or busy common areas, creating a peaceful retreat wherever you go. If headphones aren’t your style, you can also check out Bose’s noise-canceling Bluetooth QuietComfort Earbuds II, which features a fit kit so that you can find the perfect size to fit your ears comfortably. 

Cards and Games

One of the best ways to meet other travelers is to invite them to play a game with you in the common area. While many hostels offer board games and cards in common areas, it’s not always a guarantee. I always travel with a waterproof pack of playing cards so that new friends and I can enjoy spontaneous card or drinking games on a beach, train, plane, or in the hostel. If card games aren’t your thing, feel free to bring along your favorite classic board game. What? Don’t believe you’ll have space for a board game? Well, almost all classic board games and popular games now come in a travel-friendly size, such as Battleship, Monopoly, UNO, Backgammon, Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble, and many more. 

Portable Projector 

Want to be the most popular person at the hostel? Then rock up with the ultimate movie-watching gadget: the WiMiUS First P61 Mini Projector. Coming in at just under two pounds, this small but powerful travel projector will have the whole hostel gathered around for a movie night. The compact projector features a 40-inch by 300-inch viewing screen with a dual Wi-Fi band connection, ensuring there won’t be any interruptions or lags during the show. It also boasts a built-in speaker with an SRS sound system, Bluetooth capabilities to connect louder speakers, and a multi-device connection for everything from iPhones and Androids to Rokus, Fire Sticks, and laptops. 

Snacks or Trinkets From Your Country

One of the coolest things about staying in a hostel is that you’ll meet so many people from different traditions and cultures. It’s actually quite common these days to bring trinkets and snacks from your home country to trade and share with your new-found hostel friends! For example, I met a couple from Montreal who brought a bag of tiny maple candies for travelers to try a Canadian treat, and an energetic young Aussie who had a bag of tiny toy koalas to hand out to her favorite new friends (I was honored to receive one). It’s a fun tradition to take part in and one way to spread some joy throughout the hostel! 

Portable Wi-Fi Hotspotter or eSIM

Tired of spotty hostel Wi-Fi when you’re trying to stream a show or work on that important project? The GlocalMe G4 Pro Mobile Hotspot offers a seamless solution, allowing you to create your own secure Wi-Fi network wherever you are. This nifty hostel gadget is a must-have for digital nomads as it offers SIM-less connectivity in over 140 countries, sharing capacity with up to 10 devices, and a power bank functionality that allows you to charge your phone in an emergency. Simply pick a pay-as-you-go plan from the GlocalMe app or slide in a SIM card if you wish (SIM cards are not necessary but there is a slot). Additionally, its long battery life and universal compatibility make it perfect for travelers who are constantly on the move.

Another fantastic way to get internet service in another country is by using an eSIM. If you haven’t heard of eSIM technology, it is an ingenious invention that allows travelers to virtually download a SIM card, essentially making physical SIM cards obsolete, and saving travelers time by offering seamless cell phone connection from the comfort of your home or hostel room. You can find affordable packages by country or continent for a fraction of the price North American companies charge you to use your phone plan abroad. Some of our favorite eSIM companies include aloSIM, Holafly, Nomad eSIM, and SimOptions

Groups of travelers of various nationalities stay in hostels, travelers play fun games, travel trips.
Photo: poungsaed | Depositphotos

Organization and Laundry

Packing Cubes

Ah, the old packing cube debate. To use them or not to use them? While some people swear against them, this traveling writer happily endorses the cube life! When it comes to whether or not to use packing cubes, there are two things to consider. The first is what kind of backpack or luggage you’ll be using. As backpacks offer limited space, you can often maximize your space by playing Tetris with your cubes. I also always put an extra cube in my day pack to avoid being left without clothes if I fly somewhere and my luggage gets lost. Backpacks packed without cubes often have an exploding-like organizational structure as trying to find a certain article of clothing requires you to almost always pull all your clothes out of the bag. Instead, unpack your cubes and tuck them into your locker, then you can store your empty backpack under your bunk bed! You can use a spare cube to separate dirty laundry, too. The second thing to consider if you’re on the fence about packing cubes is how often you’ll be moving around. As stated, travel backpacks without cubes can be a disorganized nightmare, which can cost you a lot of packing time if you’re moving hostels every three to four days. Organized cubes are quick and easy to sort, saving you time and the headache of packing and unpacking. You can find a list of our favorite travel packing cubes here.

Charging Cords Organizer

When I first started traveling in hostels, I made the mistake of carrying all the cords I needed in a plastic ziplock bag. Then I realized that I didn’t have to spend every day pulling my hair out trying to untangle charging cords if I just used this waterproof cord organizer bag. Learn from my mistakes friends and invest in one of these handy travel gadgets right now! With its waterproof and durable construction, the bag ensures your gadgets stay protected from spills, splashes, and unexpected showers, making it perfect for hostel environments where shared spaces can be unpredictable. The bag also features multiple elastic loops and mesh pockets, providing ample storage for cables, portable chargers, adapters, headphones, and other tech essentials.

Glasses Case and Cleaner

Whether you’re a blurry-eyed babe with prescription glasses or an average Joe with a pricey pair of sunglasses, it’s always a good idea to have a hard case to protect your glasses while traveling. This travel hard case with a clip is perfect for hostel stayers and backpackers alike. Its waterproof and durable design ensures your glasses stay dry and undamaged, while the clip offers versatility. While on the topic of glasses, instead of doing that moist little haa-haa breath to clean your glasses, avoid scratching the lens by investing in a travel-size spray cleaner and cloth.  

Travel-Size Jewellery Holder

Is there anything more time-consuming and annoying than detangling your necklaces after every journey? It’s time to ditch that chaotic ball of jewelry by investing in a small jewelry organizer. This compact and lightweight PU leather jewelry organizer comes in a variety of colors and is perfect for organizing and keeping track of all your valuable pieces. With slots for 13 rings, a stud plate for 20 pairs of earrings, and five necklace-holding clips, you can say goodbye to tangled messes and hello to effortless organization. 

Dissolvable Laundry Strips

Are you planning on living out the ultimate backpacker lifestyle? In other words, are you on the hunt for hostel gadgets that will reduce your daily costs and help with your budget? Then these travel laundry strips are your ticket to financial success on the road. Instead of paying for your laundry to be done for you, waiting for the hostel washer to be available (if the hostel even has one), or hunting down a laundromat nearby, simply head to a bathroom sink in the hostel, give it a wipedown with your handy travel Lysol wipes, and fill the sink with water. You can then add a whole dissolvable strip to the water for a big load or tear off a little piece of the laundry strip to wash one or two items. I personally tear the pieces and change the water for big loads so that there is always clean water being used. The strips come in scented and unscented packs depending on your preference and sensitivity. Plus, they are way more lightweight and easy to travel with than laundry pods or powdered laundry detergent! 

Tide to Go Stain Remover 

For travelers gearing up for a hostel stay, having a Tide to Go stain remover on hand is a smart move. This instant stain remover is a lifesaver for dealing with unexpected spills and stains on your favorite clothes. Its compact size makes it easy to stash in your backpack or travel bag, ensuring you’re always prepared for any stain emergency. Its powerful formula works on a variety of stains, including food, drink, and even makeup, without the need for water or rinsing. Whether it’s a coffee spill during breakfast in the hostel common area or a sauce splatter from a communal kitchen cooking mishap, this handy pen-sized stain remover offers quick and effective treatment to tackle stains.

Travelers in the dorm room at a hostel socializing
Photo: AllaSerebrina | Depositphotos

Gadgets, Accessories, and Extras

Portable Luggage Scale

So you’re at the airport check-in loading your bag onto the scale, and when the weight flashes, the check-in lady gets a little too much satisfaction from telling you you’re three pounds overweight. Your options are to repack or pay extra. Well, avoid the temptation to flip this woman off and panic repack at the airport by investing in a portable luggage scale! Packing isn’t an exact science, but many times travelers pick up heavy souvenirs forgetting that it will add to their luggage weight. It’s important you’re prepared at the airport for a quick check-in to help keep things moving, and while you can weigh your bag at the airport prior to check-in, this often costs extra money. So, if you’re going to pay extra to weigh your bag in advance, do it with this compact and travel-size portable luggage scale so that you fly through the airport like a pro. 

Reusable Cutlery and Utensils

One of the most commonly used shared spaces in a hostel is the communal kitchen, which makes sense since savvy hostel stayers love to cook their own food to cut down on costs. However, like with any shared space, it’s up to the guests to help keep the communal areas clean and clear for all hostel stayers to enjoy. Now, I know we aren’t talking to any of you fabulous Road Affair readers when we say this, but some hostel guests treat the communal kitchen like a kindergarten craft-a-thon, leaving dishes dirty, pans unwashed, and cutlery still caked with their pasta sauce. It happens more often than you think, and cleaning up after someone else’s mess isn’t fun. Instead of cleaning dirty forks so that you can enjoy your meal, bring your own reusable cutlery or a spork! It’s always handy to have these reusable cutlery and utensils on you so that you enjoy a late-night snack, street food, or hostel food without the worry there’s no available cutlery. 

Headlamp or Flashlight

Don’t be the guy who comes into the shared dorm at two in the morning turning on the overhead light; that’s one way to make enemies, not friends! Instead, invest in a hands-free headlamp or small travel flashlight to navigate those early-morning departures and late-night arrivals. While you can use your phone as a light, it’s a good idea to have a spare flashlight in case the electricity goes out or your phone is dead.

Reusable Straw

If you’re a traveler who loves exploring new places while minimizing your environmental impact, then the Kynup Reusable Collapsible Straw is a must-have addition to your backpacking essentials. Made from durable stainless steel, this eco-friendly straw is not only reusable but also collapsible, making it incredibly portable and convenient for travelers on the go. Its compact design means you can easily slip it into your pocket, or you can use the carabiner to clip it to a keychain or backpack, ensuring you always have a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic straws and soggy paper straws. 

Travel-Size Make-Up Remover and Reusable Cloths

Another great eco-friendly way to save space in your luggage is to purchase reusable makeup removal pads. Instead of using throw-away wipes that take up more space in your bag, simply add a squirt of liquid make-up remover to the cloth, and voila! You’ll be fresh and ready for bed. You can easily clean these hypoallergenic reusable pads with your laundry or in a sink with your trusted laundry strips. We also recommend this travel-size Holy Hydration liquid make-up remover from e.l.f. as it’s vegan, cruelty-free, and gentle on all skin types, making it a no-brainer for consumer-conscious travelers.  

Antimicrobial Merino Wool Socks

Whether you’re touring European cities in the snow or cruising around Asia on a scooter, these antimicrobial Merino wool socks are the ultimate hostel hack for travelers who hate doing laundry or have smelly tootsies. These socks are a game-changer for several reasons. First off, Merino wool naturally has antimicrobial properties that repel odor-causing bacteria, keeping your feet fresh and funk-free, even after a couple of days of wear. Unlike regular socks, which can start smelling after just one day of use, antimicrobial Merino wool socks allow you to go longer between washes, saving you time and hassle during your travels. Plus, merino wool is renowned for its moisture-wicking properties, meaning your feet stay dry and comfortable no matter what the weather gods throw at you. 

Fanny Pack

The Waterfly Lightweight Fanny Pack is a personal favorite of mine for traveling. It’s also the only thing that has ever been stolen from me in a hostel, so you know this is a hot bum bag (literally)! Not only does this sleek fanny pack offer a durable design with plenty of perfectly placed organization pockets, but it also features an anti-theft back pocket ideal for passports, credit cards, and other valuables. As an advocate for bringing back the fanny pack, I’ve tried a couple of packs in my day, but none compare to the design and style of Waterfly’s water-resistant bag. Plus, with over 15 styles and colors, you can pick a pack that fits your unique style. Not in love with the Waterfly fanny pack? View our other top picks for the best travel fanny packs here

Extra Razor Blades

If you’re planning a long stay in a hostel or multiple hostels, it’s a good idea to check if the countries you’re visiting carry your type of razor heads. In my experience, depending on which country you’re visiting, you could wind up spending more than you need on a new razor or wasting money on disposable razors if they don’t have what you’re looking for. Save yourself the hassle of searching multiple pharmacies and pack a few extra razor heads into your bag. 

Extended Phone Charging Cord

It’s never a guarantee that you’ll have a plug beside your hostel bed, so if you’re a traveler who likes to lounge in their bunk while charging and watching a show, bring along an extended phone charging cord so that you can do both. This retractable three-in-one universal charging cord is the ideal thing to take to a hostel as it offers three different charging cords in one: a lightning cord for iPhones, a type-C cord for Androids, and a magnetic touch charger for iWatches. Additionally, the retractable cord offers less mess and the ability to stretch out four feet or retract to 4.8 inches. 

As a seasoned digital nomad with a knack for navigating hostel life, I hope this list of things to pack for a hostel stay guides you on your next adventure with wit and wisdom. Remember, whether you’re embarking on a solo journey or joining the hostel hustle with newfound friends, packing smartly can make all the difference in your comfort and convenience. So grab your backpack, toss in those must-have gadgets and gear, and get ready to explore the world one hostel at a time.



  • I hate those microfiber towels so when I travel I bring a hammam towel. They are large but made out of a mix of cotton and bamboo and dry super fast. They are larger, as mentioned before, but pack to a small size and aren’t that heavy considering they are made from bamboo.

    I use a towel like that to shield my bed in a hostel sometimes (when my introvert hangover strikes and I need some alone time).

  • About 9 here is some GREAT advice don’t have sex it’s that simple. Coach Carr: Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die! Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up, just don’t do it, ok, promise? OK, now everybody take some rubbers.

  • Hey Jazzy,

    that’s such an amazing list, love it! Especially good that you recommend a LED light as well as a padlock. Make sure it is generic padlock so it fits all types of lockers. :)

    Keep up the great work, love the detailed info you provide, especially on your article on the Nomads insurance – THANKS!

  • I left the US for the first time last May at 56 years old and walked part of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, then backpacked in Portugal and Valencia. My hostel experiences were absolutely the best, and even in hostels where there were only young people, I was treated well and only had one bad experience (no heat, plastic sheets, 6 AM kick out…glad I brought a UL sleeping bag). Best meals I had were with people who didn’t speak English but our smiles, the food, the wine and the mood spoke volumes!

    • Hey Susan,

      Thanks for sharing your story with us!! I am so happy to her that hostels are treating you well and that you are meeting amazing individuals on your journey! I must ask, how was your experience doing the Camino de Santiago?? We are thinking about doing it this year!!

  • Jazzy,
    Great post! I also would like to add a sleep mask to bring if you like dark environment, and also food container for storing a leftover after cooking.
    I’ll come up with other things, including a coat hanger or clothes pins to dry out your laundry in the balcony without being afraid to be blown out.

    Awesome ideas!

    • Hey Halef,

      Thanks for weighing in! I agree with the sleeping mask (we did add it to the post) but I am not sure about the coat hanger! Would love to know your reason behind it as hostel usually provide a space for it or you can hang it along the bed frame.

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