Just booked your first hostel and don’t know what to pack? No worries, we’ve got you covered. We’ve been traveling for over 3 years and have stayed at our fair share of hostels. Shoot, we’ve even worked at a couple. So we know just what you’ll need to pack to be a savvy hosteller at any hostel you choose to stay in.
So without further ado, here are our must-pack items for staying at hostels…
1. A Quick-Drying Towel
What we don’t recommend is a huge towel like the ones you normally use at home. In fact, it’s one of the items on our anti-packing list. I know the quick drying towels won’t feel fluffy and amazing on your skin, but they will get the job done. What’s the job? Well, to dry quickly, take up little to no space in your travel backpack, and prevent you from shelling out an extra 5 bucks every time you rent a towel in a hostel.
When purchasing a quick dry towel, opt for a large or XL, as they usually run small.
Our recommendation: Youphoria Travel Towel
If you’re a light sleeper, or want to avoid hearing your bunkmates snore their brains out, or don’t want to hear your roommate trying to discreetly have sex, we would highly recommend investing in some good earplugs! Headphones work too, but they are not the most comfortable to sleep with. :D
Our recommendation: Hearos Xtreme Protection Earplugs
Don’t be the asshole that stumbles in at 3am, turns on the overhead light and wakes everyone up! Be considerate, and use a low beam flashlight to light your way in the dark as you tiptoe (hint) and make as little noise as possible (another hint) while your roommates are sleeping. A cheap keychain flashlight, headlamp, your phone or whatever you chose will do the trick, as long as you don’t chose to be the asshole.
An eye mask might also come in handy when you have a roommate that’s not as considerate as you.
Our recommendation: Energizer 7 LED Headlamp
Most hostels provide free lockers to lock up your valuables, so having a lock would be a good idea. Plus, you don’t have to pay $5 to rent one every time you stay at a hostel. The lock can also be used to lock up your backpack when a locker is not provided, or when you are on an overnight bus for example.
Look for thin, lightweight metal or brass locks that are secure. You want to avoid those huge combination locks that look like the ones you used in high school, as they are bulky, heavy and add unnecessary weight to your backpack. Also, if you are someone that loses keys a lot or gets drunk often and forgets things, invest in a combination lock over a key lock.
Our recommendation: Cargis TSA Luggage Lock
In hostels bathrooms will be shared, which means flip-flops are an absolutely must. I don’t care how clean the hostel is or how immaculate the bathroom looks, you can still get foot fungus, so wear flip-flops in the shower! Any cheap $1 flip-flop will do. However, if you want a scandal or flip-flop that you don’t need to replace every few days, see our recommendation below.
Our recommendation: Teva Mush II Flip-Flops
Want more recommendations on what kind of shoes to take with you traveling, check out our post on the best travel shoes.
6. USB Multi Charger
Hostels are known for being THE place to meet other travelers, but when it comes to having a good number of outlets they suck miserably! To avoid waiting for an outlet to be free to charge your travel camera, Kindle, or phone, invest in a USB multi charger. That way when you do get a free outlet you can charge all your electronics at the same time, from just one socket!
Don’t just get a cheap 99 cent USB multi charger, as they aren’t very reliable and their life expectancy is super short. If you want a long-lasting and reliable charger, see our recommendation below.
Our recommendation: Syncwire 4-Port USB Wall Charger
7. Universal Plug Adapter
Not all electrical outlets are created equally, which sucks for travelers like us who one day are backpacking Venice and the next teaching English in South Korea. But luckily some genius invented a universal plug adapter, so all we have to do is buy just one and be set for any and every country we travel to! Why buy a power adapter? Well, you never need to worry about having the wrong plug, nor do you have to buy a million and one plugs just to charge your electronics. For a great resource to figure out if you need different plugs for the country you’re traveling to, check out this article.
Be sure not to mistake a plug adapter for a voltage converter! A voltage converter might be something to invest in as well if you don’t want to fry your device because the voltage was different from that of your home country. However, note that not all electronic devices need a converter. Most phones, travel laptops and tablets can handle different voltages without a converter but things like electric razors might not (speaking from experience here).
Our recommendation: Insten Universal Travel Adapter
8. Refillable Water Bottle
Most hostels will have a jug of water in the lobby where guests can refill their water bottles for free or cheap. This is perfect for helping budget travelers, like ourselves, save money while traveling by not constantly buying water from the supermarket. So why not invest in a refillable water bottle that helps keep your wallet happy and saves the planet at the same time.
Our recommendation: Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Let’s not sugarcoat it, hostels are where single travelers go to meet other travelers and hook up! Hey, no judgements. Just make sure you go in prepared and not depending on the other person to bring the condom (I am looking at you ladies). It would suck to catch something or get pregnant two weeks into your RTW.
Our recommendation: Trojan Ultra Ribbed ;)
10. An Open Mind
Hostels aren’t hotels, and each hostel is a different experience. The people you’ll find in hostels are like no other crowd. You’ll meet people from different walks of life, with different habits, cultures, ideas, and so much more. So when you plan to stay in a hostel, make sure to have an open mind!
Our recommendation: Sorry, this isn’t something you can buy!
There you go! Those are our top ten hostel packing essentials! Don’t forget to also check out our ultimate packing list for tips on what else to bring along on your travels and our anti-packing list for suggestions on what to leave at home.
Have we forgotten any of your top ten essential packing items? Let us know in the comments below.