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Staying at a Hostel? Be Sure to Pack These Items

A universal charger is plugged in, someone sleeps with a sleeping mask on, a cable lock is tied around some luggage
EPICKA/Alaska Bear/Lewis N. Clark

Whether you’re on a tight travel budget or just want to stretch your dollar a little further, hostels are an affordable accommodation option around the world. Here’s what you should pack for your next hostel stay.

Hostels are cheap because they charge by the bed, not by the room. These dorm-room-style accommodations typically sleep 4-8 in one room, although some go as high as 10-12. Private rooms are offered at some hostels, but bathrooms are usually still shared.

Shared accommodations aren’t for everyone, but they can save you lots of money if you’re willing to give up a little privacy on your vacation. If you decide to go the hostel route, here’s what you should pack.

Travel-Sized Toiletries

A travel toiletry bag in a bathroom and someone squeezes lotion into their hand
Dot & Dot

Unlike hotels, hostels don’t provide basic toiletries. Some might have a few items available for purchase, but don’t bet on it.

If you are traveling to your hostel via car or train, you can bring full-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and lotion. However, you’ll need to keep everything in TSA-approved containers if you’re traveling by air.

These leakproof containers come in a clear toiletry bag that’s a cinch to bring through airport security.

Shower Sandals

Two pairs of black shower sandals and one pair of pink shower sandals

No matter how clean your hostel is, you should always wear sandals in a shared shower. There’s no shortage of bacteria and germs on those tiled floors.

Hostels add another level of grossness by entertaining a steady stream of guests from all over the world. Some businesses disinfect their bathrooms every day, but others aren’t exactly known for a rigorous cleaning schedule.

Make room in your suitcase for a pair of these shower sandals. They’re nonslip, quick-drying, and easy to cram into any piece of luggage.

Quick-Drying Towel

A olive travel towel and a man dries off with the towel

Not all hostels provide towels either. Some businesses allow you to rent them, but you never want to find yourself without a way to dry off after a shower.

Save an emergency trip to the nearest home goods store by packing this travel towel. It’s lightweight and remarkably absorbent. The thin material also dries quickly so you won’t have to worry about the rest of your suitcase smelling like mildew between travel locations.

This towel also comes in six different sizes, so you can find the perfect one for you.


A cable padlock wrapped around a suitcase and wrapped around some sports bags
Lewis N. Clark

Sharing a room with other hostel guests means you don’t have the security of a locked hotel room to keep your things safe. Many establishments provide lockers inside rooms to secure your stuff, but you won’t find padlocks available for free.

Bring your own to make sure your things stay safe. This one has a cable lock, so it’s guaranteed to fit even the strangest locker situations. It’s also TSA-approved if you want to use it on your luggage during your flight.


A large container of earplugs and a woman sleeps peacefully

If you think earplugs are for dads and grandpas, you’ve never shared a hostel room with someone who has undiagnosed sleep apnea. One of the risks you take when saving a ton of money on accommodations is not knowing who your roommates are going to be.

Every hostel veteran has a story about being put in a bunk above a chronic snorer and sightseeing the next day on two hours of sleep. Save yourself any potential misery by throwing some earplugs in your luggage.

This 50-pair pack will last you dozens of trips. They’re made of a soft foam that’s comfortable, but still blocks out a surprising amount of noise.

Sleeping Mask

A black sleeping mask and a woman sleeps with a sleeping mask on
Alaska Bear

Along with loud sleepers, staying in a hostel puts you at risk of sharing a room with someone who thinks it’s not a big deal to turn on all the lights at 4 a.m. to pack for their flight.

A high-quality sleeping mask will prevent you from being jerked awake by bright lights shining on your face. It’s also great to have on a plane.

Multiuse Charger

A multi-use charger is attached to the underside of a table and sits on top of a table

Instead of an entire room or house full of outlets at your disposal, you’re usually only given a single outlet in a hostel. This can make it tricky if you need to charge a phone, computer, camera, and/or other electronics.

This multiuse charger has three outlets and three USB ports so you can charge everything at once. It also has a five-foot extension cord in case your designated outlet is a little further away.

Universal Adapter

A black universal charger sits on a white background and has several electronics plugged into it

Always, always, always bring an adapter when you travel! Nothing is more frustrating than arriving in a new country only to realize you can’t charge your phone.

A universal adapter is a great option because it’ll work in any country, so you won’t have to worry about packing the correct one for each trip. This one also has four USB ports, so you can charge multiple electronics at once.

Detergent Sheets

A package of laundry detergent sheets and someone tears a sheet over a washing machine
Lazy Coconuts

Doing laundry can be a real hassle while traveling. Finding a laundromat in a foreign country is a stressful task that doesn’t always end well.

Whether your hostel has laundry machines available or you’re stuck washing your clothes in the sink, these detergent sheets are easy to pack, environmentally friendly, and don’t have to be packed with your liquids for airport security.

A couple of sheets will take up virtually no space in your luggage. Each package cleans 48 loads of laundry and should last you for many trips to come.

They’re not for everyone, but staying at a hostel is a great way to save money on your next vacation. If you’re still in the planning process, these travel apps can help you choose everything from hostels to activities for your next trip.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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