If you’re a budget traveler like I am, chances are you’re not staying at the Ritz-Carlton. Although I love hotel beds and hotel robes, I spend most of my traveling in hostels because of the affordable lodging. Hostels provide the basic travel necessities-bed and showers.
If you’ve never stayed at a hostel before, there are a few essentials that you will need in order to have a successful stay. I’ve compiled a list of 8 for you to purchase before getting on that plane and arriving at your hostel.
*You can download a pdf version here.
- Shower sandals
Shower sandals are probably the most important item you can bring to the hostel. Just like college dorms, hostels have communal showers. These are vital for your stay and will keep your feet protected from the bacteria lingering in the shared space.
Since you’ll be using it throughout the floors of the hostel, there is no need to invest in expensive ones. Head to Old Navy and purchase the $2.50 flip flops that are available year round. The choices of cute colors will not only have you protected but styling in the shower as well!
2. Sleeping bag liner
Whether you’re staying in a hamaca in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest, a tent in Yosemite park, or a hostel bed in Brazil, a liner is always a good idea for protection. Some hostels might not have sheets ready for you when you arrive, and some might not have any at all.
For my backpacking trip through Southeast Asia I purchased a liner from Amazon, only $12. The best part about it is that it’s machine washable. All the beds I stayed in had sheets but the freezing a/c at night made my sleep uncomfortable. Once I got in my liner, the extra layer of protection added warmth and comfort.
I recommend silk liners because of its versatility in hot and cold weather. It keeps warm air close to the skin during cold weather (i.e. air conditioners) and during warm weather it keeps you comfortable.
Check out a few options here:
3. Small lock (padlock)
Almost every hostel I’ve stayed at had a decent sized locker for me to store my belongings in. However, the hostels did not provide locks and I highly recommend you get one before arriving. Locks can be purchased at any hardware or big-box retail store.
I recommend one of the following TSA approved locks–they could even be used for your luggage and/or backpack:
Don’t make the mistake I did and arrive with a thick padlock that didn’t fit through my locker’s opening. Make sure you check in with your hostel and see what kind of lockers they have so that you shop adequately.
4. Travel size toiletries
Ah, the small things in life are what brings us the greatest pleasure. Most hostels will not provide you with soap/shampoo. If you do find one that provides you with such essentials, you’ve hit the jackpot. However, it is imperative that you bring your own.
When packing your backpack or suitcase, be sure to pack 3.4oz or less per item. The small size and airline carry-on toiletries can be found at Target or Dollar Tree stores.
5. Hanging toiletry case
No need to purchase a shower caddy! However, a hanging toiletry case is essential when staying at hostels. A toiletry case not only provides organization for your items, but the convenient hang strap fits over most hooks and towel bars.
Since you’ll be in a communal shower, you will need convenience and safety for your toiletries inside. I purchased this Lewis N. Clark Hanging toiletry case and loved how lightweight it was and the fact that it fit in my backpack.
Price: $10 at Walmart
6. Plug adapter/long cord
I consider myself a newbie when it comes to the traveling world. As a newbie, I often make mistakes when it comes to packing. Prior to my backpacking trip to South America I forgot to research plug adapters. When I arrived to Brazil, I was surprised to find that they use a different one than the US plugs.
Luckily, my friend had an adapter! Me salvo la vida y el dinero. An adapter abroad can cost up to $20 USD. To avoid wasting your time and money, purchase one before your trip. I recommend purchasing a Universal one either online or Target, cost can be up to $12.
Also, since you’ll be staying in dorms at the hostel, you may or may not be close to an outlet. Be sure to purchase a long cord for your electronics in case your bed isn’t near a wall with a plug–see below!
7. Sleeping mask/Ear plugs set
With up to 20 people per dorm room, there are bound to be unexpected wake up calls. Not every person likes to be up at 630am like me. With this in mind, I recommend investing in a sleeping mask for those flickering lights at 230am when party goers get back from their late night adventure.
Ear plugs are also essential to blocking out any noise from loud people. If your hostel is in a major city, you might wake up to traffic or construction. Thus, if you are a light sleeper, it is imperative to have ear plugs.
8. Micro Fiber, ultra-light, fast drying towel
Now say that really fast, 3 times without breathing. Just kidding. Some hostels will provide you with towels (will charge a rental fee!) but trust me, they’re not Egyptian Cotton.
I recommend investing in a micro fiber towel because they are super-absorbent and dry quickly. When you are sharing space with a lot of people, you don’t want your towel to smell and still be wet when you shower again.
My micro fiber towel is from the yoga company Manduka and I got it as a gift. It is intended to be a yoga towel for mats but I use mine for quick-drying after showers. It’s amazing!
So there you go! Now you are ready to pack for your hostel stay. The above items are all TSA approved as carry-ons.