The Only Hostel Packing List You’ll Ever Need!

What to Pack for a Hostel Stay

One of the questions we always get asked when planning a hostel stay is what to bring! Hostels can be a seemingly hard place to navigate and knowing what to pack for a hostel stay can be challenging. You’ll hear so many different opinions about what things are needed in a hotel and what you should leave off the list.

However, here at One Weird Globe we have scouted the web, sourced opinions from multiple backpackers and hostel-lovers, and curated this ultimate hostel packing list. So have you got a hostel stay coming up? Carry on scrolling to find out more…

What Not to Pack!

Before we get started on what to pack for a hostel stay here is a quick list of things not to bother bringing! Firstly, lots of sites say bringing a sleeping bag is a must. However, this is not the case and you’ll look a tad odd if you do bring one into a hostel room.

Hostel sheets and duvets tend to be clean and if you’re concerned about that, then bring a sheet or sheet liner instead. A sleeping bag is bulky and a bit excessive.

Secondly, a torch! This may be a good thing to bring if you’re going on a hiking trip or camping, but bringing one to a hostel is unnecessary and will most likely just be annoying for other guests.

Finally, don’t bring a cold and unfriendly atmosphere. Hostels are meant to be a place for travelers to meet each other, even if you’re not in the mood to socialize, give a friendly smile or a wave.

What Things are Needed in a Hostel

Below we have a list 31 of the best things that are needed for a hostel stay. From accessories to help you sleep, the right tech gear, toiletries and so much more!

31 Clever Things to Pack for a Hostel Stay

#1 – Earplugs

If you’re anything like me and can’t stand the sound of snoring, then you’re going to need to buy a good quality set of earplugs. I’d say 7 times out of 10 you’re going to get a snorer in your room so if you want any sort of beauty sleep you’re going to need to cancel out the noise somehow.

My personal recommendation would be to get some molded earplugs rather than the cheap ones you get on planes, especially if you’re backpacking for a while! However, snorers aren’t the only issue! People will also be coming in and out of the room throughout the night.

Whether they have an early morning flight to catch or have been partying late, you’ll be very lucky to get more than 6 hours without disturbance. This is probably my most essential item when deciding what to pack for a hostel stay.

#2 – Flip Flops or Sliders

Unless you’ve splashed out on a private room, you’re going to be sharing the showers with other backpackers and often these aren’t in the rooms too. Make sure you bring a pair of shower shoes, whether that be flip-flops or sliders, you just need something to put on your feet in the showers, for your sake and others!

You don’t need to splash out on anything fancy with these. There are loads of options for less than $10!

#3 – Eye Mask

You’re going to need an eye mask for similar reasons to what I made in point one about earplugs. People will be walking in and out of the room along with shining their phone torches to find their stuff.

To save yourself some money, take the eye masks you get on most long-haul plane journeys or, if it is just a short journey for your travel trip, hop onto Amazon and buy a cheap 5-pack! 

#4 – Refillable Water Bottle

Most hostels will have taps or water fountains to drink from with glasses however, you can’t take them to your room. Make sure to bring a refillable water bottle.

This not only saves you money on buying water but also is good for the planet too! If you’re traveling in areas where the water may not be drinkable, I’d recommend getting a Lifestraw. They’re super handy and mean you can drink water pretty much anywhere. 

#5 – A Microfibre Towel

Unlike hotels, most hostels don’t provide towels (unless you’re staying at a really fancy one!) However, towels can be bulky and can take up a lot of room in your bag. I’d recommend getting a microfibre towel, they’re lightweight, compact, and also dry very quickly, which is great when you’re on the go. 

#6 – A Code Padlock (Not Key!)

Unfortunately, not everyone staying in hostels has the right intention, so you’re going to want to lock up your stuff. However, most hostels, despite providing lockers, don’t provide a padlock, so you’re going to want to bring one with you.

I’d recommend a coded padlock over a key! Padlocks with keys can be easy to lose. They’re typically tiny, so having a coded padlock is a lot less stressful. This is an essential item on any hostel packing list!

#7 – An Adaptor

Unless you’re travelling domestically, or somewhere that uses the same plug sockets as your home country, an adaptor is a must. I’d recommend getting a universal adaptor which you can easily find in most airports or online and they shouldn’t set you back more than $20! iBlockCube are a great brand and have adaptors with up to 4 USB chargers. 

#9 – Portable Battery Pack

Most hostels nowadays provide guests with private charging sockets, however, you will still find some that don’t and only have 1-2 available in the room. Everyone wants to charge up their tech overnight and this can sometimes leave you with nowhere to charge your phone.

Bringing a portable battery pack means you don’t have to rely on private charging ports and also means keeping your tech safe and near you.

#10 – Packing Cubes

If you’ve seen any list about what to pack for a backpacking trip, packing cubes will definitely be on them. Probably the most hyped packing essential, but one I swear by. They just make packing your stuff in hostels so much easier and organised, which is not only great for you but makes the room a lot less messy for other travelers. I use Snugpak, they’re super affordable but also high quality. 

#11 – USB Multi Charger

Want to charge your camera, phone and portable charger all at once but don’t have 3 different adaptors and plugs? Then a USB multi charger is a great option. This basically allows you to charge multiple USB devices through one plug. 

#12 – Laundry Bag for Dirty Clothes

When you’re staying in a hostel, you don’t have the luxury of being able to unpack your bag into a wardrobe. However, you’re going to want to keep your dirty and clean clothes separate. Make sure to bring a laundry bag with you.

This also makes it so much easier when you’re taking your clothes to the launderette to get cleaned. This is something a lot of people tend to forget when thinking of what to pack for a hostel stay, don’t be that person!

#13 – The Hostel Address (Written Down)

As much as we like to rely on technology these days, it’s always handy to have paper copies of stuff. Make sure to write the hostel name and address down in case you lose your phone or it runs out of charge. This means you can ask locals or a taxi driver for directions. 

#14 – A Book

If you’re feeling awkward about being in a common area on your own and you don’t fancy socialising, reading a book is always a good way to confront this. However, make sure you don’t bring more than a couple, as they can be bulky and even heavy. 

#15 – Tea or Coffee Bags

If you’re reliant on a caffeine fix in the mornings you may want to consider bringing tea and coffee bags with you. Some hostels do provide them but this tends to be rare, however, pretty much all hostels provide a kettle. Bringing your own and having a cup before starting a day of exploring is a great way to save yourself a couple of dollars. 

#16 – Paracetamol

This recommendation is one from a personal story when I had an awful ear infection in Luxembourg. In the middle of the night I had a nasty earache and I didn’t have any paracetamol with me. All the pharmacies and shops were closed, and sometimes hostels are reluctant to give them to you, which happened in my case. Safe to say it was a painful night and I have never not brought paracetamol since. 

#17 – Condoms

We won’t go into too much detail about this one but we all know that this happens a lot when traveling and in hostels… Make sure to be safe and bring some in advance.

#18 – Tupperware

If you’re looking to stick to a budget when traveling, I’d recommend getting some Tupperware containers. This is for when you’re cooking in a hostel kitchen and you may want to keep some leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

Trust me, I thought I looked weird when I first brought these with me, but they honestly came in very handy and saved me a lot of cash! 

#19 – A Social Battery

We all know hostel’s are by far the most social place to stay, and if you’re traveling solo they’re the best place to meet people. You may get approached by other travelers at pretty much all points in the day, so make sure to bring a ‘social battery’ with you.

#20 – A Backpack (That Opens Like a Suitcase)

One of the worst mistakes I bought on my first backpacking trip was bring a backpack which opened from the top and not like a suitcase. This is a nightmare when opening and unpacking your stuff, make sure to buy one which opens like a suitcase. 

#21 – A Separate Day Pack

If you’re staying in a hostel, I am going to assume you’re most likely wanting to explore the destination you’re in. However, you will not want to lug your big backpack or suitcase around. A smaller day pack is a must-have accessory when staying in a hostel, so you can just pack your essentials for a day of exploring.

I’d recommend checking out Osprey’s range of 60L backpacks, which have a 20L attachment that is the perfect size for a day pack. 

#22 – Toiletry Bag

Hostels typically do not offer toiletries like hotels do, so it’s pretty important to bring your own. Bringing a toiletry bag makes it easy to carry to the bathroom, allowing you to use your toiletries comfortably while you shower and prepare for the day ahead.

#23 – Pajamas

In short, just don’t be the person who’s wandering around the room in their underwear. Make sure to bring a suitable set of pajamas to sleep in for the sake of the other backpackers in the room.

#24 – A Journal

My travel journal is still one of my most proud possessions and goes with me on every trip, so I can remember exactly what I was feeling and doing on every day of my trip. It’s also a great accessory when you’re staying in hostels!

This is because when you return to your hostel in the evening and prepare to settle down for the night, taking some time to write about your day is an excellent strategy to combat loneliness while traveling. 

#25 – A Bum Bag or Money Belt

Bringing a bum bag or money belt is a great way to keep an eye on all your belongings and it also means you can access your wallet and important papers effortlessly without constant worry about their security.

Whether you’re going to the common room to relax or exploring the city, having your most valuable items on hand will bring you peace of mind.

#26 – Beach Towel

This one is if you’re on a longer backpacking trip, or perhaps staying at a hostel near the beach or another swimming spot! Having two towels is an essential if this is the case because you won’t want to be using a sandy or dirty towel after having a clean shower. 

#27 – Playing Cards

As much as hostels are social places, it can sometimes be difficult to just walk up to someone and attempt to make friends. Bringing playing cards is a great way to socialise with other backpackers and can sometimes take the pressure off the conversation. Bonus points if you have a fun and unique game to play too. 

#28 – A Sheet Liner

To ensure your peace of mind while staying in a hostel, bringing your own sleeping bag liner or sheet is essential. Although most hostels are excellent, the possibility of bed bugs or less-than-perfectly cleaned sheets exists. While it’s not to say that all hostels have these issues, having your own sheet can be a fantastic idea if you’re not entirely sure and want to avoid any risks.

#29 – First Aid Kit

As an injury-prone person, this is always a must on my hostel packing list. You can get small travel first aid-kits on Amazon for less than $10 that have all the essentials, including plasters, bandages, and cleansing wipes. 

#30 – A Small Bag to Hide Extra Money In

While traveling, it’s a smart idea to keep your money in various locations to minimize the risk of losing it all at once, leaving you pretty much hopeless. This can happen in the case of your wallet or phone both being stolen. A practical addition to your packing list for hostel stays is to have a small bag or pocket in a bag to hide your money securely.

#31 – Hand Sanitizer

Hostels may not always maintain the highest level of cleanliness. To safeguard against germs, it’s essential to carry hand sanitizer with you. This comes in handy when you’re unable to access a restroom for handwashing or need it for general hygiene purposes. Make sure to have a reliable bottle of hand sanitizer, as it will likely be depleted by the end of your stay.

Final Thoughts on What to Pack for a Hostel Stay

That was our know-before-you-go guide to everything you should pack before staying in a hostel. We hope it has helped you out with your packing list for your upcoming trip! Have we forgotten anything you think is a must-have when staying in a hostel? Let us know in the comments below!

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Aiden Higgins