Hostels are completely different from hotels. For all time or seasoned travelers on a budget, sleeping at hostels might not be new to you. But to first-time travelers, sleeping at hostels can be a bit challenging more so if you don’t know what to carry. So this post is here to address all the things you need to pack while staying in a hostel. Unlike hotels, there are so many things that hostels don’t provide, so here is the ultimate hostel packing list. But before you go, here is also a step by step guide to planning your trip.
Book your perfect hostel stay with Hostelworld for the best rates on hostels around the world. 

Must have Travel essentials while staying in a hostel.

1. Microfibre travel towel.

Most hostels don’t provide towels so it’s better to carry your own as it’s one of the things needed for hostel. Do not just carry any towel but one that can dry fast. The advantage of carrying a microfibre towel to the ordinary towels is that it is lightweight, dries quickly, durable and absorbent. One of the best microfibre travel towels I recommend is Active roots as it possesses all the above qualities, comes with a bag, and durable at the same time. You can also check out this article to choose the best quick dry towel for your hostel stay.

2. Travel Toiletries.

Unlike hotels, you’re likely not to find toiletries at the hostel. Don’t be shocked to go to the bathroom and not find shampoo or soap. So to avoid the shock, add toiletries to your hostel checklist.

Here are some of the items that should be in your travel toiletry kit.

Shower gel/ Soap
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Bush or comb
Perfume and Spray
I recommend getting a transparent waterproof travel toiletry bag that can accommodate all your toiletries but not too big to take up all the space in your backpack.

3. Padlocks

Keeping your property secure is paramount- and since its a shared space with different people from all walks of life, you don’t want to take chances on the safety of your own property. I mean people are actually nice in hostels but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
I’ve actually found that it’s better to carry combination locks rather than the key locks as there are higher chances of losing the key while you wander around the place.
Heading out for a road trip? Check out this Road trip packing list to know everything you’ll need. And here are some of the road trip games to play to kill boredom.

4. Eye Mask/ Sleeping Mask

Your sleeping time is likely to be different from the “lights out time” at the hostel. And for many people, it’s pretty hard to fall asleep with lights on, so an eye mask will come in handy. This not only works at hostels but also on long flights. I’ve found that silk Eye masks/ sleeping masks are better as they are more comfortable compared to others.

5. Earplugs.

There are always those people that stay up late talking with others ( yeah I am a bit guilty) – That’s even better, but imagine sleeping next to someone who snores- the pain is real!!  OR Sometimes, the hostel is located right next to the busiest street around town. So to avoid losing sleep over “loud” hostel mates or busy streets, carry your earplugs to have a good silent night sleep. I recommend carrying these noise cancellation earplugs.

7. Flip flops/Slippers.

 These are public showers, so showering barefooted shouldn’t even be an option, these shower slippers are some of my favorites when it comes to staying at a hostel.

8. Packing cubes.

Packing cubes are a must have while packing for a stay at a hostel as they help you be more organized and separate clean clothes from the dirty ones. And instead of having to empty your backpack every time you need something, packing cubes can easily help you locate whatever you’re looking for. These AmazonBasics are some of the best packing cubes I know.

9.Torch/ Head flashlight

This is a must carry item while packing for a hostel. In some hotels electricity is not guarded 24/7, you don’t want to be caught up in total darkness when that happens. Or you don’t want to be “that person” that switches on the light when everyone else is sleeping in the wee hours of the night. So a headlamp can work perfectly when that happens. You can shop one from here.

10. Laundry bag

Most hostels don’t offer laundry services and if they do, it will be at a  cost. And since you’re traveling on a budget, the main goal is to minimize expenditure, so carry a small laundry bag, to separate your clean clothes from the dirty ones until when you’re able to wash them or get someone do it for you at a cheaper cost.

10. Noise-canceling earphones.

Yes, it might get a bit noisy and sometimes you just want to concentrate on your own stuff, these noise canceling earphones will help you with that.

11. Universal travel adapter.

One of the things required in hostel is an adapter but different countries have different electric sockets meaning various hostels have different electric plugs. So to be able to use each easily, this universal travel adapter will help you whichever hostel you go to.

12. Power bank.

Wondering what to bring to a hostel? then this power bank is an absolute must, whether you’re staying at a hotel or a hostel. This is one of the best power banks to carry when traveling anywhere.

13. Amazon Kindle.

Hostels are a great way of meeting people but can also be challenging if you’re an introvert who prefers to be alone instead of making new friends. So wanna kill the boredom while at a hostel? Why not carry your kindle paperwhite to read your favorite books. This is one of the best seller kindles on Amazon. Or you can sign up for Kindle Unlimited reading on any of your devices. Not yet sure how it works, you can signup for a monthly free trial before you can commit.

14. First Aid Kit

This is perhaps the number one thing most people are likely to forget while packing for a hostel stay. The first aid kit should contain all the medication you might need depending on the state of health but items like plasters, blister plasters, and painkillers shouldn’t miss in your kit regardless of whether you’re perfectly healthy or not.

You can grab a Surviveware first aid kit perfect for traveling from here. 

15. Sleeping bag liner.

A sleeping bag liner is one of the most useful hostel essentials but also one of the most underlooked items while packing for a hostel. We can not overlook the fact that some of the budget hostels are not the cleanest and some might even have bedbugs.

For travelers, the best sleeping bag liner is the rectangular bag liner as it helps separate you from the bedding of the hostel if you’re not sure of the cleanliness of the sheets. There are so many sleeping bags on the market but I recommend the silk rectangular bag liner as it is very lightweight, warm during the cold weather but also cooler during the warm weather.

16. A proper/ functional backpack.

Being a backpacker is all about traveling light, cheap and being able to fit all your items in one sizable backpack. There is no point in knowing what to pack for a hostel if you don’t have where to pack everything. The highly recommended backpack worldwide is the Osprey backpack. It’s not only fancy, but also very durable, functional,  sizable,  and also comes in both women’s and men’s design.


Don’t forget to book your perfect hostel stay with Hostelworld for the best rates on hostels around the world. 

Now that you know what to pack for your hostel stay plus all the things required for hostel, there are some things you perhaps thought you needed to pack but actually don’t need. So here is what not to pack for a hostel.

What not to pack for a hostel

1. A sleeping bag

By all means, you won’t need a sleeping bag at a hostel. However cheap or out of shape the hostel you’re planning to stay at might be, they will provide a bed and a mattress.  So don’t use up all the space in your backpack by packing a sleeping bag.

2. Beddings

Just like the sleeping bag, beddings are absolutely unnecessary to pack for a hostel. Hostels do provide bedsheets and bedcovers/blankets. So carrying them would be a waste of space.

3. Tent

Unless your plan is to camp outside the hostel (which is unlikely), a tent would be extremely useless to pack for a hostel.

4. A bad attitude (LOL)

I am not saying you have a bad attitude but I am just saying if you have one of those days where you get grumpy and everything (or all days), it might be better for you and everyone else to exercise being nice since you’ll be sharing space with many other people that might not be very welcoming to someone with a bad attitude.

There you have it, backpackers, this is literally everything you need while staying at a hostel. You can add other things that might be important to you as an individual but this is the essential hostel packing list.

Just remember not to overpack (i am gradually learning how to pack less), be friendly at the hostel and have fun while staying at a hostel.

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