For a broke college student like me, staying at hostels is always my preferred choice of travel accommodation. If I can save a few coins, I don’t mind sharing a room with 10 other people! Lol. If you’re about to stay at a hostel for the first time, make sure to check out my post on “Everything You Need To Know About Hostels” where you can find out the pros and cons of hostel life. In that post, I mentioned some of the hostel essentials you’ll need for the trip. But I’ve decided to go more into detail by listing them here in a separate post. After staying at so many hostels, I’ve realized that these hostel essentials always come into handy. And hopefully, these items will make your hostel life easier as well!
Let me know in the comments if you’d like to recommend any other hostel essentials that I didn’t list here.
1. Quick Dry Towel ($5-$20)
Quick-dry towels are the best, especially when I’m backpacking and moving from hostels to hostels. These towels are super compact so they don’t take up a lot of space. And since they dry really quickly, I don’t have to worry about my towels smelling funky after I stuff them in my backpack.
2. Travel Clothing Hangers ($10)
Most hostels don’t have places for you to hang clothes. And if they do, it’s usually less than three hangers for each person. I used to always hang my clothes in between the bars of my bunk bed, but it’s quite unsanitary since we don’t know how long it’s been since they last cleaned it. Since these travel hangers are foldable, I can bring as many of them as I want without having to worry about taking up space in my backpack.
I love packing cubes! Period.
Packing cubes are a lifesaver for unorganized travelers like me. Before using packing cubes, it would take me half an hour to find a pair of socks in my huge backpack because I couldn’t remember where I stuffed them. I would get on my own nerves all the time because of how messy I was. And when you’re staying at hostels, the last thing you want to be is unorganized. If you can’t even figure out where your socks are, how would you know if something from your bag is missing?! *That’s me yelling at myself, not at you guys*
If you haven’t used packing cubes before and you’re super unorganized like me, I’d say give it a try! It has definitely made my backpacking life so much less chaotic.
4. TSA Approved Padlocks ($12)
Padlocks are definitely one of the hostel essentials that we should all have. Some hostels provide lockers that come with padlocks and keys, but a fair share of the hostels I’ve stayed at had locks that weren’t functioning so well. And if someone wanted to steal from me, they could’ve easily done it.
I recommend using a padlock for your luggage and bags because you should never trust the lockers at hostels. Though my things were never fumbled with while staying at hostels, padlocks can always add as extra protection. You never know!
5. Sleeping Eye Mask ($10)
If you can only fall asleep in 100% pitch-black darkness, then you might need a sleeping eye mask for your hostel stays. In my experience, most suitemates were nice enough to turn off the lights before midnight. But sometimes, people will go out partying until 3 am in the morning, and then unapologetically turn the lights on when they come back. Not giving a single F about others who are already deeply asleep. *Yo, the flashlight on your phone exists for a reason!*
6. EarPlugs ($10)
Hostels can actually be quite a nightmare for those that can only fall asleep when the room is as quiet as a temple. Especially if you’re planning on staying at a party hostel. I’ve personally stayed at a fair share of party hostels, and let me tell you, it’s LOUD. Thank goodness I usually am too tired by the end of the day, and can fall asleep under any circumstances. But if you’re not like me, then you will definitely need earplugs to fall asleep. Or just don’t stay at party hostels. Haha! Problem solved.
7. Havaianas Flip Flops ($10-$30)
Flip flops are ESSENTIAL for staying at hostels. Since the bathrooms are communal, that means your feet will be exposed to nasty germs from travelers all over the world. So no matter what, always wear flip flops when you’re showering or using the bathroom! You don’t want itchy athlete’s foot as a souvenir.
I personally love Havaianas flip flops because they’re so comfortable! Brazilians really know what’s up.
8. Silk Pillow Case ($10)
I bring my own silk pillowcase no matter where I go. Whether it’s a weekend stay at my friend’s house or backpacking in Vietnam. Apart from me being a paranoid germaphobe that refuses to let my face touch the surface of other people’s stuff. Silk pillowcases also work great for protecting my hair, since it tends to get pretty dry and poofy when I’m traveling. If you also feel that cotton pillowcases are causing dryness in your hair and skin, I’d say give silk pillowcases a try.
9. Mini Portable Fan ($12)
Ugh, the fact that some hostels don’t have air conditioning! Lol, first world problems.
Mini portable fans are awesome for traveling to countries in subtropical or tropical regions. Although most hostels I stayed at were kind enough to provide air conditioning. I remember staying at this party hostel in Vietnam that was literally so hot I thought I was going to faint. And imagine sharing the same room with 10 other sweaty people that are radiating more heat into the air. Ooof! But this is when mini portable fans come in handy. It will save your life, literally.
10. LED Neck Reading Light ($19)
You’ll probably want to have a reading light handy when staying at hostels if you’re an avid reader. Of course, the flashlight on your phone can work perfectly fine as well. But as the name suggests, this “neck” reading light allows you to hang it around your neck, and not having to constantly adjust it with your hands. This can also work great for guiding you to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
11. Laundry Bags ($14)
Laundry bags are useful if you’re traveling for a long period of time, and might need to do laundry. Most hostels provide laundry services either for free or for an extra cost. So make sure to ask the front desk regarding how their services work.
12. Before-You-Go Toilet Spray ($7)
Omg, I didn’t know about the existence of this toilet spray until recently when my friend recommended it to me. Like what? You spray this in the toilet before you go, and it’ll smell like tropical hibiscus afterward? I’m actually SHOOK. Why didn’t I find out about this earlier?
I’ll definitely start using this when I start traveling again, especially when staying at hostels.
13. Portable Folding Mirror w/ Stand ($10)
Portable folding mirrors are a must for staying at hostels, at least for people like me who need to do their makeup routine in the morning. Sometimes, with so many people using the communal bathroom, I’d rather just do my makeup in my bunk bed. Even though regular compact mirrors can also do the job, I think foldable mirrors with a stand are so much easier since you can have both hands free to apply makeup.
14. Travel Cosmetic Bag ($9)
For those who have a bunch of beauty products, you know the struggle. Trying to find that Maybelline mascara in a sea of makeup brushes, beauty blenders, and eyeshadow palettes. Ugh, it’s frustrating! Especially if you only have a few minutes to get ready in the morning. Using a travel cosmetic bag can save you a lot of hassle. Since it allows you to see all your products at one glance, you don’t have to waste time fishing around for that one thing.
15. Travel Charger Station w/ Extension Cord ($22)
Most hostels are kind enough to place a power outlet next to your bunk bed. But I’ve definitely stayed at a few hostels where the closest power outlet near my bunk bed was like 6 feet away. And since I didn’t want to leave my phone charging so far away from me at night, I had to charge my phone using my power bank. Which sucks because power banks are supposed to be a backup in case my phone dies while I’m out and about.
And so having a charging station with extension cords is super convenient, since you won’t have to worry about whether or not there’s a power outlet near you. Also, you get to charge several devices at once, which saves a lot of time.
Enjoy Your Hostel Experience!
I hope this list of hostel essentials will make your traveling experience much more enjoyable and stress-free! Let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions for other hostel essentials that should make it on the list.
For more travel tips and inspirations, make sure to check out:
- 20 Gorgeous Travel Bullet Journal Layouts and Ideas You’ll Love
- 10 Affordable Travel Must-Haves For Your Next Adventure
- How To Pack A Suitcase: Easy Tips & Tricks
- First Time Staying In Hostel? Everything You Need To Know
- San Marcos Guatemala Travel Guide