Whether you're just starting your journey, or you're a seasoned backpacker, the word hostel either invokes excitement or pure terror. Trust me, hostels have a well-warranted reputation! Based on your budget, you can lounge by the pool in a hostel akin to a luxury resort, or sleep next to a pile of rat droppings.
Or, if you're as unlucky as me, you can find yourself alone in a dorm in North Macedonia with a man full-on sucking on his toes until 6am.
Don't let that deter you! Hostels can actually be what makes your trip memorable! They're where you meet the most like minded people. Solo? Don't worry, you'll make friends fast. You'll meet them for a day, connect instantly, and follow them on Instagram for the rest of your life. It's a backpacker rite of passage.
After traveling through five continents, I've stayed in over 200 hostels. Through a lot of trial and error, I've figured out what works and what doesn't for hostel-goers. Read on to find the 10 (and more!) things you should pack in your backpack for the best hostel experience possible!
Did you know you can volunteer in hostels for free accommodation and sometimes other benefits? Read more here to learn how!
Since this blog post contains affiliate links, I may receive a commission if you choose to get your hostel necessities through these links. This is at no additional cost to you!
Short on time? You can find the whole list here!
Cooking is an essential part of budget backpacking. Most hostels have kitchens, but one thing they don't have is a way to store your extra food.
These collapsible containers will make your life that much easier while traveling (and take up minimal space). These are perfect for storing leftovers, sneaking some of the hostel breakfast for later, or packing a lunch for your day exploring different cities!
Trust me, having to put your shampoo bottles on the hostel shower floor is something you do not want to do. Some hostels have shower shelves, but most do not.
Most hostels have communal showers with a hook. If they don't have a hook, they most definitely have an opening above the door that you can use to hang your toiletry bag on. This is the number one thing I regretted not having on my first backpacking trip. Seriously, don't miss these!
This one can be a bit controversial. Some backpackers love them and some hate them. I'm of the mindset that if it gets the job done and it doesn't take up much space, it's worth bringing it! Most hostels do not supply towels. I've even seen some hostels charge seven dollars for a towel rental.
Save yourself the money and the storage space of a regular towel and try out a microfiber towel! It's fast drying and convenient.
These are items that you can get really creative with. Carabiner clips are a backpacking staple. Most backpackers use it to clip their shoes to the outside of their bags, but they are more versatile than that!
Your bunk doesn't have curtains and you want some privacy? That's an easy fix. Just hook these to the bunk frame, thread a towel or a sheet to it, and boom. Instant privacy.
The last thing you want to lug around in your backpack are large bottles. They're heavy, easily-burstable, and not TSA friendly. Carry-On only is the way to go.
These bottles have lasted me through 50+ countries and never once spilled. Seriously, never, and I beat my backpack around. Easy to use and easy to clean!
When I first started backpacking I made the mistake of buying an individual plug converter in each country I went to. I actually thought that was easier. If you're going through multiple countries, save yourself the trouble and get an all in one!
It's 2am and you've just had an entire day trekking through archaeological ruins. All you want to do is sleep so that you have enough time for your full-day tour tomorrow. And yet, the Dutch guy is snoring. The Australian guy is snoring, too, and three drunk Brits just barged into the room.
Great. You can either pull an all nighter and be miserable for your next day, or you can invest in some good noise canceling headphones. I've been using these for a while and they're a godsend. I had to get used to being a back sleeper, but it was well worth it to avoid the snorers. And the drunk Brits.
You cannot hear anything with these on.
Headphones not yourspeed nor within your budget? Some good ol' earplugs will work!
Same story as above, but this time the drunk Brits are flicking on the lights. A good light-blocking eye mask is critical for a good night's sleep in a bunk. I've been using these for the past year and they are miracle workers!
Hostel dorms get messy. Don't leave your stuff on the floor with the Dutch guy's three day old boxers (no, not an exaggeration). This hanging shelf makes it so easy to have absolutely everything you need right within your reach! No hopping in and out of bed. You can just relax.
It's also great to put your only pair of shoes in so those Dutch guys don't stumble in drunk at three am, pack all their stuff, taking your shoes with them. Thanks for that.
Shameless self plug here, but this journal really is the best journal you can use for travel! After a long day of traveling you do not want to forget anything, but it's exhausting to do a full sit-down journal sesh. So, this does it for you.
This beautiful travel journal is a MUST HAVE for your trip! From journey to journal, this bullet journal is designed by travelers FOR travelers like you to record your day in under five minutes. It is designed to streamline your journaling process specifically for travel. From weekends away and study abroad trips, to multi-year round-the-world journeys, this journal can record it all.
Never forget a moment.
✓ 100% customizable
✓ Easy to recognize symbols and color keys to document your day
✓ Encompasses every aspect of your travel day
✓ 17+ unique pages (150) pages total
✓ Bonus packing list!
✓ Thoughtfully designed by travelers FOR travelers
✓ EXTRA note pages and picture pages to scrapbook memories.