10 Hostel Essentials You Always Need to Pack

I’ve stayed in my fair share of hostels. I’ve probably stayed in more hostels than any one person should. I mean they’re cheap and great when you’re a poor student who can’t afford the luxury of a hotel room.

Hostels are unlike any other travel accommodation you will ever stay in. You’re in a dorm with a bunch of other travellers with different schedules, interests, and levels of respect (I’m talking to everybody who has ever thrown on a hostel light at 4am when coming home from a bar.

The ten things on this list should always be in your luggage when you’re staying at a hostel. They will help you have a better experience and be a good dorm mate!

1. A Reading Light or Torch

You will want to have a reading light, travel light, torch, or something similar in your bag when you’re staying in a hostel. A reading light is able to be used in multiple ways in a hostel.

It can be used for reading when other hostel dorm mates are trying to sleep, of course. But it can also be used to guide you to the washroom in the middle of the night, find something that has fallen behind the bed, or to check for bed bugs and overall cleanliness.

A reading light is so small that it won’t take up much space in your bag, so there is no reason not to bring one! You’ll be surprised how often you use it. I sure was.

2. Locks

You need to bring locks with you to the hostel. They are essential.

You should bring more than one lock. You’ll need one for each bag (so two if you have a backpack and a day bag), one for a locker you may be allowed to use in the hostel, and one more just in case you lose a lock somewhere.

A lock that comes with a cable is even better, so you can wrap your bag around your bed and be extra-secure. It is probably a bit extra, but it is nice to have a cable just in case the hostel you chose is a little bit sketchy.

3. External Battery

Plug-ins are in short supply in hostels, and there often won’t be one near your bed. An external battery is absolutely essential. You should never travel without one, but they are even more essential when you’re at a hostel.

I like external batteries that have more than one USB port, so I can charge multiple devices at once or be a hero and help another hostel mate out by sharing my external battery.

External batteries can be a little heavy, but you can also get a “lipstick chargerr” to pack in your day bag or purse. They are lightweight and are extremely helpful in a crisis.


4. Flip Flops or Sandals

Hostels aren’t the cleanest places no matter how hard the staff works at keeping them clean. Your bare feet should never touch anything. You need to pack a pair of flip flops or other cheap sandals to shower and walk around in.

You may want to bring a small bag to put your sandals in, so they don’t get your bag (and the rest of your stuff) wet or dirty.

Sandals will make your hostel experience infinitely better. The first time I stayed at a hostel I didn’t think so bring sandals, so I showered in a pair of socks. It was not a very pleasant experience, so don’t make the same mistake I did!

5. Ear Plugs

Hostels are loud no matter how quiet everybody tries to be. People are talking, snoring, moving around, and just being people. You have 4-12 people in the same room, so things are bound to be noisier than you’re used to.

Earplugs make a huge difference in hostels. You get a much better sleep, and if you’re anything like me and get headaches if you sleep in a loud environment, earplugs do a lot to benefit your overall health.

I love using silicon earplugs. They are far more comfortable than the traditional foam earplugs, and they are better for the environment because they are reusable. You just have to rinse them off every so often, and you’re good to use them for the rest of your life!

6. Laundry Bag

Whether you’re travelling long-term or just for a few days, a laundry bag is a great addition to any hostel packing list.

A laundry bag is handy because it can be used for both storing clothes and doing laundry. You can put all your dirty clothes in your laundry bag each day and then throw the entire bag into the washing machine when it is full.

Laundry bags are super lightweight and easy to pack, so you have no excuse for not bringing one. They make long-term travel where you have to wash clothes so much easier. You will never lose a sock again with a laundry bag!

7. Universal Power Adaptor

Universal power adaptors are so much smaller, lighter, and more convenient than they were just five years ago! It is amazing how much better they have gotten!

Gone are the days where you have to bring a huge power adaptor and multiple different plugins for each region you are travelling to.

Nowadays universal power adaptors are tiny and have all the different plugins built into one single items, so you don’t have to worry about misplacing each individual plugin or bringing the wrong one.

Power adaptors are an essential part of any international travel so make sure you pack one!

8. Book

You will undoubtably have a lot of downtime in hostels while you are travelling. You could spend hours watching Netflix or YouTube, or you could spend hours reading a great book.

Books are a great form of entertainment. You can easily carry them around with you while you’re out exploring a city, they don’t take up room in your bag, and paperbacks aren’t heavy.

Most hostels have a library where you can exchange one book for another. Once you’re done reading one book, you can add it to the hostel’s library and take another book that interests you.

You can easily travel for months with only packing one book by exchanging in libraries, so you don’t have to worry about carrying dozens of books that you’ve read on your travels.

Prague Cechia Czech Republic

9. Sleeping Mask

Hostels are bright. They often have cheap curtains that don’t keep the light out very well and people are always turning on the light when you’re trying to sleep. It is one of the downsides to hostels.

If you want to get any decent sleep, you need a sleeping mask. I like the 3-D sleeping masks. They do a better job at contouring to your face, keeping the light out, and being overall more comfortable.

It is amazing how well a good quality sleeping mask can keep the light out while you’re sleeping. They make a huge difference in hostels (especially when paired with ear plugs).

10. Quick-Dry Towel

You need to bring your own towel when staying at hostels, and the best towels for hostels are quick-drying microfibre towels.

They are amazing! They soak up the water from your hair and body so quickly and dry just as fast. I’ve showered and used a quick-dry towel on my hair and then packed it an hour later, and it was dry.

Quick-dry towels are a travel essential no matter where you’re staying when you travel, but they are even more essential when you’re staying in hostels. Space is so limited in hostels that having something that dries quickly and doesn’t need to hang out all night to dry makes all the difference.

I like to pack two towels when I travel. One for my hair and one for my body. The towels are so small that it doesn’t take up much room in your bag to pack multiple towels.

Quick-dry towels actually take up far less room than traditional towels, so there is no reason not to pack one!


Staying in a hostel is a unique travel experience, and you need to make sure you pack properly in order to have the best experience in hostels.

These ten items will make your hostel experience so much better and easier. You will get a better sleep, be able to make sure all your electronics are properly charged, and be able to use the communal bathroom without worrying too much about germs.