The ESSENTIAL Hostel PACKING List 

Hostels are always thought to be everything filthy with a high chance of getting your luggage stolen. I had had this perception for many a year so I never dared to give them a chance until last year. Granted if I had to choose my own accommodation last year I would have {and did} chosen a hotel. I went to a youth conference in Hamburg and everything was arranged by the church including the hostel accommodation. I was slightly dreading it for the hygienic side but was excited because I would be with my fellow congregants.

Disclaimer: NOT every hostel will be the same, this post is based on my personal experience.

the essential hostel packing list

Hostels are not always the first choice for many a traveler but for two reasons: cheaper and company. When you choose to stay in a hostel, you also are willing to do without some hotel essentials but then again hostels differ. In one hostel you would be without hair dryers or even towels in others you have it all but lack something else. Generator Hamburg was my first hostel experience last year, as mentioned it was booked by the church. I will say this was a great introduction to the hostel community and the many benefits. Whilst I was there with fellow church members the vibe alone of the place was electric.

Though I loved Generator Hamburg enough to book Generator Stockholm, it had its own issues. Like most hostels the bedding is always a little on the light side, it does keep you warm but not like home. The recent hostel I stayed in Happy Go Lucky in Berlin was everything interesting, I will do a separate review. Whilst I am happy to being a hostel convent I still feel you need the essential hostel list to survive your stay.

The ESSENTIAL Hostel PACKING List

As I have mentioned, every hostel is different but they also have something in common, they are not a hotel. Your expectations of what should be in a hostel should not match your hotel expectations. Whilst I don’t comprise on clean sheets and bathrooms, I do compromise on what not to expect from a hostel. The following items I feel are an absolute must have when staying in a hostel.

Ear plugs. I have learnt this the hard way and I truly mean the hard way. Upon arrival late at night in Berlin, I quickly allocated my bed, made and proceed to take a shower. I came back to a room with what could only be described as a bull crying. It was late, I was tired and no ear plugs so I resorted to wearing headphones and cranking up the volume. That was not a good idea, my ears are still hurting from too loud music and sleeping on headphones.

Tip: ALWAYS PACK YOUR EAR PLUGs.

Towel. I know what you’re thinking, hostels should {and do} provide towels but so far I have been given guest towels. Seriously like, how you gonna give me a kiddie bath towel? I suggest if you have a light but big towel, pack that luxury as you will need it.

Toiletries. This is a no-brainer but the amount of people who forget toiletries and have to purchase at the hostel is ridiculous. Bring your own everything especially if you will want to wash your hair, bring your own. Some hostels provide shower gels but honestly I trust that stuck as far as I can throw it.

Padlocks. Every hostel offers lockers and storage spaces but almost none offer them with locks free. Whilst some hostels are safe enough and if it’s a group you might not need it but solo travelers do. I enjoy traveling around the world alone but I also get paranoid when it comes to keeping my stuck unlocked. Best pack a couple different ones just to be on the safe or even call the hostel in advance so you know what you need.

Tip: Bring your own padlock as some hostels can charge extortionate amounts.

Portable charger. This goes without saying, as travelers we are at the mercy of the location we are when our gadgets die. It’s there paramount to ensure you carry your portable charge everywhere you go including the hostel. I found myself in an unfortunate situation of an 8 bed dorm with all power outlets in use for hours. Thanks to my portable charger and cables I lasted longer with my gadgets than would have otherwise.

House shoes or slippers. Whilst I am NOT saying bring your fluffiest I am saying carry some flip-flops for the retched bathroom floors. The amount of times I have stepped on what I do not even want to describe is enough to ponder this point. Though I belabor the point I am also a culprit at forgetting and end up using my socks as flip-flops.

Whilst the list is endless of essential hostel packing items one needs in a hostel the above are my essentials. I could also add another item to the list and that’s packing your ‘comfiest pajamas’. I am not a fan of sleeping non-pajama closes so I always ensure I have packed mine every single time.

What would you include on your essential hotel packing list? From my list what would you exclude?

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  • Le Coin de Mel

    Whenever I travelled as a student, I would go to hostels. It was so cheap and it meant I could go to loads of places and not spend much money. Loved it! My father-in-law still stays in hostels whenever he goes somewhere

  • Missy Nolan

    I have a family member who stayed in hostels while he visited other members of our family. Hostels are a great way to save money and meet new friends.

  • I have never stayed in a hostel while travelling.I realy like the hotel perks too much .But I absolutely loved your tips.They seem to make hostel living do able.

  • Marceline Dementori

    I’ve never stayed in a hostel before and I always wondered about how you’re going to protect your stuff and more. I think this is a great guide especially if it’s your first time.

  • Chiimmiii’s Happy World

    really great tips, I have never been in a hostel but have friends who have. It would definitely be an experience to say the least.

  • I have never stayed in a hostel but have friends who have. Such great tips, thanks for sharing.

  • francesca

    These are all really great tips!!! I’ve not stayed in one myself before but I lnow they’re a cheaper option so one day I shall try it and now I’ll be prepared at least!

  • I have never stayed in a hostel, but I am considering it for some travel I am doing later this year, so I read this article with great interest. I honestly would never have thought of padlocks or flip flops so I have certainly learnt a lot! Thank you!! x

  • I’ve never fancied staying in a hostel. Even when i stay in a hotel I try and get my own single room! Some great tips and I wouldn’t have thought of a padlock

  • Melanie Edjourian

    Ha, I do always pack my ear plugs, that is always one of my top travelling tips. Glad I’m not the only one that thinks of that.

  • I have stayed all my life in hostels and I agree with you to bring a pair of slippers or flip flops. You don’t want to put your shoes on if you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and that’s at the other end of the floor.

  • Anamika Ojha

    Great list! I have never stayed in hostel before while traveling but can’t wait to experience it soon! I liked the idea of Padlocks as it is better to take precaution than suffering later!

  • Baby Isabella

    My mummy has never stayed in a hostel she is sad to say but you’ve made some fab recommendations. Ear plugs and flip flops would be on our list!

  • Flip flops and travel towels are always a must. I always tend to go for private rooms as I don’t like sharing rooms and I’ll go for my own bathroom if I can too x

  • Leigh Anne Borders

    I have never been to hostel before. It would definitely be an experience to say the least.

  • Kyntra Strickland

    I love this list! All of these are so essential when staying in hostels. Thanks for sharing!

  • I’ve never stayed in a hostel before but this sounds like a great tips for travelers.

  • Deimarys Colon

    This is definitely not for me. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, to enjoy. What if the other person snores? Oh heck no!

  • Danielle

    I’ve never stayed at a hostel before and now that I have a family, it’s probably not something we’ll do when traveling with the kids. I, too, had always avoided hostels because of my preconceived notions, but kind of wish I had tried it to at least have the experience. Maybe we could give it a go when traveling without the kids.

  • Helen Clark

    I never look at hostels when I’m travelling. I travel with my daughter so just wouldn’t feel she was safe. I’ve seen how cheap some of them are so understand why people do stay in them. I would definitely take everything on this list if ever I did stay in one.

  • I love staying in hostels and frequently will if I’m travelling without my children (although if we can get a room I’m happy to do so with my kids too). When travelling in the far east I always bring a silk liner with me which is like a sleeping bag and just ensures bed bugs and anything like that which might be an issue isn’t.

  • Annemarie LeBlanc

    I have never tried to stay in hostels when I travel. Nevertheless, these tips are really helpful. Sometimes it is difficult to get a hotel room and you end up in a hostel for the night, so better be prepared.

    • Exactly, it could be for convenience, price or other reasons but whatever it is and you find yourself in a hostel its best to be prepared

  • I love hostels. And yes never forget your flip flops, the showers can be shocking haha

    • Tell me about it, some things people should see like EVER lol 😂

  • erin fesperman

    Love this one “Tip: ALWAYS PACK YOUR EAR PLUGs.” Oh I can see why! I can barely stand to hear my dog snore beside my bed much less a group of strangers. More power to ya if you can sleep in a hostel!

    • Hahaha thanks, I guess I should be used to snoring because my dad’s snore can bring a house down but still earplugs are a must

  • Alison Rost

    I’ve never stayed in a hostile. I never would have thought about needing to bring my own towel or earplugs. Makes sense, but it’s the little things like these that can really make a difference!

    • Absolutely these little things make all the difference in the world

  • These are good tips for packing for a stay at a hostel. I have never stayed at a hostel before but I have stayed in a hotel in another country, rooming with three other young women. I agree with you that you should bring your personal hygiene kit and other items which make you comfortable.

    • Oh absolutely toiletries are a must, it just makes everything much more comfortable I think too

  • Ave T

    What an interesting packing list! I have stayed in a hostel 3 times – Spain, Germany and Latvia. All the stays we really pleasant and a great way to save money when traveling!

    • That’s really love, I do wanna try staying in a hostel in Spain. Germany has been a blast for sure

  • I’ve never stayed in a hostel before but before I head to a hotel I always pack my chargers! x

    • Chargers are a must especially since we spend so much time on our gadgets

  • Great list! I definitely agree on a portable charger, I never go anywhere without it.

    • Thanks I am the same, I always my portable charger with me

  • I would definitely have to bring my flip flops when staying at a place like this. I would not have thought of some of the other things. Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re most welcome I learnt via trial and error

  • House shoes/slippers are a must whenever I travel somewhere. It’s a lot more comfortable

    • Exactly and more hygienic for hostels

  • Louise Smith

    I wouldn’t have had a clue what to pack for a hostel stay! I think this list will help loads of people in the same boat 🙂

    Louise x

    • My first time in a hostel I winged it but it all worked out and now I know what to pack

  • This is a great list, Hostels can be amazing for a place to stay on your travels but you d definitely need to pack prepared.

    • Oh absolutely being prepared is the key. Thanks

  • This is so interesting. We don’t have hostels around here but I love staying in Bed N Breakfasts’s so I know I wouldn’t mind a hostel. Especially since I’d be saving money.

    • I always used to look for B&B’s all the time to save money but now I know about hostels and how good they can be and cheaper even

  • I’ve stayed in one hostel and didn’t mind it. It was clean and did its purpose. I didn’t have ear plugs though so if I ever stay in one again, I certainly will bring those.

    • I think most hostels do serve there purpose and 90% you get what you need from them.

  • Ola Broom

    I’ve never stayed in a hostile, but I already know I probably couldn’t handle it. LOL! But ive come pretty close to staying in one a few time when I couldn’t not get a hotel last minute. I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind. ESPECIALLY the one about the earbuds.

    • I thought I couldn’t handle them either and always folked out on expensive hotels but now I realise it depends on which ones you choose

  • I will admit I have never stayed in a hostel before, and have always thought them to be dirty places. This has certainly changed my view x

    • I am glad to hear that because I was of the same option

  • This is a great list. Perfect for any traveler. I never been a fan of hostel personally. xx

    • I never was until I actually tried a few

  • Earplugs! I join you on this one! Hostels are so loud with everybody getting in and out at every hour of the day or the night! I used to book hostels when I was traveling through new zealand so I know exactly what you mean ahah! but they were also great experiences and i met so many fab people! xx corinne

    • I think they can be a fine balance between meeting new people, new experiences and how crazy and chaotic it can all be

  • Charuka Arora

    The list seems great! I would love to try a hostel sometime soon! But, India doesnt have a lot!

    • Awww maybe when you travel abroad you could consider a hostel instead of hotel

  • Maro Akamatra

    I’ve never been to a hostel and with the little one I don’t see it happening too. These are some great tips, some of my friends can totally use!

    • Thanks, hope your friends find them more useful.

  • Before Airbnb I use to do a lot of hostels and I definitely agree about the earplugs and padlocks. I definitely lost sleep over too loud neighors or just neighborhoods in general.

    • That’s one thing that annoyed me so much, the snoring lady and noises from the hall way or traffic outside.

  • Kate Veggie Desserts

    Your packing list is perfect – especially the earplugs. I spent time at loads of hostels in my backpacking days and I agree that slippers (and flip flops for the shower!) are a must. Mind you, I’ve started to go to some YHA family ones with my family and they are SOOOOO nice!

    • Thank you Kate, I cant stress the slippers/flip-flops enough. I am glad the family YHA as nice though not been to one yet

  • Deepa Malhotra Gandhi

    Great list..This reminded me of my hostel days. I am saving it for the time when my elder one packs her bags for hostel.

    • Thank you and good luck and I am sure your eldest will love the experience

  • jeet sandhu

    I have stayed in hotels, but never in a hostel.

    • You should it’s totally epic and better 90% of the time than expected

  • tara pittman

    I would say bring a robe since others will see you in you jammies. Snacks would also be on my list as hostels would not have the free breakfast

    • Oh yes that’s a good idea, I always carry snacks with me but somehow forgot to add to my essentials list on here lol 😂

  • AdventureDawgs

    Awesome tips! I’ve never stayed in a hostel but I’d like to. I’m not a luxury traveler, so the cheap doesn’t bother me. As long as it’s clean I’m good. I even like the communal aspect to meet other travelers.

    • I am not a luxury traveler either and I too have found a new love for the communal areas and meeting new people

  • Hannah Latoya Bond

    Great tips here. I’ve stayed in many hostels and enjoy staying there. Hostels have come a long way over the years and many now can rival hotels

    • Thanks Hannah, many hostels definitely can rival some hotels. So far I have loved all the ones I have stayed in