Hostel Packing List - 23 Smart Things to pack + free download!A hostel packing list comes always pretty handy, right?! Ahh, the eternal travel question – what on earth should I pack for traveling and staying at Hostels?

We had a look around and all those packing lists for hostels we found, were pretty outdated. Nothing to do with the modern backpacker, the new generation with SmartPhones, Cameras and Tablets.

This article is part of the big full guide to hostels – packed with everything you need to know about hostel-typed accommodation, such as:

Of course, you can also find all 5 Star Hostels, the best hostels in the world, with Hostelgeeks.

Last update: 05.06.2017

So, here it is: The Hostel Packing List

Whether you’re the type of traveler who flings everything in their suitcase half an hour before leaving the house, or you have a meticulous packing list ready weeks in advance. At some point you’re going to have to make some decisions about what goes into that suitcase of yours.

Oh wait, should it be a suitcase or actually a backpack? That is a different topic though…

Aaaalso, very interesting for you: The NO-GO, NEVER-EVER hostel packing list – items you should leave at home!

Hostel Packing List - 23 Smart Things to pack + free download!

* this article may contain affiliate links

If you’re planning on staying in hostels during your adventures, there are some travel items that you definitely won’t want to leave at home. We’ve complied this hostel packing list of our geeky must-have items to stay at a hostel to help you figure out what to take with you.

You can get an idea of all facilities and services a Hostel offer in our Full Hostel Guide.

One last thing before we start – did you remember your passport? It’s also a good idea to get a stylish cover for your passport.


Free Download Hostel Packing List

You can download the Hostel Packing List as a PDF. Simply open the .pdf and save it on your device. We also added a few more points so you can add your own items to the list.

Hostel Packing List Download

1. Earplugs – snooooor

You never know who you could end up sharing a room with in a hostel. Now, most people are genuinely nice – we’re not trying to scare you here. But you might find out in the wee hours of the morning that your super sweet new friend has some supersonic snoring abilities.

Or maybe the friendly girl you met downstairs spent her evening getting to know the city’s bar scene. You’ll become painfully aware of this fact when she crashes into the room at 5 a.m.

Earplugs are actually always a good idea, not just only for hostels. Many guesthouses may have old doors, hotels directly next to a busy street, in the plane to rest, and so on. Pack ’em, you will need them!

You can find cheap earplugs cheaply with Amazon.

2. Eye Mask

More and more hostels add the little privacy to a dorm by adding a curtain to the bunk beds. This is awesome, BTW! We at Hostelgeeks really like this. So simple and effective!

However, an Eye Mask is always a good idea to add to your hostel packing list. You can use it as well for long flights, or taking a nap during the day.

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4. A Small Light (not your SmartPhone)

Lots of travel websites recommend bringing a key chain flashlight.

That’s so you can find your way around the room in the dark without having to disturb your roommates by turning the lights on.

Yes, we mean you, friendly girl who stumbled into the room at 5 a.m.!

OK, nowadays you can use your phone for this, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind. And yes, even the iPhone doesn’t require an extra App anymore for having a flashlight.

BUT: the battery is still an issue. After 7 years of traveling, I would recommend getting a small flashlight for the key ring.

Get a small head lamp with LED or a flashlight to add to your key ring.

5. The right Backpack (not more than 55L)

When it comes to the right Backpack, well, that’s a huge topic. If you have any questions, please drop us a line.

We recommend getting a backpack of 55l MAX!

Why? Well, because…

  1. you will use the space you have
    meaning: if the backpack itself is big, you WILL chronically over-pack.
  2. you can take it as a carry-on

A popular choice for a backpack is the famous Osprey Backpack. Once you start hitting the road, you will realize how many travelers out there already use their products.

There is good reason. The backpack is designed by travelers, really understanding what we all need on the road. The bag is comfy and at the same time resistant. It also comes with an extra day-bag, which makes it even better.

But…what do we use?

Matt travels with the Lowe Alpine AT Lightflite Carry-On 40 Pack. It is extremely light and you can open the complete backpack. This makes it super handy to organize it, to pack, to unpack.

Here are some more advantages of Matt’s backpack:

  • extremely light
  • carry on (you can bring it on an airplane)
  • Extra outside pocket for a water bottle
  • Hidden tuckaway harness
  • zippered easy- access pocket on top (fits easily a passport)
  • Internal load compression straps
  • External Compression straps

Full review coming soon.

Low Alpine Carry On Backpack

6. A Padlock (not the love ones…)

Again, this isn’t intended to scare you.

Like we said, most hostel guests really are nice, normal people (we promise!). But when you stay in a hostel, you’ll be sharing space with people you don’t know. Be sensible and don’t leave your stuff lying around.

If you’re traveling with something you don’t want to lose (like that passport we reminded you to take – you’ve still got it, right?), then it’s a good idea to keep it locked up somewhere safe.

Here you can purchase generic padlocks.

A pad lock is also a great idea for traveling. You can lock as well your backpack/ suitcase on the airport, or when walking through the city. We always travel with 2 pad locks!

A rule for pad locks:

  • It should not be too big so it fits all lockers
  • it should be light
  • a pad lock with pin code is better since you can’t lose the key

And remember:

Better to be safe than sorry!

Read this article on “Are Hostels safe? A complete overview

If you forget a padlock, most hostels will be able to sell or rent you one. Some of the 5 Star Hostels offer a techy solution to this.

And btw: Do you know this trend to put love locks on bridges around Europe? Well, don’t do this…remember our 14 worst travel tips!


We talked before the perfect backpack. Our choice, the Lowe Alpine Carry-On 40 fits 40 liters. The zippers come with a secure lock, fitting a standard lock. Keep an eye on this when choosing a backpack!

Low Alpine Carry On Backpack

7. Pocket WiFi (must-have!)

Have you ever heard of Pocket WiFi? We tested the Hippocket WiFi, a small travel gear for your pocket, giving you internet access. It is easy to use, light, and very affordable.

We took a Hippocket WiFi travel gear with us when visiting Palmers Lodge Hillspring in London, and WALLYARD CONCEPT HOSTEL in Berlin.

So, when traveling around Europe, a pocket WiFi is a really good idea to stay connected. It is cheap, handy and fast!

Find prices for your trip directly here:

Here’s our quick video on how it works. It is really that simple.

8. Travel-Sized Toiletries

Unlike at a hotel, hostels usually don’t provide toiletries. Okay, many of the 5 Star Hostels do, but in general hostel don’t offer that.

We recommend getting a travel-sized toiletry bag with bottles and reusing them for all your trips. Thanks to the travel-sized toiletries you can avoid checking a bag on a flight that way, too!

Basic Toiletries for the Hostel Packing List

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap/shampoo
  • Comb or brush
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine Products
  • Razor (maybe skip shaving cream for saving space)
  • Sunscreen
  • Contact lens solution (if necessary)
  • Spare contact lenses

Important: When you plan to buy small-sized toiletries, make sure their size is maximum 100ml! This is the max size of liquids you can bring on a plane with your hand-luggage. We have seen bigger “travel-sized toiletries” – do NOT fall for this.

Always check and make sure there is a mark of 100ml or anything less.

Travel Toiletries to pack for Hostels

This a photo from Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage, 5 Star Hostel in London. They offer travel-size toiletries at the rooms.

9. A Power Adapter

Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need to change plugs. Don’t get stuck with all the stuff to charge up your electronics but no way to plug them in!

IMPORTANT: Get a universal power adapter you can use in every single country in the world.

On that note – have you packed all your chargers?

We Bologna Hostel - detailed and useful design

10. A Camera

We love to travel light and a heavy camera can be super annoying!

At the moment we are traveling with a Nikon D3200 with a fix lens AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens, but we are looking into replacing it. Why? It’s a DSLR and quite heavy.

We had a look at the Sony Alpha a6300. This mirror-less digital camera weights only 404 grams and is smaller. It’s wonderful and light to travel with.

How do we know? It’s recommended by a friend, a professional photographer.

Full Review coming soon.

11. USB Multi Charger

Flashpacking anyone? Besides a universal adapter, a USB Multi Charger is great to charge your camera and smart phone at the same time.

You never know how many outlets there will be available. Make your fellow guests love you by sticking a small power strip in your bag and sharing the electronic love! Have a look if you can find a power strip with included USB ports – those are even more useful to charge your smartphone.

Sure, this is something extra to pack.

But wait…

don’t pack the long, bulky USB Multi Charger you’ve at home. It is way to heavy! We had a look around and finally found a travel-sized USB charger.

It is pretty handy and it saves you so much weight. It also useful to use at home then, obviously.


12. Packing Cubes

Actually, this one we underestimated a lot, but it’s pure gold!

Seriously, GET THEM!!!

It’s super easy to stick in your bag and it doesn’t weight a lot. Eco-friendly and┬áMulti purposed! Use it to separate your clean and dirty clothes while you’re traveling. You’ll really appreciate this as you get towards the end of your trip! Really.

Also, you can use it for shopping and cut down the usage of plastic bags.

You can find many cheap packing cubes here.

You can get as well compressor packing cubes. The compress packing cubes cost a bit more, but it’s worth it. They have an extra-zipper to make them even smaller.


on page 2 you will find more clever travel accessories to pack

(e.g. travel towel, foot wear and the rule to travel light)

More at page 2

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