Smartest Hostel Packing List – 23 Clever Things to pack (+ Free PDF for Download)

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

A hostel packing list comes always pretty handy, right?!

Ahhhhhh, 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We had a look around and all those packing lists for hostels we found were pretty outdated.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 or the new generation who travel with smart phones, cameras, and smart tools like Airalo lets you to purchase eSim Cards right away for basically any country in the world. Super easy way to get internet anywhere. Oh and obviously you are familiar with Hostelworld for reservations and for comparing hostel prices?

This article is part of the huge full guide to hostels. Make sure you read our article on how to use Hostelworld as well. Here we review the the hostelworld app (and we share our worst travel beginner mistakes!)

Good To Know: We also have a guide on How to Travel on a Budget? Simple Tips for Saving Money on Your Next Trip.

Important: You should read as well the NOT-Packing List with all things you should really leave at home.

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.

(Last update in 2024)

So, here it is: The Hostel Packing List

What do we cover:

It doesn’t matter 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? Although that is a different topic, our recommendation is a 40L backpack (jump to backpack recommendation here).

We’ve complied this hostel packing list of our geeky must-have items to stay at a hostel to help you figure out the necessary things for hostel to take with you.

One last thing before we start – did you remember your passport?

Native Spanish speaker? Here is the packing list for girls “qué llevar en la maleta

1. Earplugs – snooooore

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 and hotels are often located directly next to a busy street. You might also want some on the plane to rest, and so on.

Pack ’em, you’ll need them!

Things to know before purchasing your ear plugs:

  • there is regular ear plugs
  • bring a small plastic box to carry the ear plugs (to keep them clean and easy to find)
  • we recommend buying at least 2 pairs, meaning at least 4 individual ear plugs
  • Noise-cancelling ear plugs are the rolls royce choice!

Personally,I recommend getting Noise-Cancelling ear plugs.

We travel with these ear plugs from Eargasm.

They are noise cancelling and come with a small box to clip inside your toiletry bag, for instance. It’s also a good idea to have them with you in case someone in the dorm decides to have fun in the dorm.

Get your Earplugs here

ear plugs from Eargasm; perfect for your hostel packing list

2. Sleeping Mask (for dorms and flights)

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

Either way, an eye mask (or sleeping mask) is always a good idea to add to your hostel packing list.

You can use it for long flights or taking a nap during the day too. Make sure you get one made with silk. These are the most comfortable!

Good to know: Matt is not really comfortable with a sleeping mask, while Anna loves to use them. At least, you have to give it a try, since it is really useful.

For flights, Matt simply uses a hoodie.

Get your Sleeping Mask here

Pack a Sleeping Mask when traveling

3. Packing cubes (MUST!!!!)

Actually, this one we underestimated a lot… but packing cubes are pure gold! Seriously, GET THEM!!!

They’re super easy to stick in your bag and they don’t weight much. They’re eco-friendly and multi-purpose! Use them 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 them for shopping and cut down on the usage of plastic bags.

You can find many cheap packing cubes here.

Update: I would NOT take the cheapest ones you can find. After 2 months, the cheap ones I got fell apart and I had to replace them. I guess I always packed them too heavily. Anyway, now I found a better solution.

From now on I only use compression packing cubes.

What’s that?

Compression Packing Cubes have an extra-zipper to make them even smaller – a.k.a. compress them. It is really handy since you can stay organized with your clothing and save space at the same time.

The compression packing cubes cost a bit more, but it’s seriously worth it.

Have a look at the photos below. Here we compare the regular packing vs compression packing cube.

What’s inside our cube in the photos, you may wonder?

  • 1 x light jacket
  • 1 x long dress
  • 2 x T-Shirts
Get your Packing Cubes here

Packing Cubes for Hostels

Before compressing – After compressing

Packing Cubes for Hostels

4. eSim Card to Download

We are also testing, allowing you to purchase eSim Cards right away. We wrote a detailed review of Airalo here.

Simply put: it is awesome!! It costs slightly more than getting a local sim, e.g. in Vietnam. However, it is EASY and you can preinstall it. Meaning, before arriving to your destination country, you can already purchase the eSim Card. This way you have instantly internet when you land at the airport. Super handy!

Check our here

Airalo is obviously compatible with the latest iOs and many more Smartphone models.

5. Noise Cancelling Headphones

This is a must have when traveling! Bring noise cancelling headphones.

No, we are not talking again about ear plugs. This was #2 and is only for sleeping. Noise cancelling headphones are awesome for:

  • flights
  • trains
  • hostel dorms
  • whenever you want to listen to your music on your phone

I consider them essential! A lot of airlines offer complimentary headphones. But, truth be told, they are NOT good, pure plastic and not comfortable. Better bring your own!

But, before you buy any, these noise cancelling headphones we recommend have an ACTIVE noise cancelling.

It’s a included system with a battery. You can charge it easily with the included USB cable. However, it even works without the battery AND it comes with the 2-to-1-plug for airlines.

Get your Head Phones here

Noise Cancelling Headphones

6. Security Belt for money and keys (Get this one!!)

You probably would not like me to recommend a money belt or fanny pack….well, I have something much better and better-looking for you.

A money security belt is perfect! Most likely you need a belt anyways.

This simply belt comes with a hidden compartment – keep your money safe and never worry about pickpockets or thieves again. It’s the perfect travel wallet.

We always travel with this. It fits a few dollar bills as well as your keys.

Important: It is not big enough to hold your credit card. I would also not put coins here; it’s simply annoying as it’s moving around.

It is perfect for backup money and keep your keys safe.

Get your Security Belt here
security money belt – a must-have for backpacker

7. The RIGHT backpack (not just any one…)

When it comes to the right backpack, well, that’s a huge topic. We recommend getting a backpack of 55l max.


It’s simple, because…

  1. You’ll 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 for your flight
  3. You never need as many things as you think you do…

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

There’s a good reason for this.

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

Personally, we chose a different model. And we love it!

What do we use?

We have two different backpacks: Nomatic Backpack and the Lowe Alpine Lightflite 45 Pack.

Nomatic Backpack: With a minimalist squared design, Nomatic backpack is a functional 45L backpack which feels more like a 45-50L. It is perfect for traveling with a laptop and thanks to the different pockets, it is perfect to manage your luggage.

Get Nomatic Backpack here

Lowe Alpine Lightflite: It’s extremely light and you can open the entire backpack. This makes it super handy for organizing it and packing and unpacking, especially in combo with packing cubes.

Update: Unfortunately the Lowe Alpine backpack is no longer for sale. We therefore only recommend the Nomatic Backpack.

Here are more advantages of Matt’s backpack:

  1. Extremely lightweight (less than 900g)
  2. Carry-on ready (you can bring it on an airplane)
  3. Extra outside pocket for water bottle
  4. Hidden tuck-away harness
  5. Zippered easy-access pocket on top (which easily fits a passport)
  6. Internal load compression straps
  7. External compression straps

If you have any questions, please drop us a line or leave a comment below.

Get Nomatic Backpack here

The Backpacking Kit for Starters - The Step-by-Step Packing Guide for your Travel Career

8. A padlock that fits every locker (a MUST-Have)

A padlock is an absolute must-have for your backpacking packing list. Small, light, super useful, cheap!

It does not matter if you are staying in hostels or not. When you travel, you will need a padlock. For instance, to close your day bag when wandering through the city. Or for the transport like a in bus or train.

While hostels are generally safe, always use the lockers. Check out guides on best hostels in Barcelona and Paris for more details on some hostels with big, safe lockers.

Important: Pack a padlock that fits every hostel locker in the world. Avoid the thick ones.

A good padlock fits following criteria:

  • lightweight
  • waterproof
  • combination lock with 4 digits (just so you don’t need to carry a key with you at the risk losing it!)
  • Compact size
  • Safe, strong and durable (not some plastic-wannabe lock!)

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. It is not a hostel requirement, but common sense.

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.

You can get generic padlocks here.

We always travel with 2 padlocks!

Read: Are Hostels safe? 13 safety tips

Get your Padlock here
Low Alpine Carry On Backpack
My old padlock with a key – it was annoying always looking out for my keys…better get a combination padlock!

And remember:

Better to be safe than sorry!

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.


We talked about finding the perfect backpack earlier. The Nomatic Backpack comes with a fitting and small padlock. Keep an eye on this when choosing a backpack!

Get your Padlock here

Padlock from backpacking bundle

9. A quick-dry travel towel

First things first:We DO NOT recommend bringing a huge towel (in fact, it’s on our list of things NOT to take!).

But while hostels do have towels, they are generally provided for a fee. Although it always depends.

Read more about the hostel facilities on our Guide to European Hostels.

If you decide you’d rather save money or use your own towel, there are tons of stores that sell inexpensive travel towels that fold up super small and quick-dry in practically no time.

So, we recommend bringing a quick-dry travel towel.


  • light weight
  • resistant
  • anti-bacterial
  • ultra compact
  • quick dry

And not just that. These micro-fibre towels will not start to smell after 2-3 days in use. A big advantage in case you don’t come across a laundry machine. Regular towels made of cotton become smelly after 2 days max. We stopped traveling with cotton towels, they really do not make sense.

Update: There is many super cosy micro-fiber towels, they are not itchy anymore like back in 2016 or so. Get a fluffy and soft, yet small and quick-dry towel here.

Get your Travel Towel here
Micofibre Travel Towel, a must-have for backpacker
Micofibre Travel Towel, a must-have travel item for backpacker

Update: We found these amazing Bamboo Travel Towels.

100% viscose bamboo. Super soft. Unlike cotton or microfiber, this towel is luxuriously soft to the touch and feels great against your skin. There are different types of bamboo travel towels, have a look here.

My best tip: Get a travel towel that is:

  • quick-dry
  • lightweight
  • soft
  • small
Bamboo Travel Towel; a much more comfy towel in our opinion
Bamboo Travel Towel; a much more comfy towel in our opinion

10. 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 them.

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 and toothpaste
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Comb or brush
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine products
  • Razor (maybe skip shaving cream to save space)
  • Sunscreen
  • Contact lens solution (if you need it)
  • Spare contact lenses

Important: When you buy small-sized toiletries, make sure their size is maximum 100ml!

This is the max size of liquids you can bring on a plane in your hand luggage. We’ve seen “travel-sized toiletries” that are bigger than 100ml- do NOT fall for this.

Always check and make sure the container’s max is 100ml or less. The products below are approved for carry-on.

And FYI, some hostels actually offer shampoo and such e.g. the Cocomama, one of the coolest hostels in Amsterdam.

Get your Toiletries here
Travel-sized toiletries; make sure they are actually in the size-limit for carry on
Travel-sized toiletries; make sure they are actually in the size-limit for carry on

11. A Travel Adapter (with USB)

Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need to change plugs. Don’t get stuck with all the stuff to charge 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.

Even smarter: Get an adapter with USB ports included.

These are perfect to charge your phone as well! On that note – have you packed all your chargers?

Great hostels offer actually these adapters in their hostel, but we always travel with our own. It’ll help you in airports, cafés etc.! This is basic, too!

Get your Adapter here
Traveling Abroad? Take an adapter with you!
Traveling Abroad? Take an adapter with you!

12. A (good!) camera

We love to travel light and a heavy camera can be super annoying! We were traveling with a Nikon D3200 with a fixed lens AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens, but we replaced it.


It’s a DSLR and quite heavy.

We now take our photos with the mirrorless camera Fujifilm XT 20.

This mirrorless digital camera weights just 400 grams and is smaller. It’s wonderful and light to travel with.

It was recommended by a friend, a professional photographer.

BTW: We meet many travelers who only bring their old, low-quality camera. Personally, we love awesome travel shots. It’s always amazing to see the photos afterwards and travel back in time. Make sure you take care of your belongings and don’t weigh yourself down. Yet, I’d bring a good camera!

Full review coming soon.

Get your XT20 Fujifilm here
fujifilm xt20
fujifilm xt20 – our #1 camera we LOVE!!

13. USB multi charger

Flashpacking anyone?

Besides a universal adapter, a USB multi charger (US System here. For European USB Mutli Chargers here) 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, before you purchase…

1st of all, do not pack the long, bulky USB multi charger you’ve got at home. It’s way to heavy!

Combine the USB multi charger with the travel adapter including 2 USB ports. This saves again space!

It’s pretty handy and it saves you so much weight. And it’s also useful to use at home later on, obviously.

Get your Power Cube here

Cube for Plugs and USB connection

14. Dry bag for dirty clothes

We already talked about packing cubes, an incredible awesome must-have.

(Seriously, I am still surprised how useful they are! I know, I am annoying with this, but it’s true!!)

While you can use the packing cubes as well for dirty clothes, we started to use a dry bag for our dirty clothes.

Get your Dry Bag here

Dry Bag for traveling

We always carried the dry-bag around for boat tours, etc. At the end of our trip we realized we could use it in a different way.

It’s actually perfect. You can close it completely (great to avoid smells!).

You can also press out the air of the dry bag and make it much smaller, similar to the compressor packing cubes.

The compress packing cubes are a bit more expensive, but worth it.

They have an extra zipper to make them even smaller.

Update: You should also consider a waterproof phone case that floats. This is always handy! Whether you are on the beach or in the actual water like oceans, rivers, lakes.

This case even protects your phone from dust.

I am speaking from experience here.

When we were motorbiking through Vietnam, I did not use such a waterproof case unless it was raining. The result? A broken phone. The dust was simply too much.

Get your Waterproof Case here
waterproof phone case; a good idea, especially when traveling a lot outdoors
waterproof phone case; a good idea, especially when traveling a lot outdoors

15. Clothes you can layer

Okay, it is quite obvious you’re going to need to pack clothes. There’s no generic rule about how much clothing you should pack.

Every trip is different, and it depends on the weather, time of year, destination, …

Here is one my many funny packing quotes:

The golden rule for packing light is simple: Pack your backpack…and then remove 50%. That will be all you need!

– Hostelgeeks

But this one is a good idea: pack clothes you can layer!

You never know what sort of weather you might run into when traveling – is something you might have heard before the invention of smartphones!

But even the almighty Apple can be sorely mistaken about the weather.

Take clothes that are easy to layer just in case.

If your are traveling in a specific area for a while, check out Mr. Google and type in “packing list” + your destination.

For example, if you are a girl traveling to India, include a big scarf or Sarong on your list. It will serve you to cover your shoulders or head. Really useful if you are planning to visit temples.

Very likely someone has already put together a specified packing list.

This list however can be applied to your packing list for Europe, Asia and South America. Take it as a basic! For more tips on packing light, check out this ultimate packing list. It is more for weekend travelers, but some rules can be applied to long-term travel too.

Did you know, over-packing is one of the most common backpacker mistakes?  I am guilty of it and so is most likely 98% of travelers.

16. Sandals or Flip Flops (important!)

You’ll definitely want these for the shower, no matter how clean the hostel is, trust us. Pack sandals or cool Havaianas Flip Flops!

These are a basic thing required for hostel life.

They also come in handy when you plan to hang out in the hostel garden or to hit the beach in destinations like Lisbon, Venice beach, South East Asia, you name it.

Get your Flip Flops here

Pack some Flip Flops when staying at Hostels!

17. Comfortable (and lightweight) shoes

Don’t let your footwear get in the way of having fun.

Anyway, nobody cares how nerdy you look. You might never see any of these people again!

(This item was brought to you by your parents. Listen to their advice more often – it’s good!)

But seriously: Pack some comfy shoes!

When you need to buy new shoes for your trip, shop well in advance. Start to wear your new shoes around the house so your feet get used to them! If not, well, let’s say you’ll have an urgent need for painkillers.

Pro Level: for the serious traveler, pack light travel shoes (this pair is for women)!

Make sure the lightweight footwear you choose is still resistant and comfortable. Here’s a light shoe for men.

For the men, I absolutely recommend Under Armour Men’s Speedfit 2.0 Hiking Boot.

They are extremely light, durable, comfy and you can wear them for hiking, in the city, and even can get wet. As a traveller looking for flexible travel shoes the Speedfit 2.0 is the best option!

Get the Under Armous Speedfit here

CMUK Travel Shoes

18. The hostel address – written down

And no, having it on your phone doesn’t count.

Physically write down the address of where you’re staying. Like, on a piece of paper.

There are two reasons for that.

  1. If your phone runs out of battery and you can’t find a place to charge it (god forbid!), you’ll still know where you’re going. Or at least be able to show the address to someone when you inevitably get lost and have to ask for directions.
  2. Talking about showing someone the address: In some destinations you don’t want to show your brand new smart phone to a stranger. It could be gone very quickly.

Read: here are our handwritten guides to the best hostels in the world – for every major city!

Hostelgeeks Shop on Amazon
Best hostel in Santorini Greece: Caveland Hostel
This photo? It shows one of the best hostel in Santorini Greece: Caveland Hostel

19. An Extra Powerbank

To recharge your empty phone, this light and small external battery will do the trick!

I would bring a light, yet powerful power bank with you. Test it as well before. I do not recommend buying it on your last day before departure. Why? Because you have no idea how fast it really loads or how long it takes to be fully charged.

Oh and I recommend skipping the cheapest ones out there…better pay a bit more to get a more light one and one that loads faster.

Get your Powerbank here
An Extra Powerbank; make sure it's a light one!
An Extra Powerbank; make sure it’s a light one!

20. Pack your hobby (and audio books)

Ukulele, books, camera, journal, …it’s all good! Audio books are another a fantastic way to spend your travel time. Lean back and listen to exciting audio books.

There are also great podcasts out there you can listen to. This is a recommendation for the beach, or for passing the travel time on a plane or train.

We love audio books anywhere! There are plenty out there to choose from.

Have a look at all audio books and filter by topic to find one you’ll love. Remember, you can now get a 30 days FREE trial of the Prime Membership with Amazon.

With a prime membership you have faster delivery as well as access to their movie section and audio books.

I love to travel with an Ukulele. In a way it’s kind of cliché for a hostel traveler, but well, I like it.

Update: the 33 best wanderlust and travel movies before and while being on the road

Ukulele; pack your hobby when travelling the world
Ukulele; pack your hobby when travelling the world

21. Photocopies AND digital copies of your documents

Making a copy of your documents is a very, very good idea! If you haven’t done this yet, DO IT NOW!

Lots of travel sites recommend photocopying your important documents, and keeping the photocopies and the originals separate. That’s because in case your passport gets stolen or something, having a photocopy of it on hand makes it way easier to replace.

Also, snap a photo of the document on your phone and e-mail it to yourself.

This way you can access it whenever you want.

A laptop or USB stick can break.

But you can access your emails from anywhere, right?

Also, really recommended – get a cover for your passport. It helps protect it from  daily usage and even water, with the right cover.

There are so many stylish covers for passports. Personally, I prefer a clean and simple design.

Get your Passport Cover here
Clean design for the Passport Cover
Clean design for the Passport Cover

22. Laptop or Tablet

Whether you need to check emails, update your travel blog, Skype with your family, or simply plan your next adventure….a laptop or tablet is always more comfortable for more complex things to do with the latest travel technology.

Quite surprising: There is a tablet-laptop for less than $100.

I mean, don’t get us wrong, we’re huge fans of travel apps.

But for maps, calls, writing, and so on, a small laptop or tablet is the better option.

UPDATE: Now Facebook, WhatsApp and more apps out there offer free calls. A smart phone can do it as well. However, a small and light laptop is still an awesome way to go.

23. Aspirin (and any medication you might need)

Stick a small bottle of aspirin in your bag before you leave. It hardly weighs anything, and if it turns out you do need it, you’ll be very glad you brought it.

Staying out all night is fun! Waking up with a blinding hangover is decidedly not.

You can get a travel-ready medicine kit here.

And of course, if you have any medication you need, then make sure you have enough of it with you.

Take it in a box or bottle that has the prescription on it, as you might need this information (it’s unlikely but possible).

24. Sleeping Bag

Depending on where you travel or stay, a sleeping bag makes sense to bring! In South East Asia that really makes sense or any other outside activities you might want to join.

The Bus Hostel in Reykjavik, Iceland for instance is a hostel you will need a sleeping bag. Read our guide to the 3 best hostels in Reykjavik here.

This Sleeping Bag Liner and Camping Sheet is a Lightweight Sleep Sack when you travel.

Feature you should look out for are:

  • durable
  • warm and comfortable
  • lightweight
Gt your Silk Sleeping Bag here

A Silk Sleeping Bag is light and small to pack

Optional for the Hostel Packing List

Let us talk about the other side of things.

Here’s our NO-Packing List with nonsense things you should NOT bring.

25. Protections Packs (optional)

For the optimistic traveler. 🙂 But seriously, it’s always a good idea to be prepared (and to be safe).

And hey, some hostels even offer free safety snacks as part of a campaign. However, this is not very common, so pack your own just in case.

Read: full guide to Netflix and Chill in hostels with 5 tips, real-life stories, and how not to become an amateur camera star.

26. Tupperware (optional)

For your leftovers from the lunch or dinner you cooked in the hostel kitchen!

You just have to close your tupperware properly, put it in the fridge and label it – super simple!

Another big advantage: Depending where you are, you can prepare your lunch for the next day, take it with you and eat wherever you want.

Quick story: We had lunch in national parks in Croatia, on the cliffs in Ireland and the most hidden beaches in Spain.

Also, it saves you some money on restaurants and gives you the freedom not to worry about your food when wandering around!

27. Pocket WiFi (worldwide)

Have you ever heard of Pocket WiFi?

We tested the Hippocket WiFi, a small travel gear that fits in your pocket, giving you internet access. It’s easy to use, light, and very affordable.

We took a Hippocket WiFi travel gear with us when visiting the 3 coolest hostels in London.

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

Find prices for your trip directly here:

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

As mentioned earlier, we use also the eSim Card by Airalo.

What is the difference?

The eSim Card is for one phone only. The Hippocket WiFi can be shared among more than one phone.

28. An open mind

You never know what you might get – and that’s part of the awesome part about staying in hostels!

You’ll always get to meet new people and have new experiences.

No two trips to the same hostel are the same.

And, please, do not become the absolute worst hostel guest ever. Stay open, speak, say hi, be kind, have fun.

We wrote up a 22-step guide on how you could become the absolute worst hostel guest ever – and how to avoid this!

It is kind of the same experience when walking the famous Camino de Santiago.

Maybe you wouldn’t normally consider going to that bizarre hair museum* your temporary roommate wants to see, but hey, why not give it a shot?

*Yes, this is a real museum!

It’s called the Avanos Hair Museum and is in located in a small, dark cave in rural Turkey. Actually, on second thought, you might want to give that one a miss.

Read: Hostelworld App Solo Feature for Meeting People

Best Hostels in Reykjavik for Female Solo Travellers

Get together – all ages, all nationalities at Hostels! Find all 5 Star Hostels here. Here you find all our guides to the best hostels in the world.

Also, get inspired! We love to use Instagram and TikTok as a travel resource.

Filter by destination or hashtag and start your photo journey.

However, bear in mind, the location the user adds isn’t always correct.

Also, many people love to use Photoshop to pimp their photos to unrealistic levels.

29. A small light (not your smart phone)

Lots of travel websites recommend bringing a key chain flashlight. Make sure it is a LED 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 for a flashlight anymore.

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

Update: Also really useful, yet zero appeal to wear, is the headlamp. Personally, I look like a total nerd when wearing it.

Get your LED Headlamp here
Another must-have item for every backpacker, the LED Headlamp
Another must-have item for every backpacker, the LED Headlamp

30. Hostel Games e.g. Cards

Perfect for rainy days in and to make friends: board or card games!

Obviously you should not fill your own backpack with games, but I would bring at least one. A small, and light one. After all, great hostels usually have their own hostel games.

The #1 hostel game (besides UNO Cards) I recommend you is Exploding Kittens. It is easy to play and super fun!

Read: the best 13 hostel games here.

I also love to play Travel Trivia when staying in hostels. You can make a competition out of it and even create prices like a free drink at the bar.

In this article I collected my favorite travel quiz and games that you can play in teams or alone while traveling.

Hostel Card Games; Add Exploding Kittens to your list
Hostel Card Games; Add Exploding Kittens to your list

31. Hacks & deals

Last but not least, here are our 15 best hostel booking hacks and the best hostel booking sites out there.

We always try to get discounts for our users. We always update our hostel discounts here.

The best way to stay up to date is adding your email to our newsletter list. Once we receive new promo codes, we always share them in our newsletter first.

Here are more websites we love to use for traveling:

Full review of Skyscanner here

Skyscanner in Review - The Best Flight Engine in the World?

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 hostel list. Use it as your checklist pdf and you won’t forget any important thing to take with you.

Hostel Packing List Download

More Useful Tips for Staying in Hostels

Now that you have packed your perfect backpacker or suitcase, let’s move on. There is a few more things you need to know before hitting the hostel world.

Types of hostels

In a nutshell there is 7 types of hostels. You really want to have a closer look here. Make sure you always pick the right type of hostel.

Meaning, when you want to party, a chill-out hostel is not a good idea. And vice versa. Imagine you want to have a quiet time and end up in the craziest party hostel in the world…

The 7 types of hostels are:

  1. Cheap Hostels
  2. Homely Hostels
  3. Boutique Hostels
  4. Party Hostels
  5. Traditional
  6. Lifestyle
  7. 5 Star Hostels

Read: our full guide to different hostel room types here.

Hostel room types

Every hostel in the world offers at least one dorm.

This means, you are booking a bed and sharing the room with more travelers. This is called a dormitory. There is different types of dorms and even different types of bunk beds.

The most common dormitories in hostels are:

  • 4 Bed Dorm
  • 6 Bed Dorm
  • 8 Bed Dorm
  • 10 Bed Dorm
  • 12 Bed Dorm
  • up to 20-30 Bed Dorms

As you see, dorms usually have an even number of beds. That is because there is usually bunk beds aka. two beds: one on the bottom, the other one on the top.

The most popular dorm in a hostel is the 4 Bed Dorm. The rule of thumb is:

The less beds in a dorm, the more expensive it is.

Makes sense, right?!

Many hostels nowadays offer even private rooms such as

  • Twin Rooms
  • Double Rooms
  • Family Rooms
  • Apartments

Read our full guide to hostel room types here.

Netflix and Chill in Hostels

If hooking up in a hostel is your goal, we recommend reading carefully our guide on how to Netflix and Chill in hostels.

There are a few do’s and don’ts you should follow and especially know about.

For instance, remember that hostels have cameras. You do not want to become a bedroom celebrity, right?!

Read: How to Netflix and Chill in hostels

Best Hostels In Guides

We are not just here so you pack the right stuff. We do also do all the leg work for you to bring you the best hostels in the world.

Besides curating a collection of the finest hostels in the world, we also do hostel destinations guides.

Find our guides to:

Our guides are around the globe.

We only share the greatest hostels in the place. This is perfect for everyone looking for quality hostels, especially for female solo travellers.

If you do not care about the quality of a hostel, and only need a place to crash, this guide might not be for you.

Read: Female Hostels: Everything you need to Know

We also wrote a big guide on safety tips for female solo-traveler.

Bed Bugs

When talking about hostels, you will come across the topic of bed bugs really fast. This is nasty, really. Nobody wants them. And we are lucky enough that we never had any in our hostels we stayed.

*knocking 3 times on wood*

A simple rule to avoid bed bugs is: Stay in quality hostels!

There is one thing you should know though about bed bugs in hostels: Most of the time (if not always) it is NOT the hostels fault.

Think about it. Travelers come and go. Some of the travelers stay in dirty places, camp sites, whatever. It is usually the traveler that brings the bed bugs to the hostel. They can be in the backpack, the clothing, well, everywhere.

Really nasty beasts!!

So, when a hostel had a guest with bed bugs, the hostel won’t even realize there is these insects until someone complains. That is because these little bullies are inside the mattress; and not in the bed linen.

Anyway, try to avoid bed bugs.

Super safe way to always avoid bed bugs:

  1. Stay in quality hostels
  2. bring your own silk sleeping bag

Summary: Hostel Packing List

Be smart about this essentials hostel packing list.

Try to not over pack, and remember to bring the basic things like chargers. Buying a few things like toiletries is not expensive, but two different chargers?

That would be an unnecessary expense to cover.

Plus, as you’ve seen, you can be smart about it and just get a USB travel adapter with USB ports.

There is more you have to consider, so here it comes:

Good read: 18 hostel rules and hostel etiquette to build lifelong friendships.

Do you have another smart idea to add to this Hostel packing list?

Drop us a comment below.

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