A big part of backpacking is embracing the hostel culture, where in some cases you may end up in some pretty questionable digs! However, staying in hostels is a great way to meet new people when travelling and make friends to explore with. Here we share our top 10 hostel essentials that you should make sure you pack into your backpack before you leave for your trip.
Now this one is one you simply cannot leave at home! If like most travellers staying in hostels, you will most likely be sleeping in a shared dorm room, which can mean your co-inhabitants could be anything from champion snorers and party animals to couples that REALLY enjoy sharing a bunk…Sound good? No, we didn’t think so. Pack some ear plugs and you’ll be glad you heeded our advice!
One of the pitfalls of staying in hostels is the risk of bed bugs. Bed bugs can be easily transmitted from hostel to hostel, as they can get on to travellers clothing and sleeping equipment, and it’s for this reason that recommend packing your own anti-bed bug sleeping liner. Essentially this is a cotton (or similar material) sheet, which you sleep inside. If you want a more lightweight and compact option, go for a silk liner. An alternative to using a sleeping bag liner is to pack a bed bug sheet, which can be placed between the mattress and hostel bedding to create a barrier between you and those pesky bugs.
While you might think a torch is more of an accessory you would take on a camping trip, you’d be surprised at just how often they appear on travel packing lists! If you’re in a shared dorm and come home after dark, you don’t want to be the person that turns on the lights in order to find something in your backpack, waking your room mates in the process. Having a head torch or pocket torch in your daypack is a great way to find your way in the dark without disturbing anyone else!
4) Flip Flops
Avoid the foot fungus lurking in the hostel showers by wearing a pair of flip flops when you shower. The last thing you want is a bad case of athletes foot causing you pain and discomfort during your trip.
A wash bag probably doesn’t seem all that important, but if you have a number of products you like to shower with, you’ll find these come in pretty useful when you hit the hostel showers. Some hostels come with hooks and shelves for hanging your wash bag up, if not, then you’ll probably be able to find something to hook it onto! You’ll find some travel wash bags also come with removable waterproof pouches, which can be taken into the shower with you.
You never know who you’ll be sharing a room with in hostels, and while it would be nice to be able to trust that your belongings would be safe left on your hostel bunk, this sadly isn’t always the case. Hostels tend to have lockers or somewhere safe to store your valuables, so we would recommend packing a cable lock, which can be used on both your backpack zips and the hostel lockers. The flexible shackle makes cable locks suitable for most styles of lock and you can also use them to lock your backpack to fixed or hard to move objects (like your hostel bed!). Pack a couple of these if you plan on locking your backpack and using the lockers at the hostel.
We always recommend packing a travel towel, no matter what packing list! Many hostels won’t provide towels, and even if they do, you can save yourself money by having your own towel. Travel towels are compact and lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about fitting one in your backpack and you can also get travel towels with anti-bacterial protection to combat odours and mould. If you opt for a larger body size towel, these can double as a sarong or beach sheet too!
If you’re on a round the world trip or simply visiting a number of destinations, you should pack a universal travel adapter. These generally feature the three most common plug types (American, European & Australian), which are used in over 150 countries around the world. Of course, there are countries with their own unique plug type, so do your research before departure to make sure you choose the correct plug adapters for your trip.
Remember what we discussed in point number 3? While you might not be the person who inconsiderately turns on the dorm room light in the middle of the night, chances are one of your room mates will. For this reason, we recommend packing a sleep mask for your hostel stay! Not only will your sleep mask block out light when someone turns on the dorm room light, but you can also use your mask during the day to block out the sun if you fancy a siesta!
Worried about breaking the ice with fellow travellers staying at your hostel? Well don’t worry because we’ve got a card up our sleeve (sorry, the pun was too hard to resist). Having your own pack of travel playing cards is a great way to make friends at hostels and there are so many different games you can play with them, maybe your new found friends can teach you some new ones?
Rachel has worked for the company for 9 years and as one of our buying team, has a wide knowledge of travel gear. She has travelled in Europe and Southeast Asia, but her dream destination would be South America to experience Carnival in Rio, unleash her inner Attenborough in the Galapagos and sip on Colombian coffee in colonial Cartagena.