Fred Perrotta is co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks, the makers of the ultimate travel backpack.
Hostels are fun, inexpensive, and social. But you wouldn’t describe them as “spacious.”
When you’re sharing space with other travellers, packing light becomes even more important – and even smart travellers make packing mistakes that add bulk to their bag.
Don’t be that guy with the full-sized suitcase and rolling duffel bag. Keep it light. Your travels will be easier, and your hostel mates will appreciate you.
Here’s what to swap out of your luggage and what to swap in to travel light on your next hostel trip…
Packing mistake #1: A space-obliterating, heavy towel
Out: Full-sized towel
In: Travel towel
Some hostels don’t have towels or charge you to rent them. To avoid the uncertainty and cost, bring your own towel.
A huge, fluffy towel might feel nice, but it eats up space in your bag.
Instead carry a travel towel. These thin, microfiber towels don’t look very absorbent, but they’ll do the job. Unlike a cotton towel, they dry quickly, so you never have to carry around a sopping wet towel in your bag.
Packing mistake #2: too many toiletries
Out: body wash, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, detergent
In: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
Dr. Bronner’s magic soaps can clean anything. They are organic and safe to use on your clothes or yourself. The soaps come in a variety of forms (bar, liquid), sizes (two ounces to one gallon), and scents.
Best of all, Dr. Bronner’s soaps are concentrated, so you only need a few drops for most jobs. Buy a small bottle and carry it in your hand luggage or buy a larger bottle and store the soap in the next item on the list.
Packing mistake #3: full-size toiletries
Out: toiletries over 100ml
Only liquids up to 100ml (3.4 ounces) can be brought in your carry-on luggage. Larger bottles have to be checked. Don’t let your vanity force you to pay airline baggage fees.
Pour must-have toiletries that don’t come in travel sizes into a reusable travel bottle. You can find cheap ones at most drug stores, but GoToobs are higher quality and more durable. GoToobs are made of thick rubber and have a much better nozzle and cap than store-brand bottles, so you don’t have to worry about leaks in your bag.
Packing mistake #4: a heavy lock
In: TSA-approved lock
You might need to lock up your bag in a hostel or train station locker when you’re on the road. You don’t need a big, heavy padlock to do it.
TSA-approved locks are smaller and lighter but just as effective. Plus, TSA locks are small enough to use on your bag’s zippers to keep your stuff safe even if it’s not in a locker. Choose a cable lock (for flexibility) that uses a combination, not a key that could get misplaced.
Packing mistake #5: too many adapters
In: Power strip
You’re already carrying plenty of gadgets and chargers. Don’t bring a power adapterfor each one.
Instead, bring one adapter and a small power strip. A three-outlet strip should be big enough to charge all of your devices at once.
Packing mistake #6: forgetting your laptop is a giant charger
Out: Wall chargers
In: Mini USB connectors
If you’re bringing your laptop, you can get rid of even accessories. Just use your laptop as a power strip and charge your other gadgets through your computer’s USB ports.
A few mini USB cables are lighter than adapters and power strips but will allow you to charge multiple gadgets from one outlet.
Packing mistake #7: giving yourself to much space
Out: Giant suitcases and backpacks
In: Carry-on luggage
So far, we’ve focused on the inside of your luggage. What about the luggage itself?
The easiest way to downsize your stuff for a hostel is to carry less stuff, not just swap out individual items.
Constraints can be good. A maximum-sized carry-on bag will fit plenty of stuff for a 7-10 day trip. If you’re traveling any longer, you’ll have to do laundry anyway. Spend an hour every week or two at a Laundromat and save yourself the hassle of oversized luggage.
What’s your favourite way to hostel-size your luggage? Let us know in the comments…