How to pack for a hostel

Our latest guest blogger is Fred Perrotta, co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks, the makers of the ultimate travel backpack. He is also the editor-in-chief of the company’s backpacking travel blog

Hostels are great for many reasons. One of these is price – they’re a lot cheaper than hotels. They don’t offer some of the perks a hotel offers though, so when packing for them you’ll need to bring along a few more items and be mindful of how you pack them.

What To Pack

Since it’s likely you’ll be sleeping in a dorm room and using a communal bathroom, you’ll need a few extra items than you wouldn’t at a typical hotel. Here are a few additions for your hostel packing list:


Unlike at a hotel, you will not get any complimentary bars of soap or bottles of shampoo, so remember to bring your own. You can find travel-sized toiletries at your local supermarket.

Flip Flops/Thongs:

Sharing showers doesn’t have to mean sharing foot fungi too. If you aren’t wearing flip flops (or ‘thongs’ if you’re an Aussie) as your primary travel shoes, remember to include a pair to use as sanitary shower shoes.


Not all, but some hostels will charge you to rent a towel. Even if they don’t, you’ll need one for the beach if it’s that type of destination. Avoid the risk and potential expense by bringing your own lightweight, quick-drying travel towel.


No matter how hectic your travel schedule, you’ll still have some inevitable downtime at the hostel. A decks of cards in a hostel will always prove a hit. You could also opt for something more solitary, like a book, which can often be swapped at the hostel’s ‘library’.


While on the road, you’ll frequently need to store your bag at hostels, train stations, and airports. In these cases, having your own padlock can save you the expense of renting one and give you the confidence that you’ll find your bag where you left it.

Sleep aids:

In a shared dorm room, everyone will inevitably be on different schedules, including a few late night partiers. If you need a good night’s sleep, pack a sleep mask and earplugs, especially if you’re a light sleeper.

How To Pack

Choosing a backpack:

To avoid having to dump out your bag every time you need something, choose a front-loading backpack to make unpacking easy. Unlike hiking bags, which typically only open at the top, front-loading bags give you access to all of your stuff without having to unload the pack first. Then, when packing your bag, be sure to compartmentalize. By choosing a bag with multiple compartments or using compression bags or packing cubes, you can easily segment all of your clothes and gear, so you always know where everything is stored.


When packing your bag before staying at a hostel, remember: safety first. The vast majority of travellers are good, honest people, but a bit of precaution never hurts. All of your valuables, and ideally all of your belongings, should be in zippered, padlocked compartments of your bag. One look at your bag should make somebody with sticky fingers think, “Not worth it.”

A few extra items and some common sense can make your hostel stay as comfortable as a hotel stay.

What other items do you pack when staying at a hostel?

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