The Only Hostel Packing List You’ll Ever Need

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Hostels are great for so many reasons. One of which is price – they’re a LOT cheaper than hotels! They don’t offer all of the perks a hotel offers though, so when packing for hostels you’ll need to bring along a few more items and be mindful of how you pack them. Read on for the ULTIMATE hostel packing list.

What To Pack

Hostel Packing List - A book or kindle is one of the backpacker essentials for your next trip

?The Travelling Light

Since it’s likely you’ll be sleeping in a dorm room and using a communal bathroom, you’ll need a few extra items compared to staying in a hotel:

1. Toiletries

Unlike 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. Also remember bug spray, hairbrush, deodorant, contact lenses, and suncream!

2. 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.

3. Towel

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 – these also fold up super small!

4. Entertainment

No matter how hectic your travel schedule, you’ll still have some inevitable downtime at the hostel. A deck of cards in a hostel will always prove a hit. An iPad or Kindle is another backpacking essential, or if you’re old school, a book, which can often be swapped at the hostel’s ‘library’.

5. Padlock

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.

6. 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!

7. Adapter

Don’t be the one who can’t contact anyone for days because you forgot an adapter. It’s a good idea to invest slightly more in a universal power adapter which can be used in every country so you don’t get caught out.

What NOT To Pack

Hostel Packing List - A laptop isn't always needed when staying in a hostel

Town House 373 Saigon in Ho Chi Minh

1. Sleeping bag

You don’t need a sleeping bag! It’s a common question, but almost all hostels provide sheets and linen for sleeping, so unless you’re camping as part of your trip, you can leave this one out.

2. Hair dryer/straighteners

Come on – you’re travelling! Not only are these bulky, heavy, and take up a lot of space, but in many of the fancier hostels hair dryers are provided. And sometimes, there are even special areas with straighteners and other hair products for you to preen yourself before a big night out.

3. Expensive gadgets

Unless you’re a travel blogger and you just NEED your laptop, best leave this one at home – you’ll be worrying about it 24/7 otherwise. Cameras are a must for many travellers, but always be super savvy about how you wear it and where you pack it to avoid any mishaps. And expensive jewellery and watches should DEFINITELY be left off your hostel packing list.

How To Pack 

Hostel Packing List - Remember to pack the essentials, and your hostel can provide the rest


1. 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.

2. Security

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 just as comfortable as a hotel stay – and probably a lot more fun too!

About the author

Fred Perrotta is the 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.

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What other items are on your hostel packing list? Have we missed any out? Let us know in the comments below! ?

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