squirrel hostel

11 Travel Essentials If You’re Staying in a Hostel

Hostels may be known for their budget accommodations and shared rooms but no two hostels are alike. I’ve stayed at beautiful places that immediately felt like home (like Squirrel Hostel, pictured) and ones that make you wonder when was the last time anyone cleaned…anything. Regardless of where I stay though I never go to a hostel without packing my 11 hostel essentials.


Plastic bags
I take a few plastic bags with me so I can put things that need to be separated from the rest of my stuff, like dirty or wet clothes. I also carry nuts and dried fruit with me to snack on and tie them up in a plastic bag to avoid attracting ants.

Padlock with number combination
I like the locks with number combinations because you don’t have to worry about a key. I’ve had the same Samsonite lock for over 10 years and it works great, fitting into every locker I’ve used. Some hostels have their own locks so then I use mine for extra security on my backpack.

Travel towel and hand towel
Travel towels are different from regular towels because they’re light, easy to pack, and dry quickly. I also bring a small hand towel for when I’m brushing or washing my face.

Universal plug adapter
If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need an adapter to charge electronics. A universal plug adapter means you only need to bring one and it’ll fit all plug types.

Hanging toiletry bag
I like hanging my toiletry bag from my bed so I can quickly grab things I need. This is where I store items like eye drops, sunscreen, my hair brush, and makeup, anything I don’t need to take into the washroom with me. I leave a compartment for my phone too if I don’t have a table to put it on and need it close by for the alarm.

“Portable” toiletry bag
I have a separate toiletry bag that I call my portable version. This is the one that contains my shampoo, soap, hand towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss so if I’m going to the washroom to shower or brush my teeth, I can just grab this bag and everything I need is inside.

Silk sleeping bag liner
The thing about bed bugs is that the harm they do is mostly mental. After my two encounters with bed bugs I can’t sleep anywhere new without doing my checks and waking up in the middle of the night scanning my pillows and sheets. They really get in your brain. To provide some comfort, a sleeping bag liner serves as protection between me and a foreign bed.

Flip flops
The ultimate hostel footwear, I wear my flip flops everywhere when I’m at a hostel — going to the washroom, taking a shower, or just lounging around in the common areas.

Ear plugs and eye mask
Sharing a room means lights turning on and people rustling about at any time during the night. If you’re a light sleeper then ear plugs and an eye mask will save you from a bad night’s sleep.


Things you can leave at home:
Hair dryer – some hostels will have one. If not, just air dry!
Umbrella – takes up way too much space. Just buy one if need be and leave it behind.
Reusable water bottle – again, takes up too much space. I buy one large bottle to keep in my room and one small bottle to take with me, refilling as I go.
Flashlight – most of us usually have our phone with us and can use the flashlight function on there.


What are your hostel essentials?

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  • Reply Christine October 14, 2017 at 1:22 am

    do you have a recommendation for a universal adapter? I do need to pick one up. Thanks!

  • Reply Andy Parsons October 22, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Great tips! I rarely stay at hotels now when I travel as they simply cost too much, but it really depends on the location as well. As I was flying with my wife to Colombia last summer, we could afford a nice hotel for a few nights.

  • Reply John Marc Ramirez December 6, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    I always go to hotels, and I must say that it is very important to bring plastic bags whenever we go to hotels. I appreciate the list here because I agree with your list. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
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  • Reply Josh Roberts December 12, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Hey Christine,

    A universal adapter, eye mask and ear plugs are my must! 🙂 I always find sleeping with any kind of noise a struggle, so having ear plugs for me is very essential 😉

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