Hostel Packing List: 11 Essential Things to Take to a Hostel

Staying at a hostel is very different than staying at a hotel.  Not only will you likely have to share a room with strangers, but you need to take with you certain essential items that you don’t need when staying at a hotel.  If you are staying at a hostel for the first time, here are 11 hostel essentials.

Hostel Packing List

Essential Things to Take to a Hostel
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1. Shower Shoes

This is number 1 on my hostel packing list because there is no way I would shower at a hostel without wearing sandals or flip flops.  This is my favorite pair of flip flops which I wear in the shower but also when walking around or hanging at the beach.  If you don’t wear flip flops normally, you can just pick up a cheap pair just for showering.

2. Lock

Make sure to bring at least one lock with you when staying at a hostel.  Some hostels have lockers that you can use but if not, you can just lock your bag.  I recommend a lock with a combination code, rather than a key so you don’t have to worry about losing your key.   This TSA approved lock will keep your belongings safe in the hostel and you could also use it if you are checking a bag on your flight.

3. Quick Drying Towel

Unlike hotels, most hostels do not provide you with towels so you have to bring your own towel. Instead of packing a normal towel which is heavy and slow to dry, I recommend bringing a quick drying towel. 

4. Headlamp

Make sure to have a light source so that you don’t wake up your roommates if you need to use the bathroom or want to read a night.   You can use a flashlight feature or app on your smartphone but this can run out your battery.  Some good options include a key ring flashlight or a headlamp. A headlamp will let you keep your hands free and you can use also it when hiking or participating in other adventure activities.

5. Eye Mask

You might want to bring an eye mask in case your roommates stay up late or keep the lights on when you want to sleep.

6. Earplugs

Some hostels can be kinda loud, so earplugs are a must to tune out loud hostel neighbors.  They are also useful at blocking out loud street noise and airplane passengers.

7. Universal Travel Adaptor

Make sure you check if your electronics need an adaptor to work in the country you are traveling in.  If you frequently travel internationally or will be traveling to several different countries you might want to bring an universal travel adaptor.

8. Toiletry Bag with Hook

You will need to bring your own toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and soap as hostels do not provide these for you.  A toiletry bag with a hook is convenient for hanging in the shower.

9. Sleeping Bag Liner

If you are worried about dirty sheets, you can use a sleeping bag liner in your hostel bed.

10. Power Strip

There are not a lot of outlets in hostels so a compact power strip is handy if you want to charge multiple electronic devices.

11. Reusable Water Bottle

Don’t spend money purchasing bottled water, instead bring a reusable water bottle.  Hostels usually have water that you can fill up from for free or cheap.

RELATED – Planning a trip to Europe? Make sure to check out our Europe Summer Packing List for all your summer travel essentials for Europe and our European Bucket List for some inspiration.

Have you ever stayed in at hostel? What is on your packing list for hostel stays?



  1. Really good tips here – especially the sleeping bag liner and earplugs!

  2. You have a nice list here. I can so relate to bringing your own shower flip-flops, and those adapters are a must! Thanks! 🙂

  3. Ear plugs and sleeping mask are my essentials; it can be hard sleeping with other people in the room so anything to help block out noise & light is a must!

  4. An awesome list there. I have to say that I learned about carrying some of the things the hard way, like a torch of some kind is so important for the reasons you gave and definitely slippers for the bathroom. Ear plus are another essential item and eye mask I can usually do without. I would add headphones to the list, to listen to music or else just while being on the phone is a lit more private.

  5. Eye mask and flip-flops are something which I always carry with me. Thanks for the list. I need to buy few of the items for my upcoming trip to Europe. Staying in hostels for the first time in Amsterdam, Bruges and Budapest.

  6. We’ve been using most all of these on our journeys and will now also include a small power strip. Thanks.

  7. Hey Patti! I’ve stayed in a hostel one time and I regret not packing an eye mask and earplugs. Since then, these two never left my travel bag, they’re on top of my travel must-haves. Thank you for sharing this list.

  8. Good tips. I agree with you. Earplugs are a must-have when living in a hostel. I once spent a night next to a bunch of loud drunk guys. It’s one of the worst nights of my life. I had even sworn never to stay in a hostel again. Had I had earplugs, I would have blocked the noise and had a peaceful sleep.

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