Must Have Items for the Hostel Traveler

While I definitely wouldn’t turn down a night in a five star hotel, I love staying in hostels…which is good because I’m still at that point in my traveling career where my budget necessitates either hostelling or couchsurfing. Over the years, I’ve developed a default “items to bring” list. No matter where I’m traveling, if I’m staying in a hostel or couchsurfing, these items are the first to make it into my bag.

Sleeping Bag Liner
Most hostels have bedding of some sort. Many of them these days have sheets either included or available for rent. That said, you never really know (unless you call in advance), and a silk sleeping bag liner is so lightweight and compact that it fits easily into a purse or carry-on bag. It’s not the warmest thing in the world, but it provides some protection between you and that wool blanket that’s been sitting unwashed for…you know what, it’s probably better just not to even think about it.

PackTowl
While these towels are a little more expensive than its terry cloth cousin, they’re compact, lightweight, and they dry much more quickly, which means you and your suitcase will be in a better position to avoid the lovely mildewy smell  of damp towels.

Headlamp
So you don’t wake up the entire room when you come in late or leave early. This one is small, compact, inexpensive, and lasts forever.

Hanging Toiletry Kit
Generally speaking, the communal bathrooms in hostels don’t offer much in the way of shelving. Fortunately, there’s usually a hook or two to hang both your towel and a hanging toiletry bag. I’d recommend the Stowsafe Toiletry Bag or the  Sea to Summit hanging toiletry bags. I’ve tried a few of them out, but these two styles are my favorite. A little pricier, but they’ll last for a few years and the Stowsafe is good if you’re carrying jewelry or prescription medication as it has a  lock and the slashproof strap.

Vapur Collapsible Water Bottle
Ok, not hostel specific, but I’ve come to depend on having this water bottle with me while traveling. When not in use, it folds up and fits into a purse or a small travel bag. Sure, you could just buy a bottle of water and keep using the bottle while you’re traveling (and I have definitely done that a time or two), but this collapsible water bottle has been much more useful and space efficient.

Flip Flops
Some of the world’s hostel showers are spotless and some of them are…well, not. Flips flops are good for any trip (even in winter, it’s nice to have something to wear around the hotel room), but if you’re staying in a hostel, they become a necessity.

Lock
Most hostels will have lockers, but you usually have to bring your own lock. I prefer to bring one with a key rather than a combination, but only because trying to open a combination lock with limited lighting (like when you come back and everyone else is sleeping) has proven challenging. Although, a headlamp can greatly alleviate that struggle.

Bottle Opener
A good way to make friends. I’ve found the combination corkscrew/bottle opener/pocket knife to be invaluable. Just don’t forget to take it out of your carry-on.

By Nikki Hodgson

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