Hostels can be intimidating if you’ve never stayed in one. It’s a lot different than staying in a hotel or Airbnb. Although sharing a room with a bunch of strangers isn’t ideal, or maybe it is, hostels can be so much fun and so cost effective! To ensure you have a good time, I created a list of how to choose the best hostel and what to bring when staying in a hostel. These items you want to make sure you don’t want to forget!
1. Sleeping mask and earplugs.
Most people forget this, but this is an essential. I bring a sleeping mask and earplugs wherever I go (even if it’s a friend’s house for the night). I am a light sleeper, especially when I’m in an unfamiliar place. When you’re sleeping in a room with a bunch of strangers, you WILL wake up if you’re not a heavy sleeper. Sorry to say it, but you will have inconsiderate roommates who will come home at 4 in the morning and turn on all the lights or you will have inconsiderate roommates who have an early flight at 5 am and decide to pack their entire suitcase in the room. Or you might even have that unfortunate roommate who snores really loud. Some hostels have really thin walls too so sometimes you’ll hear people partying outside. Some people are super inconsiderate and just don’t realize people are sleeping. If you wear a sleeping mask that will help you when your roommates turn on all the lights and if you wear earplugs, that will definitely help you sleep through the noise.
It’s important to bring a lock with you so you can lock your valuables in your locker. I usually bring two sets of locks (one traditional lock that’s bigger and a small one). The reason why I bring two different kinds of locks is because not all lockers are created equal. Some lockers can only be locked by a small lock and some lockers can only be locked by the big locks. Make sure when locking your locker that it actually locks. One time, I stayed at a hostel and the locker only locked if it was the big/thick lock. My roommate used her small lock and didn’t realize that it wasn’t locked at all and it could still be opened. I only realized that because I am a paranoid person and I double check if the lock works… and well, it didn’t so I had to switch locks. Luckily I saw my roommate did the same so I let her know.
Side note: Please make sure when you’re staying at a hostel to never leave your valuables out. No matter how much you think you trust your roommates. For some reason, a lot of people leave their phone on the charger and leave the room. One roommate in my room left her phone on the charger right on top of her bed. She left for dinner and left her phone completely exposed. I could have easily stolen it if I was mean person, but instead, I covered it with a blanket so it wasn’t just sitting there. Another roommate left his phone on the charger and left for 10 minutes. He got back and someone stole his phone. Just be smart people!!
Sandals can be multi-use. I use them for the beach and I also use them to shower at the hostel. Make sure to wear sandals when you’re showering… you’re sharing a bathroom with many people. You do not want to get feet fungus. Um, gross.
4. A quick-dry towel.
Some hostels provide towels and some hostels you can rent a towel for a fee. Save some money on repeatedly renting a towel and just bring your own. I recommend bringing a quick-dry towel. It’s small and doesn’t take up space in your luggage. It also is great for when you’re on the go since it dries quickly. I like using a microfiber towel. They’re comfy and I personally like the material better.
Different countries use different kinds of plug outlets. Make sure to bring the right adapter to the country you’re visiting. If you’re traveling to many countries, it’s best to get a universal adapter.
Some hostels don’t have curtains on the bunk beds so it’s nice to put a sarong or blanket up so people can’t see you. I don’t do this, but I’ve seen a lot of people do this for privacy.
If you’re new to the hostel game, you will soon find out that you don’t have personal toiletries when you check in like you normally do at a hotel or Airbnb. Make sure to bring soap, shampoo and conditioner, and whatever else you will need.
Generally, each bed gets a separate outlet. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes there’s only one or two outlets for the entire room and you’re sharing those outlets with all your roommates. If you bring a USB multi-charger, you can either share charging devices or charge all of your own devices at once.
LOL okay, you may or may not need these. I’m not sure if this is an essential, but it might be for some people. One of the greatest things about staying in a hostel is meeting so many amazing people from all around the world. You might meet someone who you want to hook up with… and if you do, you should be smart about it and use a condom.
10. An open mind.
Part of staying in a hostel is the experience! Trust me – I have so many stories of good and bad things happening during my hostel stays. But for the most part, there’s been more good than bad. Have an open mind with the whole experience and know that each hostel stay is different from another. Just because you had a horrible experience in one, doesn’t mean all of them are like that. Be open minded and embrace the fun and uniqueness!