17 Top Hostel Packing List Items for 2021 + What to Wear and NOT to Bring

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Updated on January 12, 2021 by Asher Fergusson

Staying at hostels is one of the cheapest, safest and funniest options for people traveling alone or with groups of people. Hostels offer a vibrant and young atmosphere filled with likeminded individuals who want to explore local destinations and have a good time.

With hostels growing popularity around the world if you are ready to meet new people, learn about local culture and have lots of fun along the way, staying at a hostel is a great decision. Here we have put together a list of essential items to pack, as well as what to wear at a Hostel, NOT to bring and FAQs to make sure you enjoy your hostel stay.

What To Pack for Hostels – 17 Essentials


1. Travel Umbrella

Travel UmbrellaA Travel Umbrella is great item to bring to any traveling location. With weather being so unpredictable its always best to be prepared so days and nights aren’t ruined. This umbrella is compact and lightweight making it easy to store in a backpack or purse, it can comfortably fit two people and will make an excellent addition in event of a rainy day.

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2. Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleeping Bag LinerAlthough Hostels are generally cleaned everyday by staff and have fresh sheets and pillows for new guests a sleeping bag liner is wonderful addition to bring. It can give you peace of mind when staying in hostels for cleanliness factors or another layer of warmth if you get chilly while sleeping. These liners roll up into a small bag, are light and easy to wash and use whenever you feel the need to use it.

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3. Padlock

PadlockHostels are generally very safe but bringing a padlock to lock your personal items in is essential for any traveler. When sharing a room with strangers its always best to have a padlock to lock up your items in the lockers provided for you. Having a padlock allows you to lock up your belongs and leave for the day worry-free knowing nothing can be stolen or borrowed without your permission.

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4. Travel Backpack

Travel BackpackWhile staying in Hostels a traveling backpack is the way to travel. A suitcase can be too big to fit in lockers and is harder to travel with Don’t go cheap on this, be sure to get a backpack that is supportive on your back, a sturdy material and has the option to open in the front for easy access to your belongings. Hostel lockers normally always fit a backpack in compared to a suitcase.

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5. Virtual Private Network

Virtual Private NetworkAlthough most hostels provided a WIFI network it doesn’t always mean its secure. A VPN is designed to protect sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers from potential threats like hackers whenever you log on to public. Better to be safe than sorry when protecting important information and get a VPN when staying in hostels.

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6. Neck Wallet

Neck Walletneck wallet is perfect for just about anything in hostels. A neck wallet is small, convenient and easily hidden under clothes making it perfect for being around other guests in hostels. This neck wallet can hold credit cards, cash, phones, passports and documents safely close to you without having to worry about losing valuables or being a victim of pickpockets.

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7. Lifestraw Water Bottle

Lifestraw Water BottleDepending on what country you’re going to a reusable water bottle is ideal when traveling. Check to make sure the water is safe to drink or ask if your hostel has a clean water fountain to use during your stay. This eliminates plastic water bottles, saves you money on buying water and a stylish accessory to your everyday outfit.
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8. Lipstick Sized Portable Charger

Lipstick Sized Portable ChargerEven though every hostel has multiple plugs to use for charging electronics, portable chargers are a hostel necessity. Have a fully charged phone, laptop or camera all day with this small charger that can easily fit in any backpack or purse. You will no longer have to wait for people to be done charging their items, allowing you to enjoy the destination your exploring.

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9. Packing Cubes

Packing CubesPacking cubes are completely need when staying in hostels. They allow you to easily rummage through your backpack and find exactly what item you are looking for in any situation. Packing cubes are great for storing and arranging clothes, toiletries and other traveling essentials into sections for an easy find.

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10. Shower Shoes

Shower ShoesIf there is one item you cannot forget in hostels its shower shoes. Although hostels are cleaned, the bathrooms might not be clean enough for your standards. Shower shoes keep your feet clean and I can help with eliminating fungal infections. A plastic pair is perfect, so you can easily ditch them at the end of your trip.

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11. Travel Insurance for Hostels

Travel InsuranceTravel Insurance is a great idea to get no matter the destination or accommodation you choose. Having Travel Insurance gives you a sense of relief knowing that if your flight is cancelled, your luggage is lost, or you have an unexpected medical emergency you are covered and safe. Hostels may not seem like the typical choice for travel insurance users, but you never know when it will come in handy.

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12. DayPack

Day PackDo not forget to bring a day pack with you to a hostel. Although you will already have your traveling backpack, a day pack is easy to carry any essentials that you might need during the day. A day pack can be used for any excursion the hostels may offer or discovering the location by yourself. A waterproof, sturdy Day Pack is vital while in hostels, leave your vulnerable locked up in the hostel and bring just what you need for the day.

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13. Flashlight

FlashlightA flashlight is really useful when it comes to staying in Hostels. If you come in late and everyone in your dorm is asleep, using a flashlight allows you to find your belongings without turning all the lights on and annoying your bunk mates. A flashlight can even double has a headlamp if you choose to read before going to sleep.

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14. Universal Adapter

Universal AdapterThis may seem obvious, but a universal adapter is one of the most important items to bring when traveling and staying in hostels. Although you can buy them abroad, they can sometimes be more expensive and difficult to locate. Be sure to get one with multiple charging ports so you can plug in a few chargers at the same time.

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15. Earplugs

EarplugsIf you are a light sleeper, you will most defiantly need earplugs when staying in dorms in hostels. Sharing a room with people sleeping can be difficult especially if they snore or are loud when coming back from an evening and your trying to sleep. Bring earplugs to avoid being sleepy or grouchy for your entire trip.

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16. Hand Sanitizer

Hand SanitizerLike I previously said hostels can sometimes not be the cleanest, so to avoid germs bring hand sanitizer. This is great when you can’t get to a bathroom to clean your hands or generally use for hygiene purposes. A good bottle of hand sanitizer will be gone by the end of your stay.

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17. Quick Dry Travel Towel

Quick Dry Travel Towel Hostel don’t normally provided towels and if they do, you have to pay to rent them. Your best bet is to bring a quick dry travel towel that is lightweight, small, compact and dry’s very quickly. You can hang it at the end of your bed for drying, then put back in your backpack when finished. Definitely do not forget your travel towel.

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Other hostel packing list items not to forget



 

What to Wear in Hostels


What you wear in a hostel completely depends on your location. Generally speaking, most of the time people staying in hostels will dress relatively casually. If you are staying in a warmer climate, it’s best to wear breathable lightweight clothing or beach attire. Remember to bring a bathing suit and cover-up because if you get lucky there could be a pool at your hostel.

I would definitely bring a few warmer pieces in case you are staying in a cooler climate. This allows you to stay warmer during the day, on chilly nights, or can double as a blanket when you sleep at night. Comfortable shoes such as flip-flops or sneakers are best. Always remember you are staying at a hostel, so you don’t need to bring your fancy expensive clothes, anything goes as long as you feel good.

What Women Should Wear in Hostels – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).













Women will want to dress for the weather or location their hostel is. Casual clothing is always best; dresses, flips flops and purse is perfect for a daytime activity while maybe shorts, a going out top and sandals is fitting when getting to know other guests at the hostels. I guarantee you will meet people at the hostel and go out so bring options for the temperature.

What Men Should Wear in Hostels – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).













Men staying in hostels should dress for the season and location they are staying in. Men should come prepared with casual options. Typically, boardshorts or jeans, with a simple t-shirt with sturdy shoes are good for daytime, while adding a patterned button-down will dress it up for evening activities. You will defiantly be doing lots of activities while staying at hostels so dress comfortably.

SPRING – March, April, May:

Spring can be absolutely gorgeous in hostels, if your destinations are coming out of winter it will be warm and if it stays hot year-round, it will be a bit cooler before summer hits. This is the time to come prepared with a few casual layers, jeans, shorts, t-shirts, rain jackets for those spring showers, and comfortable sneakers.

SUMMER – June, July, August:

Summertime in hostels can be very warm and humid. If you are in a hot climate it is defiantly best to bring lightweight breathable clothing and swimwear. Think dresses, shorts, tank tops, flip-flops, bikinis, and cover-ups. Also, important to remember that most hostels have air conditioning but not all do. When choosing which hostel to stay with be sure to see if the dorms have AC, fans, or nothing so you can dress accordingly.

FALL – September, October, and November:

Depending on your location fall can be beautiful. Warm days, chilly nights, or can still be very hot. Please be sure to research the weather when planning your stay. Shorts, jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers are all appropriate items to pack. Bring options for warmer days and cooler days as hostels normally control the temperature in rooms so you can dress suitably.

WINTER – December, January, February :

Whether the outdoor temperature is cold or hot always bring a pair of sweats. It can be either be chilly outside or the hot outdoor temperature calls for extreme air conditioning in the hostel. Bring comfortable shoes like sneakers, a good pair of jeans, cardigans, a rain jacket and you will be all set. Just be sure to look at what the hostels have to offer and check on the weather before you go. You can never be too careful.

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)

Nightlife – If you’re staying in a hostel, you will defiantly be going out on the occasional bar crawl or night out. You will meet loads of young people who all want to have a good time and relax, so be sure to bring going out clothes. Dresses, shorts, going out tops and sandals are perfect for women, keeping it casual but chic. While men should stick with patterned button-downs, shorts, or fitted jeans and sneakers for a carefree evening.

Daily Excursions – Hostels normally have excursions they offer directly through them or with a second party company for those wanting certain activities. It’s always ideal to wear casual clothes, activewear, and definitely comfortable shoes, these daily excursions can last all day so be sure to look at the weather and bring layers when needed.

Swim – If your Hostel is close to the beach or has a pool it’s a good idea to wear swimsuits, cover-ups, flip-flops, sunglasses, and a dry bag to keep belongings dry. Be sure to always wear a cover-up in the hostel or while walking around outside, in some cultures, it is disrespectful to show off too much skin. If you’re ever not sure about how to dress appropriately the hostel staff are normally locals and very helpful.

Sleeping – This may seem silly, but please bring pajamas or comfortable sweats. You are going to be sharing a room with strangers and maybe even different genders so pack sleepwear that you will feel comfortable in.

 

What NOT to Bring to a Hostel


1) 🚫Sleeping Bag: Hostels provide pillows, sheets or duvets so there really is no need to bring a sleeping bag with you. If you feel more comfortable having your own set of sheets bring a sleeping bag liner, this gives you the added security for cleanliness factor and can be an extra layer of warmth in the night too. It is also is compact and can easily fit in your backpack.

2) 🚫A Suitcase: Suitcase are normally way too big for the lockers provided by the hostel, instead I highly recommend a traveling backpack. If you end up bringing a suitcase don’t be surprised if doesn’t fit in the locker. If your belongings are not in a locker you are risking your items to be stolen or rummage through by thieves.

3) 🚫Laptops and expensive gadgets: If you have to bring your laptop or camera to a hostel for work that is fine, but you really need to be careful. Most of the people you meet will be lovely, but some will try and steal things. If you have to bring electronics be sure to bring your padlock to lock them away and try to keep them hidden.

4) 🚫Valuables: Since Hostels are very casual and fun there is no need to bring any valuables. The vibe of a hostel is more chilled and relaxed, so bringing valuables is a waste. Don’t risk losing your valuables when staying in a hostel or putting yourself at risk for pickpockets and thieves.

5) 🚫Lots of Cash: Nowadays there is no need to bring tons of cash out with you. If your somewhere where cash is expected, only bring a small amount out with you and lock the rest in your locker in a hidden compartment in your backpack. The best thing to do is wear your neck wallet under clothes so no one is aware of what you are carrying. Look into banks that have travel cards that offer no transaction fees and let the bank know of your travel plans.

6) 🚫Hair Dryers/ Straighteners: Since you will probably be staying in a dorm, this also means you be sharing a bathroom; which means you will have limited room in there. Hair tolls are pretty pointless and not need when staying in hostels. Give your hair a break and just keep it natural, also if you are in a warm destination the last thing you will want to do is style your hair.

What NOT to Wear in Hostels – (Click to expand)

Formal Attire: Formal clothes are never needed in hostels unless you plan on having a really nice dinner or a night out. Almost everyone who stays in hostels will be wearing comfortable clothing, especially since a hostel is between a laidback atmosphere or a party hostel.

Strictly Swimwear: Depending on where you are traveling to, wearing only swimsuits is a bad idea. It’s always important to be respectful and courteous to the local culture’s customs and beliefs. If you always have a cover-up, you will be fine while in hostels or exploring the destination.

 

FAQs about hostels


    1. How much is it to stay in a hostel?

    Depending on where you traveling to and staying it can really depend on price. Some hostels will range from 10 US Dollars a night to 35 US dollars a night. The number of people in a room can change the price, the more dorm beds in a room the cheaper the price and if you prefer co-ed, women’s only or men only will adjust the price. Be sure to look at reviews when choosing a hostel.

    2. Will you meet people staying in hostels?

    This completely varies on each person. If you would like to mingle and get to know people, you absolutely will. If you choose to do your own thing and keep to yourself then you won’t have as many interactions with people. The decision is up to the person.

    3. Do I have to share a room in a hostel?

    Typically, hostels are meant for sharing rooms with multiple people, that’s why it’s an inexpensive way to travel. However, it is common to find hostels that have singles rooms or a double room if you are traveling with another. These rooms are normally a little more expensive.

    4. Are hostels clean?

    Hostels are cleaned every day by staff, that being said some hostels are cleaner than others. If you are ever worried about the cleanliness of a hostel ask the staff or be sure to bring your own sleeping bag liner, shower shoes, cleaning wipes, and hand sanitizer. Your best bet is to look at the reviews of the hostel, that is always the best way to find a clean affordable hostel.

    5. Do hostels have planned excursions?

    Most hostels have planned activities, either free or payable. They differ on the destination of the hostel but always have excursions. If they don’t, they normally always have a booking agent or will set you up with a second party to plan excursions fittingly. Doing a hostel excursion allows you to meet other guests and explore with a professional.

    6. How many people share a room in a hostel?

    Dorms in hostels can differ in size dramatically. If you prefer privacy four-bed dorms are very common, if you enjoy privacy but want to meet more people, eight-bed dorms are ideal. If you want the cheapest room possible and don’t care about many people you will be sharing with, they offer twenty-bed dorms and higher. It all is based on your comfort level when booking your hostel stay.

    7. Do hostels have group nights out?

    If you are staying at a party hostel, there will most definitely be group nights out, bar crawls, and planned evenings in the hostel. If you don’t want to do the group evenings, you don’t have to. If meeting people and having group nights is important then look up which hostels in the area offer these evenings and nights.

    8. Are hostels safe for single travelers?

    Yes, hostels are great for single travelers and are really safe. Many people you will meet in hostels will be single travelers and it allows you to interact with them, learn from their experiences, and even make friends along the way. If you’re thinking of being a single traveler I would choose staying in a hostel over hotels or guesthouses.