It takes an adventurous spirit to pack into a room with 3-11 strangers. Hostels are a part of any adventurous travelers’ itinerary, but what gear does a girl need to make it work? Each hostel has its own vibe, rules and rep, but some needs are universal. Whether you’re a newbie or an expert traveler, don’t neglect to stash these 6 hostel essentials in your luggage
1. A Sleep Sheet
Any backpacker worth their passport will recommend a sleep sheet. Hostel beds are a shared affair. Of course, you have the bed for the duration of your stay, but who was in it before that? An extra layer will help keep creepy crawlies, like bed bugs, away. Hostels and hotels seem like a bed bug’s bestie, with new travelers breezing through daily. Sleep sheets also bring a little routine familiarity to what is sure to be a unique experience every day.
Some hostels are known for the party. Others are an oasis of rest and relaxation. Chances are you’ll end up in party central, when you just want to pass out. Cue the almighty earplug, man’s greatest invention since the wheel. These little darlings might not block out all music, snoring and late night conversation, but they help drown out most noise. They are available at most drugstores and dollar stores; I suggest you get a pack if you like sleep. Now, when you encounter that new roomie who snores like a bear with a deviated septum, you’ll be all set.
3. A Flashlight
Before that bear, um, roommate goes to sleep, she’ll stumble in loudly, knocking over every single thing in her path. You don’t want to be that girl do you? If you’re coming in late (or early you naughty minx) someone may be asleep. By contrast, if you’re in for the night when nature calls, turning on every light in the room is R-U-D-E. A small flashlight solves these dilemmas. Don’t stub your toe, wake everyone up or stay bed bound fearing retribution. Of course if you enjoy being cursed out in 3 languages, you can leave the flashlight. One last note: If you’re walking around lost at night, you may need to check your map. Now wouldn’t a flashlight come in handy?
4. Shower Shoes
The college students just rolled their eyes. Duh! People tend to forget things when excited to travel, so they have to be mentioned. Again, hostels host tons of travelers daily, but not all of them have daily cleaning. You never know what kind of funky fungus may stick around. You also don’t want to know. Pick up a cheapie pair of flip flops and have some peace of mind.
5. A Robe
Back to the shower. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my goodies hanging out for a free show. A lightweight terry or cotton robe will fix any modesty issues. Everyone suggests pack towels, but do these people shower in a shared bathroom? I personally hated mine for my entire month long trip. It smelled funny and still never quite got dry. Unless you know all of your bathrooms will be en suite, single occupancy, bring something that wraps around you for the slow walk back to your room. A sarong could also work, just pre shake the sand out. If you’re envisioning a wet robe in your bag, keep calm and carry a pack towel for drying, plus a robe for coverage. For real ladies, think of your goodies.
6. A Combo Lock
All of that gear has to go somewhere. Many hostels have free lockers; the catch is they don’t provide locks. Pack a small luggage combo lock, with a combination you can set. You can secure your gear, (take your passport) or use the lock on your luggage zippers while traveling. Not everyone has sticky fingers, but you never know.
While there are tons of things you need to undertake a big trip, these 6 hostel survival essentials will be your lifesavers time and time again. Pack ’em while you wander the world. They barely take up space, and you’ll be gladder than a landlord on rent day that you packed them. Happy traveling and remember to pack light!
Honorable mentions: a wi-fi device (of course), a hanging toiletry organizer