The hostel packing checklist: what to bring for your stay

Packing for a night at a hotel or a night at a hostel is slightly different. There are things you should bring to a hostel which most hotels provide. Don’t worry though, all the items are easy to find and to check off of this extensive hostel packing checklist.

Hostel packing checklist for safety

A notebook with the important addresses

Just a little notebook that you can use to write down your experiences on the trip. Make sure to write down a couple informational things before you leave home. Like the addresses from the hostels you’re staying at, telephone numbers of family and friends, and other information that can be crucial in case of emergency or a low phone battery. Usually, you won’t need this information during your trip… unless you haven’t written it down. Murphy’s law!

Add a first-aid to your bag

I am the kind of person that always forgets this one. Or you know, doesn’t really care. It has a purpose though. Whenever you have a small cut, bump yourself into something at night, or get a headache from drinking a bit too much with your roommates. A small first-aid with the essentials like aspirin and bandages will help you get comfortable again.

Fanny pack to keep your overnight stuff nearby

Kill the fashionista in you, swallow your pride, and take one with you. At night, when your locker is closed, your stuff is out of reach. Which is perfectly fine. But you will want to have the key to your locker (duh), your phone, and maybe other objects nearby. A fanny pack is easy to wrap around one the poles in your bed. This way you have your stuff close to you.

A padlock

This one is pretty obvious too, but people still tend to forget it. In hostels, you get a personal locker, but you often have to bring your own padlock. Make sure the padlock is big enough, but also not too big. If you do forget one, or yours doesn’t fit, you can usually rent or borrow one from the reception.

Hostel packing checklist for hygiene

Toiletries travel sized

This one includes several items, all for your personal hygiene. All these items are available in travel sizes. So make sure to buy those and not the full-sized versions. This will help you to pack lighter, and get through airport security without issues.

  • Some form of soap: cause you will need to shower after all your adventures
  • A bit of shampoo: hostels don’t provide these, so make sure to bring some of your own.
  • Your toothbrush and toothpaste: I think this one speaks for itself.
  • A small deodorant: don’t go about your day all smelly!
  • Your favorite perfume: in case you arranged yourself a date.
  • A bottle of bug spray: unless you’re going somewhere cold, then you can skip this one.
  • A bottle of sunscreen: protect yourself from sunburn, it’s awful. Trust me!
  • Contact lenses and fluid: only if you have poor eyesight like me, obviously.

Have a fun and clean trip! Buy mini toiletries before you leave.

Flip-flops for the shower

There has been a lot of feet in that shower already. So protect yourself, and wear flipflops. I’m going to be honest that I’m not always as strict with this myself. It can be okay to not wear any, but if you get weird foot fungus afterward, well, you know why.

Bring fast drying travel-towels

After your fresh shower, you want to get dry. At least, I usually want to. Instead of using regular towels bring travel towels. These dry up much faster than regular ones. They are also a bit smaller, which saves you so much space in your backpack.

Get fast drying travel towels and save yourself some space.

Hostel packing checklist for clothes

Clothes, for during the day

Or did you plan on walking around naked? Make sure to pack enough clothes that you can combine with each other. Don’t plan on outfits, because this will limit you. Bring t-shirts that fit with all the pants your bringing. And that doesn’t clash with the sweaters you are packing.

Clothes for during the night

It’s okay to sleep in just your underwear. If you’re comfortable with that of course. No one in your room will look at you funny for not wearing a complete pajama. Do wear something like underpants and don’t go commando. I usually just bring a jogging and wear nothing on top. As that’s how I usually sleep.

Hostel packing checklist for fun

A book or tablet

Something that can keep you busy during the late hours. You don’t always want to go out for a drink or party. Even though I can highly recommend you do so. Bring something that can keep you busy without making too much noise for your roommates.

Maybe one of these photo books can inspire you during the evenings.

Closed headphones, don’t bother others with your show or music

If you’re bringing a laptop or tablet to watch series, remember to also bring a  headphone that’s noise-canceling. This way you don’t have to potentially hear your roommate snore, and they don’t have to hear your show.

Deck of cards to make friends

It’s pretty light to carry with you, and normally you should be with enough in your room. This might not be as popular with the others if you are in a big city and there are a lot of options to do at night. But if you are in a more rural hostel, it might be a fun one to have with you.

I can recommend playing Cards Against Humanity. Get yourself a deck too.

Hostel packing checklist miscellaneous

A bottle of water for in the morning

It’s not really necessary to pack one. Make sure to get one in a local supermarket before you hit the hay. It can also be a good idea to bring a reusable bottle from home. Especially if you are slow traveling and want to reduce your waste.

Packing Cubes

These are just very handy to organize your backpack. They sort all your stuff per category so you can find them easily when you need them.


Bringing these is not essential. I can do perfectly fine without them, as I am a heavy sleeper. If you are not, and you know you wake-up easily, it can be a good idea to bring a sleep mask and some earplugs. You have people running around the room using lights and making noise, so be prepared.

Power adapters

I can’t travel without a camera and smartphone. I usually even bring my laptop with me. All of those need power, unfortunately. Make sure to pack your power supplies. A power bank can come in handy. If you are traveling to another continent, it might be a smart idea to buy one of those universal adapters, cause not all power sockets are created equally.

A happy and open mind

I just thought this list wasn’t cheesy enough, so I added this one. But it’s true!

Hostel packing checklist… maybe


If you really have to, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Bring them, but try not to use them in your dorm room. Get a private room, or go to your lover’s place (if they’re a local).

Ziploc bag

I use these to separate my soaps from the other stuff, even in my toiletry bag. Just in case one of the bottles spills. I don’t like the taste of my body wash on my toothbrush.

Don’t bring with you

Here’s a short list of things you don’t have to bring with you. This will save you some space in your backpack.

  • A sleeping bag or bed linen: hostels provide these, so don’t bother dragging these with you.
  • Hairdryers and straighteners: you really don’t need those. You’re on a vacation!
  • Expensive stuff: like that laptop, unless you really can’t miss it.
  • Speakers: because you don’t want to make that much noise in your room.

Tips for not overpacking

Overpacking happens fast. So here are some quick tips on how to avoid overpacking.

  • Share toiletries with friends if you are traveling in a group.
  • Limit the size of your bag, so you can’t bring too much.
  • Bring clothes you can combine easily, so you don’t have to bring so many.
  • Don’t pack things you can buy at a local supermarket (like food or drinks).
  • Don’t pack things you don’t need. Duh!

What’s on your hostel packing list that is missing here? Let me know in the comments below!