9 Things I Bring to Hostels to have an Infinitely Better Experience

by voyageurtripper

Hello everyone! On my last weekend trip I stayed at a really cozy hostel in Banff, Alberta, Canada. It had been almost 5 months since I’d last stayed in a hostel and although it was a pleasant experience, I had completely forgotten to pack a few of my favourite hostel essentials. So in the midst of my struggles, I vowed to write a post the moment I could outlining my hostel essentials (both so that you can them use during your trip, and so I can refer back to this when I’m packing for one my next one).

Head Lamp

Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, this makes sneaking around your hostel rooms while others sleep much easier. Plus, say you want to do a sunrise hike – you’ve got a headlamp to illuminate your trail!

Word Combination Lock

Similar to the above, when you’re trying to be extra quiet rummaging around your hostel room it helps to have an easy to open lock. Personally, I’m terrible at the traditional combination locks. I end up getting frustrated and it’s never a good time. I’m also reluctant to use a key padlock because I’m worried I’ll lose the key and then where will I be. So I now use a Word Combination Lock (if you’re not sure what that is you can check out a word combination lock here).

Metal Wire or Chain

I don’t really know what these are officially called, but one came with my PacSafe backpack (until it got lost oops) and it came in handy when I was staying in hostels that didn’t have lockers. I put the wire around the bed frame (or anything large and fixed) and then through my backpack straps. I closed the lock around my zippers and the wire and everything was very secure.

The first hostel I ever stayed at was in Costa Rica. It was $13 a night and didn’t have lockers, so the combination lock + metal wire was super important. I secured all my bags to the bed post when I was out during the day or sleeping at night.

Eye Mask (or a Buff)

I always try to travel with an eye mask, but I very often for get or misplace it. (In fact, I am currently in this situation. I swear I packed it!) In it’s place, I fold my buff over like it’s a headband and place it over my eyes. I’ll admit that it takes some getting used to, and I’m recommend a sleep mask over it. But if for some reason you find yourself without one, a buff does the trick.


If you’re staying in hostels, I’ll assume you’re doing at least some of your own cooking. One thing I’ve found to be helpful is to pack a bunch of spices in little bags so that I don’t have to buy them in containers at the grocery store. This saves both space and money!

Flip Flops (for more than just the shower!)

Yes, flip flops are great for hostel showers. However, I’ve also found them to be nice for just walking around the hostel. After a full day of exploring a city or hiking a trail, I always want to get my boots off as soon as I possibly can. Flip flops mean I don’t have to put the boots back on when I’m going to make food. Also, they’re relatively easy to pack.

The second hostel I ever stayed at was in Copenhagen. The day I was flying out I made a last minute run to pick up flip flops and they ended up being so useful! After a full day of walking it felt so nice to put them on.

Plastic bags

Ever had to put wet clothing or gear into your suitcase or backpack? I have and unless you have something to put them in, it’s really uncomfortable. I’m currently on the hunt for a sustainable substitution for plastic bags, but at this time, I typically keep a few plastic grocery bags in my backpack.

International adapter with USB ports

When there’s multiple people sharing a room, electrical outlets are at a premium and you’ll likely only get to use one at any given time. I use an adapter that has a regular three prong socket (for either my camera or my laptop) and two USB ports (for my phone and my power bank). Even when I’m traveling within North America I use it because it’s so handy.


In all the travel tips research I have done, I have never seen someone recommend a carabiner and that seriously astounds me! I ALWAYS have a carabiner on me. Want to attach your water bottle or shoes to your backpack? Carabiner. Worried about losing the keys to your rental car? Carabiner. Need to hang up bathing suit but don’t have a close line? I swear by it, use carabiner! Literally the most versatile piece of metal you will ever owned. You also don’t need one of the massive, fancy, expensive ones for it to be sturdy and effective. I have a few of these Black Diamond ones and I think they work wonderfully.

Have you used any of these tips? What would you add?

It’s amazing how much my traveling style has changed over the years. Nowadays I would never bring so much cotton with me or wear such light colours. But hey, you live and you learn!


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