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8 Things I Always Pack When I Stay at a Hostel

24 July 2019

By: Sarah Stockman 

Sarah is a front desk agent at HI Los Angeles Santa Monica hostel. 

The first time I stayed in a hostel I was 19. I knew what they were from stories my mom told about the summer she traipsed through Europe, but I wasn’t quite sure what I needed to bring with me. Sheets? Towels? Cooking utensils? 

It turned out that I didn’t need to bring the things I thought, like linens, and instead needed things that were less obvious. Since then, I have stayed in over 100 hostels all over the world and have figured out what I need to make my stays enjoyable. 

Here are the things I always bring with me: 


orange and blue earplugs what to bring to a hostel

Although people usually don’t mean to be loud, it’s good to be prepared since, if you choose to stay in a dorm, you’ll be sharing a room with other travelers. It can also take a night or two for some people to adjust to sleeping with so many people in a room if you’ve never shared a room before. 

Eye mask

man sleeping with eye mask on

People all have different schedules and sometimes need to turn on the lights or use their phone lights before you’re ready to be awake. An eye mask will help you get all the beauty rest you need. 


two women in a hostel dorm room

You probably don’t want to take your passport and computer with you while you’re sightseeing, so it’s best to leave them safe in one of the lockers provided by the hostel. That way, you’ll always know where your stuff is, and you can rest easy while you’re out exploring. 


laptop and phone on a desk

Many countries have different electrical sockets and use different voltages than your home country. Adapters are easily portable, so you should bring one with you instead of having to hunt one down (and maybe paying more for it) when you arrive in a new country. 


shampoo bottles in different colors

Hostels don’t normally provide soap and shampoo, although some might provide a shampoo/body wash combination. So I recommend bringing soap and shampoo with you or planning to buy some when you arrive. Travelers often leave shampoo and soap behind in hostels because they can’t take them on a plane, so if you’re in need of toiletries and aren’t picky, ask the front desk what they have lying around before heading to the store. 


a knee with sunscreen on it

This one is essential, especially if you’re in a very sunny place like California or Australia. The same rule applies as with toiletries: a lot of times people leave sunscreen behind, so the front desk might have some up for grabs. 

Charger Cables

a woman sitting with her charging phone

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a bummer to show up in a new place with a dead phone and not have a charger. Hostels don’t usually provide them (though you can try your luck in the lost and found box), so don’t forget yours at home. 

The Stuff You Can't Do Without

a bag packed for traveling with camera and laptop

Depending on your preferences and where you’re traveling, you might also want to consider bringing a hairdryer, Band-Aids (plasters), and pain medications from home just in case they’re not the same in the U.S. 

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