If you’re traveling through the U.S. on October 31, get ready for pumpkin carving, mountains of candy, and perfectly normal people dressed as zombies. It’s Halloween, and HI USA hostels across the country will be hosting celebrations and leading outings to local festivities. If throwing together a costume sounds intimidating (or expensive), there are plenty of costumes that only require the items in your backpack and props found in any HI USA hostel.
1. Tacky Tourist
Could it get any easier? Throw on your cargo pants, a souvenir t-shirt from somewhere you visited, and a camera around your neck. Go the extra mile with a day pack around your waist and carry around an unfolded HI USA map, which you can pick up at the front desk.
2. Black Cat
This classic Halloween costume requires less than you think. Dress in all black and use black eyeliner to draw whiskers on your face. Don’t have eyeliner? Someone in your dorm is bound to!
3. 80s Chick
Ladies, this one is for you. Put your hair into a high ponytail on the side of your head. Ask one of your new hostel friends who is a size bigger than you to borrow a t-shirt, and tie the excess fabric in a knot on one side of your waist. Then ask around for colorful eyeshadow and put a heavy layer on your lids. Finish it off with bright pink lipstick and you’ve stepped back in time.
4. “Cereal” Killer
If English is your second language, “serial” and “cereal” have the same pronunciation, and this costume is a play on words for a serial killer (someone who kills lots of people). Take an empty cereal box (check the free box found in most HI USA kitchens), and stab it with a butter knife. Carry that around with you and you’re now a cereal killer.
Tuck in a button down shirt into a pair of jean shorts or khakis and hike your shorts up as high as they will go. Put on your longest socks and also roll them as high as they can go. Complete the look with a pair of glasses and put a few pens in your shirt pocket.
You probably already have the making of a hiker costume in your backpack – it’s whatever you’re planning to wear on your next hike – but it will seem like an authentic costume in the context of a night on the town.
7. Greek Goddess
If there’s one thing you can guarantee to be in a hostel, it’s bed sheets. Take advantage of your resources and dress of as an Ancient Greek Goddess. Just wrap the sheet around you and add a belt for security!
8. Dora The Explorer
If you’re not familiar with the children’s show, Dora the Explorer, let’s just say she’s an OG backpacker—kids style of course. And as you can see, her wardrobe is pretty easy to replicate if you’re living from a backpack. Just throw on a pink shirt, colored shorts and a backpack and there won’t be any denying you’re the young cartoon explorer. And don’t forget: Swipper Not Swipping!
9. “When Life Gives You Lemons…”
As the famous American idiom goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. To make this costume come to life, take a plain t-shirt and write “LIFE” on it. Then, find some lemons (a hostel kitchen is a perfect place to start) and take your costume out on the town. When someone asks you what you are, just reach in your pocket and hand them the lemons and wait for their response. If anything, you’re sure to start up an interesting conversation.
There’s no better way to experience a destination as a local than by joining in their holiday celebrations! Costumes are a great way to break the ice with fellow travelers, who no doubt want to explore this crazy holiday with you.