12 Hostel Travel Essentials

If you’re a female solo traveler, I’m sure you have asked yourself what to bring when you are planning to stay at a hostel. I used to be just like you — scared and confused about hostel life. (Ok, I still get nervous every time I go!)

First of all, let me tell you that staying at a hostel is safe, but you should still be a smart traveler and bring a padlock. Staying at a hostel doesn’t mean compromising your beauty sleep or looks. But don’t expect to bring your entire makeup and hair styling collection either. My best advice is to bring the things that keep you feeling clean, fresh, and beautiful with minimal effort.

The most important thing to bring with you is a positive attitude and a smile! — I know, that was really cheesy…. but it’s true!

Alright, so what you’ve been waiting for… here is my list of

Essential Items for Hostel Travel:

1. Padlock

I’m not saying that hostels are dangerous places, but if you’re staying in a multiple-bed dorm, it just makes sense to be safe rather than sorry.

I recommend bringing not one, but TWO padlocks. One for the locker provided in the hostel, and one for your suitcase/backpack. Also, padlocks with a combination are better than those with a key, because you could end up losing the key!

2. Sleeping Mask

Useful for both the hostel and for trains/planes/buses! But especially for hostels, when the curtains are paper thin and you need that extra hour of beauty sleep. Get yourself a cute and comfortable sleeping mask like mine.

3. Ear Plugs

Your new best friend when it comes to getting a good night’s rest in a hostel! Because nobody wants to stay awake hearing their dorm mates snoring the whole night. This is seriously a lifesaver, once you get used to the feeling of having something in your ears (yeah, it’s weird).

4. Travel Toiletries (and bag)

Ok ladies, this is for me the most critical part of traveling because airport security has a strict limit on the number of liquid products you can bring in carry-on luggage. That doesn’t stop me from bringing all of my beauty essentials that keep me looking (and smelling) my best.

Here is what I always pack in my toiletry bag that has a super handy hanger. Trust me – you will need to hang this bag in the shower, on your bed, or next to the closest mirror.

  • Shampoo & Conditioner – each in 100 ml bottles
  • Bar of soap
  • Biore Face Wash (powder)
    PRO TIP: This face wash is a game-changer. Apart from the fact that it actually gives me a deep-clean feeling, this is a powder wash that activates with water. So I can bring the whole bottle, it’s quite small, and only weighs 125 grams)
  • Make-up removing wipes
  • Wet wipes
  • Face Lotion
  • My favorite hand cream (and only product I splurge on)

5. Flip Flops (even in winter)

Trust me when I tell you that you will need to bring flip flops with you on a winter vacation. I’m all about cheap travel, but I’m not about getting a fungal infection on my feet in the hostel shower.

I don’t care how clean the hostel is advertised or reviewed, you never know who stepped foot in the shower before you. And for that reason, my friends, bring flip flops!!! I normally use flip-flops that I would actually take to the beach too, so I only pack one pair.

6. Camera(s)

What is a good traveler without a good camera? Invest in your photographs, because it’s the one thing that will help you remember your experiences (especially if you have bad memory like me).

I highly recommend the Panasonic Lumix G7 for anyone who is looking for a starter camera that is super easy to use AND takes amazing pictures. Oh, and it shoots in 4K video!

I also bring my Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 with me everywhere I go to take truly INSTANT photographs. I think it’s such a cute and fun way to document my travels.

7. Portable Power Bank

I need this with me at all times when traveling, as much as I need air to breathe! I use my phone constantly when I travel solo. Go ahead and make fun of me – but I am THAT person.

I use my phone to check for directions on Google Maps (tip: always download the offline version to save on data!), to find information about a place I’m visiting, or simply to upload stories to my Instagram. I also use my phone to hang out with other Couchsurfers – a great way to meet both locals and travelers when traveling by yourself.

For these and many more reasons, a good portable power bank is a MUST for when you don’t have time to stop for an hour at a coffee shop to charge your phone. I always bring two with me just in case, but I’ve found that my Iphoria Power Purse does the trick for the whole day.

8. Power Adapter

When you do have time to sit down and power-up (in the hostel, restaurant or cafe), you should make sure to bring the right power adapter.

Please note that this is NOT the same thing as a power converter. To learn about the differences between a power adapter and a power converter, and to avoid frying your electronics, check out this great blog post that summarizes what each one is.

9. Multi USB Charger

This is extremely useful for when you need to charge multiple electronics at the same time. I usually charge my phone, laptop, and camera with one USB charger that looks like this:

10. Sunglasses

Even in winter when you think the sun is in hibernation, it’s important to protect your eyes. The UV rays still shine through the gray clouds! I always bring a pair of sunglasses with good solar protection, and it’s also a good accessory.

11. First Aid Basics

Regardless of how invincible you think you are, you are bound to get sick or come down with a headache (hangover related or not) or get a bad blister from walking in your new shoes.

Side note: NEVER travel with new shoes! Break them in a month before your trip if you don’t want to get blisters.

Here’s a list of things I always carry with me:

  • Aspirin Complex (for hangovers)
  • Ibuprofen (for major head and muscle aches)
  • Antiacid tablets (for when I’ve had some questionable street food)
  • An assortment of band-aids
  • Neo-Angin Cough drops (for when I start to feel an itchy throat)

12. Digital & Photo Copies of Documents

Scan all your important documents and send them to yourself via email. Then print said scanned documents and keep them in a safe place.

Nobody wants to think of the worst, but I’m here to tell you that it’s better to be prepared with a backup scan of your passport than to spend hours of wasted time explaining to your embassy that you didn’t make a copy of it (and cue the emotional phone calls to parents asking them to expedite your birth certificate and 1000 other documents).

13. Travel Insurance

Last, but certainly not least… Travel Insurance. In fact, it should be the FIRST thing on your list. Do NOT leave home without some form of travel insurance. 

I want all of you to travel far and travel safe, and the best way to ensure you continue traveling is to get insurance. Just do it. It will save you money in the long run, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

And just because I love you guys so much, you can download a FREE Printable Checklist version of this post to make your life easier! All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter and you will receive it directly to your inbox.

Those are the things I never leave home without, and if you found my tips useful please pin this post for later!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help me keep this site up and running (and possibly purchase a coffee).

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