Staying in a hostel means dealing with other people’s messes, and using other people’s toilets.
The one luxury I love when I’m home is the privacy of having your own bathroom. There’s something comforting about a familiar toilet, where everything is in its place and is (usually) up to your standard of cleanliness.
After braving long transits and cramped train/plane toilets, sometimes you just want a place where you can take a nice shower and not wonder what those dubious stains on the floor really are!
These days, I usually dig deeper into my wallet and pay a little more for a private room and bathroom so I’ll never have to wait in line, but in the event you don’t have that luxury, here are a couple of essential items to pack along that make sharing a communal hostel bathroom a more pleasant experience.
1. Plastic Bags
Whether they’re ziplocs or just plain ol’ plastic bags, they are a godsend in any bathroom. Hostel bathrooms generally tend to be pretty small, so having a plastic bag allows you to keep your clothes dry, even if the cubicle is just big enough for you and the toilet bowl. Your stuff stays pristine – you just need to wipe off the plastic bag after you’re done, and you can use the plastic bag again and again.
You don’t even have to specially buy these bags – just save some of them from your shopping or grocery runs – that way even if they get irrevocably dirty (ew) or spring a leak, you can toss them easily. Also, if you fold them right, they don’t take up a lot of space in a backpack.
Plastic bags are also useful as a surface to rest your stuff if there aren’t any suitable ledges or hooks, and you can use them to bag your dirty clothes after your bath, or keep your damp towel/toiletries away from the dry stuff in your bag.
2. Cheap Flip-flops
I’m a little squeamish at the idea of stepping on the floor of a shared hostel bathroom – you’re never quite sure what has been there, or how fastidious the staff have been cleaning the place! Cheap flip-flops give you that little comfort of not stepping on a strange floor with your bare feet, though if the drainage is clogged, you’re still stuck standing in your own bath water (and more).
Some places provide slippers for their residents, but if you prefer not to stick your feet in other people’s toejam, just carry your own indoor flip-flops around! Even if I’m in a swanky hotel room, I usually prefer to plod around in my own slippers.
3. Soap and a toothbrush
If there are only 2 items you can pack into your toiletries to a desert island, make it some soap and a toothbrush. When in a pinch, soap can double as shampoo and washes off grime better than plain ol’ water. And while you can usually bum some toothpaste off a well-prepared traveller, very few (if any at all) will volunteer to share their toothbrush with you. And there’s no better way to start off a day than with a minty fresh smile and breath!
Wetwipes are so handy for the inevitable sticky situations that befall travelers. Other bonus items that are good to have: Your own stash of tissue (because some toilets are always out of paper, or the rolls get wet which is icky!)
5. Hand sanitizer
Because.. you will use it over and over, even when you’re not in the hostel.
6. Quick-drying towel
You might also want to consider bringing hand sanitizer and a large thin quick-drying bath towel that dries you sufficiently and protects your modesty if you left your underwear in the room.