Staying in Hostels : 5 Useful Things To Have With You


For most budget travelers, hostels are much more than the setting of a horror film; they are a crucial part of any backpacking trip throughout the world.

Providing dorm-like facilities (often bunk beds in a shared bedroom) and shared bathrooms, hostels can provide rock-bottom lodging costs that are usually very affordable.  Not only is it much cheaper than splurging on a hotel room, most hostels also provide other money saving features like free breakfasts, kitchen facilities, and even discounted tickets to nearby museums and attractions.

However, hostels can also be pretty bare-bones. Make sure you’re prepared and bring along the following items to make sure you get the most bang for your buck during your next adventure!

5 Must Have Items for Your Next Hostel Stay

1. Groceries

Most hostels provide kitchen facilities that allow you to cook your own meals, eliminating the need to pay for expensive dinners out.  Stop by the local store, pick up some groceries and cook yourself that favorite meal from back home.

You’ll practically never eat alone and will likely walk away tasting food from around the world as fellow guests cook their own favorites.  An added bonus is that many hostels provide free breakfasts or other meals for their guests.

2. Membership Cards

Not all hostels are affiliated with a larger organization, but it always pays to bring any relevant membership cards with you during a hostel stay. Often a Hostelling International Card or International Student ID Card (ISIC) can save you at least a few bucks a night at affiliate locations and even some non-member hostels.

Sometimes a student ID card of any kind or a AAA card can also save you some money, so make sure to bring any and all of your relevant cards with you for you next trip.

3. A Travel Adapter

Depending on where you’re traveling to, some of your devices may not have the correct plugs for the country you’re staying in. Make sure you have a good travel adapter with you so you don’t get caught without a way to charge your electronics.

When purchasing an adapter, it’s important to get a universal power adapter you can use in almost every country in the world. Even better? Get one with USB ports. Then you don’t have to worry about plugs and can quickly charge smaller items like your phone or smartwatch.

4. Earplugs and a Sleeping Mask

One down-side to sharing your accommodations with a lot of other travelers is that it can sometimes be a bit noisy.

Having a good set of earplugs (or headphones) and an eye mask can help you drown out the noise and catch some Zzz’s if your fellow travelers aren’t quite ready to settle down for the night. They can also come in handy if you just need a little peace and quiet or mid-day snooze!

5. A Laptop or Tablet

This probably goes without saying, but a sturdy laptop or tablet is priceless when traveling on a budget trip.  Most hostels provide free WiFi, allowing you to book your next stay, keep in touch with your family and friends, post travel pics, or even write that next blog entry.

It’s virtually impossible to travel without the internet these days, so having a laptop or tablet really is key.  One reminder though — keep it safe. Whether you carry it with you or put it in a locker while you’re out and about, just make sure it’s always safe and secure.

For more information about hostelling, check out

Any other recommendations for must-haves while staying in hostels?


About Author

Stephanie Wobensmith is on the road to making her wandering lifestyle a profession. She is pursuing a M.A. in International Education at SIT Graduate Institute in southern Vermont and is currently working at Semester at Sea headquarters in central Virginia. She has also co-managed a backpacker's hostel, coordinated service learning efforts at a community college, and served in AmeriCorps during the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She has lived in Sydney and Dublin, criss-crossed the country on a Greyhound bus, explored Baja California in a Land Cruiser, and roamed the island of Bali and the Indian Subcontinent. A vegetarian of ten years, she adores vegetarian cheesesteaks and green Thai curry.


  1. A little toilet paper also comes in handy. In hostels in China I keep encountering toilet paper dispensers that are OUTSIDE the stalls, which means I sometimes forget to grab a handful before heading in. Luckily I always have some on my person or in my pack. Please tell me I’m not the only one who carries toilet paper in their pocket when they’re on the road?

  2. Eye mask! You’ll be glad you have it when someone staying in your room gets up to pack while it’s still dark out to catch their 5AM bus.

    A good book is a great thing to bring. A lot of hostels have book exchanges, so once you’re finished with yours, you can trade it in for another.

    Also, always bring your own lock with you so you can secure your valuables before you leave the hostel.

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