Hostel Packing List - A packing guide for first time hostel stays

Hostel Packing List - Hostel Packing Guide for First Timers

Packing for a hostel (or any kind of dormitory setting) for the first time can seem intimidating. Unlike hotels, motels, and airbnbs, there are so many things that hostels don't provide. Below is a hostel packing guide so you can get the inside scoop of the essential items you'll definitely need and the accessories that would make your stay at a hostel more comfortable. 

Hostel Packing List

  • Earplugs - You'll never know if you'll have a roommate that snores or is making noise in the middle of the night.
  • Combination Lock - The most forgotten item while travel backpacking! Hostels provide you with lockers to secure your belongings but you need to bring your own lock. The best locks are keyless, have flexible metal cables, lightweight and TSA approved.
  • Sleep Mask - Make sure you get an adult-sized, comfortable sleep mask. Silk and satin sleep masks work better than cotton or linen sleep masks. You will encounter roommates that forget to turn off the lights or hostels where light shines through the windows.
  • International Plug Adapter(s) - If you are traveling abroad, don’t forget that there are different power outlets around the world. If you're traveling to multiple countries, there are universal adaptors that have multiple country plugs all-in-one. The best adaptors also have USB and USB-C outlets built in. Please note there is a difference between Adapters and Converters. A good converter will cost you double the price of an adapter. Converters are heavier and only needed for appliances such as blow dryers, hair straighteners, and automatic shavers. For the most of us, an adapter is fine and will work for phones, tablets, laptops, and cameras. 
  • Microfiber Travel Towel - Quick dry, lightweight and compact for indoor bathing use. Probably 9 out of 10 guests at a hostel, bring their own microfiber towel with them.
  • Compression Packing Cubes - The rule of thumb is at least one large packing cube per every 10L in your backpack. For example, if you are traveling with a 40L backpack, you’ll need at least 4 large packing cubes. Stick to the larger-sized ones that are uniform in size so they pack nicely in your bag. Packing cubes can also help separate your clean vs dirty clothes.
  • Rechargeable External Power Bank - Not just needed for any trip, but a lot of hostels don't have electric outlets for each bunk bed. 
  • Chargers - All cables for your electronics.
  • Day Bag - You won’t want to bring around your main backpack everywhere you go. A small, lightweight day bag is helpful so you can carry your essentials while exploring.
  • Toiletries - Bath wash, deodorant, shaver, shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen etc.
  • Toiletry Bag - Travel Backpackers seem to overly recommend hanging toiletry bags due to some hostels having very compact bathrooms with little counter space.
  • Flip Flops - If you are staying at hostel dormitory, you'll be sharing a bathroom with your roommates. Bring a pair a flip flops for the showers or even just walking around the room.
  • Headphones - If you use wireless earbuds, note that earbuds are the most lost travel accessory. Just image dozing off on a long flight or train ride and one of your expensive earbuds slip out of your ear. For this reason, if you use wireless earbuds, we suggest bringing a more economical pair.
  • Money Belt (optional)
  • Small Flashlight (optional) - Some Travel Backpackers like to lock their cell phone in their hostel lockers, but if you do, you will need a light to help you get around the hostel dormitory while your roommates are sleeping. A small flashlight keychain would be fine if you don’t plan on bringing your phone to your hostel bunk bed with you. Some travelers recommend headlamps as they are also useful if you plan any camping.
  • Compact Travel Water Bottle - You'll definitely want to bring a water bottle with you. The problem is that the best water bottles are bulky and heavy and buying new water bottles every day adds up financially. Invest in a compact travel water bottle that you can use and store easily.
  • Pocket Wifi or Virtual Private Network (optional) - Perfect for Digital Nomads that are working while they travel. If you aren’t working, it is not needed.
  • Document Folder (optional) - For your passport, travel insurance, extra cash etc. Preferably something that is waterproof.
  • Comfortable Sneakers - Sneakers are going to add bulk and weight to your bags. Try to find sneakers that are multifunctional. We have found two brands that are quite popular with the backpacking community. Vessi (waterproof) and Allbirds (ultra lightweight).
  • Clothing - Our only suggestion here is to not overpack and choose solid/neutral colors that can layered and matched in different ways.
  • eSim Card - Having a little data while traveling is very helpful when it comes to getting around with directions and communicating. Generation Nomad™ has partnered with trusted Airalo® to provide backpackers with discounts on eSim cards. Scan the QR code below from your mobile phone for more info: 

If this is your first time staying at hostel, we have a few amazing blog articles to check out:

How Hostels Work. Are Hostels Safe?

What Is A Hostel? Who Stays At Hostels?




I’m Mark, the Founder of Generation Nomad, Avid Travel Backpacker & Digital Nomad. I am passionate about helping others discover the world through my experiences. I solo backpacked for months at a time, lived abroad, and even speak two foreign languages. Besides collaborating on the best lightweight travel accessories for Travel Backpackers, I also love sharing my travel photography.
Favorite Trips: Spain, Egypt & Vietnam 
Favorite Cuisines: Italian, Peruvian & Japanese
Quote: “Be a circle and just roll with it” 
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