Packing List for Hostels
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The Ultimate List of Essentials for Hostel Stays

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When staying in a hostel, it can be easy to forget that they don’t have all the bells and whistles that hotels do. So, remembering your list of essentials for hostel stays is important! If you’re like me, you started putting these items in a pile months before your trip. Otherwise, I tend to forget the things needed for a hostel stay. Hopefully, I can introduce you to new ways to save space and money, like soap nuts (more of them below)! Whether you’re headed to Austria or Stockholm, my essential packing list for hostels is here for you.

Especially if you’re asking yourself, “What are the necessary items for a girl in a hostel?” And if you’re more of a backpacker than a luggage lady like myself, here’s the best personal item backpack for travel.

Building Your Packing List of Essentials for Hostels

Bundle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser 3oz Travel Size essentials for hostel
Nail Clippers and Beauty Tool Portable Set things needed in hostel

Stay Wrinkle Free with Downey Spray

The top of my packing hostel guide, is Downey Spray, as it saved my butt on quite a few occasions when my clothes had gotten severely wrinkled. Trust me, it’ll happen, even if you purposely bought the shirt that ‘doesn’t wrinkle.’ I brought along a hanger as well so that I had somewhere to hang the clothes after I unwrinkled them. Course, some hostels do provide hangars, but I’ve seen some that don’t, so make your own choice whether or not to bring one.

Pack a Mini-Manicure Set

A must on my list of essentials for hostel stays for girls is a manicure set! I’ve had a 007 Manicure set for ten years and it still holds together. Unfortunately, I got it at a dollar store, so I can’t find a link for it, but the one here will do fine as well.

I suggest investing in one of these if you don’t already have one, as most will provide you with not just a nail clipper but also tweezers, mini-scissors, a nail file, and sometimes other items you may need. Just remember to put it in your luggage and not your carry-on since the TSA doesn’t allow scissors. Or you can remove the scissors and it should be fine.

Nail Polish Travel Tips

My nails started to chip around the third day of my trip, so the nail polish I brought along was a great idea. Just make sure to pack it well in case the bottle breaks. I know a lot of people are now doing gel manicures. However, I got one when I went to Europe, and it took about six months for my nail strength to return. So, I don’t recommend gel manicures.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of touching up your nails, you can put on a coat of clear nail polish to make them look healthier and cleaner. You can also use this clear nail polish in case your stockings run!

I love items that have multiple uses!

Conair Double Ceramic 1 1/2-Inch Curling Iron
Elchim Natures Touch Flat Iron

Hair Straighteners, Curling Irons, and Hair Dryers

I’ve used my flat iron nearly every day on vacation, but I should also note that I also use it daily at home, so that’s to be expected. The Elchim Natures Touch Flat Iron I have listed here was recommended to me by my hairstylist. It has a warranty; just remember to submit your purchase to the company so it activates, unlike me, who forgot to and now has no warranty (whomp whomp). But it is a must on my packing list for hostels because I used it daily!

I’ve used my curling iron only a handful of times while on vacation. The Conair Double Ceramic 1 1/2-Inch Curling Iron I have shown above I got recently as I wanted bigger waves and have been loving it! However, I know myself and get tired on vacation, so sometimes I wish I didn’t lug it along. Make this choice for yourself, but I definitely recommend the Conair if you do want a curling iron.

As for hairdryers, I’ve found most hostels have these nowadays, or at least if it’s not in your room you can usually ask for one. I wouldn’t waste the space in your bag bringing one along.

Gillette Satin Care Ultra Sensitive Irritation Defense Shave Gel
Gold Bond Hand Cream for Eczema Relief 3 oz
Paula's Choice Reusable Makeup Remover Pads Eco-Friendly Cotton & Bamboo Rounds essentials for hostel

Use Conditioner or Shaving Cream?

If you’re in a pinch, you can use conditioner instead of shaving cream. However, I spend so much on hair products that I wouldn’t dare do that. I’d rather just buy the travel-size shaving cream. It doesn’t weigh much, and you could stuff it in a boot to help it keep its shape as well. Double whammy on this packing list for hostels!

Lotion: Especially for Cold Travel Destinations

I bring hand lotion with me everywhere, even when I’m not traveling. You can use it to moisturize your skin, but you can also use it to take off stubborn makeup at the end of the night. I was recently in Finland, and my eczema was flaring up due to being wrapped in layers and layers, so I really needed to keep my skin moist else I’d be itchy all day. While it was a constant battle, I did find lotioning up at night with a lotion made specifially for those with eczema did help, making it a must on my packing list for hostels.

Note: I haven’t used the specific brand above, but it’s very similar to my normal Aveeno one.

Makeup Remover Pads

Another item I have on my list of essentials for hostel stays and also use at home is my makeup remover pads. These make it easy to remove my makeup at the end of the day without too much trouble. They’re also machine washable when hand washing doesn’t get all that mascara off the cloth.

Travel Towel and Flip Flops for Showering

Some people add a towel to their packing list for hostels. I don’t like taking up all that room in my suitcase, but this is totally up to you. Usually, it’s a couple of dollars (or whatever the local currency is) to get one, so it’s not too expensive.

If your hostel has a communal shower, I’d advise bringing flip-flops. Not all hostels operate this way, so make sure to check (Hostel World usually has this info) before you bring them with you for no reason, but if they do, it’s best to keep those toes safe and add it as a must get on your packing list for hostels!

Toiletry Bag for Ease

Having a toiletry bag on hand will also help with bathrooms that aren’t en suite. This way, you can easily carry whatever items you need to the shower or bathroom area.

NaturOli Soap Nuts essentials for hostel
Earth Breeze Laundry Detergent Sheets
Band-Aid Travel Ready Portable Emergency First Aid Kit

Soap Nuts or Laundry Detergent Sheets?

When I first stayed in a hostel, a coworker recommended soap nuts. To my recollection, you put a few of these nut-looking things into the little bag, get them wet, and they suds up. You can either hand wash or machine wash with these. Just dry them out after use, and you can store and use them again later.

Soap nuts work just fine, but I’ve since moved onto laundry detergent sheets as I find them easier. All you need to do is fill a sink with water, place a sheet in, and it suds up. I did a whole load of laundry this way in a hotel room in Thailand. Making it a must on my packing list for hostels.

Travel Size First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is necessary as you never know when you’ll need it. I usually wind up with at least one blister on my travels, so it is useful for that, at the least. Add whatever medical-type items you think you may need to this as a must on your packing list for hostels.

Packing tip: It’s best to break in your shoes before you go. However, with all the walking, there is still a high chance of blisters.

Pain Relief

Advil or Ibuprofen is also a good idea. Obviously, I am not your doctor, so this isn’t me prescribing you anything. I am just reminding you that sometimes headaches and muscle aches do occur, so bring with you what you and your doctor think best. The last thing you want to do is be in pain on your exciting adventure!

Storage and Marking Your Territory

You’ll want to bring some zip locks with you to store some of your items, but you can also use them to store some food you have in the refrigerator at your hostel. You’ll need a sharpie to mark down your name on it so that no one accidentally nicks your sandwich! And you don’t want anyone to do that, so make sure to add it to your list of essentials for hostel stays or borrow one from the staff!

You should also bring a padlock to store your luggage. I haven’t seen this in a while, but a few years back, you did have to provide your own padlock to lock away your luggage during the day, or they’d charge you for a rental of one. Research your hostel to see if you’ll need this. Hostel World usually has this information. They are quite heavy, though, so renting one if needed may be the better choice.

Flents Foam Ear Plugs things needed in hostel
Pacifica Beauty Dream Sleep Capsules Supplement
TESSAN International Plug Adapter essentials for hostel

Ear Plugs and Sleeping Mask

I am far too old now to share a room with five other females, but once upon a time I did, so I’m advising you that if you’re staying in a room with other people, especially ones you don’t know and you’re a light sleeper, please do bring ear plugs and a sleeping mask as everyone is on a different schedule than you. Someone may be leaving for the airport really early, and the last thing you want is to be awakened at 4 am, so take precautions by adding these items to your list of essentials for hostel stays!

Melatonin for When You Can’t Sleep

While we’re on the topic of being disturbed by others, I recommend melatonin if you’re a light sleeper or just have trouble sleeping in general. You can get this over the counter, but again, consult your doctor if you have questions. I find that it helps get me to sleep when I really cannot get myself to go to sleep. I’m told not to take it super regularly cause, like anything, its effects can lessen, so I recommend adding this to your essentials for hostel stays only if you’re having a rough time catching some Zs.

Note: I used to get the gummies from this brand, but it appears they no longer make them. However, these should be just as good!

International Plug Adapter

No matter where you’re staying on your trip, you’ll need an international plug adapter. The last thing you want to be is like that girl in the movie trying to plug in her electronic device, only to short-circuit the town because she had the wrong plug! Which means it is essential on my packing list for hostels!

Packing tip: Make sure your items fit into the adapter correctly. I once brought a hair dryer with a big plug that didn’t fit into the adapter correctly, so I was unable to use it on my trip.

Note: I haven’t used this exact adapter, but mine looks very similar!

Portable Charger

I know you’ll be taking tons of photos on your trip, so be sure to take an external battery pack with you. The one I use is so darn old that they don’t sell it anymore, but I’m sharing a top-rated one here for you to pick up so you don’t lose the chance to get all those photos on your trip!

Your Essentials for Hostels Checklist

  • Downy Wrinkle Releaser Spray
  • Nail Polish (Clear or Color)
  • Shaving Cream
  • Ziplocks
  • Sleeping Mask
  • Sharpie
  • Portable Charger
  • First Aid Kit
  • Lotion
  • Nail Kit
  • Flip flops
  • Soap Nuts/Laundry Detergent Sheets
  • Towel
  • Melatonin
  • Toiletry Bag
  • Advil/Ibuprofen
  • Flat Iron/Curling Iron
  • Padlock
  • Hanger
  • Ear Plugs
  • International Plug Adapter

Final Thoughts on Essentials for Hostels

I hope this helps you figure out what to put in your essential packing list for hostels! Comment below if you have any questions.

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