Hostel Hacks: What to Pack

Hostels are a great way to keep costs down when traveling. If you can handle the inconveniences (and lack of privacy) that come with dorm life, you can save some serious cash. Unfortunately, hostels have a bad rap among a lot of travelers, even those on a tight budget!

While bunking with a group of strangers has its potential pitfalls, it’s easy to feel comfortable in a hostel with a little insight. When traveling solo, I would take a hostel over an AirBnB or hotel any day simply because they’re an easy place to meet people. In fact, many hostels are even embracing boutique atmospheres and hotel-like amenities, so staying in a hostel doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort.

If you can’t manage to snag a 5-star hostel, guest blogger Jess Signet has managed to travel the world on a shoe-string budget comfortably thanks to these five hostel packing essentials:


No matter where in the world you go, there is no better investment than a good pair of earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Whether it’s the group coming back from the local bar crawl at 4 AM or the person in the bed next to you getting up at the crack of dawn, hostels can be noisy.

Even if you’re lucky enough of find yourself in a quite room, people walking up and down corridors and slamming doors can disturb light sleepers. Because of this, earplugs are a no-brainer It’s also wise to bring a few spare pairs as they have an annoying habit of falling out of your ears in the night and disappearing forever.

Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleeping bag liners are thin, zip up blankets made from either silk, fleece or cotton. They roll up into an extremely small bundle so are easy to pack away, and could be a lifesaver for your hostel stay.

If the hostel’s provided bedding is less than ideal, you can just slip into your liner with no worries. It can also double up as a picnic mat in the park or a cover for sleeping on trains and planes—the uses are endless!


While most hostels are safe and attract other like-minded travelers, you should always be vigilant about protecting your belongings. Many hostels provide offer lockers, safes, or padlocks for your use.  However, this isn’t a guarantee, and in many countries, the locks can be easily broken or infiltrated.

There’s also usually a deposit to borrow a lock, so having your own is less of a hassle. It’s probably best to aim for a combination lock, as a key can easily be lost or stolen.

Spice Pack

Another reason hostels are a great way to save money is that they usually include a communal kitchen. This allows you to avoid eating out for every meal, which can add up quickly.

From experience, I’ve found that  ingredients available vary drastically on which country you’re visiting, and it can be difficult to create tasty meals. Also, navigating a grocery store in another language presents some obvious challenges.

As a result, I’ve taken to carrying a few portable spice-mixes with me. Wherever I am, I can buy any combination of fresh ingredients, and know I’ll have delicious meal no matter what!

Hostel stays don’t have to be complicated! Hostels are an extremely practical accommodation option for budget and long-term travelers. As long as you’re prepared, they can be just as comfortable and enjoyable as  a hotel!

If you have more tips for hostels, be sure to leave a comment below, and share your ideas with other travelers!

About Jess:
Jess Signet is an avid traveler and enjoys writing about her adventures. Knowing there is more of the world to see makes her want to travel even further. Jess is a (very) budget traveler who has stayed in many hostels and she hopes these ideas will help you during your next hostel stay!

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  • Reply
    April Yap
    January 2, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I agree with you at time we need to adjust to another places culture. But then it would be nice to try out different food so that you can also experience the culture in another country. I am a bit of adventurous with food so I try to explore.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I always take a sleeping bag liner with me and it has saved a few nights for sure 🙂

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