So you’re planning a stay in a hostel…
Maybe you’re looking for camaraderie, maybe you want to have a kitchen at your disposal, or maybe you were just looking for cheap accommodations. Whatever your reason, you’re booked. Don’t forget to throw these items in your bag when you’re frantically packing at 3am the night before you leave (or two weeks ahead of time…if you’re one of those people).
Earplugs and Eye mask
Earplugs and eye masks don’t exactly make you think “budget travel”. More like “princess in her castle” travel. BUT there’s where you’re wrong. I used these items for the first time after getting them for free from TripIt at the TBEX Athens conference last weekend. And let me tell you, when it’s 3am and your bunk buddy’s snoring is shaking the walls, you will be more than grateful for those earplugs. The eye mask is an added bonus for when late arrivals turn the lights on (should have brought their flashlights) or you want to pass out early.
This is more a courtesy to your roommates than anything. Chances are, your schedule will not be the exact same as every single person sharing your room. Some will go to bed earlier than you, and that’s when your flashlight comes in handy. Instead of flipping on the light and disturbing your roommates when you head to bed or have to get something out of your suitcase, you can use your flashlight.
Lock and Key
Yes, it’s great to be trusting, but unfortunately, people aren’t always as trustworthy as you are. Most hostels will provide lockers for you but you have to bring the lock and key. Anyway, I like to say never tempt an honest man. Keep your valuables locked up so you can use that eye mask and not have to sleep with one eye open.
One thing I haven’t quite figured out: why hostels don’t make having multiple outlets a priority. Certainly, many hostels are in old buildings that were originally used for something else. I stayed in one hostel in Dublin that had one outlet in a 12-bed dorm. One. Either way, you will be the hostel hero if you bring a splitter. Even if it’s not the country’s type of plug, most people will have converters.
This one is important for your personal comfort. In most places you won’t be able to control the A/C or heating. Which is why I like to bring what I call “in-between pajamas”. That is, PJs that I can be comfortable in either a cold or a hot room. It is usually a pair of sweat pants that end at the knee (keeps my legs from sticking together if it’s hot, and warmer than shorts), a heavier cotton T (thicker than a tank top, cooler than a thermal), and a pair of ankle socks that can be removed with a flick of the toe.
Lingerie Bag/Small Laundry Bag
This is great if you’re traveling for a while and will need to wash your clothes at some point. I use a lingerie bag to collect my dirty clothes because it’s smaller than a regular laundry bag and you can toss it in the wash along with the clothes. I’ve heard of people using grocery bags as well. This helps to keep your bag organized and helps you keep track of how many clean clothes you have left.
If you plan to cook, you might find it helpful to bring some food basics: salt and pepper, your favorite tea, a small bottle of oil to cook with. Nobody wants to buy a huge bottle of olive oil or a full packet of butter when you’re staying in a place for three nights. I also find it helps you to feel comfortable in a place faster if you bring bits of your normal routine with you.