Have you ever stayed at a hostel? I have, and I absolutely love it. It’s a wonderful way to travel for cheaper, meet new people and have fun. But the downside (which I actually think is also an upside really – it makes the stay more home-like) is that hostel life is not all glamour. The room might not be the cleanest, the bed most comfortable and the showers in an impeccable state. You might have to do your own dishes and be a bit more careful with your belongings in a dorm than in a private room. I personally have almost always been lucky enough to stay in hostels that are fairly well kept, by listening to friends’ recommendations or looking at online reviews. But sometimes even the hostel with the best reviews might deceive. Still, I promise you, a hostel can be a wonderful experience almost no matter what, if you keep a few essentials with you in case of surprises in addition to what you would normally pack.
For many people, safety is the major issue with hostels. Will somebody steal my belongings? Can I bring a laptop and a camera without having to worry? Yes, you can. Almost all hostels have a locked safe for each visitor where you can keep your valuables. So just be sure to check before your stay on the hostel’s website that you have the possibility to use a safe or a locker. But just in case, I recommend always having your own lock with you. At some hostels, it might be needed to keep your valuables safe.
Slippers. I always forget them and always regret it the moment I enter the showers. The showers and bathrooms are often, unfortunately, the most questionably cleaned part of a hostel. And even if they are clean, there are tens of people using them every day, so you might feel more comfortable stepping in them with slippers on. Plus, slippers are always good even for walking around the hostel if you don’t feel like using shoes or going barefoot.
Regarding the showers, it’s also good to have your own towel. In many hostels, you will be given one or you can rent one for a small fee, but you know, just in case. Take also a laundry bag, caarying your dirty clothes around will feel way nicer.
A sleeping bag might come in handy if the bed sheets you are given at the hostel are in a questionable state (or the hostel in general, probably will tell a bit about the sheets as well), you are not given sheets at all (might happen that you are expected to bring your own) or you need an extra layer on a cold night. There are very small, silk sleeping bags that take almost no space in your bag, so it’s always good to have one of those with you instead of bringing a whole set of bed sheets.
Dormitories can be as small as for two people and go up to 16 or even more. So except if you take a private room in a hostel or are traveling in a big enough group to fill the whole room, you’ll most likely sleep with strangers. In case you’re a light sleeper, easily disturbed by others talking, snoring or putting lights on when coming home late, have ear plugs and an eye mask to ensure you get your beauty sleep.
Finally, if you’re travelling for a longer period of time, you’ll need to do some laundry at some point. The system depends on the hostel. Some might have a laundry service where you can just leave your clothes for a fee and pick up later, some might have machines, or some nothing, in which case you’ll have to find a cleaner’s. In case you need to do your laundry yourself, laundry detergent caps are a good thing to have with you so you don’t have to buy a huge box of them just for a few machines (some cleaner’s have the option to buy individual caps but again – you never know).
I hope you enjoyed these tips and found them useful, happy travelling!