Hostels are not the always the most glamorous of accommodations, but if you’re on a tight budget, they can be an excellent option to consider. They tend to be cheaper than hotels or AirBnB, especially if you opt for a shared dorm instead of a private room. If nothing else, you’ll be able to relive your college dorm experience and meet lots of interesting fellow travelers.
For example, I bonded over Harry Potter with an Austrian girl I met in my hostel in Scotland. I had breakfast with a couple of Finnish guys in a hostel in Vietnam. I’ve made memories and come away with stories that I will always look back on fondly. Of course, there are a few bad apples, as with anything; but overall, hostel life has been a fantastic adventure.
That said, if you’re going to stay in a hostel, you’ll need to come prepared.
Here’s a list of hostel essentials:
- Shower shoes
Two words: shared showers. Enough said. Opt for a cheap pair of flip flops or sturdier waterproof sandals. I practically LIVED in my Teva sandals while I was in Vietnam.
- Sleep sack
Stop giving hostel sheets the side-eye, and just bring your own sleep sack. Most of them are fairly lightweight and compact, so they won’t take up much room in your backpack. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing EXACTLY where those sheets have been and when they were last washed. Bonus: if you’re concerned about mosquitoes or bed bugs, you can treat your sleep sack with permethrin before your trip, but be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle very carefully.
Many hostels have cubbies or lockers available for you to store your stuff, but you’ll want to bring some padlocks to keep everything secure.
- Microfiber towel
Unlike hotels, most hostels do not provide towels, and the few that do, do so for a fee. Microfiber towels are super absorbent, dry very quickly, and don’t take up much room once you fold them up.
- Ear plugs and/or a sleep mask
Light sleepers may want to bring some sleep aids to get through a night in a shared dorm.