GUEST POST: Yeah! Annewhere got fed again by a guest post. This time it’s by Jess Signet. She is a blogger and writer who loves to travel and is usually on a strict budget. She loves sharing her tips and stories with others. You can catch Jess on Twitter @Jessstravels or on her blog Tripelio.
Staying in hostels is wonderful, because of its affordability, camaraderie and convenience, but they are not always the most comfortable or secure places available. Between the number of people parading in and out of your room, the possible lack of cleanliness and other potential trip ruiners, you might find yourself eyeing that hotel room instead. You don’t need to spring for the expensive option to get a better stay though. Instead, just make sure you pack these ten essential items and you’ll be fully-equipped to have a fantastic time!
Staying in hostels: Noise-canceling Headphones / Earplugs
Even if noise doesn’t bother you when you’re sleeping, there are some noises that you just might not want to hear…such as the sounds of the not-so-stealthy couple getting it on in the bunk beneath you. Personally, I like to throw on a relaxing album to fall asleep to, but a good pair of earplugs is just as useful.
Staying in hostels: An Eye Mask
Light generally doesn’t bother me when I’m sleeping, but I still like to pack an eye mask just in case. Between people who are just generally inconsiderate to people who are ridiculously drunk, you’ll find that the lights will probably go on and off all night long (and if it’s not the lights, it’ll be that flashlight shining right in your eyes as it bounces its way around the room). It never hurts to be prepared—even if you don’t think it’ll be an issue. Eye masks don’t take up a lot of space, and you can steal them off your flights anyway.
Staying in hostels: Shower Shoes
Let’s face it, hostel showers are generally disgusting, and even if you think they’re clean, 50 other feet have probably been in there between the time it last was cleaned and the time you take your shower. Foot fungus and other feet diseases are relatively common and easily spread, and they can really ruin your vacation!
Staying in hostels: A Towel
As for the rest of your shower kit, well, even if a hostel says they’ll provide a towel or allow you to rent one, it’s likely going to be gross, scratchy, and generally unpleasant. Besides, there are so many options these days for towels that dry quickly and pack up small that there’s no reason not to carry your own. Using the shampoo that’s been left behind in the showers, on the other hand? Fair game.
Staying in hostels: A Sturdy Lock
If you’re traveling with any electronics or other valuable items, you may want to be able to lock them up while you sleep, while you’re out sightseeing or at other times. Even if you’re not traveling with valuables, you might feel more comfortable if you lock up your things (I’ve even had my shoes stolen in a hostel, and I’m not the only one!). Honestly, I’ve found that most hostel-provided locks are pretty easily picked (and many hostels require you to put down a deposit to rent them, which is always annoying). Since having my laptop stolen obviously isn’t something I want to leave up to chance, I’ve taken to carrying my own lock.
Staying in hostels: Detergent
Some hostels offer laundry services; many don’t (and even of the ones that do, most charge a small fortune that totally negates the fact that you’re staying in a budget place). Pack your own small baggie of detergent and you can easily do your own laundry in the sink or shower. Then hang it to dry over your bunk’s railing and revel in the feeling of being a true backpacker.
Staying in hostels: A VPN
If you’re worried about fungus in the showers, that’s nothing compared to viruses spread over the WiFi network. If you have any sort of WiFi-enabled device and plan to use it in a hostel, make sure you have a VPN installed on it. I once checked into a hostel in Istanbul and found that their WiFi network was infected and would load adware onto any smartphone, tablets or computers that connected to it—not something I wanted to have to deal with on my trip! A strong VPN will keep your device safe so you can minimize the frustration. Now if someone could just figure out how to make the network run faster…
Staying in hostels:A Deck of Cards
One of my favorite ways to meet people at hostels is to play some card games. There are certain road staples (Kings Cup, Yaniv, etc.) that it seems that nearly every traveler knows, and it’s a great way to pass a rainy afternoon or a lazy evening before you hit the bars. I’ve taken to carrying a set of plastic, waterproof cards so that they aren’t damaged by rain, drinks, trips to the beach or anything else.
Staying in hostels: A Good Book
Let’s face it, some days, you may just not feel like exploring. It’s good to have a fallback plan for days when the weather isn’t fair or you’re just too tired to do anything else. Personally, I like to bring a book with me when I travel and then swap it for new reads at hostels when I’ve finished it. You won’t always find the best books there, but sometimes you will find unknown gems amongst the books other people have left behind.
Staying in hostels: Friendship Bracelets
Okay, so this isn’t a requirement, but it’s something I love to carry with me when I’m going to be staying in hostels. See, some of your hostel mates will become your best friends, even if you only see each other for a few days before you part ways forever. The thing is, travel is all about the experiences that you have, and your newfound friends and exploration-buddies are going to be instrumental in making those amazing memories. So I like to carry some cheap friendship bracelets to bestow on people who have really made my trip something special.
If you do your research and pick a decent hostel, any place can feel like home for a little while, especially if you bring the tools you need to make your stay comfortable. These are ten things that I recommend, but of course, everyone travels differently. What are you packing essentials? Is there anything else that you carry that you recommend to other travelers? Share your essential items below!