16 Things To Pack When Staying In A Hostel

It’s less than two weeks before I go backpacking West Africa and naturally my feelings are all over the place. I am planning to stay in hostels although I am not sure if I will find decent ones in West Africa.  Hostels are way different from hotels and there are things that you must carry with you. I learned that the hard way last year. It was my first time staying in hostels and I never bothered to research. Now that I am older and wiser, I decided to put up a list of the things I must pack just in case the travel gods will be on my side and I end up getting decent hostels in West Africa.

Catch Up: Things to know before  booking a hostel

So what’s the hostel packing list?

1. Copies of your  Travel documents

Always have photocopies of your documents and when packing , separate the original documents from the copies. This is important just in case your travel documents get stolen or lost.

I also take pictures of my travel documents then email them to myself. I remember that one time I forgot my yellow fever certificate on my way to Uganda and I had to show the immigration officer a picture I had taken of the certificate. In some cases, it might not work but it did work in my case because I had taken a photo.

hostel packing list

2. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are top on this list because they are very important. In fact, if you ever forget anything on this list, do not ever leave your packing cubes behind.  They make packing easy and they fit easily in the bag. You can even separate your dirty and clean clothes using this cubes.

hostel packing list

3. A padlock

Another important thing that you cannot forget. Hostels are a nice and fun way to meet other fellow travellers but let’s be real here. Not everyone you meet will have good intentions and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Most hostels provide lockers for this reason. Do not leave your valuables lying around in the name of trusting these people that you do not know. Lock them up.

4. A Light towel

Quick dry towels are essential as hostels do not provide towels and even if they do, it comes at an expense.  Get a light inexpensive towel that folds easily and you are good to go.

5. Toiletries

Hostels do not provide toiletries as well and I would advise you to get a small bag that can fit bottles that you can reuse  for all your travel. Ensure your bottles are 100 ml or less otherwise  you will not check in with them. Thanks Jambo jet for teaching me this lesson. I do not like you for taking my favourite deodorant.  Your toiletry bag should contain some of these basics:

  • Shower gel & shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Comb
  • Make up products you’ll need
  • Wet wipes and pocket tissues
  • Tampons and pantie liners

6. A Power Adaptor

I learnt the importance of power adapters when I first visited Rwanda in 2013. I could not charge my electronics because their sockets were different from the Kenyan ones. Depending on where you are going, carry the adapter to avoid the frustration that comes with foreign sockets.

hostel packing list

7. The right attire

Find out how cold or hot a place is before visiting in order to know the right clothes to pack. Also, pack clothes that layer easily.

Now that I am going to West Africa during their summer, I will need light clothes, comfortable shoes and sunglasses.  It’s easier to google ‘packing list + the destination’. This will always prove useful.

8. Sandals

Again, these are not provided by the hostels and you will need them when showering or when talking walks to the beach. Pack them.

hostel packing list

9. Hostel details

Your phone might go off with all the details so please physically write down the location of where you are going just in case you need to ask for directions or give directions to the cab guy.

10. Power Bank

Always have a power bank to recharge your smart phone or get a nokia 3310. hehe

hostel packing list

11. Kindle / Audio Books

These will come in handy when passing time in those long bus rides, flights or at the beach.

12. Bug Repellent

It’s like mosquitoes can tell foreign blood because those suckers will stress you. You will be out trying to have a good time with the locals but the mosquitoes will not let you have peace. I experienced this in Zambia. Never again.

13. Ear Plugs

This is very important for those that choose to stay in dorms. Dorms host different kinds of travellers and some snore. Sometimes you are not sure if they are snoring or they are trying to start a lawn mower.  Personally, I can’t sleep when someone is snoring hence why I will always need ear plugs.

hostel packing list

14. Eye Mask

You need this for those long flights and bus rides . Eye masks are also a good idea when you are taking naps in the dorms


hostel packing list

15. A torch

For those nights that you might come in late and you do not want to be the jerk that comes in very late at night to turn on the lights for those that are sleeping peacefully.  Have some manners and carry a flashlight for such nights.

16. Condoms

No judgement here. hehe. If you are the single solo traveller out to meet people, you might need condoms. Lets practise safe sex. Shall we?



Did I leave out anything? Let me know!

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