There are many wonderful hostel chains that put small hotels to shame. If you’re like me, however, and are opting for price over comfort- you may run into a few places with questionable cleanliness that want to charge you for every possible thing. I had never stayed at a European hostel prior to my semester abroad, and someone giving me the rundown probably would have saved me from paying a few extra Euros for things I would’ve/could’ve/should’ve brought along.
- Towel. Camp towels definitely aren’t anything to write home about, but they are light, quick drying, and cheap. Camp towels take a fraction of the space a large towel might and they generally don’t hold as many smells. Best part? If you’re a night-shower person like me- it’ll be dry by the time you need to pack in the morning. REI has plenty of great towels, but they can be found at any outdoor shop.
- Lock and Key- I’ve never been robbed at a hostel, and no one I personally know has been either. If your mom and dad are panicked about safety- you might not mention this one to them. Many hostels provide lockers for your things, but charge for a lock. Bringing your own lock- even if it cost a dollar- is generally a decent deterrent for anyone that might be scouting for easy targets. You can also use the same lock to hold your backpack closed if you’re traveling through really busy tourist areas.
- Sleep Sheet- Only the worst hostels are going to charge you for sheets. HOWEVER, getting free sheets doesn’t mean getting clean sheets. I’m not a germaphobe, but visible stains on cartoon patterned comforters do give me pause. Bed bugs are actually my worst nightmare so I occasionally choose to play it safe. Sleep sheets come in a wide variety of materials, sizes, and prices. If you have the money, are afraid of bugs, or are sensitive to new fabrics- this is a must-have travel addition.
- Toiletries- These aren’t American hotels, so they probably aren’t going to give you adorable single serving sized shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. You’ll want to bring your own toiletries, especially if you are attached to a particular brand or scent. If you forgot them- many chain hostels do have travel sized toiletries available for a fee.
- Flip Flops- I don’t think your hostel is going to charge you for flip flops, but they probably aren’t going to provide them either. Again, I’m not a germaphobe, but if I can see grime or green on a shower floor- hard pass. These can be the cheapest suckiest flip flops available, but it’s still a necessity for most people.
- Portable Charger- If you are staying in a dorm-style room with 19 strangers there is going to be a shortage of outlets, it’s just a fact. In these cases, it’s wise to bring a portable charger that can charge your phone at least twice. Hopefully you won’t have to go multiple days between charging, but it is possible that you’ll have to make it a full 36 or 48 hours.
A hostel experience does not have to be uncomfortable or dirty. In many cases, my hostel experiences were quirky and wonderful. I’ve had hostels that sponsored global foods nights, provided full kitchens, coordinated pub crawls, had bars IN the hostel, and had train station pick up service. Just remember- after your stay, please write a review. Hostel seekers live and die by recent reviews so if you had a very positive or negative experience- others will want to know.
*All opinions given are completely my own. I have not received any compensation from any companies mentioned.