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Inside a Hosteller’s Backpack

Hostel essentials for every traveler

Tight budget traveling comes with its own set of experiences. Finding shelter in low-cost dorms or hostels can be an adventure of its own. To make things a little simpler for you, here’s a checklist of all the essentials every first time hostel backpacker should follow.

1. Locks

Not the ones that come with a tiny key, leaving you frantic every time you think you’ve lost that little piece of metal!

It goes without saying that you are responsible for your baggage while staying in a hostel or other shared accommodations. Invest in good quality padlocks or combination locks, which don’t require the rigmarole of the conventional lock-and-key system. These could be TSA approved or luggage locks with ABS bodies that aren’t flimsy and breakable. Make sure you have a sufficient number of these, preferably in different sizes to ensure they go through your zipper pulls and the hostel lockers.

2. Cable Ties

Cable ties may not be the ideal replacement for locks, but they are great for a makeshift purpose. They are inexpensive and can be bought in bulk. They could also be used to tie up your packets of food or other bags. Additionally, cable ties can be used to lock up the smaller zips in your backpack. All you need is a pair of scissors to cut them open, and you’re good to go!

3. Swiss Army Knife

This may not sound very plausible for those traveling by air with only cabin luggage; but Swiss Knives are extremely handy. Be it cutting through your cable tie, using it as a corkscrew to open a bottle of wine, filing your nails or picking leftover food from your teeth, Swiss Army Knives are multipurpose and incredibly useful.

4. Fanny Pack

Yes, we know. They are outdated and the last thing you want to do is look like a live example of a fashion faux pas. But traveling solo and living in hostels requires convenience to take precedence over your appearance. Fanny packs have a lot of contrivance and are very travel-friendly. You can store your titbits, documents, and other essential belongings and carry them along with ease.

If fanny packs are still not your thing, buy a reliable rucksack or handbag. Though bigger than the fanny pack, they make a great travel companion.

5. Shoes

The whole idea of being a wanderer is to set out on a journey by foot. If your shoes are even a tad bit uncomfortable, your sore feet will ruin your escapade. So whether you want to run, stroll, plod or prance, the right pair of sports shoes will walk those miles with you.

6. Flip-Flops

Speaking of footwear, flip-flops are an absolute must. You can’t be walking around within the hostel, restroom, or vicinity with shoes on the whole time. A light-weight pair of flip-flops are a pathway to happier feet, which have been enclosed in shoes all day long.

7. Clothes

The thumb rule of backpacking is to travel light. A bag stuffed with clothes is no good. There’s a lot you can do with the extra space in your bag. Carry only those outfits that exemplify comfort. It could be simple track pants, t-shirts and well-fitting denims. Many brands have a range of quick-dry clothes, made especially for a hostel-life and other outdoorsy activities, where laundries aren’t always accessible. It reduces much of your burden if your clothes can be washed and dried in a jiffy.

Additionally, watch out for weather updates of the place you will be staying in.

Carry a raincoat instead of bulky windcheaters, if monsoons are around the corner.

Get yourself a warm jacket with a hood and lots of pockets if you’re visiting a high altitude place.

8. Microfiber Towel

As we know, towels take the longest to dry. Unlike hotels that provide room-service and replenish your everyday items, hostels and dormitories expect you to be self-reliant. When you’re on the go, you don’t want a wet towel dampening all your other clothes, leaving an unpleasant odour behind. Microfiber towels hold more water, yet dry quicker than regular towels. They don’t occupy much space in your bag, making it perfect for hostellers.

9. Flashlight

Life of a wayfarer involves far-flung adventures. To begin with, you don’t know when electricity runs out on you in your dorm room. A flashlight comes to your rescue when you least expect it. Other than that, you don’t want to be the annoying roommate who turns on the lights at 3am because he can’t locate his phone charger.

10. Sleeping Bag

Your hostel accommodation may or may not provide you with linens. Even if they do, you might be finicky about its hygiene. Hence, its best to carry your own compactible sleeping bag, perhaps even an inflatable pillow.

11. Earphones and Earplugs

Chances are your roommate is capable of waking the entire town with his snores. Earplugs or noise-cancellation earphones can be your saviour in situations like these. Besides, what better friend than your music? Plug your earphones in and tune the world out!

12. Correct luggage

In comparison with wheeled bags, backpacks make a much better option while you embrace the hostel life. It is more convenient and keeps you hands-free, with ease of movement. Invest in a properly branded waterproof backpack, which has multiple compartments and is of an optimum size. If your travel involves a flight journey, you wouldn’t want to pay extra charges for an oversized bag. Moreover, while buying the bag, ensure it is a front-loading backpack. They are a lot like regular suitcases where you can reach out for what you need, without making mess. Top-loading bags are generally for hikers. So unless your trip involves any trekking of sorts, stick to the former.

13. Miscellaneous

You may also want to pack –

  • Body wash instead of soap
  • Tissue papers
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand-sanitizer
  • Portable phone charger
  • Nutrition bars for midnight feasting
  • Garbage bag
  • Medical kit

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