As a college graduation gift to our damn selves, my three best girl friends and I decided to book a trip to Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Egypt. As a wise young man by the name of Drizzy Drake once said…YOLO.
We managed to book the entire 24-day trip for under $1,500 thanks to my cheap travel ways. The flights were easy to book, but the lodging… well that was a whole different story. Ya see the important thing to note here people, is that I’m not traveling with “Down and Dirty Damon Dominique,” but rather, with my somewhat dainty girlfriends who have never stayed in a hostel before. I managed to convince them that 1) they’d survive in a 16-bed dorm with total strangers, 2) that they might even find their next European boo thang in one of these hostels (aka watering holes for open-minded and sexy travelers).
Once they were on-board with all of my “hostel hoorah,” I realized that there were things they’d need to pack for the occasion that might not come to the top of the regular travel-packing list.
Here are the ten things I noted that they couldn’t go to a hostel without:
1. Flip-Flops – We may have graduated the days of using communal college bathrooms, but in the hostel world you can’t forget that golden rule: if you don’t want fungus feet, bring your freakin’ flip flops.
2. A lock for a locker – Another tip that will bring you back to school days is that you should always bring a combination lock. Most hostels provide a bed, sheets, and a locker without a lock… What good is a locker without a lock? Exactly. Which is why they try and charge you $5 to buy one at check-in. Be a savvy hosteller and hit em’ with your own lock to keep your belongings safe when you’re not in the room.
3. A small towel – Something that most people aren’t aware of is that a hostel is not like a hotel, which means they won’t provide you with cute little soaps, shampoos, or most importantly, towels. This is another way they try and get you at check-in. No towel and you’re coughing up another $5. You want to travel light, so we recommend bringing a medium-sized towel that’ll fit in your bag without taking up too much room (although it can double as a pillow or blanke).
4. Flashlight app on your smart phone – When staying in a hostel, you’ll most likely be in a dorm with anywhere from 2-16 other people. It’s important to respect everyone’s sleeping habits (so don’t be that pooper who turns on the lights at 4AM after a crazy night of partying when everyone else is sleeping, not ok). To avoid stubbing your toes on bunk bed corners in the middle of the night, download a flashlight app on your phone and light the path to your bunk.
5. Empty plastic bags – I knew I loved plastic bags after they saved my nearly frostbitten feet in 4º Madison, Wisconsin weather. I managed to warm my purple toes by tying plastic bags around my feet (Damon swears I would win on Survivor). From that day on, I wouldn’t leave for a trip without a trusty plastic bag. They’re great even if you want to use them for less extreme purposes like as shower caps, to keep your electronics dry, or to keep your dirty clothes from stankin’ up your clean ones. It’s the greatest multi-functional item of all time. We’re all about recycling.
6. Canvas bag – One thing that came as a surprise to me while I was overseas was the fact that grocery stores might charge you five or 10 cents for grocery bags. To avoid this annoying, yet progressive fee, bring one of those canvas totes that’s sitting in the back of your closet. Totes also come in handy to carry cameras, jackets, and bottles of wine on long city strolls.
7. Really good headphones or earplugs – One time, Damon and I were in a dorm with six other people, and I kid you not, we got about five minutes of sleep because a thirty-something man named Rusty SNORED the whole night through. It wasn’t normal snoring either; it was soul penetrating, groundbreaking, super-sonic snoring – so annoying that we literally went to the Front Desk and asked if we could sleep in the living room. That was the day I learned to invest in some great headphones or earplugs for my hostel stays.
8. Adapters and converters – I’m not recommending you bring every electronic device you have on your trip. Actually, I recommend you do exactly the opposite. But you’ll need full charge for those necessary items like cameras and phones to document your trip. Odds are, the country you’re going to won’t have the same electrical voltage or outlet as your home country. For different voltages buy a converter and for different outlets but same voltage, buy adapters. Invest in these badboys; the last thing you want is a fried phone. Damon once fried his Keurig.
9. A wine opener – Hostels are social places that are loaded with young travelers trying to have a good time, all the time. For talkative nights in the hostel’s common spaces, buy a cheap three-euro bottle of wine from the local Monoprix (if you’re in Paris for example) and pop it open with your wine opener. You’ll start the party and become the coolest kid on the block.
10. Something from your home country – Tootsie Rolls, Bubbaloo gum, Tic Tacs? Yeah, those aren’t common things you’d find in an overseas grocery store. Get conversations started with an Italian Stallion by offering him a Tic Tac. Plus, you’ll be prepping him for a hot French kissing session under the Eiffel tower after check-out ;).