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One Thing Rick Steves Recommends Packing If You're Staying At Any Hostels In Europe

Traveling can be expensive, and that is particularly true for trips overseas. Whether you're taking a solo trip and looking for lodging or just trying to find accommodations on a budget, travel pro Rick Steves often suggests staying at a hostel. Many of these properties offer private rooms for an extra fee, but visitors can also meet new friends by staying in the dorm-style rooms, and it can be a wonderful experience. However, you have to pack a bit differently. Steves recommends bringing one item that can really help out: A bedsheet. 


As Steves says on his website, "Bed linens are usually included in the price of a hostel, but if they aren't, you can rent a sheet for about $5 per stay. Still, you might want to bring your own sheet (silk is lighter and smaller, cotton is cheaper), which can double as a beach/picnic blanket and cover you up on overnight train rides." It's something you might not think about while planning a hostel stay, but having your own sheet can make you feel more comfortable and can, as he says, be useful in other ways during your trip. 

What to know about packing for a hostel stay

You don't have to bring a fitted sheet, pillow case, etc. unless you want to carry that with you, though if you do, you may need a different size than the sheets you have at home. (Hostel beds are sometimes twin XL, which makes them a bit longer than the usual twin bed.) However, a top sheet doesn't have to fit the bed. It just has to fit your body in a way you're comfortable with. Depending on where you're going, you can even bring a thin comforter if you have the room. 


As Steves says, there are other uses. like doubling as a picnic blanket. Though, if you do that, you might want to make use of your hostel's self-serve laundry, which they often have. Another idea is a sleep sack or sleeping bag liner, which is like a light sleeping bag to throw on the bed, which you can find for around $15 on Amazon. For either of these options, it's worth calling ahead to make sure you're permitted to bring in outside sleep items. 

Another thing you might want to bring, according to Steves, is a towel. You'll often need to bring that anyway, though some hostels have them for rent. Microfiber, quick-drying travel towels are inexpensive on Amazon (this one is $10 and comes with a case in case it's wet when you leave). 


More info about staying at hostels

Hosteling can be a great experience, and it's not just for traveling college students. Steves says, "Travelers of any age are welcome if they don't mind dorm-style accommodations and meeting other travelers. You're paying just for what you need, and access to a kitchen can also seriously trim your food budget." You can also read reviews online. That way, you know if this is a party hostel and you might be kept awake long into the night (which you might be looking for anyway) or if it's a quiet one that will allow you to get some shuteye. 


There are a few other items beyond the Steves-recommended sheet and towel that you should pack for your hostel stay. Steves says it's a good idea to have flip-flops for the shower to protect your feet from germs (and for beach-use, of course). He also recommends some things to make your sleep spot a bit more cozy, like earplugs and a sleep mask. Earphones are also a good idea if you're someone who likes to sleep to a podcast or music, or even a white noise app so you don't broadcast that to everyone else. 

Steves has given the world some great safety tips for travel as well, like avoiding pickpockets while sightseeing in Europe. In the case of hostels, he recommends bringing a lock for your personal items like backpacks. Even hostels that have lockers (which many do), they may not have a lock.