Hostels & Hosteling

Chloride, AZ, Stone House
Chloride, AZ, Stone House
Lily Pond Balboa Park
Lily Pond at Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
Pacific Beach Rental Shop
Pacific Beach Rental Shop

You’re probably thinking “aren’t hostels for young people?”

It makes sense.

After all, they were first called “Youth Hostels”.

But that changed a few years back;

Now, most are just called hostels and welcome old and young alike.

They are great places for budget-conscious travelers who want a safe and clean place to sleep, store and cook food, and opportunities to meet old and young travelers from around the country and the world out on life-changing adventures.

The conversations alone make a stay at a hostel worthwhile;

Can’t say you get that everywhere.

Hostel on 3rd room
Hostel on 3rd Room
microwave area HI hostel
Microwave Area HI Hostel - San Diego, CA
Orange Village Hostel Kitchen - San Francisco
Orange Village Hostel Kitchen - San Francisco

Hostels can be found in some great places – even in an old castle in Europe

HI San Diego TV room
HI San Diego TV room
HI San Diego social area
HI San Diego Social Area
Buffalo/Niagara Hostel Lobby
Buffalo/Niagara Hostel Lobby
ITH Zoo Hostel - San Diego
ITH Zoo Hostel - San Diego

What Are Hostels?

A hostel is sort of like a European Hotel with unique differences. Generally speaking, many hostels are found in older hotels that have become outdated. So, there’s normally a sense of history and the passing of time. Most beds are in dorm rooms holding 4 – 8 people, sometimes more. Dorms can be single sex or co-ed. I don’t care either way. Many hostels offer family and private rooms, too.

There’s typically communal commercial-sized kitchens in large hostels and residential-sized ones in small hostels. There’s normally refrigerated and dry storage areas no matter the size of the hostel, but space is often limited if the place is busy. I have come across freezer storage, but that’s atypical for my experience.

The bathrooms and showers are also communal (unless you have an upgraded room) and can also be all-gender. There’s stalls and privacy, but it doesn’t matter who uses what stall or shower – kind of like living at home.

Hostels typically sponsor activities from pub crawls to karaoke nights to encourage meaningful interactions between guests. One of the missions of hostels is promote understanding and cooperation between everyone and a good hostel really promotes that sense of togetherness among all the journeyers passing through.

Beats the hell out of hating people.

Orange Village Hostel Lobby - San Francisco, CA
Orange Village Hostel Lobby - San Francisco, CA
Buffalo/Niagara Hostel Social Area
Buffalo/Niagara Hostel Social Area
HI Santa Monica Courtyard
HI Santa Monica Courtyard
Orange Village Hostel Stairway - San Francisco
Orange Village Hostel Stairway - San Francisco

Hostels Aren't Everywhere

In Europe, there are over 18,000 hostels, but in the U.S., there are about 208. Many of those are located along the west coast and northeast areas. So, hostels aren’t everywhere and is not always going to be part of your lodging options when traveling. I’m promoting hostels because of the money you can save and the interactions you can have (in normal times), but, I also believe, you just should get back out there like you did when you were young and enjoy what life is left before it runs out – you deserve it. So, with that in mind, when hostels aren’t an option, I seek out other low-cost satisfactory alternatives from camping to inexpensive motels (especially when traveling with two or more people – splitting the cost brings the individual cost down). 

The point I want to make is LIVE!

Recently overheard was a father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.
Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the father said, ‘I love you, and I wish you enough.’
The daughter replied, ‘Dad, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad.’
They kissed and the daughter left. The Father walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, ‘Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?’
‘Yes, I have,’ I replied. ‘Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?’..
‘I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is – the next trip back will be for my funeral,’ he said.
‘When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough..’ May I ask what that means?’
He began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone…’
He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more. ‘When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.’ Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.
He then began to cry and walked away.
They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them.
Only if you wish, send this to the people you will never forget. If you don’t send it to anyone it may mean that you are in such a hurry that you have forgotten your friends.
To all my Friends and Family – *I WISH YOU ENOUGH*

The Pandemic

I started doing a bit of traveling in late June, 2021, when things started to open up a little from the pandemic. However, it still had a deleterious effect on the experience. Things weren’t open or were partially opened at select times that may or may not fit into a traveling schedule. Also, by the time I decided to take a prolonged hiatus to see how things go, many of the advances of the summer were now getting reversed. As such, my review of hostels and destinations was done with an eye toward how it will be when things return to normal.

Getting Around

I’ll typically use public transportation to get around a city. I find it more enjoyable checking out the sights from a bus or train instead of focusing on driving. If I see something that interests me in a neighborhood I’m passing, I get off and check it out if I don’t have a specific destination in mind for that trip. For me, it’s a relaxing way to explore a new place without dealing with the hassles of the road stressing me out.

Nuts & Bolts on Hosteling* published an article about the ins and outs of staying at a hostel. If you never hosteled before, it makes a good read so you know what to expect.

Economics of Hosteling

One of the main things that makes hosteling attractive is its cost effectiveness, especially if you’re on a limited budget. 

The average cost for a single-occupancy hotel room in 2019 (2020 numbers are unreliable due to the pandemic) in the U.S. was $131.21.

The average cost of a bed at a hostel in the U.S. runs between $25-$40 per night, depending on the city and time of year.

The average cost of eating out is $13.00, while making your own food costs an average of $4.00 per meal.

It’s easy to see how much you can save by staying at a hostel while traveling.