Hostels & Hosteling
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.
Hostels can be found in some great places – even in an old castle in Europe
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 Generally speaking, many hostels are found in older hotels that have become outdated.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.
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!
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.
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
Hostelworld.com* 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.