Hostels

Hostels can be the perfect solution when you are far from home and exploring this great planet of ours, since when it comes to accommodations, you can quickly put a big dent in your travel budget. Sometimes it is great to pamper yourself a bit with a stay at a resort, or in a multi-star hotel, but that can cost you upwards of a couple hundred of dollars each night. For younger travelers, those on a budget, or those who simply see hotels as a place to rest their head between activities, hostels are a great way to go. Staying in hostels is often associated with "backpacking", and as such carries the connotation of the money-saving traveler. Aside from saving travelers a load of money, hostels are a great place to meet new people, and your neighbors will likely come from all corners of the globe. On the hostel international level, the accommodations will vary in quality, and at some, you could end up sharing a room. If you are the adventurously social type and that doesn't bother you, then you will often find the best deals that way. While hostels sometimes get a reputation for lacking in comfort, many a hostel international hotel has recently increased its standards, and you can sometimes be surprised with lodgings that exceed your expectations.

In the past, staying at European hostels and hostel USA establishments usually meant sharing your room with other same sex travelers. More and more, however, hostels are offering single room options, which provide a greater level of privacy. At some places, you can still stay dormitory-style, but paying a bit extra can often get you your own room. Hostels generally lack in the amenities you would expect at standard hotels, and more often than not you end up sharing a bathroom, a lounge area and a shared kitchen. Obviously, if you are traveling during a high season, then sharing a bathroom or kitchen could get a little annoying, but if your destination's number of visitors is down, you can likely have a bathroom seemingly all to yourself. The abounding common areas at most hostels means there is typically more inter-guest interaction, and often a community feeling. If you are concerned about your goods, most places have lockers for rent, but be sure to check about the availability of your hostel before you hand your money over. Some hostels, especially the European hostels, lock their guests out for a lengthy period during the day, and during this time you can not access anything inside. Also, some places observe certain hours where hot water is available and hours where it is not. So, planning your shower around those times could help you avoid a chilling experience.

You have likely heard the term, "youth hostels", and as such, you may have thought that these youth hostels were reserved just for the young. In the past, this was more true than it is today, as these youth hostels are becoming less about age. There are associations like Hostelling International and the Youth Hostel Association, and youth hostels do exist, but nowadays, many places are setting aside their age restrictions. You can find a list of youth hostels spread about the world, and if you have membership with one of the aforementioned associations, then you can often save money at member hostel international locations. You can check ahead of time with the hostels you are considering to see if they have age restrictions, and you should find a growing number of independent hostels that allow all ages and aren't affiliated with any associations. Regardless of the hostel you choose, there is bound to be a certain amount of charm to the place. Particularly the European hostels can exhibit a most enjoyable atmosphere. Some of the European hostels are housed in buildings that are hundreds of years old, and one can imagine the history. You can find a hostel in Europe virtually wherever you go, and they are exceptionally abundant in the larger cities, like Paris or Madrid, and in the more popular tourist destinations. From Salzburg to Barcelona, finding a hostel in Europe is a pretty easy task, and if you book ahead of time, you can often have your bed waiting for you when you arrive. If you have a rail pass and know your itinerary, the ease of booking European hostels ahead of time can make for a most convenient trip.

As for hostel USA selections, finding youth hostels, or independent hostels in the United States is not as easy as finding a hostel in Europe. Simply put, they are not as abundant. But in the bigger cities especially, it is still a fairly easy task. The New York City budget hotels can be surprisingly expensive, and there are a good amount of New York City hostels where you can free up money in the budget for things outside the hotel. But it's not only big cities like Chicago and San Francisco where you will find all the hostel USA options. Searching online, you might be happy to see that there are hostels in such places as Breckenridge, Colorado and Lake Tahoe. Some of the United States hostels can be quite nice, featuring more than you would expect, and this is a trend taking the hostel industry by storm. Even in Guatemala, you can find more and more hostels offering free internet access. Also, a growing number of hostel international properties are adding an increasing amount of activities for guests, from tours to language lessons. Even if have to spend a bit extra for a tour, your low hostel rent price will leave plenty of money leftover for other things. Hostels can range from anywhere from $5 a night on up to $80 or more, depending on the city and the amenities the hostel offers. Regardless of what you pay at a hostel, it will beat the price anywhere else. So, even if your vacation budget is suffering this year, if you put your money towards a hostel, you can probably make that vacation happen.

Top image: rachel_titiriga (flickr)

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