Have you ever considered staying in a hostel?

If you find your travel budget a little tight, take a look at the hostel option

Sid KaplanHostels are probably the very cheapest place you can stay during your travels. Whoa, you may think, dormitory style bunk beds, backpacks, bathrooms down the hall … and starving students … no way. But that stereotype is not necessarily true anymore.

It is true that the average age for guests is 18 to 26, and you’ll run into some places that do enforce an age limit, but people of all ages and budgets stay in hostels these days.

They are often situated in good locations in the towns you are visiting and are easily accessible by public transportation. There are even hostels in rural areas. Some provide private rooms for couples or families as well as the dormitory style rooms. Still you have to decide if this kind of travelling is for you.

Staying in a hostel
If you find your travel budget a little tight, take a look at the hostel option

Remember, they are not hotels but budget accommodations, and they are basic. If you choose with care though, you may find that they are a destination onto themselves.

Hostels can be found in castles or manor houses, on old ships, in alpine chalets, even lakefront villas. They may also be in interesting or historic buildings that are worth the visit.

Hostelling International, the biggest group, is easily found on the internet. It is also known as International Youth Hostel Federation. Members of this parent organization are called “official hostels.” According to its website, it covers “more than 90 Youth Hostel Associations in over 80 counties, operating 4,000 plus” facilities. This is a non-profit organization. It requires their members to meet strict standards in cleanliness and security.

It charges a small yearly membership fee, but you can stay in their hostels even if you are not a member. It will just cost you a little more per night.

The more traditional facilities offer single-sex dormitory rooms that accommodate four to 10 people. They will provide lockers for your luggage and valuables, but you will be sleeping with people you don’t know. Even if you are a couple staying in a “couple’s room” you may share shower and toilet facilities and food preparation areas. Some travellers love this: it allows you to get to know fellow travellers from all over the world, sharing travel tips and stories of home.

If you decide to try this type of travel, be sure to check opening hours for the facility you’ve chosen. Some are open 24 hours, but smaller and more rural ones close during the day and may have a curfew at night.

Be aware that these are definitely no frills accommodations. You may have to rent your sheets. And you might even have to pay for water. Water? Yes, some of the most basic places have coin operated shower facilities.

You will need to bring your own towel and soap. They may provide inexpensive meals in a cafeteria, and there is generally a food preparation area where you can cook your own meals.

Check out the several “independent” groups easily found on the internet. The rules may be different from the “official” ones, so make sure you check what you are getting into. They may be a little more … ah! … colourful, but you don’t want it to be too colourful or wild.

If you find your travel budget a little tight, take a look at the hostel option. If privacy is not something you need, a few nights in a hostel might let you stay a few more travel days.

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