Hostels: What They Are and Where to Find Them
Hostels are budget accommodations for travelers. They offer an excellent alternative to the traditional motel or hotel, and they exist in most parts of the world for the traveler who wants to hostel stomp and save tons of cash to travel for longer periods of time.
Usually hostels have several bunk beds in each room. Instead of renting one room to one or two people like hotels do, hostels rent a room to four or more people and may therefore offer a substantial discount. Where a hotel might offer a room for two people at $80 a night or more, a hostel can rent a room to eight people for $10 a night each, and still make as much money as a traditional hotel, sometimes more. The cost of hostels in the U.S. average between $8 and $25 per night. In other countries (depending on where you go) hostels can be as cheap as $2 to $3 per night.
Hostels range from the basics of a room and bath, to huge buildings that include kitchens, internet service, recreation rooms, televisions, gyms, and libraries. Some hostels offer free breakfast and the occasional party or tour. Lockers or deposit boxes are available to store your valuables, but bring your own lock.
When a hostel offers free internet and breakfast you'll save even more money than just on a place to stay. If a kitchen is available you can cook your own meals instead of going out to eat, which helps tremendously in keeping your money where it belongs - in your pocket.
If you want to meet other travelers and get travel information, hostels are the way to go. Message boards are posted with notes from travelers looking for companions or selling plane and bus tickets. Transportation deals, flyers from other hostels, tour groups, and other useful information are also posted. If you are looking for something to do in the city you are visiting you can ask the staff for suggestions. They are usually very knowledgeable about the area and helpful.
The downside to some hostels are the regulations they have for the visitor. Most hostels require an out of state ID (in the USA) or a passport. Sometimes a bus or plane ticket must be shown to prove that you are traveling, and an extra dollar or two may be charged to rent blankets and a towel. Some travelers prefer to bring their own towel and a "sleep sheet." This is simply a folded sheet that is sewn together on one side, somewhat like a sleeping bag.
Occasionally chores are assigned to offset a few of the costs of running the hostel, curfews and other rules may affect any party plans that you might have. However, most hostels do not have many rules as they tend to steer independent travelers in other directions.
Hostels are available world-wide in almost every big city and in several small cities. Hostels are especially valuable in expensive countries like the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan.
Do a keyword search for "hostels" in your favorite search engine. You will find several resources that list virtually every hostel in the world. In most cases you can book your hostel in advance online.
Hostels can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars every time you travel. So the next time you are planning a vacation on a budget be sure to give hostelling some serious consideration.
Thomas Carroll shows how to travel the world for $1,000 a month or less, and how to get paid for it on his website http://www.lonewolfadventure.net