Hostelling was once thought of as the exclusive province of college kids traveling through Europe for the first time. However, hostelling has grow to include all ages, and all types of people. When traveling on a budget, staying at a hostel can be a great experience for the traveler with a sense of adventure.
Of course, hostel travel is not for everyone, and some travelers would rather spend extra money for solo accommodations. In general, hostel traveling is best suited to solo travelers, or to groups of young people traveling together. Hostel stays are generally not recommended for families traveling with young children, and many hostels do not accept children under a certain age.
Most hostels are set up as dormitory style rooms, with a number of bunk beds arranged throughout the room. The number of bunk beds in a single room varies, with the average from four to ten bunks per room. Each traveler is assigned a specific bunk upon check-in.
Almost all hostels in the United States divide their accommodations according to gender, with the female guests in one block of rooms and the male guests in another. In multi-floor hostels, each gender is often assigned a specific floor or group of floors.
In many European locations and elsewhere around the world, however, many hostel rooms have mixed genders sharing a room. If this is a concern, be sure to ask about it. I, as a woman traveling alone, have personally never encountered a problem with these arrangements, and I have stayed in hostels throughout Europe, including Rome, London and Amsterdam. Some visitors, however, are surprised at these arrangements.
The bathroom accommodations at hostels vary as well, with some rooms containing a shared bathroom and shower, while other hostels will have shower and bathroom facilities located in the hallway. If this is an important consideration, you should make sure to ask about bathroom facilities when making the reservation.
And reservations are becoming increasingly important at hostels, especially during the summer months in popular locations. Where once it was common for travelers simply to drop by the hostel and get a bed, it is now not at all unusual for hostels in popular tourist destinations to be booked solid for months.
The main appeal of staying at hostels, of course, is the price. The nightly rate for a hostel rarely rises above $25 or $30 per night, with most hostel accommodations costing far less. With the average hotel room hovering around $100 to $150 in many locations, it is easy to see why hostels are becoming so popular.
In addition, the staff at most hostels are extremely accommodating and knowledgeable about the local area. Unlike many staff members of some luxury hotels, who travel in from the suburbs and rarely see the city in which the live, hostel staff tend to live in their city, and they have an intimate knowledge of the local attractions, including which attractions are can’t miss and which ones are a waste of money.
In addition, hostels often have access to discounts and coupons for local area attractions and restaurants, and they can provide valuable information on the best, lowest priced restaurants in the area.
While staying at a hostel is not for everyone, and the local hostel will never be mistaken for a Ritz Carlton, hostels can be wonderful budget accommodations for the budget minded traveler. After all, the goal of travel is to get out and see the world, and hostel travel lets you spend your limited travel dollars doing just that.