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Hostels

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Hostels (more commonly referred to as "youth hostels") are a loosely-defined form of guest house, generally low-budget compared to other places to sleep. Although often used by youth and backpackers there is usually no upper age limit.

Understand

  • Hostels provide dormitory-style budget accommodation to travelers, with anywhere from two to dozens of guests sharing a room, depending on its size. Many hostels also provide private single and double rooms in addition to dormitory accommodation. Shared bathrooms are still the norm. For many hostelers, the opportunity to meet other travelers is part of their appeal.
  • Hostels vary widely in their rules and regulations, with a few hostels imposing a curfew (to avoid disturbing other guests, and so they can lock the doors) while most let you come and go at all hours. This depends on the hostel and its affiliation. Some hostels for instance, impose a limit to the number of days you can stay. However, this is quite rare and usually not the case in Europe, Australia and North America. Guests may have to provide their own sheets or standard "sleep sack" (a sheet folded over and sewn into a sleeping bag), and usually their own towels.
  • Some hostels separate accommodations for men and women (so a couple might have to split up for the night), while others place them together.
  • The quality of lodging can vary widely; some hostels are in beautiful historical buildings, resort style camping villages or well-kept modern facilities, while others are in spartan, aging structures. Some are clean and immaculate, others demand shower slippers and a strong stomach. All hostels which are part of the Hostelling International network to adhere to stringent quality guidelines and are subject to regular inspection. To find the best hostels, read hostel reviews online on different hostel websites.
  • Common facilities include a shared lounge, laundry room, and kitchen. Others have their own computer room with internet access. Many hostels now offer free wifi Internet.
  • If it's your first time staying at hostels, you might want to try somewhere near home and only one location, and see how you like it. Some of these places can be very cozy and welcoming, but a laid-back personality is definitely a must. This might include, for example, feeling comfortable leaving your backpack on top of your bed without any security while going out and about, simply risking to have all of your belongings stolen. Some hostels, but certainly not all, have lockers, or at least a secure lockable drawer.
  • Resist the desire of taking your latest hi-tech gadgets with you (bleeding-edge cell phones, cameras, computers and music players). Leaving the good ones home and taking the cheapest ones will certainly give you a more careless outlook of your staying, and hence you will enjoy it more. If you do have electronics with you, try to find hostels that offer free lockers.

Hostelling International organization

Many national hostelling organizations have joined together to form Hostelling International [1] (formerly International Youth Hostel Federation), which maintains lists of youth hostels around the world and even takes bookings for some online. Affiliated hostels usually offer a certain minimum standard of lodging and a degree of accountability, although usually the largest risk (in terms of theft) is your fellow travellers, not the management.

Note that in some countries, many hostels are not affiliated with HI. Hostels are less common in North America than in Europe. Particularly in poorer countries, the IYHF network may be very limited and possibly even more expensive than alternative accommodations. Also beware of hidden charges: for example, in Scandinavian countries it is typical to charge extra if you do not provide your own bedding.

STAYWYSE: The Association for Youth Travel Accommodation

In October 2007, STAYWYSE [2]was officially approved as a sector association of the World Youth, Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation [3], a not-for-profit organisation that represents the global community of youth travel, student travel, cultural exchange and international education specialists.

STAY WYSE is the only not-for-profit industry association to represent the entire global youth travel accommodation sector.

The Association's mission is to provide safe, affordable and clean accommodation within a communal atmosphere that encourages youth mobility and cultural understanding.

It's members include the leading Youth Travel Accommodation providers. It's current Board of Directors include members from Hostelling International, Hostelworld.com and Mundo Joven.

STAYWYSE undertakes an annual industry benchmark study. The study enables youth travel accommodation operators to benchmark their own business performance characteristics against global standards in order to develop strategic concepts and optimize business outcomes.

Sailboat hostels

A sailboat hostel is a boat that has been redone for or dedicated to use as a hostel for international backpacker travelers. A sailboat hostel is a great way to see things that would otherwise be inaccessible or too expensive on a shoestring budget. A hostel of this sort should offer their beds at what could be considered a hosteling rate (roughly between $5 and $60 per day, depending on the country).

Sailboat hostels, depending on their size, can accommodate 3 or more people. Generally they would include a breakfast and some general sailing instruction and safety guidelines, as well as activities related to the sea such as snorkeling and surfing, to name only a couple.

While there are several stationary and motor-powered boat hostels, currently there are only a small handful of boats that could be considered sailboat hostels. This is a new kind of adventure, taking the spirit of international backpacker travel to the sea.

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