Youth Hostels

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Know what's available, when and the cost.

What are hostels? - Hostels are a unique form of lodging different from hotels. Nearly all facilities are shared with other guests. Rooms are dormitory style, usually with bunk beds. Other areas such as bathrooms and sitting areas are shared as well. Sharing helps keep the cost low. This also creates a warm and friendly camaraderie amongst guests.  It must truly be experienced to have your own definition

What is does "hostelling" mean? - Hostelling is the way of traveling and staying in hostels. It's also called "backpacking" in many parts of the world and it's best described as traveling rather cheaply with an adventurous spirit. More so than the average tourist, you meet locals, learn local living, eat local food and do things that just aren't part of the big tourist plan.

How do I get a hostel membership? - The majority of hostels accept non-members, though you may have to pay a higher rate. Hostelling International sells the memberships that most people are interested in, but you can stay at most HI hostels without one. Please note there are exceptions to this, especially Germany.

Note that Hostelling International (HI), American Youth Hostels (AYH), International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF), Youth Hostel Association (YHA), and some others are all basically the same organization sharing a single membership.

You can get an HI membership in advance at most of the 4500 Hostelling International hostels around the world but you must purchase it in your own country.

Do you need to a hostel membership card? - The basic answer is no. However, having a membership card will save you money most times. There are also reports of times when card members are given priority when rooms are hard to find.

Do you have to be young to stay at hostels? - People from all over the world stay in hostels everywhere. Although the a hostel may seem to be young in manner, people of all ages actually stay in them. Hostels are an excellent place to stay for people traveling alone. You may make some great new friends or traveling partners. The only age restrictions may be when there is a bar on the premises. And some hostels may possibly give a priority to youths when rooms are scarce.

Can I stay in hostels in my own country? - Yes. But you should be a traveler and not a local resident. Some hostels require guests be an international traveler and have a passport. You may want to have a passport to prove you are a serious international traveler.

Are hostels and/or dormitories noisy? - Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. A lot depends on the location of the hostel. Of course, if you are visiting a major city you should expect noise in the form of traffic, street cleaning trucks, and people. Many hostels in the country however are so quiet you can hear your heart beat.

What is a hostel curfew and do they close? - A curfew is a time in which all hostellers must be inside the hostel and usually in bed. Many hostels no longer have curfews. If you find yourself staying at a hostel with a curfew and you return after the stated time you will find yourself sleeping outside.

Hostels may close during some daytime hours for cleaning or for the manager to be able to leave for some reason. Many big city ones do not close at all. It all depends on staff size and needs.

Hostel Discussion Boards - Share your travel tips with other travelers or find out what people say about various accommodation alternatives, transport options and get some general travel advice.

International Links

Youth Hostel Federation England & Wales
Hostelling International Iceland
Irish Youth Hostel Association
Youth Hostel Federation New Zealand
French Youth Hostel Federation
Hostelling International Canada
Youth Hostel Association Hong Kong

What documents do I need in a hostel? - Identification helps the safety of you and your fellow travelers. Common identification used to stay in hostels are passports, photo drivers licenses, and state or country identity cards.

Where do I keep my belongings? - Backpacks containing non-valuable items such as clothes and toiletries are usually left in the dormitory. Valuables such as cameras, passports, and money should always be safeguarded. Theft is relatively uncommon in hostels but we hostellers would like to keep it that way. Either keep valuables with you or place them in the hostel's safe-keeping facilities, which most hostels have.

If you do have something stolen, report it to the management! While hostels are not responsible for lost or stolen items, you will be helping in the effort to catch thieves. Hostels usually keep track of the details of guest theft which helps track down the thieves. Larger city hostels sometimes have lockers in the rooms for your backpack.

Will I be safe in a hostel? - Yes. Things are stolen on occasion, but if you are careful, this shouldn't happen to you.

Are hostels clean? - Usually so. The hostel custom is that all guests clean up after themselves. You will help everyone by leaving things just like you found them or better.

Do hostels have a lot of rules? - Most all hostels ask guests to respect the rights of the other guests staying there. There are some basic hostel customs that are a largely unwritten etiquette for staying in hostels. Ask when you check in.

Do I need to make a reservation to stay at a hostel? - It's best to call ahead in peak travel seasons to see if reservations are required or accepted. Many hostels do not take them at all and it's for this reason that it's best to plan to arrive in the morning. This gives you the best opportunity to get a bed or find other options.

What is a sleep-sheet? - A sleep-sheet is essentially two sheets sewn together to form a sack. When you go to bed you get inside the sleep-sheet. This means the bed stays clean and is protected from your road weary body and vice versa. You may be able to rent one for a cost. Most every hostel provides blankets as well.

What equipment do I need? - Just pack lightly. And after packing lightly, take some more stuff out of your backpack. You carry it. You won't find and help or much space place it. You may have to walk a ways just to get to the hostel. They are not in the most convenient places. Those locations are for the expensive hotels. However, since you're not in a hotel, you will want to bring your own soap, towel and sheet.

Do hostels have kitchens? - Yes, most do. Kitchens are another way hostels save you money. Kitchens are usually stocked with basic cooking utensils, pots, pans, and dishes.

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