Hostels are an attractive and cost-effective option for travellers

When we think of hostels, the image that often comes to mind is of cramped dormitory-style bunk beds, communal bathrooms down the hall, and a young crowd of backpackers on a tight budget. However, the reality of hostels today is quite different from this stereotype. Hostels have evolved into diverse and appealing accommodations that cater to a wide range of travellers.

One of the most enticing aspects of staying in a hostel is its affordability. Hostels are arguably the cheapest lodging option for travellers, making them an attractive choice for those looking to stretch their travel budget without compromising on quality. While it’s true that hostels tend to attract a younger crowd, there’s no longer a strict age limit, and people of all ages and budgets now choose hostels as their preferred choice of accommodation.

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Hostels can be found in prime locations within cities and towns, offering easy access to public transportation and nearby attractions. They are not limited to urban settings; you can also find hostels in rural areas, providing a unique opportunity to experience the countryside. What’s more, many hostels offer a variety of room options, including private rooms for couples or families, in addition to the traditional dormitory-style accommodations.

It’s important to remember that hostels are not hotels; they are budget accommodations, and their amenities reflect this. However, with careful selection, you might discover that hostels can become a destination in themselves. Some hostels are situated in extraordinary settings, such as castles, manor houses, old ships, alpine chalets, and even lakefront villas. These accommodations often occupy interesting or historic buildings, adding a touch of uniqueness to your stay.

When considering hostels, one of the most prominent organizations to explore is Hostelling International, also known as the International Youth Hostel Federation. Their network spans over 90 Youth Hostel Associations in over 80 countries, operating over 4,000 facilities worldwide. While becoming a member of this non-profit organization offers benefits, you can also stay in their hostels as a non-member, albeit at a slightly higher nightly rate.

For a hostel in Canada, visit HI Canada.

Traditional hostels typically feature single-sex dormitory rooms with varying capacities, from four to 10 people. Lockers are often provided for securing your luggage and valuables. While you may be sharing sleeping quarters with strangers, this communal living arrangement can be an enriching experience. Sharing showers, toilets, and food preparation areas encourages interaction with fellow travellers from diverse backgrounds, fostering the exchange of travel tips and stories.

When opting for a hostel stay, it’s essential to check the facility’s opening hours, as some may close during the day or have nighttime curfews, especially smaller and more rural hostels.

Keep in mind that hostels are no-frills accommodations. You may need to rent bed linens and, in some cases, even pay for shower facilities. Towels and soap are typically not provided, so be sure to bring your own. While some hostels offer inexpensive meals in a cafeteria, most have communal kitchens where you can prepare your meals, helping you save further on food expenses.

Aside from organizations like Hostelling International, there are many independent hostel groups to explore online. Rules and atmospheres may vary, so be sure to research each option carefully to find one that suits your preferences.

If you find your travel budget stretched thin, consider the hostel option. Staying in a hostel can be an enriching and cost-effective way to extend your travel adventure. Whether you’re a solo traveller looking to meet new people or a budget-conscious family, hostels offer a comfortable and affordable lodging choice that has come a long way from the stereotypical backpacker’s retreat.

| The Frugal Traveller

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