What in the world is a hostel?

What in the world is a hostel?

Musings from the owner

“Hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available.” -From Wikipedia

The best way I can describe what it is like to stay in a hostel is that it’s like going to another city to have a big bunking party with your extended family. My family tries to get together at least once a year. We arrange for several condos or rooms in a convenient city–or at my sister’s house. Late planners may have to double up or crash on the sofa. It’s always a lively affair. We get to catch up with some familiar people and meet the new ones-new nieces, nephews, cousins, spouses. It’s fun to share living spaces. We talk and play long into the night, then stumble up to have coffee together in the morning. We trust our family to accept us and genuinely wish us well in our life’s adventures.

In a hostel, we are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews-people traveling through life together, getting to know each other and ourselves better. We exchange stories about our recent activities and congenial observations as we plan new adventures.

Hostel travelers are adventure travelers rather than leisure travelers. They/we don’t mind sharing living space, as it brings us into closer contact with other adventurous people. We meet like-minded, curious, enterprising people-some who can become lasting friends, as well as immediate buddies. Conversations easily begin with: Where are you from? Where have you been? What do you want to see and do while you are here? That’s great! Let’s go together!

One of the misconceptions about hostel travelers is that hostelers are poor, under-privileged people who just want to live cheap. In fact, I think hostel travelers are largely part of the hard-working middle class. Hostelers are budget-minded, because they have saved for the trip and want to stretch their money as far as possible. And you have to remember that they may already have paid for airline tickets from their home country, taken time off from their jobs, and want to travel “close to the people.” They don’t want to be separated from the country and the people they have come to see by being secured away in a lonely hotel room.

Though hostel travelers are usually younger, partly because backpacking is physically demanding, many hostels are open to travelers of all ages. One just has to be somewhat physically sturdy, young at heart and genuinely enjoy meeting people. Staying in a hostel with other people who are part of our international family makes the world seem very small, indeed.