Hostels for adults: Spend travel money where it counts

When I was 23, I stayed at my first (and last) Ritz Carlton, in Palo Alto. It was only a stop on a string of fabulous business hotels from which I'd collected small bars of soap and shoe shine mitts: The Breakers in Palm Beach, Hotel Nikko Beverly Hills, the Pierre and the Plaza and the Waldorf-Astoria and three different W Hotels in New York City — I could go on. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I loved it, but as I was traveling on business, I rarely got to experience much more than the heady delight of opening the door to a room that cost way more than my shoes (even my nicest shoes). I wasn't paying the bill, ultimately; but I would have to pay out of pocket for things such as:

  • minibar purchases ($7 for a candy bar at the W?)
  • phone calls (before the days of ubiquitous cell phones, I think I spent $14.98 for one call)
  • valet tips (evidently $5 is a starting rate at these fancy places)
  • breakfast ($10 for granola, $12 if you want milk)

Now that I'm an adult traveling on my own dime, I stay at hostels.

trip to austin for iacp: hostel common area with flags and maps
The common area at the Austin hostel.

Travel Sans Expense Account

It is one thing to travel on expense account; a thing I have done quite a lot. But even when a corporate travel associate books my room, I feel a pang of guilt signing an agreement to pay $200 or $300 a night, plus tax. When I'm traveling on my own — either for my freelance work or purely for pleasure — the pang is decidedly different.

The cure for this pang, for me, has been hostels. Despite the image you probably have in your mind, “hostel” does not need to be automatically prefaced by “youth.” While many of the guests are indeed young, the morning I checked out of the San Diego hostel in the trendy Gaslamp district of town, I sent e-mails while a white-haired man next to me explained finance to a 30-something man, drawing charts of opportunity costs in the air.

Oh yes: that Wi-Fi, along with a cook-your-own breakfast that was friendlier and far better than that at a mid-priced executive hotel like Residence Inn or Hampton Inn, was free. In fact, the cupboards at the hostels I've visited in the U.S. are veritably bursting with freebies — free bread from local bakeries, free produce or overstock foods from local markets, free maps, free advice.

The map on the wall at the hostel in Austin had bus routes to all hot neighborhoods and favorite attractions — as well as the airport and Greyhound station — along with the schedule frequencies and last run time. (Cab from airport: $25 plus tip. Bus to airport: $2 even.) A chalkboard at the hostel in San Diego displayed the free events and tours run by hostel staff. There was a pub crawl, and a farmers market tour, and a communal picnic to the classical concerts in the park.

A wonderful meal of vegetable-rich pasta was prepared by another staffer on Thursday night, with a suggested donation of $5, who was so eager for us all to try the food that he thanked me for serving myself the first plate.

Hostel Living Isn't for Everyone
airy bunk beds, female room, san diego hostel, gaslamp district, august 2011

Okay, I'll own up: staying at a hostel is not for those who value their privacy and who are light sleepers. Despite the aforementioned wide customer base for hostels, taking a bunk in a co-ed room will almost always mean you'll see your roommates coming in, possibly a bit toasty, in the wee hours of the night. They're here to experience all the city has to offer, and hostelers have a well-deserved notoriety for sampling the local potables. (You have never seen such quiet as 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning in a hostel common room.)

But I'm the sort of person who always really wants to talk to the person staying next door to me, and at a luxury hotel, that's verboten (unless of course you're looking to hook up). I want to hear why the neighbors are here in the city and what they're planning to do. I like to hear people's stories, and in a hostel, those stories are worn on the sleeve, always about to spill out, possibly in broken English or a language inflected with Australian or Eastern European accents.

Guilt-Free Frugal Travel

Best of all, at a hostel, there's no judgment or guilt. At those fancy $300 a night places, I felt terrible toting my own bags up the elevator (but I really couldn't afford the tip). I struggled over ordering a $15 meal of coffee and granola (which I could expense but I had to pay for in cash, first) or going hungry until I reached the client site. Asking directions to the nearest drug store (so I could buy my own bottled water or snacks) or Starbucks (to use the Wi-Fi for free) or, at one New York hotel, using my laptop in the lobby where there was no charge for internet — but also, no power strip — always made me feel desperate and cheap.

At the hostel? The desk clerk will look at you eagerly if you offer the box of tempura batter you got free at your conference and have no desire to tote home. “Leave it in the staff box!” she'll say, eyes bright with visions of fried eggplant and sweet potatoes.

I did adore the luxury of those storied old-guard hotels. But I don't need another shoe shine mitt and I'm more comfortable around hostel people — those who value frugality more than the appearance of boundless wealth. Those who are there for the story, not the shopping. Those who would rather run where the locals do than wangle good seats at the hottest restaurant.

And the best part comes when you pay your bill (at a hostel, you pay when you arrive, not when you leave). I brought my 8-year-old with me to Austin, and for five nights we paid less than one night at the convention hotel. With the money we saved, I could very nearly pay my mortgage.

Or go on another trip. I've been wanting to get back to New York City…

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Marsha
Marsha
8 years ago

I like to save money, but this sounds to me like a horror experience. I don’t have any trouble talking to strangers or sharing a meal, but I must have my own room or I wouldn’t sleep a wink.

Pamela
Pamela
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

Some hostels do have private rooms for a much higher price – maybe $50 – $70 a night instead of $20. Even that might not be a good fit for you but it’s worth thinking about.

Tom
Tom
8 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

My wife and I stayed in private rooms at hostels in Prague (dorm room) and Rome (cabin at a campsite) for about $15 – $20 per night. Not only did we save on the room, but the extras also saved a lot of money (meals in the cafeteria for a few dollars, free shuttle to historic Rome and the airports). Not fancy – but we got to spend 6 weeks in Europe!

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

The idea is that you’re too tired to stay awake by the time you get to bed.

Marsha
Marsha
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I can’t sleep around strangers. Maybe I’m just not a very trusting person, but I would worry about my personal safety and the safety of my possessions.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

Ever been to summer camp? Or lived in a dorm room?

Marsha
Marsha
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

I went to summer camp with kids I knew (and that doesn’t mean you’re safe when you’re asleep). I was fortunate enough to never live in a dorm during college, and I knew my roommates in my apartment. I’ve been to retreats where I’ve stayed in barracks-style rooms, but always with people I know.

Perhaps I’m a control freak, but I really have to trust someone to fall asleep in their presence. I don’t trust strangers however nice they seem.

Katie
Katie
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

Hey Marsha – I share your fear. If you’ve ever been traumatized (badly) by another individual, or robbed, or almost robbed, it’s pretty darn normal to feel that way! Even if you weren’t, there is nothing with wanting some space. That said, I stayed in an all-females room in a hostel in Washington state. The only thing that annoyed me was another guest kept turning off the fan when it was…really warm outside. However, no one jacked my stuff, and everyone was really pleasant. The hostel I stayed at had smaller rooms too (like 4 people) and private rooms, a… Read more »

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

I’m the same way. I can’t sleep around strangers either. I need my privacy to snore, cough, sneeze and toot. God forbid anyone hearing me toot in the middle of the night! When I’m out all day, I look forward to working out in a gym or swimming in a pool and laying in my own room with a good book and peace and quiet.

And no, I never slept in a dorm or summer camp.

Des
Des
8 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

I stayed a week in a Hostel in Paris in December (definitely the off-season). I only had a roommate on the last night, since there just weren’t many guests that time of year. However, the bathrooms and showers were communal and co-ed, so that was kind of weird.

Allie
Allie
8 years ago

I stayed in hostels in Japan and Canada and loved it! My only regret is that most of my traveling is in the midwest/east coast of the US, and I’m pretty sure that – besides the west coast – we just don’t have any hostels wherever I go.

RosaMN
RosaMN
8 years ago
Reply to  Allie

I don’t know about the rest of the Midwest, but there are hostels in Minneapolis and Chicago. The one here is an old mansion near the Institute of Arts, walking distance of most of the best cheap restaurants in town.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  RosaMN

Is that the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Hostel? I’ve stayed there. Very clean, very convenient and they serve breakfast as part of the fee.

Nancy L.
Nancy L.
8 years ago

My reservations with hostels have been with the security of belongings. From what I understand about hostels, it’s very rare to have a private, lockable area for gear, so it can be riskier traveling with personal electronics & cameras than it might be at a hotel with a private room. I think couch surfing or finding a short term sublet appeal to me more than a hostel. But the best solution I’ve found is to be active in online communities. I have 30-40 cities where I now have friends that I could mooch a night or two on their couch,… Read more »

Leah
Leah
8 years ago
Reply to  Nancy L.

The availability of lockers depends on the hostel. I’ve traveled at a lot of hostels and only found a small handful without in-room lockers (mostly in New Zealand). But I always had locks on my bag too. Further, I took electronics with me during the day (why go out without your camera?), so I wasn’t nervous about leaving my clothes around. Yes, there are some theft risks. I imagine it does happen. But in years of going to hostels, most theft I have heard of occurred when someone got pickpocketed or mugged in the city they were staying in. In… Read more »

Kristina
Kristina
8 years ago
Reply to  Nancy L.

If you are really concerned about valuables, many hosels have small lockers you can use if you bring your own locks. But I have never had anything stolen in any hostel I have ever stayed at.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

I wrote an article on “hostels for grown ups” a few years back and found that there is a lot of variety that people often overlook! Sure, you find your typical dorm-style accommodations, but there are also 2-bed rooms, family apartments and private rooms too. Hostels can be anything from a farm stay, lighthouse, castle and even a former prison (in Ottawa near the prison museum.) I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but it would be great to have that unique experience. Obviously the fancier ones are more expensive, but they’re still cheaper than hotels in major… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Ooops! Pardon my mistake — the hostel in Ottawa has a museum, it isn’t near the museum. Not sure i’d want to sleep in a former cell, but apparently you can sleep in the warden’s quarters or former hospital.

Another option I forgot to mention is university residence rooms during the summer months. They’re pricier than hostels, but more secure and still a good bargain. For instance, you can stay at the University of Toronto for $100 and be really close to downtown.

Jynet
Jynet
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I’ve stayed at the Ottawa hostel, and the cells are actually pretty great 🙂 The whole building is THICK stone work, and stays cool in the heat of the summer. They’ve broken through the cell walls to make “suites” that have 4 beds in them.

They don’t let anyone sleep up on death row anymore, to many middle of the night panic attacks, but the women’s floor does have a resident ghost 😉

karla
karla
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Actually I just priced hostels in London. For a family of 4 the price is roughly the same as a regular hotel.

Stellamarina
Stellamarina
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

The only place I have had a problem with this is the Bavaria part of Germany.

Jocelyn
Jocelyn
8 years ago

I’ve found that for me to have a good hostel experience, I pay the extra $10-$20 per night for a private room. This makes sleeping through the night much easier, whereas a co-ed dorm pretty much ensures that I get very little sleep. The last hostel I stayed in was in San Francisco, and it was an awesome experience. Free breakfast every morning, and free dinners 3 nights a week. Like you said, the kitchen was stocked with free food during other nights. Security was also never an issue. There was ample space for you to keep your luggage locked… Read more »

Elle
Elle
8 years ago

Hostels seem like an interesting option. I prefer hotels, but I agree that sometimes they nickel and dime you.

I was surprised that some mid level hotels don’t include free wi-fi or breakfast. It adds up and sometimes it’s just better to get a cheaper hotel.

Leah
Leah
8 years ago
Reply to  Elle

Lots of hotels/motels include free wifi and breakfast. My favorite hotel I stayed at was $35 a night (in 2006) on the Oregon coast. Free wifi, free breakfast, nice location, and the price was right. I am a huge hostel fan, but there aren’t hostels everywhere, and I’ve found mid-range motel/hotels usually treats me well.

Connie
Connie
8 years ago
Reply to  Leah

There is a huge difference between business hotels and family hotels. The former expect you to have an expense account so they charge for everything, including internet. The latter tend to have everything included in the basic price, and often have fresh cookies or snacks to boot.
Even while traveling for business, I try to stay at family-focused hotels. But when traveling on my own, I do a combination of hostels, airbnb, and camping!
Also, don’t forget earplugs and an eye mask to get good sleep at hostels.

SB @ One Cent At A Time
SB @ One Cent At A Time
8 years ago

I never stayed in hostel, I have a mental block that hostels will not have enough privacy, but no hard in trying for a couple night. Thanks for the post and encouragement.

The other thing I am interested to do in offering B&B at my home, I have a spare bed room. And, likewise staying at these home grown B&B’s while travelling. They will have little more privacy than the hostels. Agreed I will be charged a few bucks more, still it will be nothing compared to hotels.

STRONGside
STRONGside
8 years ago

I stayed in Hostels all throughout southern Africa when I lived there for 6 months back in 2007. It was an excellent place to stay on the cheap, and because there were so many Expats that stayed there, they were some of the safest places to stay in the cities.

My favorite hostel was in Livingstonia, right outside of Victoria Falls on the Zambia Falls. I met some amazing people from all around the world, and literally slept within earshot of the greatest waterfall in the world. Not a bad way to travel.

Tom
Tom
8 years ago

Any good links to resources for finding hostels??

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Try:

http://www.hostelworld.com/
http://www.hihostels.com/web/about.en.htm
http://www.hostels.com/

If memory serves, Hostel International (HI) has the best info about hostelling as it’s a non-profit organization. The other two are booking engines, I think. (It’s been a while since I looked, but they were sources I used for my article).

Danesha
Danesha
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

These sites have very good rating systems that I have found to be pretty good indicators of what is to come. If you want a hostel with lockers, privacy, wifi you can find that info here. In the 50 or so hostels I have stayed in over the past few years, I can directly correlate the environment with the effort I put in to researching the available places. It is definitely worth the 10-15 minutes extra. Also, there are some cities where hostel standards are much much higher for the price (even better than cheap hotels). To name a few… Read more »

Katie
Katie
8 years ago
Reply to  Danesha

Hostelworld in particular is an excellent resource and, in my experience, their ratings have always been incredibly accurate. If you rent the cities’ “Lonely Planet” edition, they have great hostel and cheap hotel suggestions.

Jennifer 2
Jennifer 2
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I absolutely second Hostelworld. I used them to plan out where I would stay all across Europe and in about a dozen countries, I only had one sub-par experience (there were some extenuating circumstances that had come up about a week before I got there). While I’ve never stayed in a hostel in the US, they were terrific in Europe. As an aside, I’m totally conscious of some people’s safety concerns. I’ve traveled primarily by myself (I’m a 20-something woman) and never had any problems. For my peace of mind I usually actually stayed in the largest dorm room a… Read more »

Stellamarina
Stellamarina
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

HI Hostels….what used to be called Youth Hostels international…were the first ones to start the hosteling movement. The idea then was to get the city youth out into the countryside of depression era Germany. There have been a lot of changes in the organization since then but the HIhostels are still a little more on the conservative side. There are also now many hostels that are not part of the Hihostel organization….some of which are known as more party hostels. Then there is now a new movement for Flashpackers…. more upmarket hostels for backpackers.

sarah
sarah
8 years ago

My husband and I have traveled extensively through the U.S. and Europe over the last 5 years. Four years ago, when we took our first international trip together, I was still a student and we couldn’t afford the hotels. A friend suggested we check out hostels as they were cheaper. We stayed at several small hostels throughout the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria that trip and loved it. Since then, we have stayed in hostels in Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, and have never had a negative experience. We always read reviews and usually pick hostels that are… Read more »

mike
mike
8 years ago

It’s amazing to stay at a 4 star hotel and it doesn’t even provide free wi-fi. And it’s well known the cheaper the hotel, the likelier you are to find free wi-fi.

Also, if you could ask someone 2 weeks after their stay at a $400/night room, would they have rather stayed at a hostel and still have the $400 cash, or stayed in their over expensive room?

jen_alluisi
jen_alluisi
8 years ago

I’m sure there are people who stay in hostels who would steal your stuff, but my one experience in a hostel was not that way at all. The other guests at the Taos, NM, hostel were friendly and awesome. Our car broke down coming over the mountains to get to Taos – we were able to drive it into town, but had to drive straight to an auto repair place. The mechanic was kind enough to give us a lift with our stuff to the hostel, but we thought we were either going to be stuck there for the night… Read more »

Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
8 years ago

I love LOVE hostels and encourage people to stay in them all the time! They are wonderful for the people you meet, and the staff, and the advice. When I was in Sydney the one I stayed at had a coffee shop, and a bar, and worked with lots of local tour providers so that you could pay for a tour or excursion at the front desk and then just go at the alotted time. That’s how I went to the blue mountains, went bungee jumping in Cairns, and white-water rafting in Port Douglas. I would absolutely stay in a… Read more »

Self Taught Economist
Self Taught Economist
8 years ago

I have to agree with the majority of the readers. I’ve stayed in hostels all over the world and it’s absolutely the best way to travel. Here are a few hints that I’ve learned over the years: – If I’m travelling with anything valuable, I have the hostel lock it up for me or take a private room. – Never take a hostel without pictures or a review. Once, I landed in Buenos Aires and told the taxi to take my companion and me to the “nearest nice hostel”. I had to sleep with one eye open because it was… Read more »

Tracey+H
Tracey+H
8 years ago

We’ve stayed in hostels that have private rooms and we love the vibe there. And we usually go for smaller, family-run places wherever we travel because you get an authentic travel experience (instead of waking up in a luxury hotel room, wondering what country you’re in because it’s so similar to others). We’ve stayed in $1000/night overwater bungalows on Bora Bora and $100/night beach bungalows on Moorea and Huahine (less-known islands near Bora Bora) and honestly enjoyed the latter experience more (though I’m glad I got to experience the luxury version once)! Both of my kids (in their 20s) have… Read more »

jrbeasley
jrbeasley
8 years ago

I hate to be a downer, but, one thing I have found you have to look out for in hostels is bedbugs. Primarily in ones that see a lot of overseas visitors. In both nyc hostels I have been to (one being hi) I have found the little devils. Not at all fun to deal with.

Adam P
Adam P
8 years ago
Reply to  jrbeasley

Expect a flurry of responses from people screaming “But high end hotels have bed bugs!! Why just last decade there was a report on bed bugs being found in the ” The difference of course is that if a high end hotel hears it has bed bugs it will move heaven and earth to fix the problem and make sure the media doesn’t find out and do everything possible to correct the situation ASAP. If a low end hostel finds out it has bed bugs I’m mostly sure it’s a bit lower on their priority list, since people almost expect… Read more »

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  jrbeasley

That would worry me if I hadn’t read so much about high end hotels having problems with bed bugs too. (Think New York City and Toronto!)

Makes my skill crawl.

Sara A.
Sara A.
8 years ago
Reply to  jrbeasley

This is why some hostels require that you bring your own sheet liner. It is a sheet folded over and sewn up one side that you crawl into like a sleeping bag.

Kate
Kate
8 years ago
Reply to  Sara A.

Great, more crap to carry with me.

20's Finances
20's Finances
8 years ago

I have stayed in hostels in multiple countries and it is not a rare occurrence to find one with a private room and bath for just a few dollars more a night. Definitely worth it!

Robin Burks
Robin Burks
8 years ago

I have never stayed in a hostel, but have considered it. I’m concerned with things like security, though, so I’m not sure it’s for me. I’m also a light sleeper and that could always be an issue. However, I do understand that many hostels do offer private rooms. But after looking at costs, I’ve found that renting an apartment in a city is sometimes just as cost-effective. I just returned from Paris where I paid about half for an apartment than I would have for a hotel. And to top it all off, the apartment was equipped with self-service breakfast… Read more »

JakeIL7
JakeIL7
8 years ago

One thing that I noticed with this article is that while you throw numbers around for the 4-5 star hotels you stayed at (numbers that are accurate for weekdays) you really don’t ever tell us what we should expect to pay for a hostel in the same part of town. As I have not considered doing this myself yet (cleanliness and privacy are VERY important to me) this would be valuable information.

Can you provide a couple of comparison numbers?

Jake

cc
cc
8 years ago
Reply to  JakeIL7

yea! what happened to the holiday/ramada/comfort/red roof inn chains? they’re usually pretty reasonable. i stayed in a hostel in london a few years ago and… well let’s just say i’m not really the type to dig the “communal” housing. it might have been a one-time bad experience and i was unprepared for just how “raw” you live there, but i was surprised and displeased by the number of naked-with-towels people who kept coming into our (non-locked) room right by the bathroom. i tried it, it wasn’t for me. i also dislike b&bs- they’re all just too personal. i don’t want… Read more »

csdx
csdx
8 years ago
Reply to  JakeIL7

I’m afraid the answer to your question is the economist favorite: “It Depends”. How much a hostel versus a lower tier hotel versus a 5-star hotel, versus a bed and breakfast, or even just renting an apartment, depend on quite a number of factors not the least of which is location, time, tour packages, etc. To get that kind of detailed advice, you might have to do your own legwork for the neck of the world you’re interested in, or as others mentioned check out travel guides like Lonely Planet. That said, if you’re a relatively private individual hostels are… Read more »

Jynet
Jynet
8 years ago
Reply to  JakeIL7

The hotel I’m staying in when I’m in Seattle next month is going to cost $138/night. That is a special deal plus it is off season (I have paid $300+ for this same hotel in high season) and it is a 4 star hotel.

The nearest hostel is $28/night and has an approval rating of 94%. it is actually closer to a lot of the things I want to do in Seattle… And now I’m rethinking my lodging decision, lol!

Adam P
Adam P
8 years ago

Yeah, I love travel a lot. It’s for me (like many of you guys) one of the things I get value for dollar on.

I am a germaphobe. I am a terrible sleeper. And I hate communal showers and shared bathrooms. I think my stress from sleeping in a hostel would ruin a trip I’m on, sadly.

If you want cheap places to stay but need your own room, try priceline and hotwire and the like. And you know, budgeting for trips you can afford.

Annelise
Annelise
8 years ago

I’m so glad that YOU love hostels and that YOU love talking to strangers on your travels. Some of us don’t! I can’t think of anything worse than being surrounded by strangers all the time, especially while I’m sleeping, and I don’t have such a vacant brain that I can’t be alone with my thoughts without a constant stream of external stimulation. I wouldn’t mind these articles so much if staying in hostels weren’t always dressed up as the virtuous, “right” way to travel, and any establishment offering a modicum of privacy, cleanliness and (gasp!) luxury weren’t pilloried as a… Read more »

Leah
Leah
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I found your comment far more judgmental than the post, just fyi (esp your comment about “the locals” — woah!). If it’s not for you, move on with life. That’s fine. We all like different things! But this post may very well be useful for someone who loves traveling, doesn’t have much money, and doesn’t mind some communal living.

Annelise
Annelise
8 years ago
Reply to  Leah

No, Leah, you didn’t find my comment “judgmental,” you just don’t like the fact that I don’t agree with you. You’re proving the very point I was making about the unspoken tyranny of ideas in the blogosphere. And as for the locals, what did I say?! I have absolutely NOTHING against the locals. It simply doesn’t bother me if I don’t speak to any outside my interactions with service staff. Of course, if a friendship develops organically, that’s great, but I certainly don’t seek it out when I’m traveling.

LC
LC
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Whoa. I agree with Leah. I also found your comment very judgemental. Definitely moreso than the article.

Naomi
Naomi
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Not judgmental? What exactly did you mean by “vacant brain”? Was that a compliment?

shash
shash
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Well, I prefer nice hotels and B&Bs AND I find your comment judgmental. I actually find most of your comments on articles judgmental, Annelise. No, you do not have to agree with all the posts or opinions on this site, but “soft tyranny of hippie, ultra-frugal, liberal-left ideas”? Seriously? Oh, the conspiracy! 🙂 I have been reading GRS from the beginning and it has been a great source of multiple ideas and various voices on personal finance with a large group of commenters who, for the most part, provide a rich variety of experiences and thoughts. Do I agree with… Read more »

Annelise
Annelise
8 years ago
Reply to  Leah

I don’t want to reduce this to a competition or numbers game, but I’d like to point out that (at the time of writing) my comment has the biggest number of “likes” on this page. I’m not saying that makes my comment any better than yours, but it does mean that I’ve struck a chord with other readers. I think your reactions to my comment prove that dissenting opinions on hostels and suchlike are unwelcome. And as for the phrase “vacant brain,” if that caused offense then I apologize. I was just trying to convey the exasperation that people such… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I’d like to “dislike” your post but there’s no such button. Skewed stats? I hope you don’t work with numbers.

shash
shash
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Oh, I don’t know. It could also prove that you have 8 friends. Good for you! Or, that you’ve shamed 8 people into liking your comment! yay! 🙂

Dissenting opinions are welcome. Dissenting and insulting opinions… not so much.

Annelise
Annelise
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I haven’t influenced or manipulated anyone into “liking” my comment, and I resent any suggestion I have. And the only insults are coming from you, not me. This is getting far too personal for my liking. I’m out.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I think you made a good point, but you could have done so without launching into another hippie-hating rant. I’m sorry that sounds brutal — it’s just a pet peeve of mine that people have good points to make but no one wants to listen because they’ve offended so many people. A have a friend who likes to “live a little better” when she travels. She did the hostel thing for many years, but now she appreciates a nice hotel — it’s part of the experience for her and she budgets accordingly. I don’t see anything wrong with that, nor… Read more »

David
David
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I wish I could understand the need for some to politicize everything on Internet comment sections. Yeesh.

LC
LC
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Wow, I didn’t get this impression at all from this article. What I read is that the writer had once stayed in super expensive hotels, was bothered by the expense, and opted to take an alternate method of traveling more frugally and, in their own opinion, more fun by staying in hostels. Obviously, this article isn’t meant for you, since you dislike the very essense of a hostel, but the article is about budget travel by staying in hostels and doesn’t conclude that it’s the only way to travel.

Tom
Tom
8 years ago
Reply to  LC

I totally identified with the “feeling guilty” aspect of avoiding food, valet, WiFi, etc expenses when staying at a more expensive hotel.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

“and I don’t have such a vacant brain that I can’t be alone with my thoughts without a constant stream of external stimulation”

Wow. You need a beer. For breakfast.

Actually no, you might be a rude drunk. Oh, what to do… maybe you could lock yourself up in your room until we all go away?

SEinSF
SEinSF
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Why are you shouting? Your tone is disturbing. It is fine to disagree but no need to be cruel. Your opinion is fine. They way you express it is not.

CincyCat
CincyCat
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

@Annelise, Why are you here? I’ve read one nasty comment after the next from you over the past few days, and I can’t help but wonder why you bother reading this website if you disagree so strongly with everything a contributor posts? Most of the people who comment on GRS do so with respect, even when their opinions and veiewpoints differ. You seem to enjoy stirring the pot and engaging in debates that completely detract from the point of the original article. If you want to rant about everything you read, call names and spew hatred for everyone who doesn’t… Read more »

Annelise
Annelise
8 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

My comment doesn’t detract from the article at all. I haven’t gone off topic. Nor have I “spewed hatred” or called anyone names. I enjoy plenty of the articles here and agree with the content, in which case I don’t leave a comment since I have nothing to add. In this case, I felt a little angry at the demonization of those who stay in nice hotels and wanted to point out the numerous drawbacks of hostels, so I left a comment. Is that a crime? Now, if you don’t agree with me and don’t want to “engage in debates,”… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I “liked” your comment, so I’ll reply (although the numbers are very much against your comment now). I thought that the article treated the topic very well, without demonizing its alternative, right up until the very end: “I did adore the luxury of those storied old-guard hotels. But I don’t need another shoe shine mitt and I’m more comfortable around hostel people – those who value frugality more than the appearance of boundless wealth. Those who are there for the story, not the shopping. Those who would rather run where the locals do than wangle good seats at the hottest… Read more »

Kate
Kate
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Annelise, I love your comments! Keep it up!

csdx
csdx
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

So it sounds like part of your issue is the whole idea of the site. I think that GRS focuses more heavily on the “saving money” aspect. Thus does tend to have “hippie, ultra-frugal, liberal-left ideas”. If this really bothers you, perhaps it’s not the best place to be?

Honestly there are a number of other PF sites that do focus strongly on the “making money” side and they have very little emphasis on such frugality. The blogosphere is hardly a unified hive mind.

csdx
csdx
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Also to address what seems to be you’re main point. I think what you want out of travel is quite different that what many others (in this particular crowd) want. I think a lot more people are looking for ‘exploration travel’ than just straight vacationing. Thus want to go out and meet people and find places that are unique, or otherwise have a ‘real’ experience of a place. This article really is more about this kind of travel. Given the title is to “spend travel money where it counts” the premise would seem to be that luxurious lodging is not… Read more »

Beneath The Clutter
Beneath The Clutter
8 years ago

I’ve stayed at the same exact hostel in the Gaslamp! And, as Gilbert said, you meet so many wonderfully diverse people in hostels–all with varying age and life experiences. I’ve met some wonderful folks staying at regular hotels, too. I think it’s a combination of where you’re staying and your personal likes.

It’s actually been awhile since I’ve stayed in a hostel (I travel frequently for business, too). But, my next trip I think I will consider hosteling it.

David
David
8 years ago

This is great for frugality, but I value my privacy too much for this to be a viable option. Thankfully, I work for a hotel management company that owns hotels in several brands, so I’m able to get deep-discount employee rates often for as little as $30-$40/night at nice properties (I’ll be taking a trip to Europe later this fall and managed to secure a €20/night rate at a 4-star property). One of the best benefits of the job for sure. (Tip for everyone else: sites like Priceline & Hotwire really can result in amazing deals at great properties sometimes.… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
8 years ago
Reply to  David

Personally, I’m a hotwire.com fanatic myself. I get a kick out of it when I end up scoring a super nice hotel for less than the cost of a tank of gas. 🙂 We recently took a road trip with our two young kids and spent less than $350 total (including taxes) for FIVE nights in name-brand hotels on the way out & back. We even stayed at the Christmas Inn in Pigeon Forge for dirt cheap using hotwire & “splurging” on the anonymous “better” star hotel for the last night of the trip (I did not know we had… Read more »

Matt
Matt
8 years ago

The article would have been much better had Sarah left the parts about the fancy hotels out and just focused on the ins and outs of hostels.

I still don’t understand… you work for a company that puts you up in a nice hotel but won’t pick up your $10 breakfast? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Travel always includes meals…

Maybe I’ll submit a company-expense hack story: Packing lunch and dinner on business trips to blow your entire $75/day food allotment on a 5-star dinner. True story! LOL.

LC
LC
8 years ago
Reply to  Matt

I think she meant she had to pay cash out of pocket for these extras. Even though she’d be reimbursed later, it probably safe to assume that the initial upfront cost was challenging due to the much higher value than she was accustomed to spending. I would guess a lot of folks use credit for business expenses. I know I do and then pay the credit card off when my company reimburses me. I would be none too happy to have to pay out of pocket (cash) and wait until later to get my money back, even if I had… Read more »

JakeIL7
JakeIL7
8 years ago
Reply to  Matt

I would be VERY careful with any expense report hacking article. It is way too easy to catch alot of flack for being “dishonest” even if that is not your intention.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  JakeIL7

He’s not talking about fabricating evidence. A per-diem is a per-diem. It doesn’t say you have to go to the hotel restaurant or the corner deli or a box from power bars at GNC. It’s not the same as taking a client to lunch where you have to adhere to some standards. If your company gives you X amount to spend per day, I don’t see how it’s up to them how you distribute that cash– it’s just an allowance for being away from home.

CincyCat
CincyCat
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

The company my husband worked at used to do the “per diem” thing, then they started making the allowance X for breakfast, Y for lunch and Z for dinner. I guess too many people were doing the “5-star dinner” thing, and ruined it for everyone else…

Courtney
Courtney
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

It’s broken out that way so that, for example, if you’re attending a conference that includes a lunch, they can exclude the lunch amount from that day’s per diem.

stephanieg617
stephanieg617
8 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Travel did include a per diem for meals, etc… but I always had to pay out of pocket (I used plastic- easier to track), submit receipts for all expenses incurred and then wait 30-60 days for reimbursement. Meanwhile depending on the trip I was floating $500-1000+ until my expense report was approved.

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  stephanieg617

Shouldn’t all of us GRS readers already have an emergency fund of $500-$1000? Shouldn’t be too hard to float a trip until you’re reimbursed!

Plus, I get the air miles on my credit card. 😉

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Amanda

Not if you’ve been out of work for a long period of time (or cant work). Not all GRS readers are gainfully employed. Some of us use the tips and advice here to get by on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis.

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  Amanda

The problem being discussed was getting reimbursed from the employer for business trip expenses; therefore,I was assuming the person traveling was employed!

If I was not gainfully employed I would not be traveling. =)

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Amanda

So happy for you, Amanda.

getagrip
getagrip
8 years ago
Reply to  Matt

I tend to agree with you in that I think the author threw a lot of bias into the mix. “I loved it, but as I was traveling on business,…” Yeah traveling on business whether you’re staying in a four star or one star place isn’t as much “fun” as others who don’t travel for business seem to think it is, especially if you are actually working. However, the author’s list of complaints shouldn’t be. I have no problem paying for those services that are reasonable and reimbursable, like tipping a guy a few dollars to carry my bag to… Read more »

Steve
Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

I agree (somewhat) with your comments. I have only traveled on business a few times, but when I did, I didn’t feel any guilt about it. And I didn’t worry about spending money and getting reimbursed (though I have had to borrow money from my savings for a few weeks. *shrug*)

JakeIL7
JakeIL7
8 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

I hate to speak for the author, but I don’t think that she was trying for the guilt trip. I think she was trying to do the cheerleader thing here and, basically, say that hostels are great even for those who *can* afford a nice hotel. However, I think she should have had someone else read it before publishing it as I was thinking the same thing as you: way too critical to those businesses who spend money because it makes sense to for that location or those who personally choose to spend the money

CincyCat
CincyCat
8 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

I got the impression from the author that when she was a newbie in the “real world” she thought she was living high on the hog, but when she started understanding how money works after she got older, she realized it was probably unnecessary expense/waste. However, even after that realization, depending on the company she was working for, she may not have had a choice as to which hotels were booked for her by corporate travel. At the company I work for, we also have to “float” everything OOP and submit expense statements later (they don’t do travel cards), but… Read more »

csdx
csdx
8 years ago
Reply to  Matt

I understand where the author is coming from. I’m generally a frugal person, and a lot of that carries over even when traveling for work. Even if I know that hotel and meals are covered I still have issues buying things I know are ‘bad deals’. I guess it’s a bit a guilt with spending somebody else’s money on things I know I wouldn’t otherwise be wasting my own on.

jacki
jacki
8 years ago

I love hostels! I stayed in hostels during my 2 month stay (I did “splurge” on private rooms an occasion for privacy – but only cheap ones, such as cheap inns/bed and breakfasts) and loved it! I wish the US has more hostels – only the big cities have a few, but not nearly as many as Europe.

steven@hundredgoals.com
8 years ago

You nailed it for me right here: “But I don’t need another shoe shine mitt and I’m more comfortable around hostel people – those who value frugality more than the appearance of boundless wealth. Those who are there for the story, not the shopping. Those who would rather run where the locals do than wangle good seats at the hottest restaurant.” That’s EXACTLY why I love staying in hostels! It’s all about the people. I’ve met great friends by staying in hostels, and having people to stay with all over the world is but another perk of mingling with fellow… Read more »

Shawn G
Shawn G
8 years ago

I first used a hostel while in Europe, and I use them as often as I possibly can now. For many of the same reasons you listed: get to meet new people, hear their stories, and share some of your own. Also, hostels are so much less expensive than hotels, and you can cook your own food instead of eating out all the time. One of my favorite travel memories comes from using a hostel near Barcelona, Spain. I was staying in a room with two other men. One was a Hungarian living in London, and the other was a… Read more »

Steve
Steve
8 years ago

A lot of hostels have private rooms available, though often you have to use the common bathroom. By the time you get a private room, bathroom, rent linens, internet costs (not all have it for free) etc you can get pretty close to the cost of a normal, low end hotel. However the a la carte nature still lets you pick and choose.

Steve
Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Also, they always have kitchens, so you can make your own food. My wife and I have developed a strategy of eating breakfast and making some sandwiches at the hostel in the morning; then we go out for dinner (after museums etc. close)

Jynet
Jynet
8 years ago

I never stayed in a hostel until I was in my late 30s. My daughter plans to travel Europe when she is 18, so we started figuring out how it works here so when she goes she’ll have some idea. I’ve now stayed in hostels all across Canada, and in a few US cities, and do enjoy them. BUT They are a very specific type of travel. It isn’t the way I travel all the time – my next trip is luxury hotels all the way for two full weeks, but my last trip was a Wilderness Hostel in Jasper… Read more »

Jynet
Jynet
8 years ago
Reply to  Jynet

I should add that for the light sleepers, a sleep mask and an ipod with earphones playing softly can make all the difference for a good night’s sleep.

I never thought I could sleep through people coming and going, but I now sleep through anything so long as they don’t touch my bunk!

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Jynet

for your sleeping playlist, i recommend brian eno’s “music for airports” and related oeuvre (“ambient–on land”, “discreet music,” “thursday afternoon”, etc).

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago

I would love for there to be a companion article for those a little older, maybe traveling as a couple who do not want communual sleep arrangements but who also willing to get a more authentic experience and avoid the high end hotel prices. It sounds like the private rooms of hostels, as well as renting rooms are solutions. For me, while I am still adventuresome about where I eat, I guess I am more conservative where I sleep. Well over 20 years ago when traveling abroad, I didn’t stay at hostels. Instead I stayed at what were called family… Read more »

eileencan
eileencan
8 years ago

stopped reading at the “hooking up” comment

csdx
csdx
8 years ago
Reply to  eileencan

I on the other hand continued to read down at least until your comment (and likely further).

I’m not sure what either one of us adds to this discussion.

Bryan at Pinch that Penny!
Bryan at Pinch that Penny!
8 years ago

You kind of allude to this when you mention how you would ask how to get to the closest Starbucks to use the Wifi, but I think it’s such a scam that, at least in my experience, 4-star hotels frequently charge for internet access while 2 and 3-star hotels don’t. I understand that 4-star hotels are probably catering to more affluent business customers who are willing to pay for internet, but it seems obvious to me that if I’m paying more for the room, I would want more amenities (internet in particular).

elorrie
elorrie
8 years ago

I’ve only stayed at a Hostel once, in Rome. I also splurged for the private room with a private bathroom for my friend and I. We only stayed for the one night, so I didn’t end up chatting with anyone other than the front desk guy. At that point its pretty much like staying at a bare-bones hotel anyway. I did look at hotels as well when booking and there were several that were actually about the same price, but with the Hostel I got a more central location. Also I decided for the same price I’d rather stay at… Read more »

KS
KS
8 years ago

I have had belongings stolen from a hostel (including my wallet/passport from under my pillow; I WAS that tired). The other thing that frustrates me about hostels is the lockout period. There are times when I don’t want to be out at the crack of dawn (or whatever) or want to come back early to take a nap, make a call, whatever. Hostels make that hard.

Art
Art
8 years ago

Great post! My wife and I always stay in hostels when we travel. We were in Dublin in February, and had a great experience. Admittedly, the private room we stayed in was a bit noisy, both because it was next to the street and because the walls were thin, but we always take ear plugs with us, so we don’t generally have a problem with that. We do enjoy the fact that most hostels have kitchens available, so we save a lot of money by cooking our own food that we buy in markets. The best thing about hostels is… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
8 years ago

While I certainly understand the dorm and communal washroom situation not appealing to everyone, I’ve also stayed at some hostels with a private room and bath that offered me the same amount of privacy to be found in your average Holiday Inn (or similar chain)for substantially less than I would have spent at the basic chain hotel. The only thing lacking was the room tv and wall art, but I got a free continental breakfast so I wasnt’t complaining People approach hotels differently. If you are someone for whom room service is part of the travel experience, then it’s an… Read more »

E. Murphy
E. Murphy
8 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

This is the kind of comment that Annelise was referring to. Lots of people who chose to stay in hotels don’t give a rat’s patootie about having room service. And they do just want a basic place to sleep. This particular comment is unnecessarily divisive.

In fact I was thinking the hostel experience sounded like something to try until I got to the part out naked/half-naked strangers passing you in the bathrooms and halls. That’s when I got creeped out and said “No thanks”.

Samantha
Samantha
8 years ago
Reply to  E. Murphy

I thought this comment was totally fine! We’re getting a little sensitive on here, I think, and seeing things that aren’t there.

I’ve never ordered room service in a hotel but I wasn’t at all offended by the post and didn’t even think to be. I think that example was just used because room service is something you can’t get in a hostel. Continental breakfast, sure. TV in the common room, sure. A private room, a private bathroom. But room service is an example of something you can get in a hotel but can’t get in a hostel.

Jeez.

Tom
Tom
8 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Agreed. I reread the other poster’s comment three times and still couldn’t figure out what might have been offensive!

csdx
csdx
8 years ago
Reply to  E. Murphy

Similarly, not all hostel-ers are half naked people walking through your room. The original comment didn’t say the only reason was room service.. The point was that unless there was something that only hotels offered you might consider hostels as an alternative. Of course you could still want other hotel exclusive things like , a view of the skyline, daily housekeeping, or heck even just the status of being able to afford a 5-star experience. Come on, it’s no more divisive than saying, if you live in an area serviced by the subway, you might want to consider mass transit… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
8 years ago
Reply to  csdx

Wow, I did not expect there to be anything deemed controversial about my comment. I certainly didn’t intend to suggest that one way of travelling was superior to the other, quite the opposite actually. Different people value different things when travelling and that is okay. “Room service” was merely an example of something that one can’t get in a hostel but can get in a nice hotel. It’s okay to like room service. It’s okay to see it as a part of the travel experience that is worth spending money on. It’s okay to want the robe and the valet… Read more »

Moneyperk
Moneyperk
8 years ago

Sure, I like meeting new people and hearing their life story as well. That doesn’t mean I want to bunk with them for a week or so. I can talk to my ‘neighbors’ at breakfast, while having the privacy I need with my own room.

csdx
csdx
8 years ago
Reply to  Moneyperk

I’ve got enough of an introverted streak that I tend to find that initial point of contact difficult. I’ve found that staying in hostels really help overcome that largely because of the forced closeness. Otherwise I’d probably be waking up and staring at my plate rather than talking with other people.

Molly
Molly
8 years ago

I like hotels, especially when I get a great priceline deal on a nice hotel. But my partner likes hostels for all of the reasons that you mention, especially social aspects. So we compromise, and usually stay on bunks at a hostel for a couple nights, and then switch it up and stay at a hotel for a night or two. It works for us. We have definitely noticed that hostels tend to be in more affordable areas – and near public transportation. It’s never hard to find a good coffee shop or a cheap place to eat nearby. Those… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

I love hostels and have had some great experiences with them. Example: A week in New York City for $299 including all taxes and fees, and free daily walking tours to interesting places. The hostel I used in Chicago provided breakfast (cereal, juice, bagels, fruit). The hostel I used in London had a free walking tour that included a great tip: Rather than pay about $26 to tour Westminster Abbey, simply go to services there. The hostel I used in Philly tried to give me beer. Shocking! Seriously: They were having a movie-and-beer night but I left it to the… Read more »

Alex
Alex
8 years ago

My boyfriend and I travelled Europe for nearly 6 weeks on a very limited budget, and we only stayed in a hostel once. One of the best options when travelling in parts of Europe such as Italy are “agriturismo” accommodations, where you stay on a working farm (obviously in rural regions only). They vary widely in cost but many are very inexpensive. It’s a wonderful way to get to meet locals and experience the day-to-day culture of the area.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
8 years ago

So where do all you hostelers have sex when you’re on vacation? I’m certainly not bringing my wife to Paris to sleep in a room full of drunken strangers. If I was single? Sure, I could sleep there then, but I’m not generally traveling alone. Sorry, but nobody else seemed willing to broach this subject and I find it doubtful that I’m the only one who thought of it. I don’t care for hotels much either, but we’ve had great luck with airbnb.com and vrbo.com to find rental apartments and stuff all around the world, usually for less than the… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago

I was trying to broach that a little more subtly when asking where to stay “when traveling as a couple” ; )

CincyCat
CincyCat
8 years ago

LOL! Your comment reminded me of that “Vacation” movie with Chevy Chase when they stayed at the hostel in England. He ended up in the wrong room and got, ahem, “accosted” by that creepy lady… 😀

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago

If you’re seriously asking about this rather than posing a rhetorical question, I could share some pointers from experience. But since some people around here are prone to blush, I’ll wash my hands of any responsibility and post you something I just googled: http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/hostel-sex-a-practical-guide-for-backpackers/ Mind you, this is for the “beer soaked backpacker set.” You’re probably past that point in your life, as am I. Then again, nothing wrong with the occasional reenactment of times gone by. (Please note I said “occasional.”) If you’re just goingaway for a weekend it’s easy to manage with some creativity. Same as being stuck… Read more »

csdx
csdx
8 years ago

Well the solution’s rather obvious I figured, either get a private room, deal without for a few days.

I suppose you could put on a show for everyone in the common room though?

Jeff
Jeff
8 years ago

Hostels don’t work well for families (yes, some of us have children). It is cheaper to find a decent guesthouse for $70-ish a night then spend $20 per night per person for a decent hostel.

tom
tom
8 years ago

yikes 10 bucks for a bowl of granola?

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago

I appreciate the author saying that hostels aren’t for everyone. They’re certainly not for me and DH! Neither of us really like to talk to people. Much less on vacation, even more less when trying to sleep. =)

I’d probably be OK with a B&B (if it saved $) but no way for DH. He likes to talk to people even less than I do.

I, like some other commenters, like Priceline.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

I’ve done both. When I’ve stayed in hostels, I’ve sprung for the private room. It’s cost me less than $30/night in Shangai, Bejing, and Bangkok. Interestingly, the last time I was looking for lodging in Amsterdam, a private room in a hostel (where they make you pay for two beds) was pretty darned expensive. I sprung for a hotel instead. But I’m married now, and my wife and I live in a very average 1-BDR apartment in a high COL area. My rent is $1200/mo. So, when we travel, it’s nice to stay in “nicer” accommodations. For me, it’s part… Read more »

Becka
Becka
8 years ago

I WISH I could travel in hostels, but I can barely sleep through the night with my husband. As much sleep as I’d get in a hostel, I might as well save the money entirely, and just stay out all night!

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

undercover homeless traveler.

Just kidding. 😉

Marinda+S
Marinda+S
8 years ago

We have stayed in hostels, budget hotels and luxury resorts and b and b’s as a couple and as a family. Hostels are great for the four of us, because if we book far enough in advance, all of us stay in one room (4 bunks). The family room at Fort Mason in San Francisco has a window view of the bridge and a great grocery store down the hill. Comic Con at San Diego, we go as a family and the parents stay at the Point Loma hostel (double bed, private) and the kids stay at the Gaslight one.… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
8 years ago
Reply to  Marinda+S

We *love* staying in state parks with our two young kids! Usually we end up renting a family cabin, which (if you stay during the off-season) is like getting a whole house for less than the cost of a hotel room. (With a 5 year old & 8 year old, “picnic potties” are just not worth it… LOL!) In Ohio, state park cabins come with linens and basic kitchenware so you don’t have to pack any of that yourself. There is also tons to do – if you like “outdoors” activities. They almost always have kid-friendly hiking trails, sometimes fishing,… Read more »

RosaMN
RosaMN
8 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

I love the state parks, for traveling with a little kid. We take 6 or 8 camping weekends in easy driving distance each summer, and it’s like $50/weekend for camping & food.

I just can’t wait til the little guy is big enough for his own tent, instead of always sleeping between us. We’re going to the Apostle Islands for a week next summer and I’m hoping he’ll sleep on his own at least one or two nights of it.

Laura
Laura
8 years ago
Reply to  Marinda+S

I agree with you Marinda+S—I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels around the world (though not many in the US), and the one in Santa Fe was by far the worst… depressing accommodations, extremely overpriced (for what it was), and, after paying for an expensive night, they expected us to do chores! Personally, I’ve had a lot of great experiences in hostels, but steer clear of the hostel in Santa Fe (on Cerillos Rd.). I just find it kind of funny that the one bad experience that someone mentioned specifically was also the one place I’d never return to!

PawPrint
PawPrint
8 years ago

My only experience with a hostel was in 1972 in Canada. It was actually a big tent, as I recall, with cots. I don’t remember breakfast or even coffee included in the $3 fee. It sounds like the hostels people are describing are a LOT nicer. However, I think I’m more interested in finding a studio apartment to rent on VRBO or something like that. Cheaper than a hotel, full kitchen and private bath. Has anyone had experience with something like that?

hasammie
hasammie
8 years ago

I have the same guilt working for the State of California. I wonder why am I staying a such an expensive place or why can’t my co-worker and I share a room since we’ve become close friends. I thought about the tax dollars that can be saved.

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  hasammie

DH co was MAKING them share rooms. Then all of a sudden it stopped. There are a lot of homosexual employees-maybe they were worried about sexual harassment claims. The employees still have the OPTION to share a room. It’s strange you can’t do that.

guinness416
guinness416
8 years ago

Different strategy: My husband works part time at a Large Hotel Chain. He bartends at weddings and things – two or three shifts a month. He makes a few extra bucks at this, and keeps his bar skillz, but we’ve used the hell out of the perqs over the last five years – we get employee rates for hotels in the chain when we travel, as low as thirty bucks a night for four star hotels depending on the time of year. We can get somewhat higher rates for friends and family. A zillion times better than hostels, for us!

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