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Posted by on Jan 20, 2009 in International, Places To Go, Road Trips, Trip Ideas | 0 comments

Hostel Hopping

Experience the hostels here in the United States and add some spice to your next road trip!

While sleeping in a hotel or motel will hardly be the most memorable moment of your trip, staying in a hostel is guaranteed to create lasting memories and even friendships.  If you’ve seen the movie “Hostel” (2005 ) hold on a second.  This is not the way hostels are in reality, so don’t be freaked out by the idea of staying in one.  Everyone knows that movies aren’t real; this one is no different.  Give hostels a chance and they will pleasantly surprise you (and your wallet!).

Imagine an inexpensive dorm room full of students from around the world.  There’s a kitchen for you to use, and a game room and library for your perusal.  An experienced backpacker just hitch-hiked all the way down the Appalachians, and in the corner a card game is going on between an Australian and a Korean while the woman from France offers to share her breakfast with you.  A group of students is watching TV in the lounge and the owners of the hostel are giving the last call for a van tour of the area.  These scenes happen every day at hostels throughout the United States.  Hostels are flexible, spontaneous, welcoming, and diverse places.  

Need more privacy than a dorm can offer?  No problem.  You could stay in your own cabin complete with wood burning stove, kitchen, living room, private bedroom, bathroom, and donkeys all for $30.00 a night.  Yes, really!  You can do this at the Sandia Mountain Hostel in Cedar Crest, New Mexico, just outside of Santa Fe: Sandia Mountain Hostel has dorms and cabins for lodging flexibility in a warm, laid-back setting.  The owner is very welcoming and a lot of creativity and love was put into building this hostel by hand.  Petting the velvety donkeys outside your room is certainly a plus!

Another fantastic hostel is located in Atlanta, Georgia, right across the street from an amazing Cuban restaurant called Papi’s (try the fried plaintains!).  Atlanta International Hostel is a great place to stay a few nights and explore the city.  While being in a city makes this hostel a bit noisier, it’s worth it to be so close to everything.  There is a strong international vibe that makes everyone feel welcome as cultures are exchanged across the breakfast table.  Atlanta has great nightlife, too, so I suggest meeting some international friends at the hostel and getting together for a night on the town. 

For a country vacation away from cities, try this hostel in Gilbert, Arkansas It’s a great place to fish, canoe or hike along the scenic Buffalo River.  The feel of this hostel is more similar to a homestay so it won’t be as private as other hostels.  You’ll meet Danny, the owner, and be very engaged in the happenings at the hostel.  I found it fascinating just listening to him while watching him cook our community meals; this place feels like family!  The interior upstairs walls are covered in books, so it feels as though they are actually made of books.  There’s a cute country-style restaurant near the hostel that serves homemade goodies, as well as an old-fashioned general store that sells ice cream, so make sure to check it out and explore the town.

How do we find these niches of serendipity? First: research online.  Then, while traveling, ask the locals about any nearby hostels that might not be listed online.  Last, ask for a printed guidebook of hostels during your first stay in one.  Here are a few online directories for hostels:

With hostels, the more privacy you have, the more it costs.  So dorms are almost always less than $20.00 a night with some in the Southeastern United States as low as $8.00.  Some hostels are like family-run hotels and charge as much as $45.00 for a private room in touristy locations.  Others will allow you to camp out for much cheaper than the dorm room rate.  Each hostel has a unique personality and interior decoration.  That’s the beauty of hostels – when you stay in one, you know that there is no other place in the world quite like it!

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