There is a another option to this question.

It’s an option some of you didn’t even consider.

They’re called hostels.

Oh no, not that.

You’ve heard about those places.

They’re big, dirty and a lot of strange things go on there.

Excuse me, but have you ever STAYED in one?


Then how do you know?

I saw the movie Hostel.

Oh, OK.

Take it for what its worth.

It WAS a movie and a really awful one if you read the reviews.

The hostels in other countries and in the United States are NOTHING like the movie.

American tourists have stayed in hostels all over the world, but wouldn’t even dream of staying in one in their own country.

The rest of the world has this hostel thingy down pat.

We here in the United States are just catching on and some of us really like the hostelling experience.

I know that I do.

Just what is a hostel?

Simply put, it’s like being in a fancy sleep over camp or college dorm room.

You share a room with people who you don’t know or maybe you do.

Not only are people from different countries, but in some cases, different states as well.

You don’t even have to share a room, they have private rooms.

If you’re coming with the family, private rooms are the way to go.

Once again, you want to know if this is safe?

Yes, very.

The rooms are dormitory style with bunk beds.

I personally like the bottom bunk.

At my age it’s really wicked hard to get up and down from the top bunk, just saying.

There are no dressers, just lockers in your room.

Housekeepers do clean the rooms and bathrooms every day just like in hotels.

If you didn’t bring your own lock, you can buy one from the front desk along with other things you might have forgotten, like soap, mouthwash, deodorant, or toothpaste.

You can even get food at the front desk.

All hostels have a common room, which basically like the living room, complete with a t.v. and a mini library.

They have laundry facilities, and most importantly, a communal kitchen where you can cook to your heart’s content.

On some nights, the hostel has a communal dinner night, where you get to meet your fellow travelers.

Some even provide breakfast, which consists of a continental breakfast.

Some, like Hostelling International Baltimore, have it so that you can make your own pancakes everyday if you want.

Hostels in the United States are located not just in large cities, but small ones as well.

Some of them are seasonal, so check the dates that they operate.

Most of them are operated by Hostelling International, which is the oldest hostelling organization in the world.

When you first arrive, you can check in around 2 or 3pm, just like a hotel.

You might be able to check in earlier, if your room is ready.

Yes, just like a hotel.

Check out time is 11am.

You have a choice of female dorms only, male dorms only or mixed dorms.

Mixed as in guys and gals in the same room.

It sounds weird, but in Sydney, Australia and Washington DC, I stayed in a mixed dorm and it wasn’t that bad.

If it’s you, the wife, and the kids, you don’t have a choice.

Private rooms.

If you happen to check into one of the hostels operated by Hostelling International, you might be asked if you have a Hostelling International membership card.

These memberships are annual.

If you’re under 18, it’s free.

18-54 years, $28 annually.

55 and up senior rate $18.

There is also a lifetime fee of$250 which is open to everyone, no matter what age you are.

If you don’t want to join, that’s fine, but just remember, they add $3 per night to your bill.

If your room isn’t ready but you want to explore Houston, they can store your bags for you.

Once you are settled, they give you sheets, pillowcases and towels, if you didn’t bring one with you.

Once you check out, just being them down with you so they can get washed.

If it sounds like you’re “roughing” it, in a way, yes you are.

Once again, like with hotels, check reviews and call the hostel itself to get the best rates.

Let’s go back to that safety issue because some of you seem to be curious about it.

In many hostels, you’re given a passcode not only to get into the building, but into YOUR room as well.

Hostels have curfews.

Keep the noise down after a certain hour.

Like if you come in after spending a late night on either Broadway in New York City or Broadway in Nashville, be considerate of your other hostelmates.

Hostels even have free wifi.

All you need is a password, which the hostel provides you.

Some of them even have computers in which you may print out your boarding pass, but there might be a charge for the printing.

Hostels don’t have concierges, but the front desk clerks will be your best friends while you’re staying.

They’ll not only tell you about tours, but show you the best way to get around town.

Unlike the hostels in the rest of the world, hostels in the United States are “dry”, meaning no booze allowed anywhere.

A couple of them that I have stayed at, Apple Hostel in Philadelphia and Nashville Downtown Hostel, which isn’t affiliated with Hostelling International, allow booze.

Apple Hostel in Philadelphia has wine and cheese movie nights on Fridays.

They even have a pub crawl on Thursdays.

But then a lot of hostels in the United States have pub crawls.

Apple Hostel goes one better.

BEFORE the pub crawl, they offer free vodka, rum and scotch in the lobby for about an hour.

You must be 21 though.

Nashville outdoes Philadelphia, though.

They have an ENTIRE FRIDGE for your booze.

Label it or you might lose it.

Same goes for the food that you store in the cabinets or fridge.

Label them.

You don’t have to be a certain age to stay at the hostel.

18 and older can stay by themselves.

12-17, sorry you gotta do that 30 Plus Teams Tour with your folks in the private family room.

You don’t even need a passport to stay in a hostel.

That state id from Rhode Island or Utah works just fine.

But don’t even think of doing a staycation here.

If you live in New York City, you can’t stay in any of the hostels in New York City.

Still not feeling this hostel thing?

Can you actually say that you had a real conversation with people when you stayed at your hotel in San Francisco?

You can say that if you stayed at any of the three Hostelling International hostels in town.

You actually hung out with your hostelmates.

STILL not impressed, nope, not staying at one of these places.

Hate to tell you that a lot of these hostels are closer to downtown and the arena than that fancy swank hotel that you and the girls wanted to stay at.

Hostels might not be for everyone, but it’s an option that you might want to consider.


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