I honestly do not even know where to begin.

I am sad that I barely started hosteling three years ago. I wish I could have done it in my early twenties. I probably would have crossed off a lot of hostels by now or maybe even traveled to more locations knowing all the money I could have saved!

But here I am, in my thirties, enjoying it and not wanting to stop! So if you are a young traveler, go ahead and do it at least once! And if you are in your thirties, forties, or fifties even, do not let age discourage you to try it! There has been people of all ages at every hostel I have stayed.

Green Tortoise Hostel

But wait, what is a hostel anyway?

Merriam-Webster definition is:

An inexpensive lodging facility for usually young travelers that typically has dormitory-style sleeping arrangements and sometimes offers meals and planned activities”

Hostels vary by location. I have only stayed at hostels in the USA. My first hostel experience was during my first solo trip in San Francisco. After lots of blog posts and reviews, I found USA Hostel San Francisco to be the best choice for my first stay, and I LOVED it.

USA Hostel San Francisco

Sadly, due to the pandemic, all USA Hostels locations had to close down after 25 years. The hostel in San Francisco is no longer there and the one in Ocean Beach (San Diego), was bought out and it is now Samesun Ocean Beach.

Below are the list of all hostels I have stayed in:

  1. USA Hostels San Francisco
  2. Walk of Fame Hostel (now Samesun Hollywood)
  3. USA Hostels Ocean Beach (now Samesun Ocean Beach)
  4. HI Boston
  5. Duo Housing
  6. The Quisby
  7. Green Tortoise Seattle
  8. HI NYC
  9. NotSo Hostel

I get asked a lot how do I find hostels and how do I know if they are good ones? And well, I honestly look them up on Hostelworld and/or Thebrokebackpacker.

Think of Hostelworld as an Expedia or, but for hostels only. It is a Travel Agency focused on hostels and backpackers where you can securely book your stay, meet other travelers around the world, rate your stay and share authentic reviews.

USA Hostel San Francisco Awards by Hostelworld

The Broke Backpacker is an adventure travel blog with over 20 full time team members writing and sharing their experiences as backpackers (hence the name). I use this blog to compare hostels since they do a great job – in my opinion – to narrow down what type of hostel will be best for me.

Now, back to hostels.

Hostels are a great way to travel if you are planning on doing a solo trip or a budget travel. Or even if you just need a place to stay for the night and don’t feel like paying for a hotel room.

Walk of Fame Hostel (Now, Samesun Hollywood)

Lets break it down a bit:

Rooms – Most hostels are dormitory-style; meaning they will have more than one bed per room. Depending on the hostel, they can have a 4-bed room to a 10-bed room. They also have an option to stay in an all female dorm or a mixed dorm.

There are several style of dorm beds; the most common are bunkbeds. But there will be a lot of hostels with a lot of single beds separated by a locker, a table, or even a curtain.

HI Boston

And not all, but some hostels will also have private rooms. You could book a private room for you and your significant other, family or if you just want to stay at a hostel with a room on your own. These tend to be a bit higher in price than a regular dorm room.

Restrooms/showers – Some hostels have communal restrooms which are single use but they are outside of your room/dorm. Some hostels have assigned restrooms. You will need your room key to have access to the specified restroom. And some hostels will have gender segregated restrooms. These will have between 3-5 showers and toilet rooms.

Kitchen – Most, if not all, hostels will have a full size kitchen with a microwaves, stove, refrigerator, utensils, plates, coffee maker, toaster, and more. Basically anything you would have at home for you to cook your own meal, if you would like to. A lot of hostellers like to buy a few groceries and store them in the fridge and pantry during their stay. It is a way to save money and travel with a budget. Just make sure to always label and name your food. Otherwise, other travelers may end up using it.

Some hostels offer free breakfast. But that varies per location. Always check their website or give them a call to see if they will offer it. But most of the time, the free breakfast includes, coffee, bread, peanut butter and maybe fruit. Some will have eggs, cereal, milk, juice. But for the most part, they just offer the basics.

Activities – Hostels offer free activities like walking tours, pub crawls, dance lessons, yoga and more. This is what makes hostels very popular among young adults. Check out the hostel website to see if they offer any activities. Some may have free weekend activities and some will offer daily ones.

This is a great way to meet other travelers, explore the city from a local perspective and stay within a budget.

Security – I have felt safe at all the hostels I have stayed. You need a key card to access the rooms, or even the entrance of the hostels. All rooms require you to swipe your card before entering. There are several hostel employees and volunteers 24/7 at the front desk. I haven’t felt unsafe at any of the hostels. But as always, use your common sense, be alert, and if you see something off, do not hesitate to let a hostel member know you think something is not right.

In your room, majority of hostels have lockers inside your room for you to store your luggage and belongings. But you must bring a lock with you.

*Always do your research when booking any type of accommodation. Whether you stay in a hotel, Airbnb or Hostel, Google what side of town your lodging is located and read reviews to see how safe it is!*

Lounge Area/Room – Hostels are a place to meet new people. Most will have a lounge area where you can watch tv, have some snacks (since technically, you are not suppose to eat in your room), meet other travelers, take a break from your roommates, and if you’re a digital nomad, here is where you can come and work since the Wi-Fi tends to be a bit stronger.

I have met some pretty cool people at hostels. And have taken advantage of the free activities that they offer. Had my morning cup of coffee and toast to hold me up for lunch and watched movies in the lounge area while watching videos on my phone without bothering my roommates in the dorms.

So if you are considering staying at a hostel, give it a try. It is not scary like movies make them look! Hope this post helps you better understand what a hostel is and why I enjoy Hostelling.

I will be writing another post about what to bring with you when staying at a hostel to make your stay is easy and comfortable as possible!

Duo Housing

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about hostels in the USA. Happy traveling!


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