I was talking with a fellow traveller last weekend about where we liked to stay while travelling. I mentioned that I liked to stay in hostels in the US and he looked at me very surprised. He only thought that hostels existed only in other countries. It hadn’t occurred to him that there would be hostels here in the US and that he could stay at them, even though he was from the US. I’ve gotten similer reactions from other people as well.

I’ve stayed in hostels across the country from San Francisco to Philadelphia with plans to stay at more this year. The main reason that I like staying in hostels is the cost- usually around $30. It’s also a great way to meet people around the world and find people to explore a city with. If you are travelling alone, hostels are a fantastic way to meet up with other solo travellers. The downside is the fact that you are sharing a room with strangers, but I haven’t had any issues with security or having stuff stolen.

Most hostels I’ve stayed at are clean and well-maintained. Most provide breakfast and some will also include linens and/or free internet. Some also provide activities ranging from group tours of local attractions to bar crawls to movie nights. In many cases, hostels are located near public transit and are close to local attractions. In Seattle, for example, my hostel was located across the street from the Pike Place Market (this photo was taken from the front entrance to the hostel).

Hostel World has listings on thousands of hostels and provides reviews of them. Becoming a member of Hostelling International can get you discounts at their member hostels and other travel benefits.

In short, staying at a hotel or on a friend’s couch are not your only stay options. Hostels can provide a traveller with international connections in a local setting. They have certainly provided many adventures for me and a chance to find companionship while travelling.