Travoholic.com - Budget Travel Guide
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Hostels FAQ

What is a hostel?

What are 'HI' and 'YHA' hostels?

Do I have to be an HI/YHA member to stay at their hostels?

Are there other hostel membership cards I can buy to receive a discount?

How much do hostels cost?

Can I pay with a creditcard?

Do hostels take reservations?

Should I call ahead to reserve a bed?

Should I cancel a reservation if I can't make it?

Do I have to share a room?

Are rooms co-ed?

Are bathrooms co-ed?

Are hostels clean?

Do hostels provide bed linen?

Do hostels have kitchens?

Do I have to do chores?

Do hostels provide tourist information?


What is a hostel?
A hostel is a type of accomodation generally geared towards young travellers. They provide relatively cheap accomodation to backpackers on a budget.
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What are 'HI' and 'YHA' hostels?
'HI' stands for 'Hostelling International' and 'YHA' stands for 'Youth Hostel Association'. Both of these are part of a large organization made up of hostels from all over the world. 'HI' and 'YHA' memberships are the same thing with different names. Members receive discounts at affiliated hostels worldwide.
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Do I have to be an HI/YHA member to stay at their hostels?
You don't have to be a member to stay at a HI/YHA affiliated hostel, but you will have to pay more as a non-member. Membership can be gained either by purchasing an HI/YHA card in your home country or by staying six nights at HI/YHA affiliated hostels. Membership is valid for one year.
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Are there other hostel membership cards I can buy to receive a discount?
Another major player in the hostel membership game is VIP. They started in Australia and have hundreds of hostels there and a handful in New Zealand as well. Their presence is growing in Europe and worldwide. In New Zealand, BBH (Budget Backpackers Hostels) is the market leader with over 300 hostels. Nomads is a group with a few hostels in both Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
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How much do hostels cost?
Hostel prices can vary dramatically depending on location, room type, and ammenities. They are almost always cheaper than a hotel room. Hostels in large cities such as London and Paris will can be very expensive, along with everything else.
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Can I pay with a creditcard?
Larger, HI-affiliated hostels tend to take credit, whereas smaller, independent often don't. This is not always the case, however, and you'd be advised to call ahead to check if you're desperate to charge it. Some hostels add an extra fee if you choose to charge it.
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Do hostels take reservations?
Most hostels take reservations, some take your name and have you call back the day before to confirm, and some don't take reservations at all.
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Should I call ahead to reserve a bed?
Reservations are a good idea if you have your heart set on a specific hostel, or if you're heading to a place during a busy time such as the summer, or during a festival.
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Should I cancel a reservation if I can't make it?
If you can't make it to a hostel you booked, you should try to cancel so they can free up the bed for another traveller. Many hostels will take down your creditcard number when you reserve - always call to cancel with these places, or they may charge your card.
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Do I have to share a room?
Many hostels offer single rooms, but for the budget conscious backpacker, a bed in a dorm with others is the way to go. Dorms can range from four beds to 30 or more. Generally, the more beds to a room, the cheaper it is.
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Are rooms co-ed?
This varies from hostel to hostel. If it's a concern for you, call ahead and ask.
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Are bathrooms co-ed?
Most hostels have separate bathrooms for men and women, but some are co-ed. All co-ed bathrooms will have private stalls for showering and going to the loo.
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Are hostels clean?
This depends largely on hostel staff and management, but for the most part hostels are clean. Once in awhile you may come across a dirty hostel with indifferent staff, or a party hostel where cleanliness is secondary to drunkeness. Some hotels are cleaner than others, and the same goes for hostels.
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Do hostels provide bed linen?
Most hostels have the beds already made up for you before you arrive, some provide you with linen and have you make the bed yourself, and others provide only a pillow and duvet and charge extra for the sheets. To avoid this extra cost, many backpackers bring their own 'sleepsheet'. This is simply a bedsheet folded in half and sewn up to look like a sleeping bag.
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Do hostels have kitchens?
Some hostels have great, fully-equipped kitchens, some have kitchens with no dishes, and some have no kitchen facilities at all. Guidebooks usually inform you of which hostels have kitchens, but call ahead if you want to cook your own food and aren't sure.
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Do I have to do chores?
Besides cleaning up after yourself, you're not required to do chores in hostels. A few allow you to help clean for a free night's stay, but this is rare and usually welcome from backpackers.
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Do hostels provide tourist information?
Hostels are usually stocked with pamplets on what to do in the area. Hostel staff are usually knowledgeable on what to do, but some might be reluctant at times to act as a tourist office employee.
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