Hosteling with family

Hosteling International

While traveling with kids, would you choose hostels over hotels? Probably no. Even I wouldn’t have thought of staying in a hostel until I came to know about ‘Hosteling International’.

Majority of the hostels are meant for the young public who travel mostly solo or with friends. The place can be noisy and crowded. There, the facilities are basic and matching the youth taste.  Although this is true, I thought to give it a shot to check one of the youth hostels under the Federation of Hosteling International. You know what? I liked it. We all liked it. After this first stay, we purchased the annual family membership and used it fully.

So what is so special about this association? Why should you know about them before going for any other budget option?

I have discussed all these points in this post. I am sure, after reading this, you will definitely consider Youth Hostel Association for the next trip.

What is Hosteling International?

Formerly known as International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF), and today, Hosteling International, is the Federation of Youth Hostel Associations in more than 80 countries. They have over 4,000 affiliated hostels around the world. This is a not-to-profit organization.

A German teacher,  Richard Schirrmann, in 1909 started the first hostel for school students. In 1919, Schirrmann founded the ‘German Youth Hostel Association’ and in 1932, it became an International Association.

How is Hosteling International different?

There are numerous hostels all over the world and still, hostels associated with ‘Hosteling international’ are bit different. They will welcome a backpacker, student traveler, touring family or simply someone looking for a holiday. They offer budget accommodation in many popular destinations around the world.

Let’s discuss some pros and cons as compared to hotels for a family stay.

Accommodation

Pro – Families with young children are allowed to stay in hostels. Generally, they are accommodated in private room with or without private bathroom.  So depending upon hostel, one can get a budget hotel type room. Each room has a bed, a table and a cupboard per person.

Cons – If the room does not have attached bathroom, one must use shared one. In this case, washbasin might be present in the room.

Food

Pro – Breakfast is included in room rates. Take away lunch and in-house dinner can be purchased separately. Most of the times, the menu is set according to local fresh ingredients.

Cons – ‘a-la-carte’ is generally not available. A few choices are available for lunch and dinner. This might be a constraint for smaller kids.

Accessibility

Pro – As they attract mostly the youngsters, the hostels are often accessible by local transport(though sometimes located on the outskirts of the city).

Cons – Sometimes, hostels are far away from city centers or from popular locations. This means that there might be no shops or restaurants nearby.

Price

Pro – The hostel rates are really low as compared to many budget hotels around the locality. Rooms are clean, comfortable and for families at least, are private.

Cons – Rooms are basic and not at all fancy. No room service.

What to keep in mind?

Hostel stay can be tricky for families. Each and every hostel is different. Some hostels may look like upscale hotels while some places may be irritating. One particular location might be ‘ideal’ for one family and ‘far away from the city’ for others. I have seen a variety of the hostels. The hostel in Vienna was right in the city but the room was so small that we could barely cross each other while walking around (!). Another hostel in Friedrichshafen in South Germany had big rooms and a big spread of breakfast buffet but the hostel was located far away. Salzburg hostel looked like upscale hotels while some were little old. We got some ensuite rooms and sometimes we had to use shared bathrooms. Vienna hostel was full of young crowd and the Vianden hostel had mixed travelers from solo youngsters and avid bikers to senior citizens. Even with such mixed experiences, we were neither disappointed nor repented.

Some tips

If you have made your mind for the Hosteling International, let me give you suggestions. With these tips, I am sure, your stay will be more enjoyable.

  1. Before booking the hostel, check for what facilities are there for families. Each hostel has different setup and policies. If necessary, call them and confirm.
  2. Some hostels arrange tours or other entertainments. Some might be suitable for children. If you want to join them, book in advance.
  3. As said above, food options are not much elaborate. The available items are guaranteed fresh and healthy. If you want to have dinner in the hostel, ask them in the morning.
  4. Use the breakfast time to mingle with other tourists. Hostel atmosphere is much relaxed with friendly people. Sometimes we get important information or updates about the place.
  5. If you get shared bathroom, try to take bath before going to bed. This way, you can avoid the morning rush.

In general, Hosteling International is the best budget option for families with grown-up kids (say from 3-4 years). If you are going to explore the destination all day long and at the end, want to sleep in a decent, safe and economical place, go for Hosteling International.

Have a nice stay…

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