could I afford to stay during this road trip? No way could I
afford to stay in a hotel or motel. Campgrounds were my first
choice. Then I remembered hearing something about "Hostels"
way back in the early 1970's when I lived in Italy for a couple of
years. We lived near Venice and I remembered meeting tourists
who said they were staying at the hostel there. I had never
seen a hostel, and I never thought I would.
I was planning this trip, I became curious and wanted to find out
more about hostels. So I looked up "Hostels" on the
Internet. And that's how I became interested in hostels.
The more I learned about them, the more I became convinced that
perhaps this was the way to go.
discovered an organization called "Hostelling International" and
learned that it is part of the International Youth Hostel
Federation. Hostels USA Handbook pictured
on the left. This is a great handbook!
I kept it by my side at all times--it's a lifesaver when you're in
the middle of "no where", exhausted, and looking for a safe place to
sleep, eat & take a shower! Hostels USA lists hostels with
various affiliations, and it also includes some independent
hostels. There are other hostel handbooks out there, but this
was my favorite--although I learned that it did not contain all the
hostels that I found during the trip. So I also carried the
"Hostelling North America" with me.
good to ask other hostellers that you meet what hostels they've
stayed in. Sometimes the new hostels aren't in the books yet.
example, when I got to Whitehorse in the Yukon, I took out my trusty
Hostels USA--but there was nothing listed for Whitehorse! Then
I checked Hostelling North America--Nothing! Dang! I was
so exhausted from driving all day, I could hardly see
straight! And then I discovered
there were no hostels listed in my handbooks! I usually plan
pretty good, but like I've mentioned--driving to Alaska was not in
my plans. So I was "winging it".
Hostels USA book says that there are over 5000 member hostels in
seventy countries worldwide. Besides Hostelling International,
there are other affiliations like Rucksackers International, and many,
many independent hostels.
They are all over the place--if you know where to look for
them! And I never knew they existed until I started doing
research for this road trip.
pretty tense. So I pulled into a restaurant for a cup of
coffee (ya, just what I needed--caffeine), and to check my
map. It was still a long
way to Alaska. The closest hostel listed in my handbook was in
Dawson City, and that was a long way
off! We're talking hours
of hard driving after I'd already put in a full days driving!
considered taking the "easy" way out--take a left and head towards
Scagway/Haines. After all they were in Alaska--well, southern
Alaska. Nope, I told myself if I was going to Alaska, then I
was going all the way to the top! I think that's when I
started thinking about driving across the Arctic Circle. (At
this point, I didn't know anything about the Dalton Highway or
decided to drive into Whitehorse and look around. Lo and
behold, there on the side of the road was a little sign stuck into
the ground--it said "Hostel" and had an arrow pointing toward
Whitehorse! What a relief! Now I knew that somewhere
in Whitehorse there was a hostel! Went to the Chamber of
Commerce and asked them if they knew where the hostel was.
They did. I slept very well that night (even though it never
moral of the story is...there are hostels out there that are not
listed in the handbooks!
better get back to the subject at hand..
find out more about hostels--Click onto this link:
thing that I learned early in my trip was that the attitudes of the
people that I came in contact with, whether it was a campground host
or a hostel manager, made a big difference in not only how I felt
about staying there--but how I felt overall. I don't know if
it was because I was traveling, and usually a little stressed out
from sometimes driving too long in between stops, but it made a huge
difference when I was greeted with a friendly smile or treated with
total indifference (and on a rare occasion--outright rudeness).
I guess that's how it goes in all aspects of our lives. Our
attitudes toward one another make a big difference in our lives no
matter where we are. Sometimes we forget how much our actions
and comments can affect others.
I know is that it was never quite so apparent to me as it was when I
was out there on the road alone and far from home for 3
months. I hope that I have learned to smile more and show a
little more friendliness towards others.
most part, the people I met were wonderful, friendly, open, and
warm. I had a great time meeting new people, and creating new
friendships with people who I still correspond with today. AND
I CAN'T WAIT TO TAKE ANOTHER TRIP!!!
So What is a Hostel?
I've discovered that it's much more
than an inexpensive place for travelers to stay (prices
range from approx. $8-25/night). As you
will see from the pictures that I have taken and the notes that I
wrote, there are all kinds of hostels. All kinds. But
basically they all provide a safe, inexpensive place for the
traveler to stay for a night or two.
Most have separate male & female dorms, some
are co-ed. Most have kitchens that are open for everyone to
use. You buy your own food at the grocery store and bring it
back to the hostel to cook it. If you have any left over items
that you don't want to carry with you, you can leave them in the
"free food" cabinet for someone else to use.
hostels have community rooms, or TV rooms, some have game
rooms. Some have swimming pools! And one that I visited
in the Yukon had an outhouse & you had to chop wood to heat
water for a bath! Like I said, there are all kinds of
hostels--and for me, that's what makes hostelling so much
fun!! It's not just the traveling that I enjoy--It's the whole
hostelling experience that helps make the trip unforgetable!
of different kinds of Hostels:
is an example of a "Home Hostel" , Grandma
Shirley's in Fairbanks, Alaska. She offers a
spotless 9 bed co-ed dorm in the upstairs of her home. The
kitchen & bathroom were equally spotless.
is an example of a large, busy hostel: The Jericho Beach
Hostel in Vancouver, BC. Male
& female dorms, 286 beds. They also have 2 private/family
rooms w/private bath.
an unusual hostel. It's the Yellowstone
Yurt Hostel in Cooke City, Montana. When I
read it's description in the Hostel USA book, I just had to come and
see what a Yurt was. I'm not afraid to rough it and try new
things. It was comfortable, clean, and had a beautiful view!
what the inside of the Yurt Hostel looked like. It was
surprisingly bright & airy. Only room for 6 hostellers.
That's my bottom bunk. I was the only hosteller that day.
bathroom, little kitchen, and storage area were in another
first hostel that I stayed in was in the year 2000. It was the
Tyler State Park Hostel in Newtown, PA. It was a big, old
farmhouse with a friendly manager who made me feel right at
home. It was an excellent introduction to the hostelling
hostel that I stayed in was in October 2001. It was Bell's
Mountain Hostel located in the Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg, TN.
The accomadations ranged from choosing your own little
cottage or staying in a room that was much like a motel. Once
again the scenery was beautiful.
so glad that I discovered "Hostelling". Without the use of
hostels, I never would have been able to afford to drive around the
country and "discover America" and all the beauty & diversity
that it has to offer, and to meet people from all over the country,
and the world. It's just fantastic!
couple of years ago I never would have guessed that within 2 years I
would be able to say that I 've driven across the US twice, and
stayed in over 50 hostels in the US & Canada. To me, it's
just remarkable. Unless you're really into traveling and
seeing new places, that might not seem like much of an
accomplishment. But for me, it is
an accomplishment--it's something I never thought I could do.
And I am so glad that I did it, and that I am able to share it with
others who are also interested in this sort of thing.
guess that's about it. Hope you enjoy the rest of my web page!