I’m feeling a little guilty for that Club Med recommendation I posted the other day. Club Meds are not exactly budget accommodations. I price compared four of the French coastal resorts for a family of four, all-inclusive for 7 nights, and the prices ranged from $2,756 to $4,668 not including air fare. But like I said, you may very well be willing to pay for the convenience and comfort-level provided for your family by these gorgeous resorts.
But now I’d like to give a shout out to a good ol’ money saver: youth hostels.
Youth hostels have changed. If you ever stayed in one as a young backpacker, you’ll remember the ones where they separated men and women. And the ones that let you sleep on a cot on the roof when they were overcrowded. And the ones that smelled like hashish. You’ll be happy to know youth hostels have changed for the better. Many of them now accept families, have smaller, more private rooms, and some even have private bathrooms. Like always, they’re still an excellent choice for budget travelers and sometimes just a super fun choice for families who wish to meet other travelers.
No longer must you be a member of a hostelling organization to stay at a hostel. If you intend to overnight primarily in hostels, then it might behoove you to join Hostelling International (free if you’re under 18, $28/year for adults) to avoid paying a supplement at their membership hostels, but without a membership card these locations are still available to you.
Now more than ever, independent hostels (not affiliated with Hostelling International or any other licensing body) are catering less to “youth” or “backpackers” and are offering diverse, novel accommodations for all travelers. (However, to be considered a hostel they must still provide dormitory accommodations.) Most have family rooms now, usually with a double bed for parents and bunk beds for the kids, with a private bathroom and sometimes even a private kitchen. Check out City BackPackers Hostel in Stockholm, Sweden. They have two apartments/studios for up to 6 people with private bathroom, shower and kitchen. Scandinavian hostels are always open to travelers of all ages, and are frequently booked by Scandinavians themselves, because they know their hostels are clean, comfortable and affordable. Look for special deals for families, such as at A&O Wein Stadthalle in Vienna, Austria, where two kids are free of charge for each adult. Or find buildings so unique to sleep in your children may not want to leave, for example, Stayokay Domburg and Stayokay Heemskerk, both spectacular medieval castles. Stayokay is an independent chain of hostels in Holland with several interesting locations, even a hostel nestled in a hollow in a sand dune on the beach!
Find out ahead of time whether your selected hostel will rent you bed linens and towels. Most of them will. And book early for summertime or holiday stays, because most hostels fill up quickly!
|Stayokay Domburg, a another hostel in Holland.|
|No, I'm not kidding . . . this is a hostel.|
It's Stayokay Heemskerk in Holland.