Truly Budget Travel for Summer: Hostels

Plenty of airlines, hotels, and vacation providers have major discounts off their regular rates, but a week at a Caribbean resort or a flight to Europe can still be pricey, even if it costs less than usual.

So in the spirit of truly budget travel, I'll be covering some ways to travel on the cheap this summer. First up: hostels. Cheaper and more informal than hotels, hostels usually have a mix of dorm-style accommodations and smaller private rooms. Hostels typically also have common spaces, kitchens, and a social atmosphere.

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I'm a big fan of hostels. They're fantastically cheap, tend to be friendly and centrally located, and can be a great fit even if you're not a college student backpacking around Europe. Hostels work for couples, groups, and families, since you can get rooms for two or four people, or bunk together in a six- or eight-person dorm-style room. And hostels are everywhere: Hostelling International has 4,000 hostels around the world, Hostels.com boasts listings for nearly 28,000 hostels and other cheap places to stay, and Hostelbookers.com covers more than 2,500 destinations.

Not sold yet? Here are some examples of the affordability:

At the HI-Nantucket, a bed in a dorm room costs $35 in late June, a time when you'd be hard-pressed to find accommodations on the island at less than $300 a night. At the swanky L Hostels in New York City, you can book a spot in a large dorm for $18 a night, or get a private room with an ensuite bathroom for $100 a night. At the HI-Santa Monica, you can score a spot two blocks from the beach for $37 a night.

Here are a few of my favorite hostels:

  • California: At the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel, a row of cottages line the oceanside bluff next to the towering lighthouse on Highway 1, 50 miles south of San Francisco.
  • France: Walking distance from the charming town of Fontaine de Vaucluse in the heart of Provence, the Fontaine de Vaucluse Youth Hostel is located in an old and pretty stone farmhouse.
  • Italy: The very popular Hostel Cinque Terre sits at the top of the hill in Manarola, one of the towns that comprise Cinque Terre in Northern Italy. For the price of a room, you also get impressive views of the town and the Mediterranean. And the showers have fantastic water pressure.
  • Switzerland: The Chalet Martin, perched on the side of a mountain in Gryon, Switzerland, offers amazing views, access to hiking, and comfortable beds.

What about you? Do you have a favorite hostel to recommend? Do you have hostel or cheap travel related questions for other readers? Post them below!

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