HI USA takes travel seriously. So seriously in fact that along with offering enlightening hostelling experiences across America, our non-profit organization is also dedicated to spreading the joy of seeing the world. That’s why we run several signature programs for guests at our hostels in the USA and community members both young and young at heart who would like to open their souls to creating a better understanding of people, places and cultures through travel and doing good. Whether you’re a seasoned wanderluster looking to pay it forward, or you’re finally ready to get that first passport stamp and need a little support, you’re likely to find the right HI USA program for you.
These programs are possible thanks in large part to the travelers (like you!) who stay at HI USA hostels in cities, national parks and sweet small towns across America, and there are several other ways you can extend that support if you’re as passionate about access to travel as we are. First, sign up for HI USA membership so you get some sweet perks while helping out the cause, and then make sure that every time you book a stay, you do so on hiusa.org so the cost of your overnight goes towards the cause and not to third-party booking sites. Lastly, if you’re looking for a non-profit to make a donation to, consider HI USA! Read more about the programs and how your stay makes them possible!
Great Hostel Give Back
You and a group of friends, colleagues or club members can stay for free at almost any HI USA hostel. The catch? All you have to do is volunteer while you’re in town! For each day you and your gang spend volunteering two hours or more in the nearby community, you get one free night at a HI USA hostel. The Great Hostel Give Back is a great chance to do some good while interacting with travelers, and an awesome way to introduce young adventurers, like this group of teens, to hostelling and the natural high that comes from helping others.
When? The Great Hostel Give Back runs in January and February each year.
Sleep for Peace
All we are saying is give Sleep for Peace a chance! To celebrate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, Hostelling International hostels in America and beyond treat travelers to an array of activities that encourage and enable illuminating conversation on the topic of peace. Whether it’s a movie marathon, creating a piece of art with strangers, or sharing a community meal and listening to guest speakers, the Sleep for Peace experience is different at every hostel. But no matter what the activity, Sleep for Peace aims to open eyes and minds to new perspectives through these fun and free events. Some celebrations are just for a day, some last for a whole week, but all aim to give you a renewed faith in the human spirit.
When? Every year on or around September 21. Keep an eye out for the pre- and post-events!
Explore the World
HI USA understands that travelling can be a pricey endeavor, but we believe that should not be a limiting factor when it comes to expanding horizons and experiencing new cultures. So we have travel scholarships – Explore the World and Explore America – to support young travelers who have planned a trip with a service or educational component. Maybe you’d like to teach English in a different country, or help build homes in an impoverished community and you’re not quite sure how you’re going to make that happen. That’s where Explore the World comes in. You’ll get a stipend, made possible by countless HI USA guests’ overnight stays and donations, to help your travel dreams come true while spreading a message of peace and unity. The scholarship is open in 13 cities across the country for those 18 to 30 years old. This year, HI USA awarded scholarships to 81 future travelers across the country!
When? Applications for the Explore the World open around April each year.
In the spirit of breaking barriers to recognize our similarities, which are more important and significant than our differences, Hostelling International organizations in several countries created the IOU Respect experience. The program brings together youth from the U.S., Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, France and Germany for two weeks of eye-opening, thought-provoking discussions and activities hosted in a different member country each year. The participants get to do some sightseeing, share meals and learn about each other’s homes, cultures and customs in the hope that there will be a little more understanding and a disintegration of negative stereotypes and assumptions. The phrase that comes up most often when past participants are asked about the experience is “life changing.”
When? The exchange program usually takes place in the summer, with applications open from April.
For the first time traveler, planning a trip abroad can seem like a daunting task with an unending list of questions and concerns. To help ease those anxieties, HI USA hosts a number of travel education seminars at hostels, colleges and community centers throughout the year for adults and youth, which focus on everything from paperwork and packing to how to stay safe and get the most out of a shoestring budget. Future adventurers will leave armed with all they need to know to explore the world or the country, whether they are a woman traveling solo or a high school student thinking about their future.
When? Throughout the year; subscribe to HI USA’s newsletter for the latest information.
HI USA tip: Be sure to book your HI USA hostel stay directly on this site and you’ll be helping us continue to deliver these awesome programs!