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  • Why I Chose HI USA for My Epic California Road Trip

    hostellers relaxing in lounge area of California hostel

    Written by: Jennifer Doré Dallas
    Blogger at moimessouliers.org Let’s keep the conversation going at @moimessouliers on Twitter and Instagram!

    I’ve always been a hostel ambassador and have been staying in them forever, so I guess it won’t come as a surprise that I chose to stay in Hostelling International USA’s establishments during my trip to California. However, I am still surprised at people’s reactions when I announce that at 31 years old I still sleep in a dormitory or private room of a hostel. The term “youth” hostel is sometimes prejudicial and that’s really unfortunate, because there are so many reasons why you should try a hostel during your next trip!

    Why Choose a HI USA Hostel?

    There are many advantages to sleeping in hostels. I agree that it is not for everyone and I respect that, as long as you make an informed decision based on true facts about this type of accommodation, not rumors. As a matter of fact, people often tend to believe that this kind of place is only for students, young people who want to party or those who are penniless, WRONG! I met tons of travellers of all ages along the California coast, from retired bikers at HI San Diego Downtown to families with children at HI Monterey.

    Think again! Not all hostels are created equal. There is something for everyone: quiet inns with wooden dormitories like the HI Point Reyes refuge or the poshtels like the San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf destination. The important thing is to first know your tastes to target the right places before you book.

    collage of California hostels

    My main reason for recommending HI USA hostels is simple. It’s much easier to meet people when traveling than in hotels or apartments because of well-designed common areas like the kitchen, living room, work spaces and sometimes even cafés and restaurants, perfect for people to socialize, even if it doesn’t mean you have to!

    Secondly, the prices are low and generally the best option for solo travelers and sometimes for couples or friends traveling together, especially in big cities. Also, hostels are designed for people who love budget-friendly (or even free) activities like free or cheap guided tours, foodie tastings or even movie or games nights organized by locals you can befriend for an insider view of the city you’re in! I enjoyed the curry night at HI San Diego, the Thanksgiving dinner at HI San Luis Obispo and the tea tasting at HI City Center San Francisco, to name only a few!

    For those who still doubt hostels: yes, it is possible to sleep in a private room in most places. You’ll have the best of both worlds while enjoying the social aspect and your quiet space to retreat to. Oh, and did I mention that Wi-Fi is always free, as well as board games, books and sometimes even billiards?

    Moreover, forget about the party side of hostels you’ve heard about. Most California HI USA hostels don’t allow alcohol to ensure you have a pleasant and quiet stay. You’ll be ready to hit the town after a good night’s sleep and you can still go out in the city if you’d like! I’m still daydreaming about that silent night in HI Point Montara where the crashing of waves was the only sound for miles around! After my visit to HI USA hostels in Boston and Chicago, the organization had me convinced with its modern and well thought-out locations! There’s a HI hostel in every city I wanted to visit along the California coast, which is perfect for an epic roadtrip, and the US has some of the most modern and reputable facilities I’ve seen! Prices are affordable and include breakfast (although not always), local tours and even parking in certain places like HI Monterey. Kitchens are usually very large and well equipped (I think the best was HI Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco), perfect for social meals or quiet munchies and the dormitories have lockers, an essential for a modern backpacker like me.

    hallway in HI San Diego Downtown hostel

    Why Did I Choose HI USA Hostels in California?

    Some places along the coast are smaller, family-oriented, and represent the romantic side of a California roadtrip that I was looking for. The best examples are HI Santa Cruz, HI Point Montara and HI Point Reyes. How could I resist sleeping at the foot of a lighthouse (Point Montara) or in a converted boutique hotel from the 1920s (San Francisco)? I could even catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate from there. Most hostels were also in walking distance of local attractions, saving me a lot of time and money while travelling. Avid surfers will also love their proximity to the beach like in Santa Cruz!

    There is also a story behind HI USA hostels which is interesting because unlike other hostels, it is a non-profit organization. The emphasis is put on cultural experiences and on-site activities to promote social interaction and meeting new people. This definitely came through during my trip. This is also why many activities are offered by volunteers, and for free!

    Why do YOU choose HI USA hostels?