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a group of volunteers pose in front of a neon sign in New York City

Why the “Give Back”?

HI USA is fully restarting its widely celebrated Great Hostel Give Back (GHGB) program after a COVID break. That means in January and February 2023, HI USA once again will be awarding free overnights to groups who want to experience hostelling and travel, in exchange for their volunteer service at a community nonprofit.  

If it sounds too good to be true, read on. Here’s some feedback from two past GHGB participants, and one past GHGB group leader:

  • “It was amazing, and so much better than I would have ever imagined! Hostelling will definitely be my go-to method if I ever travel alone. The staff and resources were fantastic and so, so helpful.” – Janet, GHGB Participant
  • “Our hostel had a great community vibe. People really got to know each other as we shared meals, played pool, watched movies, and even went to an improv show together!” – Andrew, GHGB Participant
  • “Staying in the NYC hostel was a great opportunity to learn more about the hostelling experience. Additionally, as a staff member at a university who manages Community Service Trips, GHGB was a fantastic opportunity for my students to stay in NYC, engage with the local community, and learn about HI. The opportunity to stay in the hostel for free allowed my university to make the trips more affordable and more accessible for our students.” – Tim, GHGB Group Leader ​

Why the “Give Back”? The program has its roots in the MLK Day of Service, which honors American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King as part of his national holiday every January. Our Great Hostel Give Back gave us a way to show tangible support to the Day of Service and to the volunteer sector that Dr. King so believed in, and that we as an organization are so much a part of.  

Now the GHGB has been expanded to accommodate volunteer service projects throughout January and February. We are offering free overnights to qualifying to groups of six to 30 people at our hostels in Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Monica.  And before the trip, we give group participants free web access to virtual programs on how to prepare for a trip, what to expect at a hostel, and how to make travel a memorable learning experience. 

There’s a special kind of energy that comes from students and other travel enthusiasts, and community groups filling up cars and buses and heading to one of our hostels nationwide for a service project they conceive. We can help connect participating groups with local nonprofits to help bring your idea to life (our hostels are not the recipient of their volunteer work – our communities are). While at the hostel, every participating group has full access to our local programs and activities, along with a place to eat and to sleep. And for the rest of their visit, they experience the sights and sounds of a new city.  

To learn more, visit Applications are currently being accepted for January and February 2023. The submission deadline is January 1st, 2023.