HI USA Education Programs for Intercultural Understanding Through Travel

HI USA Programs

group volunteering through the great hostel give back

Signature Programs

Travel Scholarships

Explore the World Travel Scholarships are for aspiring global travelers who want to give back while they experience another culture. Scholarship recipients receive $2,000 to support an international trip that includes an educational or service component.

Explore America Scholarships support novice travelers who are ready to embark on their first adventure. This scholarship enables recipients to get comfortable traveling and staying in hostels by offering free dorm overnights at HI USA hostels and a $500 travel stipend.

Great Hostel Give Back

Our signature volunteer program, The Great Hostel Give Back encourages community service by providing free hostel stays to groups of 6 or more who volunteer in the communities where our hostels reside.

Sleep for Peace

Each year on September 21, HI USA, together with HI hostels across the globe, host Sleep for Peace programming. These events celebrate the UN’s International Day of Peace with intercultural exchange activities in hostels and their surrounding communities.

IOU Respect

During IOU Respect, a two-week intensive cultural exchange program, we bring together participants from six different counties to explore their cultural differences and appreciate their undeniable similarities.

cooking as a second language program

Educational Programming

Cooking as a Second Language

In select hostel kitchens across the country, community members come together to learn about the languages and cultures of different countries through food. Programming is led by chefs representing their native countries and cultures. HI USA hostels host regular Cooking as a Second Language programs in San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Richmond, VA.

Travelers’ Education

HI USA hostels across the country host regular programming to educate their local community members on the power of travel. From “World Travel 101” and “Trip Planning 101” seminars, to workshops for solo female travelers and aspiring study abroad students, these programs are designed to make travel more accessible to everyone.

Environmental Education

In the San Francisco Bay Area, HI USA offers naturalist-led outdoor educational programming for youth and adults through its Outdoor Hostel Adventures Program. Participants learn about teamwork, self-confidence, and how to become more effective environmental stewards.

guests at a hostel mixer

Hostel Learning Programs

The Hostel Stay

Every night, HI USA hostels welcome thousands of guests from all corners of the globe. Whether it’s in a hostel dorm room, a common lounge, or a guest kitchen, our hostellers coexist and learn from each other in shared spaces designed for interaction. In addition to the hostel overnight, we offer a variety of in-hostel activities and programs to encourage communication and exchange between guests.


Grab some local snacks and drinks and get to know your new hostel mates at one of our hostel welcome mixers. They’re a great way to kick off your stay in a new city and will help you feel right at home no matter where you are.

Communal Meals

There’s no better way to bring people together than with food. That’s why so many of our hostels host free or donation-based group dinners each week for guests. From family-style spaghetti feeds, to homemade tacos or curries, you’re sure to find food as unique as the new city you’re visiting. Better still, you’ll get to share it with new friends from all around the world.

Tours and Outings

At hostels across the country, our staff and volunteer tour guides can’t wait to show you the best of their hometowns. Join fellow travelers on a guided tour of the neighborhoods that make America’s cities special, from LA’s Venice Beach, to Chicago’s Loop, to Boston’s Beacon Hill. Wherever you are, you’re guaranteed to get off the beaten path and meet lots of interesting people at the same time.

Pub Crawls

This won’t be your typical night out. Join hostel staff, volunteers, and guests from around the world in getting to know our hostels’ neighborhoods on another level. You’ll visit historic pubs and longtime neighborhood favorites, and hear the stories behind them. After a night out exploring the city with a bunch of strangers, you’ll end up with a group of new friends.

hi talks

Programs for Local Community Members

Community Programming

The experiential learning focus of these programs facilitate sharing and reflection of cultural perspectives/identity and engagement among community members. Though primarily focused on the local community, these programs also provide opportunities for cross cultural interaction with international guests in attendance.

HI Talks

HI Talks are roundtable and/or panel discussions for and with local community members. They provide a safe space for discussion of community issues. Participants set the agenda and lead the conversation. Often the topics are focused on sustainability, equity, and inclusion.

Community Nights

Community Nights are opportunities for learning, networking, and socializing for local residents ages 18-30. Experts from a variety of professions share useful information with participants on topics of interest such as career development, self-improvement, travel techniques, and community diversity.

Community Building

HI USA loves working with like-minded organizations in our local communities to promote intercultural understanding. Whether it’s by supporting local events, collaborating on programming, or opening our hostels to groups in need of space, each of our hostels offers unique ways to partner with other organizations doing good in our communities. Please contact your local hostel for partnership opportunities.

Volunteer Program

Across the country, HI USA volunteers lead activities, events, and outings for our guests from around the world. If you love travel, love sharing the best of your hometown with visitors, and love meeting new people, please consider volunteering with us!