Explore America Travel Scholarship


Jacob Speedy

Jacob traveled from Austin, Texas to the California in May 2016. He had dreams of visiting three cities he had never been to, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica. He stayed at HI USA hostels in all three cities, including HI San Francisco Downtown, HI Santa Cruz and HI Santa Monica.

Jacob states: “I was extremely surprised by quality of interactions I had in the hostels. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the people I met.”

Latonya Headspeft

Latonya Headspeft

Latonya traveled to New York City, New York from Austin, Texas in July 2016 and stayed at HI NYC for five nights. She had traveled one time before with a group, but this was her first time to travel solo. She had an amazing time and was able to participate in the hostel’s Welcome Party, Grand NYC Tour and also visited Central Park, Times Square and the 9/11 Memorial.

When asked about her travel experience Latonya expressed that she loved meeting different people, gained a peace of mind while traveling solo and was excited to tell her kids about her trip.

Genesis Gomez Cuevas

Genesis Gomez Cuevas

Genesis traveled from Chicago, Illinois to two cities she had never been to, but always wanted to explore-- Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. She stayed at both HI USA hostels in Portland, including HI Portland Hawthorne and HI Portland Northwest and also stayed at HI Seattle.

Genesis states: “I’m glad that I stayed in a hostel because it allowed me to meet a lot of people who were there for the nature part of Portland, which I hadn't really considered before. I went hiking, and was able to experience a side of Portland I hadn't really thought about. Seattle was more about getting to interact with the city, in a way that I hadn't planned. Staying at the hostel, and having been able to go on an outing with other people staying there opened me up to gallery viewings, rap battles and restaurants I hadn't planned in my itinerary.”

In addition she shared that the opportunity to travel and stay in the hostels: “Opened my mind on how different people live, how they view politics, communities and family. It made me realize that travel can be fun, even when you don't always have a step by step plan.”

Jessica Roman

Jessica, who had never travelled anywhere outside of Illinois prior to this scholarship, traveled from Chicago, Illinois to three cities! She visited Madison, Wisconsin, New York City, New York and then all the way to Austin, Texas. Jessica wanted to check out new areas in different parts of the U.S., but also wanted to see the colleges in each city up close. Jessica stayed at HI Austin, HI Madison and HI New York City.

Jessica shares: “As I traveled I got to see different perspectives on how the world works and different ways people perceive what is happening around us. Everyone was on a different journey but at the end of the day I saw people trying to find something that will definitely leave a deep impact in their own lives.”

“My travel experience gave me an opportunity to speak to people from other parts of the country. The best part was meeting people who even though they have completed many of the goals anyone in their 20's is trying to achieve they are still going around trying to explore even more of what they know. On top of that I also saw how they are contributing in making this planet a better place for both people and animals to live and that made me realize how even the small things we do can have deep impact on others. Overall it gave me a thirst to know more and learn more and to continue to search for more knowledge on this world.”

“The opportunity to travel is one of those things that can really change people perceptions of what it's like to be on this planet. This scholarship certainly provided that. Having seen the things I have I can't wait until i am able to go to new different unexplored areas.”

Fabian Toledo

Fabian trekked all the way from Houston, Texas to Waikiki, Hawaii. This was his first time in Hawaii and he enjoyed staying at HI Waikiki. He was able to meet travelers from all over the world at the hostel. Together they went on road trip around Honolulu and also explored waterfalls on the island.

Fabian shares: “This trip opened my eyes to the possibility of exploring, I overcame the fear of traveling solo to a long distance. I have a greater respect for all the men and women who lost their lives during Pearl Harbor and I am very grateful with Hosteling International.”