By: Susan Gerle

Hosteling is a safe, enjoyable way to travel, not only for the young but also for older, single people.

When I planned a trip to Europe recently, even though I was in my 50s, I decided to experience that way of traveling, which I hadn’t done for a number of years. The first thing I did was go into the travel agency I normally dealt with in my hometown of Vernon BC. Marlin Travel has been around for a number of years and has some very knowledgeable staff. Check out They also sell International Hostel Memberships, as do many travel agencies, and have them available all the time. For a cost of under $40 I knew I could save at least 5% on each booking I made. When dealing in Euros, the savings soon add up.

Making reservations through was a lot easier than the last time I traveled. I could find out what hostels were available and how close they were to public transportation. In North America, train stations are often located in seedier parts of the cities. In Europe, because train travel is so important for business people, the hostels are generally located in safe neighbourhoods.

Hosteling in Europe usually means sharing accommodations. Some hostels have separate dorms for men and women but this isn’t always the case. You may be able to get a private room, or share one with one or two others but the cost is definitely a lot more that way. If the idea of sharing your space with a stranger doesn’t appeal to you, you might want to consider the hotel route instead.

Spiral Staircase in Paris Hotel

Spiral Staircase in Paris Hotel

Each hostel is run differently but linen and a locker are usually supplied. There may be an extra charge for these amenities in some hostels. I always carry a hand towel and a combination lock with me, just in case I need it. Toiletries aren’t usually supplied either.

You are expected to take care of making your own bed in many places but some do have maid service. Just remember to tip at the end of your stay. I found that a lot of the hostels in Europe offered a breakfast, which was included in price. The meal ranged from a pre-packaged roll and coffee to a full breakfast buffet. They usually had a fridge and cooking facilities available for the hostelers too. Most hostels now offer free wireless service instead of having to find an Internet café.

Probably one of the things I enjoyed most about hosteling was the camaraderie. You meet people of all ages from all over the world doing what you are doing….. traveling and experiencing! Some have already been to where you are heading. Others are heading to where you have been. Everyone has stories to share and must-see places to visit.

The downside of hosteling can be the noise. I always tried to find a hostel, which had an 11 PM quiet time and a later check-out time. Most hostels are shut down for 3 or 4 hours during the afternoon while cleaning is done so be prepared to be out sightseeing, even if you are having a bad day.

Hosteling isn’t for everyone but it certainly can add to your adventure and is well worth looking into.

About the author:

Susan Gerle spent a number of weeks traveling and hosteling around Europe recently. Check out her blog too at