Below are some volunteer frequently asked questions that can assist you in making your decision to stay at a Hosteling International USA hostel.

1. What are hostels?
2. Are hostels just for young people?
3. Where are hostels and how many are there?
4. What does it cost to stay in a hostel?
5. Do I have to be a member to stay at an HI hostel?
6. Do I have to make a reservation to stay at a hostel?
7. What does a hostel look like?
8. What equipment do I need to go hostelling?
9. What is a sleep-sheet?
10. Can’t I just use a sleeping bag?
11. Where do I keep my belongings?
12. Do hostels have kitchens?
13. Are hostels closed during the day?
14. Do hostels have chores?

Do you have a question that we didn’t answer in FAQ? Please go to the ‘Contact Us’ page.


1. What are hostels?

Hostels provide friendly, inexpensive overnight accommodations for travelers. Hostelling International hostels assure travelers the utmost in quality standards including cleanliness, security and service.  Hostels offer dormitory-style rooms with separate quarters for men and women. Some hostels also have private family and couples rooms. All hostels provide a blanket and pillow. Linens are often included in the price, or are available for sale or rental.

Most hostels offer fully equipped self-service kitchens or cafeterias, dining areas, secure storage and common rooms for relaxing and socializing with other travelers. Some hostels have laundry facilities, travel libraries and concierge service. There are a few that even have hot tubs, swimming pools, barbecues or an ocean at the front door. Most urban hostels have secure 24-hour access and are handicapped accessible.
Back to list.


2. Are hostels just for young people?

You may have heard that only “youth” can stay in hostels.  Not true—hostelling isn’t just for youth!  Membership in HI is open to people of all ages and backgrounds—for adults the cost is $28/year; seniors pay only $18/year and youth up to their 18th birthday get free memberships.  Bavaria, Germany is the only place in the HI network where there is a maximum age limit of 26 except for group leaders and families.
Back to list.


3. Where are hostels and how many are there?

Hostelling International has nearly 4,000 hostels in over 60 countries worldwide, including more than 100 hostels here in the United States. Our hostels are in major cities like New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Nairobi, but you will also find hostels in the countryside, national parks, mountains and shores.  Not all hostels are affiliated with Hostelling International. We don’t own the word “hostel,” but all our hostels do operate according to assured quality standards. You’ll know us by our logo.
Back to list.


4. What does it cost to stay in a hostel?

Big city hostels, like New York and London, will run $25-$40 per night. Smaller and medium sized hostels can be as little as $15-30 per night. Staying at our hostels makes your trip more affordable and allows you to spend your money on other things.
Back to list.


5. Do I have to be a member to stay at an HI hostel?

A valid HI membership is required to stay at any of the more than 4,000 HI hostels worldwide.  However, non-members can stay at HI hostels in their home country simply by paying a slightly higher rate for each night’s stay.   In the US non-members can pay a daily membership fee of $3.  It only takes a few nights before your membership pays for itself.
Back to list.


6. Do I have to make a reservation to stay at a hostel?

Reservations are strongly recommended during busy travel seasons, although not required.  You can make reservations for many hostels online. Without a reservation, we recommend that you arrive early to obtain a bed.  Reservations can be made at any HIUSA hostels on line at hiusa.org, or hostelworld.com.  Many can also be booked at booking.com, expedia.com  or by calling the hostel directly.  For making hostel reservations worldwide, the URL is www.hihostels.com.
Back to list.


7. What does a hostel look like?

Hostels are as varied in their looks as in their locations. Some are in modern, multi-story buildings and historic buildings that have been totally renovated. You can stay in a lighthouse on the California coast, a castle in Germany, a 19th century sailing ship in Sweden—just to name a few.
Back to list.


8. What equipment do I need to go hostelling?

Basically you will need a very small amount of the same stuff you would normally travel with plus a couple of extra items. Then you will need something comfortable and practical to carry it all in.  Pack Lightly!  While hostelling you won’t find baggage porters, suitcase racks or hanging closet space.  It’s likely you’ll be traveling on public transportation and walking from place to place. Traveling light is fundamental if you are going to have an enjoyable time.  The easiest way to carry your stuff from place to place is with a backpack.
Back to list.


9. What is a sleep-sheet?

Basically, a sleep-sheet is two sheets sewn together to form a sack. When you go to bed you get inside the sleep-sheet so the bed always stays clean. Many hostels now provide all bed linens to guests within the cost of the overnight, while others will rent (or sell) sleep-sheets to you for an additional fee. All HI hostels provide blankets.   Sleep sheets are not used by HIUSA.  All HIUSA hostels provide all bed linen  included in the rate.
Back to list.


10. Can’t I just use a sleeping bag?

Most HI hostels do not allow sleeping bags, except in a few remote and rustic mountain locations. Because sleeping bags have lots of tufts and seams, it’s easy for bugs like ticks to get inside the sleeping bag while you are camping and later come out when you unroll the bag in the hostel. Sleeping bags are also much heavier than a simple sleep-sheet and much harder to wash. So unless to plan to go camping you may want to leave your sleeping bag at home.
Back to list.


11. Where do I keep my belongings?

Backpacks containing non-valuable items such as clothes and toiletries are usually left in the sleeping dormitory. Valuables such as cameras, passports and money should always be safeguarded and ideally kept with you at all times. All hostels will have a safe storage area and many larger city hostels will have lockers in the rooms for your backpack. Theft is relatively uncommon in hostels so let’s keep it that way! Either keep valuables with you or place them in the hostel’s safekeeping facilities.
Back to list.


12. Do hostels have kitchens?

Yes, most HI hostels do offer self-catering kitchens. This is another way that hostels can save you money. Kitchens are usually equipped with basic cooking utensils including pots, pans, dishes and silverware. Hostel kitchens are also a great meeting place—you can sit around and talk with fellow guests for hours on end comparing travel notes.
Back to list.


13. Are hostels closed during the day?

Most major urban hostels are open 24 hours a day. Some smaller and rural hostels are closed during the day, usually from 10am to 4:30 or 5pm. If a hostel is closed during the day, most hostels offer a place to store your luggage. Call ahead to find the open hours.
Back to list.


14. Do hostels have chores?

At all hostels you are asked to pick up after yourself to contribute to the hostel’s upkeep. This occurs in the common areas, like the kitchen and living area.  All major urban hostels employ professional cleaning staff.  At HI USA hostels no other chores can be assigned, and “Work to Stay” is not allowed.
Back to list.

Do you have a question that we didn’t answer in FAQ? Please go to the ‘Contact Us’ page.