Youth Hostels: the educational component

Educational Travel

Accommodations are often an overlooked component of a school trip. If it’s cheap, safe, and convenient, it’s booked. But lodging can be so much more than just a place to sleep; it can be a meaningful part of your group’s experience.


And that’s exactly what you get when you stay at a hostel — plus the affordability, safety, and convenience you need.

What is a hostel?

Hostels are defined by shared spaces that foster interaction amongst guests. Dorm rooms are the most prevalent room type, featuring a series of bunk beds. While solo travelers may find themselves paired with an international mix of roommates, group travelers are able to reserve entire rooms.

Other shared spaces can include a lounge, game room, or library, depending on the hostel. All hostels have a self-serve kitchen, allowing guests to cook their own meals. And don’t be surprised if a spontaneous, international potluck gets started!

The Educational Component

Incidental learning is part of the hostel experience. Since they’re designed to foster interaction, your students will meet people from all over the world, learning about their culture, language, and how they’re probably not all that different.

But hostels like the ones in Hostelling International (HI) USA’s network offer low-cost, if not free, educational programs for guests and the community. These might range from a travel workshop on how not to be an “ugly American” abroad to a lesson on a different culture through food. Many will even create a program just for your group.

Because hostels are made for young, fun people, they’re run by young, fun people. So staff is skilled at keeping students interested and engaged!

Safety and Security

Like hotels, rooms are secured with an electronic key card. The front desk at big city hostels is staffed 24-hours a day, and security cameras and secured access are also in place. Additionally, rooms come equipped with lockers for protection of valuables.

Why Teachers and Students Love Hostels

Why students love it:

  • Dorm rooms: Bunk beds mean no bed sharing! And since rooms can accommodate more people than a traditional hotel, there is less group separation.
  • Communal spaces:They stay entertained with games, meet people from all over the world, and aren’t confined to their room. And since guests are primarily students and youth travelers, they’ll fit right in.
  • Self-Serve Kitchens: It’s a fun way to interact with peers, enables bonding, and they learn the satisfaction of eating something they made.
  • Educational Programming: It doesn’t feel like a class room; material is presented in a fun, compelling way.

Why teachers love it:

  • Dorm rooms: The students are all together, separated by male and female, and it’s a more cost-effective way to find lodging.
  • Communal spaces: The students can entertain themselves, and might learn something new about another culture or part of the world by talking with other guests.
  • Self-Serve Kitchens: It’s the cheapest and healthiest way to eat, it saves time and hassle, and it keeps the students active.
  • Educational Programming: Programs are low cost or free — adds an extra learning component.

Planning Your Trip

Each hostel is unique, from old lighthouses to city block-sized historic buildings to old mansions. They’re found in city centers and rural areas and can accommodate eight to 200 people, just peruse the various options at Average prices range from $20-45 per bed, plus private rooms can be made available for group leaders. For more information, contact Amanda Booth, National Sales Manager, at 312-583-2223 or

Hostelling International-USA (HI-USA), the operating name for American Youth Hostels Inc., is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization affiliated with the International Youth Hostel Federation’s global network of more than 4,000 hostels in over 90 countries. HI-USA’s mission is “to help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling.” For more information, visit
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Issue 20.1 | Spring 2018

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