Hostels have been around in one form or another for a long time. They are oriented towards young travelers and anyone else seeking cheap accommodations. The United States version was originally more complicated, with guests helping with chores, etc. It is much simpler now: you rent a bed instead of a room, sharing the bathroom, living room and kitchen. You have less privacy, but cheaper accomodations, and you get to socialize.
My first time in Quito, Ecuador I stayed at Centro Del Mundo, a hostel near the center of town. $4 per night included breakfast. I shared a room and bathroom with 4 others, and a T.V. room with guests from 14 countries, and channels in three languages. 80 cents got me a rum-and-coke to drink while I played chess with a flower-buyer from Holland. The manager could arrange anything from tours of the snow-covered volcano Cotapaxi, to $2/hour Spanish lessons.
Is A Hostel For You?
I love hostels, but most of you won't. I like mingling with travelers from around the world. You're more isolated in a hotel. "Mingling," of course, could mean sleeping next to a snorer. I'm sure the idea of sharing a room is too much for some people, as is waiting to use the shower. It's a different experience from staying in a hotel.
Are Hostels Cheap Accomodations?
Even if they were the same price, I'd prefer a hostel to a hotel, but one of the biggest reasons people stay in hostels is to save money. For this, they're a good option when you're traveling alone. Since my wife and I travel together now, we don't stay in hostels often. You pay for two beds, after all, which makes hotels more competitve.
Hostels are not as common in the U.S. as in other countries, unless you include "bed-and-breakfast" places. Theses are, after all, somewhat like high-priced hostels. There are still cheap hostels in almost every state, though. Search Google for hostels, and you'll find all the information you need.
Other Cheap Accommdations
For cheap accomodations other than hostels, you can try websites, such as Cheap-Tickets.com. Remember though, that they only give you rates for the hotels and motels in their system. I just did a search for Tucson, Arizona. Cheap-Tickets.com was the easiest to use, and found the best rates. However, I could show you several nice motels here in Tucson that are $15 cheaper than the cheapest rate they found.
Try picking up those coupon books at gas stations along the highways. We've almost always found good deals using these. It's rare that a manager won't honor the coupon. Generally, only if they're absolutely full will they refuse. Read the fine print, though, since they often charge more for certain dates, weekends, or for two people.
Another way to get a cheap room is by negotiating. Unfortunately, for some reason, most owners here in the U.S. would rather watch you drive away than knock five bucks off the room rate. This isn't true in most other countries. My wife and I were in Banos, Ecuador recently, and were told the room would be $12. The room was clean, with cable T.V. and lots of hot water. We paid just $6 per night, paying four nights in advance. The owner understood we were ready to walk away.
About the author
Steve Gillman hit the road at sixteen, and traveled the U.S. and Mexico alone at 17. Now 40, he travels with his wife Ana, whom he met in Ecuador. To read their stories, tips and travel information, visit: http://www.EverythingAboutTravel.com
Author: Steve Gillman