Hostels: the best bang for your buck when traveling this year

Jenny Adams

One of the biggest benefits of traveling is meeting people along the journey. One of the biggest drawbacks is the cash necessary to make travel happen. Hostels answer both of those needs by dropping you into a ready-made group of like-minded adventurers, while saving you from the cost of a hotel.

Much like cross-country trains and universal healthcare, we in America are a bit hostile (excuse the pun) when it comes to hostels, compared with Europe.

While they aren’t plentiful, there are still some great hostels open to travelers Stateside if you know where to look. Here’s a list of five we’d hit up in 2013:

Freehand Miami

The vibe: We learned about this hostel from a bartender at The Broken Shaker, whose drink landed on Yahoo!’s main site as one of the coolest new cocktails in America. The Broken Shaker craft cocktail bar is attached to this hostel, which features a renovated 1930s building with striking, gorgeous décor, an outdoor pool, tropical courtyard and rooms that would make a normal hotel proud.
Bonuses: You can rent bikes here but you really don’t need them since the beach is a block away.
Approximate price: $27 for a bunk bed.

The Ashland Hostel
Ashland, Oregon

The vibe: According to their site, it’s the oldest hostel in Ashland. A stretched superlative? Perhaps. However, it’s been a delight of travelers for years. You spend the night in sparse, but nicely appointed, sunny yellow rooms within a 100-year-old home that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bonuses: They have coffee service and free Wi-fi.
Approximate price: $90 for family room with private bath.

Ocean Beach International Hostel
San Diego

The vibe: While their website is a bit of a nightmare that looks left over from mid-90s web design, the hostel itself is a great place to party if you are young enough to not remember those years. It’s located right on Ocean Beach and the rooms are a clean and safe place to lay your head after an exhausting day of surfing and Margaritas.
Bonuses: Free transport from the airport, train and bus terminal and a free breakfast buffet.
Approximate price: $54 for private room with a bath. $14 for a bunk bed

Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort
Midpines, Calif.

The vibe: If you are interested in visiting Yosemite Valley, this place is located just 25 miles away. You have a lot of decisions to make. Stay in a charming tent cabin? Or, take a proverbial trust-fall and sleep in a co-ed dormitory. Whatever you choose you can enjoy meals on the outdoor café deck, take a yoga class or benefit from the on-site massage therapy.
The bonuses: A spa hot tub, live music and great tour packages.
Approximate price: $45 for Tent cabins that sleep two people.

India House Hostel
New Orleans

The vibe: Walk up the steps of this pale yellow Victorian and into one of the best deals in the city – particularly if you are visiting during Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras. The common rooms have a happy, Caribbean, bohemian atmosphere and décor. There’s an awesome outdoor kitchen and a great swimming pool. You are, however, staying in Mid City, so it’s not exactly right off Bourbon Street.
Bonuses: Off-street parking and 24-hour reception are mature additions to a place that also gets rowdy with an outdoor stage and the occasional Crawfish boil.
Approximate price: $20 for a bunk bed.