Isn’t it magical to think that while you’re standing on the shore of a beach, gazing at the blanket of ocean, there is an entire world just underneath the surface, a world that’s home to one of the biggest creatures that has ever lived? And while we hardly ever see them from the shore, there’s a special time of the year – every winter and spring – when the Pacific coast becomes a highway for the great grey whale migration and land-dwellers get to spy these enigmatic animals.
The more and more we travel the more our eyes are opened to the realities of the world and our responsibilities as global citizens. As we interact with people and explore different environments, it’s difficult not to want to help make the world a better place, and increasingly for a lot of travelers, volunteering while vacationing has become an essential part of the itinerary. “Voluntourism” – as this type of traveling has become known – is not an entirely new concept, but it’s picked up over the years and has become an industry in its own right.
In the past, hostels have generally been associated with over-zealous, boozed-up young adults; dingy, dodgy dorm rooms with ultra-thin mattresses and far-flung European destinations à la the movie Hostel. But at HI USA, we believe hostelling can be a real force for good. And as more and more people are opening their eyes to the joys of travel, this form of social, budget-friendly accommodation is fast becoming the popular choice for young and old who are looking to explore the United States and beyond.
Each year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21st. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Annually, HI USA has been joined by HI hostels around the world to host various events in celebration of promoting peace. If you can’t make it to one of our hostels on September 21st, don’t fret! Here are 8 other ways you can celebrate the UN’s World Peace Day.
You don’t have to be home for the holidays to feel the love this time of year. As anyone who’s ever spent Thanksgiving on the road, Christmas with strangers, or New Year’s Eve in a foreign land can attest, it’s often the people you’re with who make the season bright. And when you spend a holiday in a hostel, you may just find yourself forming a spontaneous family with whoever’s around, celebrating and laughing with new friends you’ve never met.
At HI USA, we firmly believe that travel has the power to transform. Meeting new friends from other cultures, participating in the customs of an unfamiliar country or city, and integrating ourselves into the local community are irreplaceable experiences, and ones that help us to better understand the world around us. And the most rewarding travel experiences of all are those that allow us to affect the communities we visit just as positively as they do us.