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.
Many people remember the first time they hugged a giant redwood, encountered a banana slug, or glimpsed the Pacific Ocean. For some, these are travel memories -- but for a lot of Californians, those first-time experiences happen through outdoor education.
Some San Francisco kids have never been out of their inner-city neighborhoods, let alone on a beach. This summer, a pilot partnership between the City of San Francisco's Latchkey Program and the Hostel Adventure Program of HI-USA Golden Gate Council brought 200 urban youth out of the noise and concrete of the city to the rolling hills and dramatic coastline of the Marin Headlands for a day of environmental education.
Hostelling International USA members can now travel with a translator in their ear, thanks to a new discount partnership with CyraKnow, the company that uses iPod technology to help new and seasoned travelers learn the nuances of pronunciation and basic phrases for four major languages in a short period of time.