A Short History of Hostelling
The concept of hostelling has been around for a long time, but the actual movement started in 1907, when a German school teacher named Richard Schirrmann cleared out some classrooms and laid down some straw mats so that young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other!
It used to be that youth hostels had only dormitory-style arrangements reserved for youth and a chore was assigned to offset the low cost of the bed. Well, there have been a few changes since then, although you may still find dorms and some rural hostels that require you to carry out a small chore such as making your own bed or bringing the dirty linen to reception. But hostels are no longer only for the young, and most places have private rooms available. However you will still most likely have to share a bath.
Hostelling is a Big Business
From its humble beginnings, hostelling has boomed into a big-time business. Huge directories of world hostelling resources have sprouted on the web and estimates of the number of hostels around the world range from 4,000 to 5,000. Most hostels are bookable online these days, providing travellers a simple and fast method to organising their travel plans ahead and making sure they have a guaranteed bed on arrival to a new city.
Why stay in a Hostel?
Staying in a hostel is a fantastic way to meet other travellers who can offer you great advice on things to see and interesting places to go which you may not hear of in books or travel guides. Hostels also tend to have more of a social scene, you will find that even some organize parties, BBQ's, meetings or have a bar within their premises where people can chat and get to know the fellow guests.
If you are travelling alone then staying in a hostel is a great way to meet long term travel buddies, people looking to do a fun day trip or visit a particular museum together. These, usually, short meetings can make a great impact on your cultural awareness and sometimes be the starting point of a life long friendship.
Hostelling today is for people from all walks of life and of all ages, from 7 to 70, this type of diversity is what helps give hostels their flare and appeal.