Interview: Netanya, HI Hostels Expert, USA

Yosemite pan

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From clifftop jacuzzis to helping educate children about travel, Netanya from HI Hostels tells us all about how the brand can help you make the most of your budget during your trip through the states…

NetanyaWhy should people use hostels when travelling the USA?

HI-USA hostels are more than a place to sleep; they’re an experience all their own.  Designed to foster interaction amongst guests and provide authentic, local experiences, our hostels provide a fun, social environment reflective of the community they’re in.  Shared dorm rooms, self-serve kitchens, and other common spaces make it easy to strike up conversation with other travelers from every corner of the world, often resulting in new friends to see the town or grab a bite to eat with, while building greater cultural understanding.  Additionally, most of our hostels provide daily free or low cost activities to gain an insider’s perspective to the local community. The affordability of our hostels also enable guests to travel for longer, and our high quality standards keep them coming back.

What are some of the most popular backpacking routes your customers use?

The two most popular routes are the Northeast Corridor and the West Coast.  The Northeast covers Washington DC to Boston (and up into Canada), and the West Coast spans Vancouver through Baja California.

What are some of the coolest locations you can find HI Hostels in?

Our diverse network spans major cities, such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, to off-the-beaten-path locations, such as HI-Malabar Farm in rural Ohio, HI-Marin Headlands in the mountains of Northern California, and HI-Quakertown in Quaker country in Pennsylvania.  Everyone defines what’s cool differently, but our more than 50-hostel network has something for everyone!

Marin Headlands

What’s the coolest feature at any of the hostels in your chain? (eg anything extraordinary or cool – an all-night bar, an amazing rooftop view etc)

HI-Pigeon Point is a lighthouse along the famous Pacific Coast Highway in Northern California. , with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.  To make it even more magical, guests can rent out the private hot tub on the cliffs and take in the sunset while watching marine life swim by.

What are some of the hottest destinations to travel to in the US right now, and why?

New York is, as always, a top destination, but places like  HI-Houston, HI-Portland Hawthorne and HI-Portland Northwest, and HI-Philadelphia Apple are growing in popularity.  Often guests are looking for an authentic American experience beyond the big cities, and these smaller markets are culturally distinct and have a lot of unique activities to offer.Houston Skyline

And are there any less well-known places off the beaten tourist path that people should take time to visit?

HI-San Diego, Point Loma, is a great neighborhood hostel with a warm, inviting feel that’s accessible yet removed from downtown San Diego.  This 55-bed hostel features BBQs, a Sunday market, and walking tours, and is in close proximity to the beach.   HI-Midpines is just outside of Yosemite National Park and features cabin-style accommodations, a spa, and delicious food.  It’s truly a retreat in the wilderness! We also have 5 hostels on Cape Cod, which are a great way to visit one ofthe nation’s most exclusive destinations on a budget.  They are getting ready to close for the season, but they book up fast, so it’s not too soon to think about next year!

Got any money-saving tips for travelling the USA, as well as using HI Hostels?

One of the best ways to save money is with an HI membership, which gives you discounted stays at more than 4,000 hostels worldwide, including $3 off per night at the 50+ HI-USA hostels.  Cooking your own meals in our self-serve kitchens is also a great way to save money.  Then take advantage of our free or low cost activities, and simply ask the hostel staff and volunteers about their insider recommendations.  Most cities offer free concerts or activities, especially throughout the summer months, so be sure to check local newspapers as well.

Can we expect any new openings or initiatives from HI Hostels in the next year or so?

We’re getting ready for our first ever Sleep For Peace event.  Held September 21 – the UN’s International Day of Peace – we’re allocating $1 of every guests’ stay towards a scholarship fund to help underprivileged kids experience hostelling for the first time.  IPigeon Point Lighthouset’s a way for us to celebrate the peace-building benefits of hostelling and enable more people to take part.  As a nonprofit, charitable organization, we have a mission to improve cultural understanding through hostelling, which then leads to more peaceful communities.  This seemed like a natural fit for us and we’re excited to take part.

What charitable initiatives are you involved in?

HI-USA is a nonprofit organization with the charitable mission to improve cultural understanding.  To achieve our mission, we offer community education programs, travel education classes, and cultural learning programs for underprivileged youth

How can I get involved in supporting HI-USA, and what does my money go towards?

To learn more about supporting HI-USA, visit www.hiusa.org/donate.  Our donors help us expand the hostelling experience to even more people. You can help us fulfill our mission to improve cultural understanding by supporting our work on educational programs, youth scholarship programs, and developing hostels in new destinations.  When you offer your donation, you can indicate how you would like your gift to be earmarked.

If you have some hostelling knowledge from the USA, we want to hear from you. Share your tips and photos with us here.

With thanks to Ralphman, mark.hogan, puliarf, Romtomtom, for the images of Flickr! Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting. 

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