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Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box - Youth Hostelling


This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try.  

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.





youth hostelDid you ever go youth hostelling when you were young? My goodness, it was a different experience then. For a start, I don’t remember any older people using the hostels; or any family or individual rooms. It was all bunk beds in basic conditions, great fun but very youth and fitness orientated.  I seem to remember a ruling that you weren’t allowed to arrive at a hostel by car either.  Those were the days!!!!

Today of course things have changed radically and while Youth Hostels are still terrific places to stay both in terms of cost and meeting people, they have moved with the times and now cater for a wide range of ages. In a hostel today you might find a small group of teenagers on a school outing, certainly, but you are equally likely to come across a lovely family group of mum, dad and children, a small party of adults on a walking holiday, or people in their 70s enjoying an around the world trip.

Everyone is welcome at a Youth Hostel and while membership of the Youth Hostel Association is popular, it is no longer mandatory and even if you are not a member you can still stay at a hostel.

whitby hostelOne key characteristic that remains the same is the location. Youth Hostels are generally sited in fascinating buildings or locations, each with their own distinctive atmosphere. Some are castles, some are old thatched cottages and today there are even some modern purpose build hostels. Accommodation varies from bunk bedded rooms – unlike our hospitals the YHA has had the good sense to keep single sex rooms – or smaller private rooms which are ideal for couples or families. Some even have en-suite facilities.

You don’t even have to turn up with that little sheet sleeping bag to fold between the rough blankets anymore. Laundered bed linen, pillows, duvet and blankets are provided free of charge. Amazing!

Another big change is food. I remember the old kitchens where you all fussed around making various meals and getting in everyone’s way with ingredients you brought in.  Now the YHA offers a full meal service at many of its properties, although some locations still have self-catering kitchens, beautifully equipped with everything you might need to cook your own meal.

Hostels usually have a nice sitting area, drying room and a cycle store.

Another new aspect of the YHA is the advice they offer and activities they organise. It is no longer simply a place to stay overnight; the association is involved in a huge range of activities across the country. For instance, the Youth Hostel at Okehampton in Devon is a British Canoe Union accredited centre so it is the perfect location to develop canoeing skills. Special two night events are held that cover full board accommodation, all equipment and transport and qualified instruction.

The price for a weekend like this is £135, or £124 for the under 18s – affordability has always been a key aspect of the YHA and this thankfully remains. A typical single overnight cost to stay at a hostel could be £15 but prices can vary a little. There are also lots of special offers - at the moment the YHA are offering special deals of £8 a night at specific locations so it is worth keeping your eyes out to see their latest offers. Annual membership of the YHA is £15 95p for an adult but as I mentioned earlier, this is not compulsory.

Of course it is not just in the UK that Youth Hostelling is thriving; 60 countries across the world now offer Youth Hostels based on very similar philosophies. For some people, Youth Hostelling can become a way of life and a wonderful way to make new friends and find new interests.

If the word “Youth” has put you off before; think again. Pop into your nearest YHA to get more of a flavour of it all, or why not visit the YHA website? You might find it offers you the perfect opportunity to try something really new.




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