Written by Michael

3min read


The USA could be a backpackers dream.

The states have some of the best road trips in the world and an almost limitless list of world famous sites and landmarks to visit.
A literal Tonne of people travel America every year. Millions of people go there for holidays, exchange programs, studying, visiting relatives and countless other reasons.
However, for all that the country has to offer it seems that hostels are not it’s strongest point.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great hostels in America, one of them even made it into my top 5 – there’s just not enough of them .
America needs more hostels.

Hostelling in Phili

Searching on Hostelworld for hostels in the USA often brings up only one or two results for each major city and in some locations no results whatsoever are shown! For instance, when I was stateside and searched for hostels in Boston, two results were shown. As a a result of there being very few hostels the ones that do exist are astronomically overpriced. They can pretty much charge what they like and I ended up paying $55 a night for a hostel on the outskirts of the city.
If there’s an event on in the city you want to visit you’re pretty much screwed because it’s going to be fully booked miles in advance. For instance, when I was in Phili I arrived on a Thursday and literally bagged the cities last bed in a hostel because there was a music concert on that weekend. My mates who arrived the day after me had to stay in a dingy motel outside the city.
At the moment in the USA there’s more preferable options such as B&B’s, motels and cheap hotels. It seems the hosteling culture hasn’t really caught on yet. Yet there’s a huge demand – all the hostels i stayed in were either full or nearly full and everyone i spoke to thought there should be more.
To be fair, the American hostel scene is in its infancy. I mean the country is only 240 years old so we’ll give it some time to catch up. I’m also speaking as an avid traveler of Europe where you can just rock up to any city and at least a couple of great hostels in a central location will have a space for you – this it what the American hostel scene needs to aspire to.
The solution.
It’s pretty simple.
More people with a passion for travel need to seize the potential for hostels in the USA and set them up.
More beds in a city = cheaper beds.
It will create a competitive environment which will encourage hostels to better their standards as they will be vying for travellers custom. If you’re going set up a hostel the USA is a good place to think about doing it, there’s lots of travellers and not many hostels!
America, you’re going to be great at hostelling – you’re loud, sociable and can always provide the entertainment.
Just hurry up about it.

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17 thoughts on “The American Hostel Scene.

  1. It’s true and very sad that we don’t have that many hostels here in the United States . That’s the first thing I look for when I’m traveling in the United States and Canada , and I do that a lot because my blog focuses mostly on USA and Canada . Love that someone has a picture of one of my favorite hostels , Apple Hostel in Philadelphia .

  2. Spot on, Brother! I am from Canada and my American friends always give me a raised eye or a concerned tone of voice whenever I mention about staying in hostels on my travels. Americans don’t really get the concept of hostels because most don’t understand why some of us have the inherent desire to travel and explore around the world.
    A lot of my American friends are quite happy with the odd weekend road trip or week long vacation at a five star hotel somewhere within the United States. If more would travel outside of North America, then they would understand that hostels are really a means to an end for affordable long term travel. And you are right – America offers a lot of great adventures for the intrepid traveller!

    1. That’s why i think many don’t leave North America that much – because it has so much to offer! But the hostel culture in Asia, Oceania and Europe is currently on another level and the US have a bit of catching up to do, but I’m sure they will get there at some point! Thanks for stopping by bro!

    2. As an American , Ray I hate to say it. Americans don’t travel much because we think we have everything we need in our own little towns. And not for nothing , hate to take it there , but I am, if Americans can’t locate it on a map , we don’t go. Especially Americans of my generation . ( I’m 64.)

      1. The butterfly effect holds such a deep meaning and being a psychology student I could really relate it to real life stories I’ve come across (would share them soon). So I chose the name “Butterfly effect”.

  3. Very true haha! I live in California, and just traveling my state alone is quite costly. (We usually end up finding a motel/hotel…) Thankfully Airbnb has been quite helpful! I feel as though our lack of hostels stems from the fact that very few people backpack here! ๐Ÿ™ I’ve noticed we generally pick a city, find a hotel, and then drive/fly to the location.

  4. Totally! I’ve been travelling america for 4 weeks now and havent found a hostel under $30!!
    Couchsurfing has done it for me, thankfully, otherwise I’d be goingbroke a lot quicker than I am !!

  5. I agree. I live in Houston, Texas and looked up hostels and there is one at $30 per night. It’s in a good area but I was surprised there weren’t more. But I also don’t know if many backpackers travel to Houston???

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