For the last 15 years I have been travelling in youth hostels and today I have the impression that we forgot the real meaning of this type of accomodation. So here is a short article to refresh the memories of some and educate the others.
The first youth hostels were created at the beginning of the century, in Germany, around a generous and innovative idea : ¨to allow young people to discover the world while getting to know each other¨. Shorty after, they appeared in France, under the action of a humanist : Marc Sangnier. The founding principles of youth hostels were then : political neutrality and welcoming of every young people without distinction in order to facilitate friendship and peace. What a wonderful and noble mission isn’t it?
There is also the United Federation of Youth Hostel that defines youth hostels as accomodations based on common and shared areas offering authentic lifestyle and also as accessible accomodations where cultural exchanges and encounters should allow people to enrich themselves through the differences of others. The United Federation of Youth Hostel believes that it is through the intercultural encounter and dialogue between young travellers that we will achieve peace.
So, that was the factual part of this article. I hope that it helped you understand a bit better where hostels came from and what they were meant to be. Now, here is the more personal part in which I will spell out some home truths about hostel life.
If you choose to come stay at my hostel, please don’t talk to me about intimacy. If you choose to rent a room for 28$US per night, please, don’t talk to me about luxury. If you choose to come spend a night in the capital, please don’t talk to me about the car noises and the light of the street lamp. If you choose an accomodation with shared bathrooms, please don’t expect me to stand next to the bathroom door and clean the shower every single time a person uses it. If you choose the cheapest hostel, please don’t expect a power breakfast.
Tell me, in fact, why did you choose to come stay in an hostel? If to come share moments with other travellers from all over the world is not a part of your answer, then maybe you chose wrong. If it’s for the cheap price…well I am sorry to tell you that with 28$US your intimacy will surely be violated, your tranquility most probably disrupted, your breakfast certainly lighter, your shower cut short and your confort slightly less…but if you take the time to raise your eyes and take a look around you…maybe you will discover a wonderful world that has a lot to offer. If you come stay at our hostel not to impoverish you, maybe you could take advantage and culturally enrich yourself? Could you maybe forget the color of your sheets and learn the color of the Costa Rican flag?, forget your cold shower and enjoy the warm oceans?, forget the noises in the street and listen to all these new languages around you…take advantage of the internet connexion being too slow to reconnect to reality, the one that surrounds you?
In short, what I am trying to tell you is that if you are coming to my hostel, I will offer you my smile, my advices and the joys of sharing …maybe even the company of a lizard or the friendship of a cockroach. Well, yes, this is reality. The world is huge and differences infinite…there is so much to see, so much to learn and always more to discover. The confort of your bed, your hot shower, your favorite breakfast, the tranquility of your little house…soon enough you will be back to all of it. The beauty of hostels is their imperfection, their singularity, their uniqueness, their muticulturality, ect. Every hostel will surprise you, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way…and this is the beauty of it…this is what travelling is all about.