The fastest way to find great hostels

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Mediterranean Hostel Front Desk. Photo: Oh-Barcelona.com / Flickr"][/caption] Hostels vary wildly in quality.  Some are total fleapits; others are so luxurious they rival hotels.  How can you find the quality hostels instantly? The website Hostelworld.com announced the 2012 winners of the "Hoscars," their awards for the best hostels in the world.  Users around the world voted for their favorite places to stay.  The establishments are clustered into an amazing variety of categories.  You can find hostels based on size, region, popularity, and many more characteristics. Portugal had a strong showing, completely sweeping every award for "Ratings… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (2)  | February 10, 2012
Category: Backpacking, Hostels/Hotels, Notes from the collective travel mind

What are your favorite hostels in the world?

[caption id="attachment_13278" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Common area at Albareda Youth Hostel in Barcelona. Photo: Oh-Barcelona.com / Flickr"][/caption] Nomadic Matt recently posted a list called My favorite hostels in the world.  Goes to show that low prices don't always mean low quality.  You can save money and have a great time. Matt's list spurred me to remember which hostels I've enjoyed over the years.  Here are some of my picks: Circus (Berlin, Germany) — If every hostel was as grand as Circus, I’d never worry about staying in a hostel again. I’ve been in hotels that weren’t as cool as Circus. Very… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (5)  | December 9, 2011
Category: Backpacking, General, Hostels/Hotels, Notes from the collective travel mind

Making hostel booking social

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCWvnp7-ikI&feature=player_embedded Intro video for inbed.me Over the years, there have been several attempts to combine travel and social networking.  The latest on the scene is inbed.me (that name is just asking for double entendres). The idea is to solve the problem of that first-night loneliness in a new hostel.  You've just arrived, and all the previous guests have formed their cliques, so you don't have anyone to talk to.  With inbed.me, you can connect to travelers who will be at that hostel before you arrive.  By reading their profiles, you can find common interests and make plans to hang out. … Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | December 2, 2011
Category: Hostels/Hotels, Notes from the collective travel mind, Travel Tech

Staying in hostels: yay or nay?

[caption id="attachment_12993" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="8-bed dorm room at Barnacles Hostel Galway. Photo: Barnacles Hostels / Flickr"][/caption] Hostels are a mainstay of the budget travel circuit. Share a dorm room with strangers, shave off a big percentage of your accommodation costs.  They do come with some drawbacks however, as this article from The Sydney Morning Herald describes: The problem with staying in hostels. Although for me, the "problem" the author writes about is my favorite benefit of staying in hostels: meeting other travelers.  I can't imagine how lonely my trips would have been had I opted for private rooms in hotels.… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (9)  | September 23, 2011
Category: Hostels/Hotels, Notes from the collective travel mind

Monty Python on the irritations of package tourism

A 1972 Monty Python sketch called "Travel Agent" contains a classic scene where the Eric Idle character goes on an over-the-top rant about package tourism, at the expense of Michael Palin's travel-agent character. Many of the references are dated now -- and the whole scene is drenched in hyperbole -- but many of the frustrations of overly structured group-travel still ring true. Here's the rant in full: "What's the point of going abroad if you're just another tourist carted around in buses surrounded by sweaty mindless oafs from Kettering and Coventry in their cloth caps and their cardigans and their… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (1)  | April 18, 2011
Category: Europe, Hostels/Hotels, Travel Quote of the Day, Travel Video

10 small strategies that will improve your journey

About five years ago, San Francisco Chronicle travel editor John Flinn published a column called "A few things I've learned in a quarter-century-plus of travel." I enjoyed his insights so much I saved the article as a text file -- and I recently stumbled across it again on my laptop. Here are my ten favorite bits of advice from Flinn's column: 1. When you're on a lean budget, one step up from rock-bottom is always worth it. Five dollars is often all it takes to upgrade from squalid to tolerable. It's the difference between sweaty torpor and air conditioning in… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (4)  | March 21, 2011
Category: Food and Drink, Hostels/Hotels, Vagabonding Advice

Two thumbs up to a good hotel or hostel

Damascus, Syria "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," wrote Charles Dickens in the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities. He was referring to life in an area of Europe in the late 1700s, but one could also feasibly slap this line into a book about overnights in hotels and hostels around the world in 2011. Since this is a blog and not a book, I'm short on space and will focus on "it was the best of times."  Take the photo above, for example. This is my bedside view at the Al-Rabie… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | January 18, 2011
Category: Asia, Hostels/Hotels, Images from the road, Notes from the collective travel mind

Unique accommodation across Europe

One great part of travel is the thrill you get from the random and deliciously quirky places you find yourself. Just a few weeks ago I was thrilled to find myself sleeping on an 8x10 square foot floor with 2 other people on a tiny fishing island in the Yellow Sea. Why? Because it’s an 8x10 foot floor on a tiny island in the Yellow Sea. For those travelers who are willing to spend a little more, there are some really unique hotels across Europe that would be quite a thrill to experience. Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden definitely provides… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (4)  | August 9, 2010
Category: Europe, Hospitality, Hostels/Hotels

Is green going mainstream?

Last week, the online travel search engine Travelocity announced that a new partnership with EC3 Global has enabled them to display more green hotels in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. As green/eco awareness increases, so too does the need for ethical travelers to be able to find those businesses that adhere to morals and business practices that they believe in. Travelocity reported that "green hotel bookings in the first quarter [of 2010] were 65 percent higher than their non-green counterparts." Of course, one of the problems is that "green" can be a somewhat arbitrary designation that is often self-applied, and… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (3)  | July 1, 2010
Category: Ethical Travel, Hostels/Hotels, Travel Tech