Hostels are the best place to spend your nights if you’re backpacking, traveling on a budget, or going on that long-awaited gap year. They’re cheaper than hotels. And they offer a social atmosphere where you can make new friends from all parts of the world. It’s a common thing among long-term travelers today. But have you ever wondered how it all got started?
The First Hostel
The world’s first hostel ever created was in 1912 in the Altena Castle which is located in Germany. It was part of a movement to help promote outdoor activity among the youth population at the time. The youth were required to do chores and run the hostel themselves. The hostel was closed during the middle part of the day, allowing the youth to stay outdoors and do more physical activities.
The Altena Castle appears to still be in operation today. You can find their website by clicking on this link. The website is in German but can be translated by right-clicking on the page and choosing “Translate to English.” The hostel only has 36 beds, but seems to be pretty spacious with lots of activities. There’s a museum to explore which gives a lot of the history. There’s swimming pools and sporting grounds and nearby hiking trails. You can hire a guide to show you around too. There’s school groups and other tours that come through at times to learn the history of the medieval times.
Growth to Today
Over the years hostels have increased in popularity. Other hostels were built in different parts of Europe and the UK. And then in the 1960’s a trend towards world travel was encouraged among young students who were just finishing high school. Students would take on a “gap year” in which they would travel the world engaging themselves in extra-curricular activities, learning a new trade, a new language, volunteer, and meet new people.
The students would stay in hostel dorms where they would meet and socialize with other student travelers from different parts of the world. There would be opportunities for socializing such as community kitchens where they prepare their own meals, lounge areas, and sporting events. Doing chores became less of a requirement, but general cleanup was always expected.
As the years went by hostels improved their facilities by offering services like airport pickups, private secured lockers, free breakfasts, travel stores, and tour desks. Some hostels branched out beyond the traditional dorm rooms and started offering a few single rooms for those who wanted a little more privacy.
Now hostels have become a norm among students and young travelers. Flights overseas became more affordable. And soon hostels began popping up in major cities across the U.S.
As we continue in the future, it looks like hostels may become just as popular as hotels. It’s really going to depend on what the person is looking for in their trip. Hotels will provide the more relaxed luxury type environment, while hostels will be more social and activity-oriented. Hostels will probably be more popular among the younger crowd since they don’t have a lot of money to spend and they can be able to stretch their dollars to travel longer.