Hostel Memberships, Are They Worth It?
Before leaving on my first backpacking trip, I was debating whether I should buy a membership for HI hostels. After some thought, I decided to buy it. Was it the right decision? Let’s see…
Hostelling International (HI) hostels is an association of hostels around the world. They offer a membership card, where cost vary on your country of residence. For Canadians, the card costs CDN $35 + tax. The card is valid for up to 2 years, depending on when you buy it. If I were to buy a card today, it would be valid until March 2012. The main benefit of buying the card is to receive discounts on the hostel rate. Discounts vary per hostel and country but it’s normally between $3 to $6. The HI hotel membership card additionally offer benefits such as discounts on activities and museums in different cities around the world. An added benefit is the HI-comm ekit service which offers discounted phones, calling cards and so on. There are severals ways to purchase the card, it can be online or at a HI hostel around the world.
So is it worth purchasing the membership card? It depends. You need to determine if you’ll be staying in enough HI hostels to get your money’s worth for the membership card. Assuming that you don’t use the cards for discounts on museums or other activities, you’d have to stay in about 10 HI hostels to break-even. Keep in mind that although the HI hostel membership card provides discounts to museum, if you’re a student and show your student card, you will also get a discount at most museums around the world. Keep that student card handy when traveling and try to use it as much as possible because most places do offer student discounts.
A few years ago, I bought the HI membership card and realized that it wasn’t worth it for me at the end of my trip. In 6 months of traveling on and off, I stayed in 2 HI hostels. There is a handful of hostels in every city you’ll be travelling to so doing some research on the types of hostel that interest you would be useful in terms of determining whether you should buy the HI membership card or not. You can check out sites like hostel.com, hostelworld.com, hostelz.com for hostel availabilities and reviews. To find available HI hostels, you’ll need to consult their homepage.
For all new backpackers or travelers looking to stay in hostels, it may be worth buying the membership card since you may not know what you like or what you don’t like when it comes to hostels. And once you find your backpacking habits, you’ll know whether the card is worth it for you or not.