Traveling abroad is one of the most enriching opportunities you will probably ever experience. Diverse cultures, centuries-old architecture, and boatloads of history are just a few of the reasons traveling abroad is so fascinating.
Travelers abroad often stay in hostels. Arguably, in places like Europe, hostels are much more popular (as well as more readily available) than in the western world.
That said, knowing where you’re going, doing your research, and securing the right hostel is extremely important if you want to have a great trip.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the highest recommended hostel associations from all over the world. That way, no matter what part of the world you’re thinking about visiting, you’ve got a wide array of options.
A Brief History of Hostels and Hostel Associations
Before moving forward to our list of hostel associations by country, let’s take a quick look at the history of hostels and hostel associations.
Hotels, though in huge demand in North America and Western Europe, aren’t as dominant in the rest of Europe, Asia, and other regions, as hostels are.
Back in the early 1900s, a German teacher named Richard Schirrmann created the first youth hostel. As the idea began to spread students were now able to secure affordable housing while they studied.
Even the first youth hostels were a pretty big success it still took a couple of decades for the idea to travel to other parts of the world.
Soon after, associations began popping up as well. By the 1930s the United Kingdom had established the British Youth Hostels Association and shortly afterward the Youth Hostels Association of England and Wales as well as the Scottish Youth Hostels Association and Hostelling International Northern Ireland.
Almost immediately upon creation, these youth hostel associations became known as YHA. They are the oldest hostel associations (and most trusted). Today, many of the individual hostel associations involved with YHA have changed their names (such as HI USA).
Since the creation of YHA, numerous hostel associations of all shapes and sizes have opened their doors to members around the world.
If there’s a continent with large cities, tourist attractions, and colleges, there’s more than likely more than a few hostels as well as a local hostel association (or chapter of a larger international association like YHA).
The Benefits of Hostel Associations
For those who haven’t spent much time traveling abroad, the very words “hostel” and “hostel associations” may sound warning bells. With little to no experience with hostels and the major associations they belong to, many travelers are lacking a clear view as to what they really are (aside from their portrayal in the now-classic horror film “Hostel”).
To help clear up any misunderstandings you may have about hostels and hostel associations, we decided to highlight some of their most significant benefits below:
Firstly, hostels are mainly run by families rather than a large corporate entity like popular hotel chains. This allows hostels to offer a much more unique (and memorable) experience than just another hotel room.
Hostels are much more affordable than hotels, motels, and overnight apartments (generally speaking). For a hotel room, you can expect to shell out anywhere from $50 to $100, whereas, with a hostel, you could pay as little as $5 to $10. That said, plenty of hostels have higher prices, though are still quite a bit lower than a standard hotel room.
Location, location, location.
Hostels are normally located in very convenient locations in regards to tourist attractions and other exciting features in the area.
Hotels, on the other hand, are typically built near airports or interstates and require extra transportation to get you from the room to where the action is happening.
Comfort and atmosphere
Another lovely aspect of hostels over hotels and other lodging options is the level of comfort and privacy that many hostels offer. Even though many hostels have dorm-like quarters, just as many facilities offer private rooms for singles, couples, and families as well.
These private hostel rooms are often much more lowkey and private compared to a standard hotel room where you’re surrounded by dozens (if not hundreds) of other guests. Hostels are typically much smaller, only hosting a handful to a few dozen guests at one time.
Last but not least, hostels are unique in the sense that each one offers a completely new social setting. Hostels draw in travelers from all around the world, all visiting the same place for a number of versatile reasons.
So, for those who enjoy chatting it up with other interesting travelers (aka strangers) from all over the place, hostels are a much better lodging option than hotels.
Why Become a Member of a Hostel Association?
Before moving on to the list of hostel associations, we have a couple of more questions to answer starting with why should you consider becoming a member of a hostel association?
Here are a few pretty significant reasons to consider joining a hostel association:
- Discount prices in a wide range of hostels around the world
- Access to a network of safe and clean hostels
- Discount prices for local tours, trips, and activities
- Travel more, pay less on lodging on more on doing
- Discount tickets to live events, museums, and more
- Tons of other perks and savings depending on the association
How Do I Become a Member of a Hostel Association?
If you decide that you could benefit from being a hostel association member, how do you become a member? It’s pretty simple actually. We’ve listed the most likely scenarios below:
- Sign up and pay for a membership at a local hostel association office prior to traveling
- Sign up and pay for membership upon arrival at your chosen destination
- You can also sign up and pay for a membership online with many hostel associations
Hostel Associations by Country Masterlist
Whether you’re a student that’s planning to study overseas, a young adult who wants to backpack Europe (or elsewhere), or simply an adventurous soul, looking for a safe and reasonable hostel for your journey, our master list of hostel associations will help you narrow down your choices and come to a final selection with ease.
Here are the major Hostel Associations by Country (in no particular order):
1. Hostelling International
Found by Richard Schirrmann’s original idea of youth hostels, this organization is made up of nearly 100 individual youth hostel associations around the world. They group represents around 4,500 actual hostels spread out over 80 countries.
Hostelling International includes hostels for both children (with their parents of course) and for solo and group travelers. Most of the time the hostels on the Hostelling International list are either for children only, or for adults only. So, no matter who you are, they will help you find the perfect hostel.
Recently, Hosteling International broken tradition and added hotels and resort packages to their network of international lodging options.
So, if you decide that a hostel might not be the thing you’re looking for, Hosteling International will still help you book the room you need.
2. The German Youth Hostel Association
Another of the most highly recognized youth hostel associations with a ton of members (and hostels to choose from) is the German Youth Hostel Association (Deutsches Jugendherbergswerk or DJH for short).
Members claim that DJH is a one-of-a-kind organization.
The core concept of the group is to provide a peaceful environment for young people from around the globe to have a safe and enriching experience abroad.
On the more technical side of things, the organization is made of up a federal association which has an office in Detmold, and several regional associations that boast youth hostels and programs which are designed by hostel staff.
The DJH has hostels everywhere. They are a family-friendly organization, educational, and highly professional. The German Youth Hostel Association offers international housing at inexpensive rates and provides a different atmosphere than many hostel associations around the world.
3. Greek Youth Hostels Association
A newer organization to hit the scene (opened in 2017) is the Greek Youth Hostels Association. To date the group offers 21 hostels for youths that pretty much cover every corner of the country.
The underlying aim of the group is to spread awareness and education about youth travel and community learning programs. In addition, the organization is multi-nationality-friendly as well as accepting of any size group, sex, religion, or other orientation.
The association promotes youth travel, family travel, community groups, tours, and trips (especially concerning the environment and healthy living).
The Greek Youth Hostels Association is a proud member of Hostelling International (HI, formerly known as YHA) and it’s world-wide network of thousands of hostels.
We are proud to be a member of Hostelling International (HI) and its global network.
4. European Union Federation of Youth Hostel Associations
The European Union Federation of Youth Hostel Associations (or EUFED for short) is a unique group as far as hostel associations go. Working together with several European institutions such as the European Parliament and the European Commission, the organization helps promote youth hostels and associations.
EUFED is truthfully more of a platform to raise political awareness and support to youth hostels and associations within the European Union in comparison to a typical hostel association.
That said, the EUFED also supports the education of youth hostels and associations globally. The group has a strong focus on providing accommodations such as hostels to underprivileged youths as well.
Members of the EUFED experience the EU in all of its grand diversity. From unique cultures, to beautiful rural landscapes, and everything in between, the hostels registered with the group definitely awe and inspire the spirit of the world traveler within you.
5. ILH – Israel Hostels
An often overlooked hostel association by many travelers from around the globe is Israel Hostels.
This group is somewhat small in comparison to other associations on our list, representing less than three dozen hostels. However, each of the hostels are quality-assured and widely recognized as being safe,comfortable, and affordable.
Israel Hostels stretch across the entirety of Israel. So, no matter where you plan to visit, the association will match you with a suitable hostel. Whether you’re backpacking, traveling for pleasure, or in Israel for business, Israel Hostels is worth looking into.
Many travelers to Israel book rooms with Israel Hostels over major Holidays. These independent hostels, which make up the association, are the perfect place to spend family time. Or, if you prefer, they make a great location to meet fellow travelers and exchange stories of your adventures.
6. Croatian Youth Hostel Association
This youth hostel association was founded way back after the second World War (in 1953 to be precise). Needless to say, the Croatian Youth Hostel Association is one of the oldest associations around.
Among the highest aims of the association are promoting international understanding of culture, developing relationships, support systems, and of course developing youth hostels for members to enrich themselves with.
The Croatian Youth Hostel Association provides safe and comfortable accomodations for youths traveling abroad as well as for individuals and groups.
Educating, celebrating, creating opportunities for students and travelers, and bringing people together is what the Croatian Youth Hostel Association is really all about.
7. YHA Australia
One of the largest providers of affordable accommodations for travelers visiting the great “down under” is YHA Australia. With more than 70 hostels making up their network of facilities, the entire country is covered. Even more, YHA Australia is a member of Hosteling International.
As a non-profit, the group has a focus on elevating travelers experiences in Australia and not on making money.
In fact, the lion’s share of cash flow made from the hostels that make up YHA Australia goes back into the properties owned and operated by the organization (as well as programs and resources provided to travelers by the group).
At YHA Australia hostels you’ll have the chance to meet other individuals and groups from all over the world. Individuals like yourself, with a burning desire to explore as much of the world as possible. Social events, state-of-the-art facilities (think spas and swimming pools), and a few more enticing aspects of seeking membership with YHA Australia.
8. Youth Hostels Association of England and Wales
As one of the oldest and well-established youth hostel associations anywhere in the world, the Youth Hostels Association of England and Wales is a no-brainer-type option when it comes to visiting England (and Wales).
The group offers all sorts of amenities at their various facilities. With locations dotted throughout the country, Youth Hostels Association of England and Wales has the right hostel for you.
Some of the more popular locations include scenic landscapes and rustic buildings as well as cutting-edge high-tech hostels located in the centers of large cities.
Whether you’re looking for a room for a day, or a week, for a single-bed, double-bed, or dorm-style accommodations, you’ll find it with the Youth Hostels Association of England and Wales.
It’s also worth mentioning that kids under 10 eat for free (some hostels don’t even allow kids under 18! To be there!). Oh yeah, members also enjoy receiving an additional 10 percent off of the already hot deals offered by the group.
9. Scottish Youth Hostels Association
Another of the world’s longest-running hostel associations is the Scottish Youth Hostels Association. This group, found in the early 1930’s, offers some of the very best accommodations in all of Scotland (or so members and travelers claim).
As with many other Youth Hostel Associations, the group has a focus on education and enrichment to youth and travelers from all over the globe. The organizations promise to its members is that it puts you at the heart of Hostelling Scotland.
The Scottish Youth Hostels Association prides themselves on their high-end customer service and dedication to making each experience in Scotland as real and memorable as possible.
The staff of hostels that make up the group goes the extra mile to meet or exceed the expectations of the guests.
The group is also very much open to customer feedback. If you have stayed at one of their hostels they want to hear about your experience; the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s how they stay on top of customer demands and continue to thrive as one of the most popular youth hostel associations.
10. Youth Hostels Association of India
The Youth Hostels Association of India is another great example as to how the Hostelling International organization is making waves around the world.
As a member of Hostelling International, the Youth Hostels Association of India is connected to the massive network of hostels that belong to the group. The organization represents over four and a half thousand hostels spread out over 90 countries.
One of the main concepts behind this youth hostel association in India is the promoting of peace and international understanding (a motto that all HI associates subscribe to).
Being a member of the Youth Hostels Association of India comes with many perks including large discounts on activities such as mountain climbing, sailing, camping and more via membership card, as well as access to top-notch facilities and many other various benefits.
11. Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand
If you’re thinking of visiting New Zealand anytime soon, the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand is definitely a resource worth checking into. Membership with this non-profit organization will not only save you some cash, they’ll help you experience New Zealand to the absolute fullest.
The group currently represents around three dozen hostels, around 20 independent facilities as well as 13 which are managed by the association itself. The association hosts over 350,000 guests each year.
More than 20,000 members make up the Youth Hostel Association. Affordable housing, reduced prices, insider knowledge on all the best spots and things to do (from the staff), and much more await you when you become a member of the group.
And, you probably guessed by now, the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand is a proud member of the Hostelling International group. That said, they adhere to the same high standards as other HI members. They also offer all the same excellent benefits.
12. HI USA
Hostelling International USA, also known as HI USA, is another proud member of HI. Over 50 hostels make up the network of HI USA facilities. They stretch from one side of the country to the other. They’ve got you covered just about no matter what state you’re visiting.
Unlike other HI members, HI USA sees over one million guests hosted in their facilities annually. Not only do they host more guests than other HI members, they also provide some of the most unique hostels in the entire 90+ country network of HI facilities.
Lighthouses, Victorian mansions, and other historic urban buildings are just some fan favorites when it comes to the versatile range of housing options provided by HI USA.
HI USA promotes youth empowerment through education, and the development of leadership roles and relationship building by connecting with local communities and travelers.
13. Japan Youth Hostels
The Japan Youth Hostels group is one of many youth hostel associations overlooked by foreigners traveling abroad. As a member of Hostelling International, rest assured Japan Youth Hostels are safe, comfortable, and affordable.
All of the properties belonging to the Japan Youth Hostels are situated in convenient locations, making exploring Japan via rails or other public transportation easy as pie.
You can even pick up the Japan Rail Pass and save even more money if you’re visiting for more than overnight. Bullet trains, express trains, and various local rail-services are all covered with the pass.
Traveling to Japan in safety and comfort has never been easier than as a member of the Japan Youth Hostels and Hostelling International.
14. A.I.G. – Italian Association of Youth Hostels
Created back in 1945, the Italian Association of Youth Hostels (or A.I.G.) is another of the world’s oldest and most trusted youth hostel associations. The general purpose of the group is to promote youth tourism, the creation of youth hostels, and introducing local culture, education, and other practices into local tourism.
The Italian Association of Youth Hostels is also a founding member of the National Youth Forum and is the only Italian youth hostel association which belongs to Hostelling International.
Membership with the group is necessary to access their facilities. That said, when you’re a member of A.I.G. you also receive access to all of the HI facilities (worldwide). So, if you plan on visiting Italy, and staying with a hostel, considering to join A.I.G. is a no-brainer.
15. HI France
One of the most popular youth hostel associations in the world with youth tourists is Hostelling International France.
Located in one of the most visited countries on Earth, the HI France facilities receive hundreds of thousands of guests each year.
The principles behind HI France revolve around travel, understanding other cultures, and developing relationships. The end goal is to help our youth create a better world for everyone living in it by embracing and celebrating our diversity, continually furthering our education, and traveling as much as possible.
No matter what part of France you’ll be visiting HI France has the perfect hostel accommodations for you. Solo, youth, group, or family, the facilities that make up HI France provides everything you need for a superior lodging experience (and then some).
16. World YWCA
The last hostel association on our list is actually a global women’s rights movement, not a youth hostel association. That said, it is a truly massive group, connecting with millions of travelers annually.
The mission of the World YWCA is to aid women in the transformation of policies and power structures of human rights, including gender issues and much more.
The group helps young women connect with each other, inspire, and support one another in hopes of creating a more peaceful world and giving all women a voice.
The group has been around since 1885 and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And they just happen to have a list of hostels worth checking out. So, if you’re a woman, having a look at the World YWCA hostels list is an excellent idea before finalizing any booking.
17. Other Major Youth Hostel Associations (Hostelling International)
The youth hostel associations listed above are some of the most significant groups of the sort that exist. However, as you probably gathered, Hosteling International offers accommodations in 90+ countries.
That means there are several more associations than what we’ve listed here. The issue is that many of these groups have little information available about them. That’s why we’ve opted out of adding them to our list quite yet.
Here are a few additional youth hostel associations:
Choosing the Right Hostel Association for You
Now that you’ve got information about some of the best hostel associations, selecting the right hostel association for you shouldn’t be as challenging as you imagined it would be.
Depending on your status (youth, solo, or group), destination, the purpose for traveling, and much more, the perfect hostel association should jump right out from the list above.