Youth-hostel movement operates in U.S., too

July 25, 1993|By The Christian Science Monitor

The youth-hostel movement started almost 60 years ago in the United States, but few Americans know it exists here.

The first U.S. youth hostel opened in Northfield, Mass., in 1934, 25 years after hostels began in Germany. School buildings, empty on weekends, were used for overnight stays. The concept of a network of student hostels to promote international understanding then spread throughout Europe and overseas.

Today, the non-profit International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF) operates a network of 6,000 hostels. In association with IYHF, which has 4.5 million members, American Youth Hostels (AYH) provides nearly 200,000 members access to hostels worldwide.

Though luxury and privacy may be lacking (four to 12 beds per room, shared bathrooms), the price is right -- between $8 and $16 per night, on average. Most hostels offer kitchens.

You don't need to be an AYH member to stay at a hostel, but annual memberships are $25 for adults 18 to 54, $15 for seniors, and $10 for youths under 18.

For more information, write: American Youth Hostels, 733 15th Street N.W., Suite 840, Washington, D.C., 20005.

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