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I had never stayed in a hostel before and thought that because I was in my 30s, I might be past the hostel phase. But after my husband and I quit our jobs to write children’s books, our travel budget was severely reduced. I wanted to visit my sister, who was studying abroad in Prague, but knew it had to be on the cheap.

Longer Trip, Cheaper Room

We knew the plane ticket was going to be the most expensive purchase, so we decided to make it worthwhile. We picked two other European cities with a low cost of living. In two weeks, we figured we could visit Prague, Vienna and Budapest and not break the bank … as long as we stayed someplace cheap.

My sister had already visited Budapest and said she had a great place for us to stay: a hostel. I was dubious, but she said I would like the place. She called it “luxurious.”

The Definition of Luxurious

I thought a hostel was supposed to be anything but luxurious. Isn’t the idea that it has only the bare necessities? I wanted to find out. So, we booked rooms at the hostel. We were able to get a double room with a private bathroom for less than $25. I wasn’t sure whether to be nervous or ecstatic.

When we arrived to check in I knew the answer: I was beyond ecstatic. Our room didn’t have a lot of frills, but it had everything we needed. It was clean and cute, and we could afford it. In fact, it looked just like a hotel room. The things it was missing – a TV, phone, desk – I rarely use when I stay in a hotel anyway.

Rise of a Trend

I am far from alone in discovering hostels. The hostel sector is valued at $34 billion. Like the private room we stayed in, hostels are beginning to offer more and more amenities. Some have 24-hour gyms, free WiFi, swimming pools and private excursions for those staying at the hostel.

With these changes, the image of a hostel is changing also. More people are choosing to stay in hostels not just because of the cost savings but also for the fun and experience. I know I will be more open to staying in one again. In fact, I think I’ll start planning my next trip.

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