Good news: By summer an international youth hostel will open in Washington, D.C.
American Youth Hostels (AYH) will put it in a renovated eight-story 1920s building, three blocks from the central subway station and within walking distance of the White House, the convention center museums and restaurants.
The hostel will have a capacity of 250 visitors in separate men's and women's dormitory rooms. There will be lounges, cooking facilities and places to store luggage and bicycles.
This year AYH will operate 268 hostels in 42 of the 50 states, including another youth hostel opening in Seattle. Next year youth hostels will open in New York and Los Angeles.
Rates range from $4 to $8 a night. There are no age restrictions. Most hostels require that guests supply or rent a sheet sleeping bag.
Facilities in 61 Countries
Most also require that guests be members of AYH or a foreign youth hostel association affiliated with the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF). The IYHF network includes facilities in 61 countries.
Non-members can try the AYH system without full membership by buying temporary or introductory memberships at most hostels or membership sales offices.
For further information on hostel memberships contact American Youth Hostels, 1502 Palos Verdes Drive North, Harbor City, Calif. 90710.
IYHF memberships not only allow you to use affiliated foreign hostels but in some cases the card is good for travel discounts. This year in New Zealand, IYHF members can buy an unlimited travel pass good for Newmans Coach Lines.
The Newmans "10/30" ticket, only available to youth hostel members, is valid for unlimited travel on Newmans buses for any 10 days during any 30-day period. The travel days do not need to be consecutive.
In New Zealand
The ticket costs $245 NZ (about $130 U.S.) and is sold by Newmans offices on the North and South Islands and at the offices of New Zealand's Youth Hostel Assn. You'll find the YHA at the corner of Customs and Gore streets in Auckland (phone 794-224), and at 28 Worchester St. in Christchurch (phone 799-970).
Before buying, carefully compare the routes this pass covers with services provided by competing transportation companies. Even though Newmans is making a special offer to youth hostel members it is not the best buy for all budget visitors.
Some visitors will find "Travelpasses" offered by New Zealand's Railways Corp. a better buy because this company has a more extensive network and the tickets are valid on buses, trains and ferries.
Between Feb. 1 and Dec. 14, "Travelpass" prices will be 15 days for $275 NZ (about $145 U.S.); 22 days for $352 NZ ($185) and 28 days for $440 NZ ($235).
All New Zealand prices quoted include the new 10% general sales tax. Both types of tickets can be purchased at New Zealand's YHA offices.
If you plan to enter Europe by flying into Zurich, Switzerland, you can use a service of the Zurich youth hostel: a one-way phone at the airport to the hostel to book a bed. The Zurich hostel will also book ahead for young travelers who want to go on to other hostels in the Swiss system.