Here's how to find cheap places to stay in North America this summer.
The 1994 edition of "Hostelling North America: The Official Guide to Hostels in Canada and the United States," a 392-page book, covers 238 internationally affiliated travelers' hostels throughout North America.
In many cases the hostels are located in historic or unusual buildings. For example in:
* the oldest remaining hotel building in Gettysburg, Va. (that was used as a hospital during the Civil War);
* a life-saving station on Nantucket Island, Mass.;
* an antebellum house in New Orleans;
* a former jail in Ottawa, Ontario;
* a former courthouse in Kamloops, British Columbia;
* five Sioux tepees, a log cabin and several covered wagons on Vashon Island near Seattle;
* a former hangout of gangster Al Capone in Miami, and
* the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, 50 miles south of San Francisco.
The hostels provide inexpensive dormitory accommodations for travelers of all ages. There are separate sleeping rooms for men and women, and some hostels have rooms that can be rented by families. Guests share kitchen, dining room and lounge facilities. Overnight fees range from $7-$20.
New hostels in North America include Padre Island National Seashore in Port Aransas, Tex., and the Dawson City River hostel in Dawson City, Yukon Territory.
"Hostelling North America" is published jointly by Hostelling International-Canada and Hostelling International-American Youth Hostels. Both are members of the International Youth Hostel Federation, which encompasses nearly 5,000 hostels in more than 70 countries.
Each listing includes a map, hostel description, facilities, overnight fees, reservation details, credit card acceptance, accessibility for the disabled, family room availability, proximity to public transportation and discounts in the area. You'll also find suggestions on what to see and do at cultural, historical and recreational attractions in each hostel's area.
The guide is available free to members of Hostelling International. The annual adult membership is $25. Non-members can purchase copies for $5.95. Contact Hostelling International-AYH, 1434 2nd St., Santa Monica 90401; telephone (310) 393-3413.
Hundreds of independent hostels throughout North America are listed in the "Hostel Handbook." But don't expect detailed observations; you won't find out much more than the address, telephone number and price. It also contains Motel 6 listings for areas where hostels don't exist.
For copies, send $3 to "Hostel Handbook," 722 Nicholas Ave., New York 10031; tel. (212) 926-7030.
When a stop at a popular place such as Nashville doesn't turn up any hostels, one of the best sources for budget accommodations is "Let's Go: USA" (St. Martin's Press, $18.99). It also covers Canada: Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, the Yukon Territory and the Maritime Provinces.
Nashville doesn't have youth or travelers' hostels, but it does have budget motels and camping facilities. The guide lists these and other activities. For example, country music lovers might want to stop in Nashville this summer for the economical Nashville on Stage Concert Series. Now until Oct. 2, shows feature entertainers such as Alabama, the Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, at rates ranging from $11.95 to $19.95; tel. (800) 535-0200.