Stretch your family's vacation budget with a stay at one of American Youth Hostel's affordable accommodations. In addition to the separate men's and women's dormitory-style rooms commonly associated with hostels, many now have special family rooms that you can reserve in advance. Most also have fully equipped communal kitchens where you can prepare meals, and some even add a touch of luxury with hot tubs or saunas.
In the interest of keeping costs down, accommodations are simple. Guests provide bedding and linens (sleep sets can be rented inexpensively), bathrooms are shared, and all guests are expected to do a chore. (Surprisingly, kids often like this, especially when they are permitted to choose what they will do.) Lights go out at 11 p.m., and hostels are closed during the day, usually from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Rates for members of the AYH organization vary from $10 to $25 per night per adult; children's rates are usually discounted or kids stay free. Nonmembers may stay in the hostels, but must pay a surcharge of $3 to $5 per night. Note that many hostels do not accept credit cards.
For a free Hostelling Map of the USA, call Hostelling International at (800) 444-6111 or (202) 783-6161.