Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hostel News: Hearing for New Hyannis Hostel Delayed

A new 47-bed hostel in Hyannis, MA, is in the planning stages, and requires a change in the zoning of the property to move forward. The building was formerly the home of Ruth Rusher, who left it after her death to be turned into a hostel, run by HI. Ken Komenda of the neighboring, Cape Cod Harbor House Inn, voiced opposition to the rezoning, wanting “no youth hostels next door with inebriated individuals” who may be “creating a disturbance right next to our property.” [1] The Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce also opposed the rezoning for the hostel. Attorneys for the Ruth Rush Trust and a rep. of HI, expected a tamer clientele, such as Girl Scout and church groups.

City zoning is just one of the obstacles to starting a hostel, and it isn't surprising neighbors and competitors will use the stereotype of rowdy, drunk hostelers to keep them away.

Another take from here

1. The Barnstable Patriot 2.0, "Hyannis hostel proposal moved to Oct. 2 council meeting", Sept. 26, 2008.

Friday, September 26, 2008

HostelWorld Travel Videos: What is a Hostel?

HostelWorld recently released a series of travel videos from their around the world traveler, Colm Hanratty. Here is a great introductory video to hostelling:

What is a hostel?

A hostel is simply a hotel with shared dorm-style rooms sometimes with an available kitchen, but really it is so much more. The best hostels nurture a friendly atmosphere of camaraderie between travelers where they share information about their travels, themselves, or life in general.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rick Steves Thought of the Day

I have always identified with Rick Steves' ability to find and use hidden gems of knowledge about a city. He litters his books with tips and tricks that save time and money that many guides overlook to pontificate on some factoid that will be obvious once you actually visit.

I found this great quote from The Zen of Journaling on his blog:

Your journey is a facet of your broader life. Journaling thoughtfully relates your travel experiences to your life in general. It brings meaning to eurekas that might otherwise have eluded you. Collecting intimate details on the road and then distilling them into your travel journal sharpens your ability to observe and builds a souvenir you'll cherish for a lifetime.

I always get a virtual high when I travel to a new place, and revisiting my journals is a great way to reproduce that feeling once the vacation is over. On a previous blog post I have mentioned the same phenomenon with collecting souvenirs of my travel, and thinking more about that I realized a big part of reliving the experience is based on sharing the stories of my travels with other.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Beach a Block Away [Freeport, Grand Bahama Island]

Airtran started flights to Grand Bahama Island while I was living in DC, and I picked up some of their really cheap, introductory flights about 5 years ago. Airlines often offer discounted fares when they are starting a new route,and I also picked up a similar deal on my flight from NYC to Cologne, a new route from Continental. GBI doesn't have any real character, but they have some nice white sand beaches. The flight was probably about $110 round-trip, and with a $75 hotel stay, $200 for a trip to paradise is unbeatable.


My hotel, a block away from the beach, didn't have a view of the beach, a pool, or even working lights in my room, but it only charged me $25 a night. I found the hotel on a hostel booking site, and I suspect they were desparate to book any rooms. This was a steal compared to the resorts around the island. Before booking I checked google maps normal and satellite view to make sure I wouldn't be sleeping away from the tourist areas. I was on the first floor of the hotel shown below.


The hotel was across the street from a much nicer hotel, and the beach above was in front of that hotel. The hotel required a boat ferry ride to get to and from the town center, and I rode many of the local "buses" to different corners of the island. On the north side of the island they fished the meat from these conch shells.

conch shells

A nice perk of traveling to the carribbean is the availability of Cuban cigars and Havana-Club rum, and I enjoyed these in the evening while waiting for the ferry back to my hotel.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Are Staycations Here To Stay?

"With research showing that many households plan to cut back on summer travel — a Rand McNally survey found two-thirds plan to shorten or cancel summer road trips". [USA Today - 5/24/08]

About a month ago, Good Morning America featured a writer from "Travel" magazine who suggested checking-in to a local hotel as a way to get away. I am not sure why a travel magazine would stoop so low to get on national television, but I can sure savor the irony.

The summer is over, and gas prices have pulled back 15-20% from summer highs. Hopefully, "staycations" and all of the marketing dollars behind them will die their well deserved death. I also can't imagine how sleeping in a different bed and flipping a remote attached to the night stand could be construed as a vacation. had a great piece on staycations. Ugh...I cringe every time I type the word.

The recent economic turmoil and high gas prices are a great opportunity for the budget travel industry. While campsites, hostels, budget bus services, and other members of this group don't have a large marketing budget, the internet is really the key to attracting customers. I am not sure there is a place that can put all of the budget travel pieces together for new or experienced budget travelers.