Monday, June 25, 2012

Hostelling Is A Great Way to Save While Travelling

Although I have often heard of Hostels, I guess that I assumed that they were only in Europe, and only for students. I was pleasantly surprised while searching for a hotel for a last minute trip to Chicago, to find a Hostel listed on a major booking site. I think it may have been on or, but I almost overlooked it because it was not prominently displayed. 

Simple but to the point!
The pricing was unbelievable! For two nights I paid only $77.54 inclusive of all taxes, and the $3.00 a night fee for not being a member of Hostelling International! My mantra is that I will try anything once, so I booked it. My room was a standard female 8-bed dorm room with a shared bath. When I checked in, only 4 of the other beds were booked other than mine, and I was able to take a lower bunk. The room was large, neat, clean, lockers available for each guest, clean sheets and a towel neatly folded on the bed for my use. I was traveling light so I was able to  push most of my belongings under the bed. I used my towel to hang on the bed rails between me and the other bunk for more privacy. I took great care to lay out all my clothes the evening before because I knew I would be out late seeing my daughter's college play and I didn't want to make a whole lot of noise in the morning.
My daughter had the lead in the play!

There was a free simple breakfast every morning from 7:00 am to 10:00 am on the 2nd floor. It usually consisted of bagels, croissants, cereal, coffee, juice and sometimes fruit. Truly self service, when you are done you take your dishes into the kitchen and wash them yourselves.
Little Italy - Inside of Church with Easter Decor

They also offered complimentary walking tours in the city. One morning I took advantage of the Little Italy Walking tour with a very friendly Chicago native and the next day I took advantage of the Walking Architectural Tour. I learned and saw so much that it truly made my trip enriching!

Little Italy - Beautiful Fountain in the Park
Little Italy - Joe DiMaggio Statue

This was the best low budget trip ever! (the airfare was the biggest expense - $232.89 RT on Delta purchased through Orbitz which was an amazing rate since I bought it only two weeks before I left!) I bought a 3day CTA pass at O'hare ($14.00), then rode the train to the loop to my hotel. All my tours were free, my daughter's play was no charge, my breakfasts were free, and I caught a beautiful free piano concert at the Chicago Cultural Museum. Then  I rode the train back to the airport for free. Because there was still time left on the pass, I handed it over to some European travelers who could at least get a couple more hours of use out of it. My meals were nominal for lunch and dinner. So overall I think my trip cost me less than $375.00) for 3 days and 2 nights during the week. 
Had to do a Chicago Dog before I left! Plus it was a budget friendly meal!
Atrium in the Chicago Library
I learned a few things to bring if I do this again. My own lock for the room lockers or the lockers in the lobby if you have to check out hours before your flight and a washcloth and flip flops for the shower! Also the Chicago Library has a beautiful Atrium on the top floor with free Wi-fi. 

Picasso Sculpture in Daley Plaza 
One of the most enjoyable parts was meeting all the young travelers from around the globe - Australia, France, Germany and Japan. And not everyone was young! There were over-fifties like me, families and people who looked as though they could afford a 4star hotel!

I must remember to try to travel this way again!

Ta ta for now...