History of Hostelling

The HI-USA organizational history is closely tied to the international hostelling movement and to trends in global travel.

The hostelling story has six chapters:

  • 1909-1934: Origins The idea of hostelling is conceived in Germany, embodied in the International Youth Hostel Federation, and brought to the United States.
  • 1935-1945: Shadows of War A thriving hostelling movement in Europe and North America is stalled by the advent of World War II.
  • 1946-1965: Rebuilding and Renewal Hostelling rebounds with the new value placed by governments on international travel as an answer to isolation and misunderstanding, and national hostelling associations proliferate worldwide.
  • 1966-1980: An Explosion of Global Travel Economic prosperity, low-cost jet travel and Baby Boomers spur interest in foreign travel and hostelling.
  • 1981-2000: Growth and Transformation Record numbers of young people are served in hostels worldwide as large urban hostels are developed with high quality standards and program offerings.
  • 2001-Present: Tragedy and Renewal While the aftermath of September 11th causes sharp travel declines worldwide and massive financial pressures for HI-USA, it also prompts a bold new commitment to cross-cultural exchange.

Today in the U.S., there is a network of nearly 60 hostels hosting over 1 million overnights annually. Worldwide, there are nearly 4000 hostels recording over 33 million overnights in more than 80 countries.

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