Why Has The USA So Few Hostels? Big US Hostel Boom Ahead?


Few Hostels In USA

Why is it that there are so few hostels in the US compared to other countries? And is the US really going to be the next country to experience a BIG hostel boom?

If the following statements sound familiar to you, most likely you’re located in the US or you’ve worked at the front desk of a US hostel:

  • “Hi, this is Josh from Hostel X.”
    – “Excuse me, which hospital are you calling from?”
  • “No, hostel. I’m calling from a H-O-S-T-E-L.”
    – “Which hotel?”

So, how come hostels aren’t popular in the United States?

After all, less than 10% of hostels are located in North America.

Number Of Hostels In The USA

Apart from my own in-depth research to find the answer to this question, I surveyed 41 US hostel owners and asked for their opinion. I found the results to be very surprising.

Besides that, you’ll learn about what it takes to operate a successful hostel in the USA and my perspective upon the question if the US is going to experience the next big hostel boom.

Alrighty, let’s get started!

Why Are There Hardly Any Hostels In The US?

To figure out if the US is going to experience the next big hostel boom, we first have to understand why there are so few hostels (309) in the first place.

Hence, I conducted a survey among 41 hostel owners who shared their opinion about the topic.

Why Are There So Few Hostels In The USA

According to them, the main three reasons are:

  • #1 Cultural Differences 26%
  • #2 Lack Of Awareness 18%
  • #3 The Sharing Aspect 18%

You’re going to learn more about each category further down. That said, here are all the answers I received upon my question:

“Why are there so few hostels in the US?”

#1

“I don’t think there is one answer to this tough question. However, one might be that most Americans don’t travel. They don’t even own a passport. Many also don’t know what a hostel is. We get a lot of calls thinking we are a hotel and surprisingly, they have never stayed at a hostel before.”

#2

“In a nutshell, I’d say the main reasons are no consistent public transport and our car culture. Cars are cheap as well as fuel. Hence, roadside lodging such as motels is a big deal. Oh, and we have a national hostel association that cannot grab its ass with both hands…”

#3

“I think the primary factor is the cultural difference between the US and the rest of the world which seems to create a divide in the popularity of hostelling. For example, the stigma surrounding shared accommodations in the US is certainly a factor that may influence its popularity.”

#4

“Hostels in the US serve as affordable accommodations for people from abroad who want to travel, like a social atmosphere and all for a cheap price. However, that’s not how Americans think or what they look for. Their mindset is different.”

#5

“My guess is that we just don’t have much of a hostel culture here. I’d even say few Americans have ever heard the term “hostel” before, much less stayed in one. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had people mishear me and think I said “hospital” or “hotel” when I tell them where I work.

You’ll find most US hostels in the major cities, especially on the east and west coasts, which see more traffic from foreigners. Maybe part of it is that our infrastructure is largely built around the idea of everyone having their own car, and if you can afford to own or rent a car for traveling, you can probably afford to stay at a hotel.”

#6

“I think Americans just like to have their own room. We are also rather a car culture, so motels are everywhere.”

USA Hostels Not Popular

#7

“Hostels in the U.S. are still a fairly new business. Furthermore, there have been a lot of new laws and regulations in place to stop or limit the number of hostels or Airbnb-type of businesses around major cities.”

#8

“I believe that they are not common because the culture in the US (in general) has weird beliefs about personal space and privacy. We often receive guests who have not realized they booked a hostel and upon telling them that they have to share a bathroom or that there are no TVs in the rooms, they are shocked.

However, there seems to be a hostel resurgence happening as Generation Z begins to travel and as Millennials continue to travel. These guests don’t have the same hang-ups about privacy and are more open to the idea of meeting folks from other cultures.”

#9

“Most Americans do not know what a hostel is, and some of them have negative ideas of what a hostel is. A lot of Americans that have heard about hostels assume they are only in Europe.”

#10

“Hostels aren’t as well known in the US, and many people here are more comfortable and familiar with hotels and Airbnbs.”

#11

“Hostelling in America does not yet enjoy the following it has elsewhere in the world. That is, however, changing for the better. Hostel owners from across the country indicate the hostel movement is going places! Generation Z doesn’t have any issues with shared accommodation and is well aware of the hostelling concept.”

#12

“I suspect there are not as many hostels as in some countries because the US has not had a large hosteling culture. Many Americans don’t even know what a hostel is.

Until more recently, the travel culture in the US was traveling with family… but families stay in hotels. Now that more young people are traveling and traveling solo, hostels are becoming more popular.”

US Hostels Not Embraced

#13

“Hostels seem to be a foreign idea in the US with the exception being major cities. Most Americans don’t know or have never heard of hostels or they say, “oh, like the hostel movie?”. I think it has something to do with how American culture deals with sharing space versus having your own space.”

#14

“I think you will find that there are multiple hostels in major cities and tourist destinations. Most places, however, simply don’t get enough visitors to support a hostel. If the visa restrictions aren’t going to change, most travelers prefer spending their time in popular cities.”

#15

“It is very expensive to operate a small lodging business in the United States, due to the extremely high sales tax for short-term rentals in almost every major city. Furthermore, the laws and regulations aren’t hostel-friendly.”

#16

“Hostels originated and are still predominantly a European thing, but it is gaining traction in America. Usually, only the bigger cities in the USA have hostels due to their better infrastructure.”

#17

“Hostels are not really understood here in the USA. They are becoming more popular but most Americans think of hotels first. Honestly, probably 1/4 of all emails are asking how a hostel works! It is changing though. Right now we are seeing about 45% of Americans as guests.”

#18

“I think the major reasons are zoning and fire code restrictions, high real estate costs, high labor costs, and the difference in our culture compared to other countries.”

Hardly Any Hostels In The United States Of America

#19

“Hostels have been a European phenomenon. Hence, the hostel culture hasn’t really taken off in the US to the same extent that it has in Europe. That being said, you are typically able to find them in larger cities or in college areas and they are growing in interest.”

#20

“Part of that could be the size of the country. It’s not exactly conducive to backpacking and we don’t have the greatest or cheapest train/bus options to get around here as they do in Europe for example.

I also think that for too many Americans it probably seems odd to want to share rooms and bathrooms with strangers. Hostelling originated in Europe so I think it’s just more established there than it is in the US. Oh, and the hostel movie probably didn’t help either.”

#21

“The stigma of hostels that put off US citizens is that they have to share a room with strangers. But now, it is becoming the norm for young travelers in America.”

#22

“It’s really a mix between public perception and US hotel regulations that make it a bit harder for accommodation businesses to operate as a hostel rather than a hotel. Hostels are really just starting to catch on in this part of the world!”

#23

“The US doesn’t have the hostel culture that Europe and other areas have. Students have to worry about college debt and the high cost of living, so traveling isn’t always an option for us.”

US Hostel Boom

#24

“Hostelling is a somewhat new concept in the country. Hostels have been around for a long time, but have been mainly used for distance cycling, hiking, and tramping. Hostels for use by regular travelers and tourists are relatively new. The hostel market is growing very quickly, so many will probably pop up soon enough!”

#25

“There’s a multitude of reasons why the hostel industry is not on the rise in the US: The economy, in general, is good, people’s perception of life and travel changes, and maybe everyone is finally forgetting that Hostel movie.”

#26

“Hostels aren’t advertised very well, so I don’t think most Americans know what they actually are – except the hostel concept seen in the horror movie Hostel. There’s also no necessity for them in certain areas as most locations don’t serve to be world-renowned tourist destinations.

Any areas where there might have been a benefit from having a hostel most likely had chances diminished by the popularity of Airbnb.”

#27

“There are many points we can make about sociological stipulation and stigmas or even individualistic based societies but primarily I believe it is based on a lack of awareness on a wide range of what a hostel can be.”

#28

“Hostelling in the US is still a very foreign concept for some plus the Hostel movies didn’t help the reputation. I think most of it is that they are not as popular as hotels here. We have a lot of folks reaching out to us who have never even heard of a hostel! I do think it is changing, though, at least in bigger cities.”

#29

“Hostels are just not understood by most Americans and also have been misrepresented in the Hostel horror movies.”

#30

“My guess is that Americans are just not too familiar with what a hostel is.”

#31

“It’s probably a cultural thing. However, there are more and more hostels for climbers, mountain bikers and other specific sport places showing up.”

#32

“The US is a very large and spread out country so there are plenty of places where there is not a high demand for tourism. Most hostels are located along the coastal perimeter of the US, which has a higher tourism footpath.

There is also the concept of a ‘hostel’ and the cultural awareness of ‘hosteling’ which is not as common here in the US as it is for people from other countries.”

#33

“I think sharing space is a less common concept in the US and there are also many myths surrounding hostels such as that they are weird, dirty or unsafe. Obviously, none of these things are true but hopefully, over time, the knowledge about hostels will spread!”

#34

“My guess is that people in the US are not aware of how fun it is to stay in a hostel and share the experience with fellow travelers. There are more hostels on both coasts where foreign travelers come but the concept itself is new and has grown in the last 15 years.”

#35

“I think the US culture is less accustomed to sharing accommodations. We meet close to two dozen visitors a day that have no idea what hostels are. Part of our mission is to educate the public about this type of travel and the community that we thrive to nurture.”

Different US Hostels

#36

“I think the idea of shared living spaces for travel is not widely accepted by Americans (hence the private accommodation options that are also available). With that being said, there are more and more popping up every day as this market reaches its fingers into this. We will soon see an influx of affordable, communal lodging options.”

#37

“I believe the primary factor is that it’s a rather new concept in the US. Hostels have just started becoming popular in the past 50 years or so, unlike in Europe where it started over 100 years ago.”

#38

“People simply do not travel as much in the states as they do in Europe because America is a bit of a (huge) island. Of course, we are connected to South America but a flight to many desirable destinations has an extremely steep price attached.

In and around Europe there are tons of places for people to travel to with cheap flights and inexpensive lodgings. Perhaps travel in the US is also a bit more of a luxury than it is in other countries. For that reason, hostels are a less prominent feature of American cities.”

#39

“I think it’s partly a cultural issue and partly due to the regulations. Just the fact that NYC declared more than 50 hostels in 2010 as ‘illegal’ and shut them down due to violating zoning laws is a classic example of the BS that’s taking place.”

#40

“In my opinion, Americans are picky when it comes to accommodations. That said, the hostel idea is relatively new and has originated in Germany. But it’s catching on in the US and you’ll see a lot more starting to pop up every year.”

#41

“It is mostly a cultural thing as many travelers in the US revert to motels and hotels, spending less time in one place and more time on the road. In other nations, it seems travelers are more often looking to stay in a certain place for a few days and wish to meet other travelers through shared accommodation during that time.

US tourists have a tendency to travel more independently, or with a more set-in-stone plan. The same can be said for cultural differences in the general perception of public transport. In America, only a few cities have the same high-quality public transport systems that many European countries share.

I think it all comes down to a ‘community vs independent’ approach to traveling and experiencing the environment.”

Reasons Why Hostels Aren’t Popular In The US

Obviously, this topic isn’t all black and white and there are several factors that come into play. Hence, let’s scope them out and begin with the biggest influencing factors.

#1 Cultural Differences

According to my survey, there are 3 major cultural differences between US Americans and other countries.

Now, let me set the record straight: This article is NOT meant to stereotype Americans. The sole purpose is to understand the status quo of the hosteling scene in the US. In fact, I love Americans and I’m currently trying to figure out a way to live there long-term.

A) Travel Culture

According to my survey, there are 3 major cultural differences between US Americans and other countries.

Now, let me set the record straight: This article is NOT meant to stereotype Americans. The sole purpose is to understand the status quo of the hosteling scene in the US. In fact, I love Americans and I’m currently trying to figure out a way to live there long-term.

Number Of Americans That Own A Passport

45% of US Americans own a passport in 2019. However, compared to other hostel-strong countries, that’s still below average: UK: 77%, Australia: 68%, and not to mention European countries.

A reason could be that many young Americans carry a pretty high student debt and hence, don’t want to increase that by traveling the world.

Another possibility mentioned is that Americans prefer independent luxury trips that are set-in-stone rather than cheap, spontaneous and community-driven trips.

B) Car Culture

America’s “car culture” has also been mentioned several times. If you’ve been in smaller cities in the States, you probably noticed that they are not built for pedestrians or cyclists. You gotta have a car.

That’s a point that Vikki Matsis, manager of the NotSo Hostel in Charleston, mentioned in her book “Inside An American HostelOpens in a new tab.” (recommended read).

In her book, she compares Barcelona’s piazzas to cities like Atlanta or Charlotte. Whereas piazzas are built to encourage people to interact and socialize, US cities are so spread out that you need a car to get from A to B.

US Cultural Differences Explain Few Hostels

C) Focus On Career

About ⅔ of around 300 books I read in the space of self-development and business were written by Americans. One thing I noticed is that many young yanks seem to focus on climbing up the career ladder to achieve a nice and upscale lifestyle rather than discovering the world.

In fact, that’s a point that my sister, who’s married to an American, confirms. Travelling doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Furthermore, it’s certainly not something parents encourage their offspring to do. They are more interested in them being safe and following a career path that provides for their families and takes care of their debt.

#2 Lack Of Awareness

If you don’t know what fish oil capsules are and how greatly you can benefit from them, you simply won’t use them. Right?

Yet, the exact phenomenon applies for hostels: If Americans don’t know what a hostel is and how it works, they won’t type in “hostel” on Google.

Just have a look at how many hostel owners wrote about the many calls and emails they get from Americans who ask what a hostel is.

Here’s a hilarious example that I found on Hostelmanagement’s forumOpens in a new tab.:

Story Hostels Not Popular

I still laugh myself to tears about the fridge issue 😂😂😂

So, how come that many Americans aren’t accustomed to hostels yet?

There are 4 major possibilities:

A) It’s A New Business

Hostelling began around 1960 in the US whereas the very first hostel in Germany was opened more than 100 years ago. Hence, it seems logical that the hostel culture isn’t that popular yet.

However, this doesn’t explain the fact that other countries and even entire continents overtook Europe. In fact, Asia is the leading continent when it comes to the number of hostels in 2019Opens in a new tab..

If you’d like to see more stats about your specific area, check out my article about hostel statistics by location.

Many hostels in the US don’t allow locals to stay in their hostel due to security issues. The so-called “no-local” rule is a common guest screening procedure that either only applies to the same state or Americans in general.

Now, that’s a catch-22: Americans don’t know about hostels and they can’t really find out because they are not allowed to stay in one.

Few Hostels In The United States Of America

C) Economically Little Need

No doubt, the housing prices in big US cities are beyond crazy. However, since it is such a widespread country, there are many urban areas where space is so cheap, that houses typically only have one floor.

In Europe, you have a hard time finding houses with a single floor due to its higher population density. Hence, hostels seem to be economically more needed in Europe compared to most areas in the US.

This could also explain the phenomenon that approximately 9 out of 10 US hostels are found in or near the big cities where the cost-sharing aspect of hostels comes into effect.

That said, hostels are NOT all about sharing costs but also about the social atmosphere and connecting with fellow travelers.

Hostels In USA

D) Less Integrated

Last but not least, some hostel owners mention that hostels are not that integrated into a typical “American lifecycle” compared to Europe.

In Germany, for example, we made at least 5 trips during our school time where we typically stayed in a youth hostel. It’s common practice.

In the UK, it seems to be a “natural thing” to sleep at a hostel when pursuing outdoor activities such as climbing or cycling.

Now, I’m not sure if this is true for all areas, but it seems that hostels in the US are in general not integrated in a similar way.

#3 Sharing Aspect

Many hostel owners mentioned that Americans react somehow weird when they hear that they’ll have to share their rooms and bathrooms.

Sharing per se doesn’t seem to be an issue. Otherwise, Uber and Airbnb wouldn’t be that popular in the US. However, it seems like they tend to prefer their private room and hence search for hotels and motels instead.

I experienced this first-hand when I stayed in a hostel in Airlie Beach, Australia. Two American girls booked the same room as I did. However, as they entered the dorm they were somewhat confused about why another person – me – was in “their room”.

It turned out that it was their very first stay in a hostel. While they enjoyed the common spaces, self-catering facilities, and the social atmosphere in general, they still had mixed feelings about the dorm-concept.

A day later, another American girl joined our dorm: One guy vs. 3 girls… Poor me! 😅

Shared Accommodation USA Meme

#4 Misconceptions

On top of the existing lack of awareness, there seem to be many myths and misconceptions about hostels:

  • Hostels are only for young people
  • Hostels are dirty
  • Hostels only have bunk beds
  • Hostels are for cheap people
  • Hostels are only for party people
  • Hostels aren’t safe

According to hostel owners, especially the latter seems to be an issue caused by the horror movie series called Hostel.

In case you haven’t watched them yet, here’s the summary of all 3 parts: American travelers get lured into a hostel only to get kidnapped and tortured to death.

For further information, read my article: The Hostel Movie: Must-Watch Or Waste Of Time?

I watched them recently and I can’t remember the last time I sweat so much watching a movie… probably because I normally NEVER watch movies of the horror genre. 😥

Another common misconception seems to be that Americans confuse hostels with a “flophouse” or “homeless shelter”. Either way, they both contribute to a bad reputation.

#5 Lack Of Public Transportation

The main infrastructure issue is the lack of consistent public transport outside of big cities. Most smaller cities are just not built for traveling without a car.

Furthermore, public travel seems to be more expensive compared to other countries. Especially inter-city transportation gets increasingly more expensive the smaller the city is that you’re traveling to.

In combination with the huge size of the country, this is a real issue.

In Australia, it’s pretty common for backpackers to buy their own car since they are typically staying for up to 2 years and are allowed to work during their working-holiday visa. However, buying a car for a period of fewer than 3 months – the max. period with a US tourist visa – doesn’t seem to be worth the investment.

US Hostel Boom

#6 Bureaucracy & Laws

In one of my biggest surveys, I asked 279 hostel owners for their major challenge when it comes to running a hostel. A surprisingly high percentage of hostel owners in North America mentioned regulations and laws.

In fact, there seem to be several aspects that make it harder to start AND run a hostel in the US compared to other countries:

  • Zoning laws: Most don’t even mention “hostels”. Hence, you have to get zoned as a hotel or B&B.
  • Fire Codes: Costly requirements needed for operating a hostel (e.g. sprinkler system).
  • Liquor license: Alcohol is allowed only for people 21+.
  • Americans with Disability Act (ADA): Extra investments needed to accommodate handicapped people.

The main issue is not just the costs, but also the huge time it takes to get permits, etc. It’s not uncommon to wait up to 6 months to get something approved.

US Zoning Laws For Hostels

#7 Visa Options

Getting a visa for the US is way more difficult than it is for other countries. Full stop.

A typical tourist is allowed to stay up to 3 months in the US without permission to work during that time.

Compare this to Australia: The working-holiday visa allows you to stay for up to 3 years while being allowed to work the entire time. Furthermore, the visa is typically approved in a matter of hours.

Even though it’s typically a costly flight to travel to Australia, most young people don’t hesitate to do it because they know they can make up for the money during their work & travel time.

In my opinion, that’s a huge aspect for young travelers who don’t have the money to finance longer travels without working.

Shared Accommodation Not Embraced In USA

#8 Others

In my research, I stumbled upon several other factors that have been mentioned. However, I think they play a secondary role:

A) Competition With Motels

I’m originally from Germany and I’ve never stayed in a motel so far because they are just not that common in Europe.

However, since America has a “car culture”, motels are everywhere and typically among the cheapest accommodations. While hostels in other countries have to compete with cheap 2- to 3-star hotels, this seems to be the motel industry in the US.

That said, my free report about the #1 challenges of hostel ownersOpens in a new tab. clearly shows that competition is a worldwide issue!

Furthermore, it’s WAY easier to compete with other accommodation types (e.g. hotels, motels, etc.) compared to other hostels.

Why? Because no one else can provide such a social atmosphere with a thriving community as you do with your hostel!

B) The Sheer Size Of The Country

While the US is approximately 1.3 x the size of Australia, it also comes with 13.3 times more people. And Australia has a huge hostel culture…

While it is indeed logistically more challenging to travel in the States compared to Europe, it’s not plausible to me that the size should be a major reason for not having hostels.

USA vs. Australia Country Size

C) The Weather

Some argued that Europe is 4-season friendly to travel and the US isn’t. However, in my opinion, this completely depends on the area and other countries have to deal with similar circumstances.

Now that we’ve established an in-depth understanding of its current situation, the question arises…

Will The US Experience The Next Big Hostel Boom?

Obviously, no one can foresee the future… except for a few fortune tellers who seem to have magical skills. Hence, the following is my personal opinion on the topic.

I think hostels will definitely become more popular in the US but I don’t expect a huge sudden spike in the overall numbers.

No doubt, international travel is becoming more popular and cheaper. Hence, the US will – like almost all other countries – benefit from more international visitors.

However, the requirements for a “real” hostel culture in the US are not given yet. The lack of cheap inter-city transportation in combination with heavily restricted visas create big hurdles for international hostel travelers.

That said, I do think American hostels will gain more traction when it comes to national travelers over time. As generation Z begins to travel, i.e. people who were born after 1995, more and more people will follow.

One thing is certain: Sharing is the future.

USA Next Big Hostel Boom
  • Sharing your home? → Airbnb
  • Sharing your car? → Uber
  • Sharing your workspace? → WeWork
  • Sharing your startup costs? → Kickstarter
  • Sharing your pictures? → Instagram
  • Sharing your thoughts? → Twitter (or my comment section below 😉)
  • Sharing your experiences? → WordPress

Furthermore, large hostel chains such as Generator Hostel already expanded to the US and it’s probably just a matter of time that others will follow.

Bottom line: The US hostel market is definitely on the rise. However, under current circumstances, I doubt that hostels are becoming more popular than their beloved apple pie.

How To Win The Hostel Game In The US?

If you want to start a hostel in the US either as your first business or due to expansion, there are a few keys that you should consider in order to succeed.

A) Educate People

Part of your job will be to educate people about hostels. The most effective way to achieve this is by publishing blog posts on your hostel website.

A good start could be blog posts about the following topics:

  • The top 10 myths about hostels in the US
  • What is a hostel and how does it work?
  • Hostels vs. Motels

To reiterate one of the answers: “Hostels would do a lot better if Americans knew what hostels were.”

B) Offer More Private Rooms

If you already have a proven business model for your hostel, I recommend you plan a higher proportion of private rooms.

Most Americans are simply not used to share their room.

How To Succeed As US Hostel

C) Use American Testimonials

Probably the most effective marketing strategy for you in the States to attract Americans is to show testimonials of others that have stayed in your hostel.

“When I arrived, I didn’t even know what a hostel is… but then…” – These kinds of reviews should do the trick.

D) Choose A Location That Offers Great Public Transportation

FACT: Most hostel travelers don’t have a car.

Hence, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by choosing a city with bad public transport. If you’re already running a hostel, you might want to add a bicycle rental to your additional services.

Or perhaps there are opportunities to organize shuttles.

E) Have An FAQ Page On Your Website

FAQ is short for Frequently Asked Questions. By providing such a page on your website, you’re not only making your own life easier but also the ones of your guests.

Make a list of all questions and objections you receive on a regular basis and add them to your FAQ page.

Here’s a great exampleOpens in a new tab. of a FAQ page. Click here for more tips for your hostel website.

Hostels Expand To The US

F) Set Up An Automatic Email Response

That’s an idea I saw at the Bikini HostelOpens in a new tab. at Miami Beach, USA. As soon as you email them, their autoresponder answers questions such as “What is a hostel? Do I have to share a room with others?”.

G) Organize Your Dorms For Max. Privacy

First and foremost, use privacy curtains! This little investment will pay off enormously.

Furthermore, I recommend arranging your bunk beds in a way that allows for maximum privacy – even if that means that you’ll have to slightly lower your overall capacity.

Special Shoutout

Special thanks go to Miggy for helping me out!

When I was running out of dog pictures, she voluntarily offered herself and revealed her best poses for this lovely blog cover. 😄

I love her. 😍

Why Hardly Any US Hostels

STOP! 🤚

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why there are so few hostels in the US?

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Kevin

Kevin is the founder of TheHostelHelper and a former German engineer in his late twenties. In the middle of his grad school studies, he started a consulting business and broke several branch records within the first six months… until he finally quit this venture to pursue his passion for hostels. Kevin is known for his super black humor – yet, super black might still be an understatement. He also LOVES dogs and drinks too much coffee. When he’s not obsessing about hostel topics you’re likely to find him at the gym – where the heavy weights are.

20 thoughts on “Why Has The USA So Few Hostels? Big US Hostel Boom Ahead?

  1. Nice read!
    I had to laugh about the second survey answer 😅
    In my opinion, visa restrictions are what hold back foreign travelers. If we had similar options as in Australia, the hostelling culture would be completely different.

  2. I think the lack of awareness in combination with expensive transport are the main two roadblocks we face here. But both are on the rise. It’s probably just a matter of time until the US catches up with other areas.

  3. In my opinion, it’s more a cultural thing. Traveling the world is just not a priority for most folks. It’s much more about saving for college and being able to serve your family.

  4. I think the US hostel market will grow super quickly in the next few years. Not because of international travelers, but of Americans. I think it’s better to concentrate on the domestic market for someone who’s located in the US… Anyway, that’s just my take and we’re located in Argentina 😛

  5. Hello Kevin,
    I’m currently writing my thesis about a similar topic and wanted to know if I can use your blog images in my presentation. It will get published in the college’s archive and I’ll give credit.
    That would be great!
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Kind regards,
    Kirk

    1. Hi Kirk,
      sure! Take as many as you want.
      However, I’d appreciate a comment “TheHostelHelper” incl. a link back to the original source.
      – Kevin

  6. Addition to “how to win in the US”:
    – choose a location in a big city OR near one with good public transport.

  7. The first hostels opened in the USA about 1934 but the idea never caught on, as it had in Europe, mainly, it was thought, because of the distances involved in travel and because the US didn’t lack cheap lodgings back then, as Europe had before hostels started. So, in other words, those cultural reasons even way back then…

  8. Sharing is a big one. In my experience, not many Americans like to share their private space (bathroom, bedrooms).

  9. Efficiency is an interesting aspect. It’s probably just a matter of time until new hostels HAVE TO be created in big cities due to the rising house prices. However, many Americans simply don’t travel alone through the country… and motels & Airbnbs are sometimes even cheaper.

    1. “Americans simply don’t travel alone” – It would be nice to have some statistics about that. That would explain a lot.
      Thanks for sharing,
      – Kevin

  10. I want to comment on the ‘American’s don’t have passports’ comment. I hear this all the time from non-Americans, especially when the ratio was 10%. So, from an American, take this into account – before 9/11 we could travel to Canada and Mexico without a passport. Diversity was just a short plane ride away. But we also have massive diversity in our own country, with mountains, lakes, thousands of miles of coastline, a myriad of cultures, rainforest (yes! even that but not like Brazil), canyons, geysers, every water sport imaginable and extremes in climate. We could also travel ‘overseas’ to Hawaii and the American territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands with just a drivers license. It never takes more than 9 hours by plane to get from skiing to tropical beaches. By comparison there is no country in Europe that can state it has this variety. So to get it, one has to travel, and prior to the EU the only way to do that was with a passport. And where are Aussies going to go without a passport? They have a gorgeous country that I’ve loved so much I’ve visited 5 times, but their geographic diversity is not quite the same as the USA.

    You can also point to the fact that our families are more spread out. And with an average of only 2 weeks holiday, some of that time is dedicated to seeing family.

    There are 300 million of us. So yes, some are going to be career focused, and some are going to be worried about debt and some don’t find travelling a priority, but I’ve managed 2 hostels at beaches and I can tell you the majority of guests were American. So we do get out and travel and stay at hostels, but there’s just so many more of us that it’s easy to just meet those 1 or 2 Americans who fit the stereotype.

    1. Hi Ria,
      thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.
      Hopefully, I made it clear enough in the article that it is NOT meant to stereotype Americans. The sole purpose was to understand the status quo to get insights into what American hostel owners have to consider in order to succeed 🙂
      – Kevin

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