Staying in hostels is one of the easiest ways to save money as a student traveler. They're the cheapest accommodation option (aside from Couchsurfing and housesitting) and are a great way to meet new people and make some kickass friends.
And you know what's even better about hostels? Many of the hostel chains offer discount cards to travelers! So not only can you get a cheap bed for the night, but if you stay in many of them in a row, you'll score a free one. There's also a few hostel chains that allow you to book your accommodation in advance and in bulk, and offer a significant discount if you decide to do so.
Read on for more information about the best loyalty cards for hostels and which ones are worth applying for.
YHA, or HI Hostels
I have a love-hate relationship with the Youth Hostelling Association (YHA) or HI (Hostelling international) chain of hostels. One one hand, you always know what you're getting, and that's a clean dorm room in a central location, with attentive staff. On the other hand, every single one of their hostels looks the same, and it ends up feeling a bit like staying in a sterile hotel. Some people like it, but I prefer my hostels with a bit of character.
Regardless of whether YHA/HI hostels are your jam or not, they offer an annual membership for travelers that is definitely worth getting if you're going to be traveling at all over the next year.
For $28 a year, you'll gain HI membership and tons of deals and benefits. When you sign up, you'll get a membership card, map of their hostels, and a free overnight stay in one of their rooms. It's definitely worth the money if you're going to be traveling and know you want to stay in an HI hostel. Splurge out on a private room and your membership will have just paid for itself!
Nomads World's Bed Hopper Pass
Australian travel agency Nomads offers a kickass deal called a bed hopper pass for travelers heading to the Oceania region (plus a few other locations, like Fiji and Thailand). This pass allows you to book 10-15 days' worth of accommodation in advance through the agency and save a whole heap of money while doing so. You'll purchase your pass, book your hostels (make sure you do so at least 48 hours in advance), and have more money to spend on activities or beer.
This is definitely an easy way to save money in Australia and New Zealand, where dorm rooms can be as much as $50 a night.
Base Jumping with Base Hostels
Base hostels are clean, decent, and tend to attract a more party-party type of crowd. If that's your scene when you hit the road, it'll be worth taking a look at their Base Jumping accommodation packages. Available for travelers who are going to be traveling to Australia and New Zealand, this card will entitle you to spend 10 or 15 nights in a dorm room at any Base jumping hostel, and they offer a discount in order for you to do so.
It's worth taking a look at this option if you're a fan of party hostels and want to opt for staying in the highest-rated (and therefore more expensive) hostels.
An ISIC Card
Full-time students who are 12 years and older can get their hands on an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) to gain discounts on flights, accommodations, shopping, entertainment, and more. The card costs $25 a year, and one of the included benefits is a $2 discount on the HostelWorld booking fee. If you'll be traveling frequently over the coming year, it'll be worth doing the calculations (will you book at least 13 hostels online over the coming year?) to see if you'll save money through picking up one of these.
This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.