The Hostel Experience

Traveling and looking for a place to rest your head for a few hours so that you can get up and begin another day of adventure? Prefer to spend most of your travel money on tours, museums, food, drinks, and hanging out with locals and fellow travelers? Staying at a hostel during your travels may be just the right fit for you.

What is a Hostel?

 They typically offer dormitory-style rooms with separate quarters for men and women, and some hostels also have private family and couples rooms. Many budget conscious travelers used them as a place to lay their head at the end of the day and to meet fellow travelers. I stayed at a hostel many year ago when I was in high school in Germany. Our Model United Nations Team attended Model UN in Amsterdam as China and we stayed in a hostel for the week with all the girls  in one room and the males in another. We actually had a sauna in our hostel near our room which was awesome because it was cold and snowy at the time of our trip, so we took advantage of that.

What’s Provided:

  • Blanket
  • Pillow
  • linens
  • fully equipped self-service kitchens or cafeterias
  • dining areas
  • secure storage spaces
  • common rooms for relaxing and socializing with fellow travelers

What You Should Bring: 

  • A Lock for your locker
  • Shower Shoes
  • A Hand Towel
  • Ear Plugs
  • A Small flash light

I’ll be heading to Europe in next month visiting Germany, Paris, and Rome  for 2 short weeks. For me this trip is going to be about meet new people, exploring during the day and checking out the local scene at night, so I’d rather checkout a hostel instead shelling out the extra money for a swanky hotel that I’ll only sleep in for a few hours. After doing some research I chose the Hostelling International Brand (HI), and for the next 2 weeks I’ll be visiting hostels, one in NYC and one in Boston to get the hosteling experience because I’m sure it’s changed a bit since the last time I stayed at a hostel.

Hostelling International has 3 networks of hostels USA, Canada, and International, but their quality assurance is standard across the board.  A HI membership is required of all guests, but guests without a membership have the option of either purchasing a full annual membership, or a temporary membership for the duration of their stay. Membership kits include a membership guide, membership card, U.S. hostelling map, eKit communication booklet and discounts.

The types and prices of each membership

  • YOUTH – FREE (for those under 18 years of age)
  • ADULT – $28.00 ANNUALLY (18-54 years of age)
  • SENIOR – $18.00 ANNUALLY (55+ years of age)
  • LIFE – $250 (one-time fee & open to all ages)

Member Benefits

  • Access to more than 4,000 hostels in over 80 countries worldwide.
  • Access to nearly 60 hostel locations in the United States.
  • Savings up to 70% on international phone calls, free e-mail access, voicemail and travel information through eKit.
  • HI-USA members now get basic international travel insurance coverage and discounts on optional upgrades
  • Discounted currency exchange.

Have you ever stayed at a hostel before during your travels? What did you think? Would you do it again? Check in with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see and hear about my hostel experiences.

Wishing You Happy and Safe Travels! – xo AGT

12 Must Have Items For Your Cruise Vacation

I’m flying out this Saturday to Florida for 8 Days on the open ocean via Royal Caribbean, with stops in Jamaica, Haiti, Grand Cayman, and Mexico and I cannot wait. It’s to the point where I’m counting down the hours now lol. This summer has been crazy and I’m ready to soak up the calming effects of the sea.  I’ll be packing lots of sundresses, bikinis, formal dresses for the Captain’s Dinner, and workout clothes in my suitcase – More details on that later this week. Today I want to share with you my MUST HAVE items for any cruising adventure.


  1. Carry On Bag with a bikini, sun block, and flip flops for poolside lounging. The adventure begins as soon as you get on board, so have your swimwear ready to lounge poolside or in the Jacuzzi without having to wait for your luggage to be delivered to your room.
  2. Shower Shoes  – sure they clean the bathrooms but better to be safe than sorry with a foot fungus.
  3. Bottle of wine or Champagne and a wine bottle opener – adults  21 and older are allowed to bring 1 bottle of wine per person on board
  4. Air Freshener for the room – no further explanation needed :)
  5. Water Bottle – to stay hydrated during the trip
  6. Power Strip – so that everyone in your room can charge their phones, ipads, laptops, cameras, etc…
  7. Beach Bag – no beach towel necessary, the cruise ship will provide them
  8. Cardigan or blazer – it can be pretty chilly in the dining room and other areas of the ship
  9. Umbrella – in the unfortunate event it’s raining when you pull into port
  10. Hand Sanitizer or hand wipes – they usually have hand sanitizer stations around the ship, but it’s good to carry a pocket-size one during port calls.
  11. Camera – for capturing memories
  12. Sunglasses

A few additional things to remember:

*Check to see the activities available on your cruise ship and plan accordingly. Our cruise ship this voyage has an ice skating rink and a rock climbing wall, so I will also be bringing along leggings and a light jacket to wear on the ice rink and workout clothes to wear when I go rock wall climbing.

*If you tend to get sea sick pick up some motion sickness pills or patches to wear throughout the trip

* Bring along snorkel gear for use at the beach

Have you ever cruised before? What are some MUST HAVE items on your
packing list?


Wishing You Happy Travels! -xo AGT

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles…

Whether your next adventure is on the road, in the sky, or via railroad you have tons of options no matter what part of the world you are traveling. What’s your favorite way to travel?


Planes: Feel like Jet-setting to your next destination?

What’s your favorite airline? These are my usual go to airlines:

  • Delta – Very military friendly, it has been my experience that Delta always takes care of its service memebers
  • Jetblue – 2  free checked bags, extra leg room, and excellent service! Need I say more?
  • American Airlines – Very military friendly, it has been my experience that American Airlines always takes care of its service memebers



Grand Central Station – NYC

Trains: In large cities like NYC, Toronto, and Washington D.C city transit is the way to go, but if you feel like going on a long adventure and taking your time getting there train travel is the way to go.

The airport express train at the Oslo main station. Oslo, Norway Taken By – Mr. Kjetil Ree

Amtrak  – on my list of things to do. I’ve always wanted to ride Amtrak – sit back and enjoy the scenery and experience one of the oldest forms of transportation. –

Via Rail Canada – try the Rockies and Pacific, Vancover to Toronto route and ride in in a glass-top car to see the beautiful scenery as the trains zips through the country. –

Europe Speed Train – I’ve taken this from Germany to Paris and made great time; very convenient when you need to maximize your time.


Automobiles: Hail a taxi, ride in style with a driver, or hit the road for a road-trip

Luxury Black Car Service – sometimes you just want to treat yourself during your travels, enjoy a more comfortable ride to and from the airport, or spice up your night out on the town and be driven around. When I’m in NYC I use Luxury Blue Limousines to get to and from the airport. Uber is another great option to try!

Out and About using Luxury Blue Car Service in NYC

Car Share Programs – The principle of CarSharing is simple: Individuals gain the benefits of a private car without the costs and responsibilities of ownership. I don’t have any personal experience using a car share program because I have a car, but I do think its an excellent idea especially in large cities where you may only need a car for a quick getaway or to run errands around town. Have you used one of these before?

Photo Credit: The Social Sonic Traveler

Buses: A great way to travel on a budget; sit back and leave the ride to someone else.  I’ve ridden the bus numerous times down to D.C from NYC because it’s so much cheaper than driving or flying. A typical flight will run you  a min of $200, driving will run you about $100 -150 roundtrip for gas and tolls – while you can typically get a round trip bus ticket for $30-60.

Bolt Bus – an extension of Greyhound- signing up for a free membership gets you head of the line privileges when it comes time to board the bus, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to “Bolt for a Buck!”. Every schedule will sell at least one $1.00 ticket. The $1.00 ticket will be sold at random and generally within the first handful of seats sold. The earlier you book your ticket, the greater your odds are of grabbing a seat for a buck. –

DC2NY – dubbed a “luxurious” ride, the seats are super comfy, and they provide you with a bottle of water, a movie viewing, outlets to charge your appliances, and free wifi while you sit back and enjoy the ride to your destination. The ride to and from D.C and NYC is typically $30 each way.  I like to use this service when Bolt Bus’ prices get outrageous. Sign up for a free membership and get a $1 off the advertised fare. Every dollar counts right? –

Megabus – I have never used their service before, but I have a couple of friends who have. This double-decker, wifi ready, charter beats out Boltbus and DC2NY with its list of travel destinations and even goes to Canada. When they moved their loading station in NYC from Port Authority to the boondocks of 34th street between 11th and 12th Aves the possibility of me and others I know using their services consistently was lost. You’d need to either take a cab, be dropped off by a friend, or walk 3-4 avenues with your luggage. Call me high maintenance, but I prefer the convenience of being right near a train station. –

What’s your favorite way to travel?

Until Next Time! -xo AGT