The YHA (Youth Hostel Accommodations) of Australia is a network of backpackers’ joints spread throughout the country at every popular travel destination – Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, Sydney’s Northern Beaches, etc… It’s a quirky and inexpensive way to stay if you’re not particular about soapbox bedrooms that house four; most guests are internationals, and the hostels near surf centers are great about accommodating surfers and their gear. In case you find yourself Down Under on a budget, here it is:
The Top 10 Tips for Staying with the YHA Australia
10. Request a mixed room. Girls are cleaner, less likely to steal your Stridex face wipes, and plus they’re girls. Boys invariably want to borrow something from you.
9. Check the lobby’s bulletin boards for rented rooms, all-you-can-eat vegetarian restaurants, rides to anywhere, fun adventures and work opportunities. Much of the work is harvesting labor, which is hard as*, but you’ll gain new respect for the plight of Mexican “aliens” and new appreciation for every bite of food. *They say “hard as” here.
8. Be prepared to drown in the essence of pasty European 20-somethings. It pervades every YHA location and the three neighboring blocks. It smells like bread and baby powder.
7. Become a YHA member. If you stay more than 10 nights total over the course of your life, it will save some money. More importantly, though, you’ll tote a YHA membership card in your saddle bag wherever you roam, thereby gaining instant shoestring globetrotter cred.
6. Find someone to share Wi-Fi access with you. It’s done by password, so one person can buy access at the front desk and you can both use it, then split the cost. If you knew what kind of bonuses hostel CEO’s pay themselves, this wouldn’t seem the least bit unethical.
5. Where it’s offered, rent your own set of cutlery from the front desk. Hostels have communal kitchens (hence communal silverware), and the quality of dishwashing by student travelers is about the same as the quality of self-washing by student travelers. Dirty, dirty student travelers.
4. More about the Euros. They wear shants, which are like women’s Capri pants, only with loads of pockets and drawstrings and other doodads attached. Many have dreadlocks, both male and female. They have a pouty, slow look about them that no doubt helped their ancestors avoid military conflict somehow. The boys look like the girls, and vice versa, another hereditary draft-evasion trick.
3. Arrive early in the day in the interest of getting a bottom bunk. That way you can stash your gear under the bed with impunity, entertain mattress guests with no awkward climbing stage, and avoid that creepy “he’s looking into my head” feeling you get when someone’s lying directly below you.
2. Don’t steal other people’s food from the kitchen, because it’s bad karma, and because the Euros eat some ridiculous stuff. The one next to me just put Nutella, peanut butter AND regular butter on her toast. Earlier a guy micro-waved a burrito, then dropped it in a bowl of ramen noodles and squirted ketchup on the scene. Hands off.
1. Offer your services as a surf coach. For all their wackiness, YHA patrons are keenly enthusiastic about trying to surf. This is a great way to make money, make friends, or meet Swedish girls – preferably ones with money and friends.
And actually, that girl’s toast looks pretty good – but still don’t swipe food.
Bonus: New Australian phrase to know (from last Tuesday’s Top 10):
“No Wuckas.” (courtesy of Owen Wright)
Use: Aussie abbreviation for “no worries,” which is itself an Aussie simplification of the phrase “don’t worry,” which furthermore is short for “do not worry.” Clearly, Australians stand not on ceremony, which is one of their many charms.