Hostels and Hams
(How YHARG began)

Youth hostels in the UK and across Europe are often located in 'out of the way' places, and sometimes in remote spots. These may provide the bases for field days and expeditions into the hills and for some of the 'On The Air' schemes such as SOTA, field days, hilltop DX-ing and backpacking operations.

Some UK Youth Hostels
In some wild and windy but 'radio-friendly' places, finding accommodation is difficult, and sometimes quite expensive. Traditionally, one solution has been to camp and "rough it", but that isn't always a dry or comfortable experience.

Youth hostels can offer radio hams affordable accomodation in - or near - remote and/or interesting places

Youth hostels have often been overlooked by people who do not go hill-walking or follow outdoor pursuits - and very broadly speaking, Radio Hams appear to be one such group.

There are many radio amateurs who are only vaguely aware of modern youth hostels, or they may have visited one many years ago in the days of dormitories, Marmite sandwiches and a rather 'puritanical' ban on motor vehicles as a means of transport.
Modern youth hostels are quite different.

Modern facilities

Many, if not most, hostels in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Austria (and elsewhere) nowadays have:
  • private rooms for families or groups - many with en-suite facilities
  • self-catering (kitchen) facilities
  • licenced restaurants
  • lounges and tv
  • meeting rooms
  • wi-fi
  • car parking

In addition, in the UK there are bunk houses, camping barns and camp sites that are operated by, or affiliated to, the YHA. These provide very basic facilities, usually in very remote or inhospitable places.

"In recent years more than £20 million has been invested in the YHA (England and Wales) hostels network, updating and modernising the accommodation and facilities, creating a modern service offering of en suite accommodation, private family rooms, licensed restaurants and education facilities. The investment is part of YHA’s Capital Investment plan to create a world-class network of Youth Hostels in England and Wales and change the outdated public perception of its accommodation.  Many old and unsuitable hostels have been closed and several new purpose-built hostels have been opened. In addition, there are numerous Camping Barns in the more remote areas which offer very basic accommodation."  Source: YHA (England and Wales).

Youth hostels are open to members and non-members alike, providing comfortable and affordable accommodation for families, groups, walkers and travellers - and, of course, radio hams.

Nowadays it is not necessary to be a member of a youth hostelling association in order to use a hostel (at least in the UK), but members enjoy discounts and other benefits that are not normally available non-members. Membership fees vary, but also provide affiliation to HI Hostels (see below).

The international angle

Membership of one of the UK hostel associations also gives joint membership of Hostelling International (HI Hostels) and thereby access to hostels around the world. In much of Europe, hostels are also modern and comfortable, and much cheaper than the cheapest hotels whilst being very similar.

What radio hams can offer the youth hostel movement

Radio hams can help the hostel movement simply by raising awareness of hostels in the amateur radio community by example, but without 'hard-nosed' on-air promotion of youth hostelling.