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VIP and YHA Memberships

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific VIP and YHA Memberships

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1. Posted by Del007 (Budding Member 38 posts) 9y

Hey guys,

I know, I know, yet another thread thats probably been repeated a million times.

I just want to know if I can apply for a YHA membership when I get to Australia. As it is, the only Hosteling International office in Canada is on the opposite side of the country from me.

My travel agent reccomended the VIP hostel card, since there seem to be more of them along the West coast, I can apply in Canada, and they draw a younger crowd. She also mentioned that some YHA's have a curfew ...

Are VIP hostels cheaper? and if I get one card, should I bother getting the other?

thanks!

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4835 posts) 9y

Yes, it's absolutely fine to get a card when you arrive in Australia. I did so myself in New Zealand. Costs the same, and they're all usable worldwide. The only thing you can only do in your country of residence is to get a lifetime membership. However, there's no need to go to a YHA 'office' to get a membership - any YHA hostel in your country will sell them, and I *know* they're spread out all over (well, okay, so not in the north). :)
I think one or two YHAs in a country like Italy might still have a curfew, but absolutely none in Australia - the industry has moved way beyond that.
VIP hostels are on average cheaper than YHA hostels (though there's several of the more modern ones which are actually more expensive), but the YHA discount is larger ($3.50 per night versus $1-$2 per night), so it all averages out.

As for which card to get: depends on which hostel chain you prefer. Many individual hostels differ from this characterization, and a lot depends on the ever changing group of people staying there, but generalizing a lot, YHA hostels are always clean and more quiet, offering you a good night's rest, having really good facilities in the larger ones, but at the cost of making them feel really impersonal, while the smaller YHA hostels often have awesome atmosphere and personality. VIP hostels are either really modern with all the latest facilities, or totally rundown, with very little in between.
VIP isn't so much preferred by a younger crowd, as by a more party oriented crowd (drunkenly stumbling into your dorm at 3 A.M. if you're unlucky), while YHA hostels often have - besides the ~75% backpackers - also families with children, people into their 90s, and sometimes in the off season entire schoolgroups. Personally I prefer the variety of the YHA hostels - often leads to really interesting conversations in the lounges - as well as having more chance of a good night's sleep. But obviously a lot of people prefer having the good time that comes with partying, so that really depends on your preferences. (You could also stay at each for a day or two before making the decision.)

(Also, it sounds like your travel agent is getting a commission from VIP.) :)

3. Posted by Smirnoff (Budding Member 43 posts) 9y

YHA/HI memberships In Canada can be bought in such stores as MEC (Vacouver, Toronto, or online).

One thing I found about YHA hostels is that many of them do not have co-ed dorm rooms. This makes it difficult for a male + female travellers to stay together, and hence the need to find a new option.

4. Posted by Del007 (Budding Member 38 posts) 9y

Thanks a ton for the information!

and yeah, I was thinking the agent was getting comission too >.< oh well, its to be expected I suppose.

As much as I enjoy partying, stumbling around in a drunken stuppor for a whole year really isnt that appealing. I think I'll take the advice and stop in at each facility.

thanks again!

5. Posted by Chix (Full Member 114 posts) 9y

If you're gonna get a YHA/Hostel International card I'd get it before you go as it's cheaper (certainly than buying it in NZ/Aus anyway). I'd get that over a VIP card personally as you know what you're gettng with YHA. But if you decide to go VIP, pick up one of those little booklets they have with all the reviews in - they rate each place on different things so you get a good idea of the quality before you arrive.

And I've never come accross a YHA with a curfew yet!

6. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

I havern't stayed at any YHA/Hostelling International hostels that have a curfew, but I usually tend to stick clear of them due to them being the more expensive hostels even with the discount for being a YHA member. They are also usually the less sociable ones where their is little or no atmosphere about the hostel basically making them good for a good nights sleep without any young people being stupid, but not good if you like some more sociable feel about it. Another thing that is often the case is that in the cities where numerous hostels are, the hostelling international/yha hostels are located in areas that are not close to the attractions. Sometimes in Australia, YHA hostels are the ones in remote tourist locations where no other hostels are even close, but that's about the only time they are the best places to stay. One good thing about a YHA card is that they have a special discount you can get on the long distance trains in Australia as well as discounts for getting the Greyhound pass. That discount on one of the longer distance trains like a Adelaide-Darwin voyage, saves you more than the card costs.

I don't hold a VIP hostel card, but they would be a bit cheaper than YHA hostels. I just got a gold membership on hostelworld which costs like $10US for a full year and then on regular occasions I booked through there. Having that gold membership meant I didn't have to pay the $2.00 booking fee everytime I made the booking (but you have to put your membership number in everytime you book). Booking through hostelworld often gives you a cheaper price than if you just turn up at the doorstep and book. Like for one hostel it cost me 14 Euro a night on hostelworld, but then when I got to the hostel everyone else was getting charged 24 Euro a night (It isn't usually that big a discount), but often $1 or $2 a night less for booking on hostelworld.

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 3, 2007, at 3:54 PM by aharrold45 ]

7. Posted by Smirnoff (Budding Member 43 posts) 9y

Quoting aharrold45

One good thing about a YHA card is that they have a special discount you can get on the long distance trains in Australia as well as discounts for getting the Greyhound pass. That discount on one of the longer distance trains like a Adelaide-Darwin voyage, saves you more than the card costs.

Unless something has happened over the past few months, this is no longer the case. The Great Southern Railway canned all YHA and Student discounts (and not to mention raised prices). From speaking to several YHA travel reps, this used to be one of the biggest selling points for the card. If you're interested in the rail savings, the GSR introduced a "rail saver" option, which has several restrictions.

On a personal note, the whole situation made me change my mind on wanting to take the Indian Pacific ride from Sydney to Perth!

8. Posted by Chix (Full Member 114 posts) 9y

I'd also recommend Hostel World for booking your beds in advance - there are loads of reviews on there so you can see what you're getting, and you can compare all the hostels in the area in one place

9. Posted by Amy7785 (Budding Member 9 posts) 9y

Kinda along the same lines, does anyone have any recommendations on whether to get a YHA card, or a Nomads card, or something else entirely? Or none at all? So many options hehe

10. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

Quoting Amy7785

Kinda along the same lines, does anyone have any recommendations on whether to get a YHA card, or a Nomads card, or something else entirely? Or none at all? So many options hehe

If you are entitled to it, you should definitely get a student card from STA travel, or if you aren't a student but are under 26 you can get a youth travel card through STA travel. The student one will get discounts in almost every country, but the youth one will get far less discounts but still most likely pay for itself 5 or more times over depending on where you travel. Other than an STA travel card, I don't think either of a YHA card or Nomads card is of any great financial value.