Just looking for advice on whether or not to get YHA membership.... Would you recommend the YHA hostels? I'm trying to decide what hostel to stay at in Sydney, can anyone recommend somewhere. Have been reading reviews on different hostels, but the reviews are so mixed, its hard to seperate the good from the bad....
There's no definitive way of judging what hostels are good and bad, but if you're going to need them regularly, joining the YHA is no bad thing.
But don't expect to only stay in YHA ones, as there will be lots of good others too.
It's up to you to ask people you meet about places they've stayed, ask the right questions about what's important to you (facilities, cleanliness etc.) and judge the replies you get. Remember, different people have different standards. And brochures don't tell the truth!
I picked up a brochure for a hostel in Brisbane which stated it was a 5 star hostel. Now I didn't expect hot and cold running room service, but I also didn't expect cockroaches all over the place. It looked like it had been good when it opened, but had been let go a bit. And nobody was stopping the kids (and I mean 10-yr olds) slamming doors all evening.
Mind you, the food was good and very cheap!
Personally I would recommend a VIP card over a YHA card for Australia. Nearly all major backpacker centres will have a YHA hostel, but a VIP card gives you far more flexibility as there are so many more VIP hostels to choose from. Also, YHA hostels tend to be a bit less party orientated than VIP hostels.
When it comes to getting discounts on tours and bus tickets though, both cards are as good as each other.
One other thing to consider is that if you are travelling anywhere else after Australia then this may make a YHA card more attractive, as VIP only really covers Oz, NZ and Fiji.