Cultural Experience | Massachusetts

Escape to the Cape

Summer Hostelling, When your Neighbors are the Kennedys, Obamas and Afflecks, Welcome to Cape Cod!

Guest Article by Netanya Trimboli,  Hostelling International USA 

If you were a millionaire, where would you travel? In the U.S., millionaires often find their way to Cape Cod. It’s where the Kennedys, Obamas, and Ben Affleck (to name drop a few) come to play. But one of the best kept secrets of the area is that you don’t have to have a thick wallet to visit. In fact, if you’re a college-aged traveler, enjoy meeting people from all over the world, like to live like a local, and don’t want to spend more than the cost of a tank of gas on a place to stay, then you’re invited to this elite destination. So if you’ve ever dreamed of living like the rich and famous, it’s time to make it a reality.

The secret ingredient is hostelling.

Specifically, with Hostelling International USA (HI-USA). For those who have never hostelled, it’s kind of like walking into your college dorm for the first time. You haven’t met your roommates yet, and they could be from anywhere in the world. Who they are back home doesn’t matter – you are bound to have long talks about nothing and everything, and you’ll have a new friend in matter of minutes to go out and explore with. Additionally, many hostels offer free breakfast, WiFi, and activities, and each HI-USA hostel has its own self-serve kitchen if you want to make your own meals. The hostels connect you to the local community, and the money you save on accommodations and meals means more money to spend on having fun.

And there is plenty of fun to be had on the Cape.

When you hostel here, you’re gaining access to an upscale beach destination in eastern Massachusetts, just a short ferry ride from Boston. Filled with art galleries, hiking and cycling paths, and the Atlantic Ocean breeze, Cape Cod is a sprawling peninsula that’s also a jumping off point for the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. In all, you’ll find 5 HI-USA hostels:

HI-Truro – Sought after for its proximity to beaches, Provincetown, restaurants, and shops, this is the closest hostel to where the ferry from Boston docks. Guests also enjoy nearby access to fresh water ponds, cranberry bogs, bike paths, and nature trails. Dorms start at $42/night

HI-Eastham – Surrounded by three acres of wooded land, this traditional cottage colony has rustic sleeping cabins with bunk beds closely surrounding the hostel’s main building. The Cape Cod Rail Trail takes hostel guests to a treasure trove of beaches and ponds, as well as to the nearby town of Orleans. Dorms start at $32/night

HI-Hyannis – Located in the famed vacation town of the Kennedys, Hyannis is the perfect jumping off point for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. Visit local artist shanties, shops, restaurants, and nightlife, which are all just minutes from the hostel. Dorms start at $35/night

HI-Martha’s Vineyard – Named the 2011 and 2013 friendliest hostel out of more than 4,000 worldwide, this charming hostel provides an affordable, alluring option in one of the country’s most expensive summer vacation areas and is a prime destination for avid cyclists. A comprehensive bus service also makes it easy to visit beaches and towns, art galleries and lighthouses. Dorms start at $39/night

HI-Nantucket – Originally built as a life-saving station in the 1800s, this hostel is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Surfside Beach is just across the road, and the island is covered with bike paths that make sightseeing by bicycle a pleasure for all skill levels. Dorms start at $39/night

Cape Cod is the ultimate New England summer experience, and you’ll feel like you’re on a movie set as soon as you arrive. To get around, there is excellent bus service and cycling is a great option for experienced riders. Driving is also easy on the mainland and you can leave your car in a lot and hop a ferry from Hyannis to the islands (you can take your car on the ferry, but it will set you back over a hundred bucks).

Half the fun of staying at an HI-USA hostel is that you never who you’re going to meet. They host more than 400,000 guests from 50 different countries each year across more than 50 hostels nationwide. And it’s those people – the ones who make you forget you weren’t friends the day before – who create more meaningful travel experiences.

And now that you know the true story of hostelling, let’s officially confirm: it’s nothing like the movie! The movie, Hostel, is as much like hostelling as Psycho is like staying at a hotel. HI-USA hostels are friendly, charming, and fun. Do you really think those surrounding millionaires would support them in their neighborhood otherwise?

Helpful links:

HI-USA hostels on Cape Cod

Cape Cod & Islands Ferry Schedules

Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority


Netanya_headshotNetanya has worked, volunteered, and enjoyed life around the world, from the Australian Outback to the micro French island, Ile D’Hoedic. During her travels, she stayed at dozens of hostels and still has friends that she made along the way from more than 10 years ago. She is lucky to now be working for Hostelling International USA (HI-USA) as their Communications & PR Manager and encouraging others to have the same life-changing experiences she did. Netanya holds a Masters in Advertising from Boston University and a Bachelor’s in Communications from the University of Michigan.

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