I started going to hostels in 2003 during my semester abroad. Since then I have stayed in a wide variety of places during my travels, but I tend to lean towards hostels whenever they are available. In 2007 during my second backpacking trip I was in hostels the whole time. Since 2007 I have only stayed in hostels one or two times until my most recent trip to New Zealand.( In 2008 I didn't leave the country because I was broke from traveling in 2007. In 2009 I went to a yoga retreat in the rain forest in Costa Rica where there were no hostels. Also in 2009 I went to Nova Scotia where I only found one decent hostel. In 2010 in Peru & Bolivia, the group I was with stayed in one hostel, but it was more of a house stay on a mostly uninhabited island. In 2010, I was lucky enough to go on a work/play trip to Germany and Istanbul but stayed with people I knew or with the business hotel. In 2011I did a lot of US domestic travel and hostels in the US are not usually up to par, so I tend to stay away from them. Also in 2011 when in the UK, I was with my Dad and he affectionately calls hostels "hostiles," so needless to say we didn't stay in any during that trip.) Why am I telling you all this? Because I think hosteling has changed significantly since I first started. Granted I am older now, but there are so many things that have changed and became evident to me on this latest trip. 

First, the technology factory. This has many layers. A significant portion of people travel with a phone and a laptop. Something that was pretty unheard of even in 2007. The occasional person had a burner phone but very few people traveled with their laptops. I noticed that this causes people to be a little less outwardly friendly because they are consumed with whatever is going on on their laptops. It also allows you to be super connected to home wherever that is and I think can take away a bit from immersing yourself fully into the place you find yourself. It seems to block a lot of the random conversations that used to show up in lounges across hostels. I mean you can still have these, I just think it takes a lot more effort to pry someone away from their computer and into a random convo as opposed to people who are just sitting around in a lounge without a screen. I really felt that the sociability of people had changed due to technology. ( I am of course not immune to this criticism considering I traveled with an ipad during this latest trip.)

Second, I thought there was a lot more drinking than there used to be. I mean I have been to Amsterdam and Berlin and many other party capitals and had a great time, but a few of the hostels I was in in NZ seemed to be solely focused on providing drinking opportunities.  I love to have a good time as much as the next person, but it seemed like steep increase. 

Third, there were a lot more private room options in hostels than there ever used to be. Privates used to be rare and only in the larger hostels. They also used to be much much more than the dorm cost, now they are only marginally more. I was a bit surprised by this and am wondering if it ties in with the first factor at all. 

Fourth, there are many more hostels in general, more options. There are hostels that cater to every sector of the market. Personally I think the more hostels the better because more people can budget travel. But this was another change observed. 

I am sure if I really get into it there are tons of other changes, but these were the most prevalent off the top of my head ones. And as a note, I know this post has a ton of generalizations, please excuse them. 

This really makes me think about how different it must be now from 20 years ago before you could book online. In 2004 I booked a few places over the phone that didn't have good web access yet. And my Mom backpacked England and Ireland in the 70s and they just used to show up places and ask for a room. It always blows my mind how fast entire shifts can happen.