I have been a member of the Youth Hostels Association on and off since 1977. Over the last few years I have faithfully renewed my membership without hesitation. Yet, my days of staying in backpacker rooms with 12 or more backpackers are very rare.
My major motivation frankly for staying connected as as member are the discounts that many establishments offer youth hostel members. These discounts far outweigh the cost of my mmbership. The YHA discounts, I think, are the best of any discount scheme I have encountered travelling.
Travelex gives commission free cash at outlets to YH members in 20 countries. For me that saves around $100 a year. The Youth Hostel Associations in Ausralia sells discounted travel insurance. A one year comprehensive policy is usually $100 cheaper than at any other outlet. Last week I booked a one way train ticket from Adelaide to Melbourne. The fare was $144 for a regular passenger or $66 for a Youth Hostel member. Countrylink in Australia gives passengers ten per cent off their train fares. NZ Intercity buses give 10 per cent but I have sometimes found the backpacker fare is more than their cheapest on line deal! Some European rail passes are cheaper with a YHA card. The same with car rental discounts. Often the YHA “discount” is higher than the car company’s cheaper “non discounted” rates. Shop around on that one.
Camping shops in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the UK give 10 to 20 per cent off the cost of their equipment, Hiking boots, tents, warm weather apparel. I reckon the money I have saved at camping shops has paid for three years of youth hostel membership.
There are restaurants, coffee shops and the like that give discounts but I rarely use them. It is impossible to remember what discount works well.
Australia: $A42 ($A32 if you are under 26) for one year
Canada: $C35 + taxes
UK- Scotland: £10 (Free for certain age groups)