The world can seem more hostile every day — which is why it was such an incredible joy recently to stay at a hostel in Boston and mingle with nice people from all over the globe (including in a dorm-style room of bunk beds with seven strangers).
Yes, these places exist (it had been almost thirty five years since I stayed in one, and those were in Europe). Spotlessly clean, conveniently located, and filled with unexpected pleasures (a fireplace! a pool table! tons of private bathrooms! a warm, white comforter! nooks for reading and hanging out, and a free breakfast!)
The one at which I stayed is part of a nonprofit named Hi USA. They have 50 hostels in 20 US states (including in the cities where each of my daughters currently live, as well as my beloved home city of NYC), and your affordable stay includes access to special events and activities as well. In fact, volunteer opportunities include leading an activity and I’ve already emailed them to see if I can get a night free in exchange for leading a bikeshare tour. Who knows, right? All I know is this felt risky to do, it turned out great, and I’d highly recommend both the hostel experience . . . and taking more risks in general.