Hostels in Bournemouth are aimed squarely at backpackers, welcoming group bookings and offering free internet access (remember Google toolbar has a translation facility if you are an international traveller). The town's artificial surf reef makes it perfect for water sport enthusiasts, who can hire a beach hut or pod for a secure and comfortable holiday base; though please be aware these are for day hire only.
Inland fitness fans can enjoy a game of tennis or hike the famous pier to pier walk. 7 miles of sand, and a myriad of green parks and gardens make this a delightful place to stay whatever the weather. The Bournemouth pavilion is a must for hostelling guests and kids will love Bournemouth's cool blue waves and fun animal parks.
If you plan to stay at the Swanage Youth Hostels Association property, you can look forward to a fun seaside holiday, ideal for families. The stalwart Victorian building offers fine seafront views and is only a few minutes from town. The guest lounge is an oak panelled beauty and breakfast is included. There are family rooms, private rooms and dormitories available, making it suitable for everyone, and the venue is available for exclusive hire.
There is a cot available, and under 3's are welcome - please be aware that Mon-Thurs during term time the venue is dedicated to young school children. Secure cycle lockup is available and there is a classroom for lessons. The glorious Blue Flag beach in Swanage is clean and well maintained, and the Jurassic coast stretches in every direction.
So you've booked your dorm, paid your deposit and are now packing your backpack. But what to take? I would recommend a small lockable bag for valuables such as money, tickets and ID. Include clothes that are easy to wash and at a pinch can be rinsed & dried easily. Take your favourite paperback and a deck of cards for travelling and rare dull moments. You can decant unwieldy toiletry bottles into mini versions (available from pharmacies) to save space. Stick a small bottle of deodorant in a side pocket and a foldaway toothbrush in the other. Sorted.