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If you are a backpacking type, all the time or occasionally, and cost is more compelling than even such basic amenities as a private bathroom, there are at least two cheaper ways to travel than using minimum-service motels.

These are staying either in hostels or in college dormitory rooms that come open in the summer, where time-warp prices such as $9 and $20 a night are easy to find.People traveling with young children can make huge savings on the road using this sort of lodging, particularly if kitchens or kitchenettes are available.

It is not always possible to house the family together in a private room but there are places where it can be done. The tradeoff is that planning and booking ahead are necessary: popular hostels and dormitories require reservations.

Bunks or single beds are standard. Men and women are normally placed in separate quarters. There may be a washbasin in the room, but the shower and toilet are almost inevitably down the hall.

You may stay on a college campus that is peaceful and remote, or you may stay in a hostel in an urban area or historic district.

If you pick a hostel, you may have to be up and out of your room quite early. But while you are there, you will be warm, safe and dry, and there may be some unexpected rewards. Lively exchanges of information about places to go or good inexpensive restaurants is one.

As to hostels, this discussion will consider only those linked to American Youth Hostels, which despite its name does not restrict the age of its members.

The column will not take up public hostels, present or former hotels that operate independently as hostels, in that you pay to rent a bed rather than a room. These do not have American Youth Hostel licenses, and the standards vary from place to place.

Even though some of these may be comfortable, some are not and it is impossible to give generalized advice.

Sometimes dormitories are listed by the AYH as "supplemental accommodations," but most colleges that rent their vacant rooms do it independently or through associations.

One of the nicest introductions to staying in dormitories comes from Canada, where 65 colleges and universities associated to promote use of their facilities, either by conferences or by individual travelers, in May, June, July and August.

The Canadian University and College Conference Officers Association, formed in the mid-70s, publishes a free membership roster of the universities that rent dormitory rooms or apartments, with names and phone numbers of people to contact.

When asked by mail or phone, each school will send its own brochure. In addition, the Atlantic region of the association - New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island - publishes a joint brochure for its 15 schools, with description of locales, quarters and prices.

St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has a strong offering: single and twin rooms and apartments for four people with living-dining room, kitchen and bath as well as two bedrooms.

At the late-May exchange rate for the Canadian dollar, these are approximate costs, breakfast included: a single room is $14.50 a night for a student, $18.75 for an adult; a twin room is $28 for students and $29 for adults. An apartment is $58.25 per night, whoever stays there. The rates were calculated at 83 cents to the Canadian dollar.

To receive the membership roster for all of Canada or the brochure for the Atlantic region, write or telephone Dana Clements, Conference Officer, St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H3C3, Canada; 902-420-5485.

The roster includes a list of the four regional directors for the program. Although only the Atlantic area has a regional brochure, the three other regional directors can be asked for fliers from several schools in their region.

The 1989 version is the ninth edition, but it appears unlikely that all the data are revised each year. Some of the Canadian prices appear out of line with the latest Canadian leaflet, but in any case this guide includes conventional warnings about price changes.

There are pages of travel tips, plus information on organizations such as Elderhostel that provide classes and courses as well as accommodations. This book is published and sold by Campus Travel Service, Box 5007, Laguna Beach, Calif. 92652; 714-497-3044. It costs $11.95, plus $1.05 postage.

Campus Holidays U.S.A., a tour operator in New Jersey, has a program that covers campus stays called Apple Accommodations.

Joseph Kloza, the president, said that it had been marketed overseas but this year was being offered domestically too. A book of seven vouchers, each good for part or all of the cost of a night's stay, is $91, and a book of 21 costs $252.

With the vouchers comes a directory of participating hotels and schools, with descriptions, phone numbers, travel directions and the price of any supplement. The 96-page directory covers the United States, Canada, the Bahamas and Britain.

Kloza is happy to have the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., in his program; he characterizes it as a "best value" in budget accommodations in the New York area.

Each guest in a standard double room at Stevens would pay $6.75 a night in addition to a voucher. With a voucher costing $13, the total would be $19.75. Each guest in a "first class" double room in Tech Hall, which has air-conditioning, carpeting and private baths, would pay $14.50 in addition to the voucher.

Campus Holidays, 242 Bellevue Avenue, Upper Montclair, N.J. 07043; 201-744-8724.

American Youth Hostels licenses 200 widely varied places in the United States. Hostels pay a modest fee for the license, depending on size, and are inspected each year for relicensing.

The inspections and grades - superior, standard, simple and shelter - depend on space, heat, access to a common room and available services.

The price for an overnight stay ranges from $5 to $19, depending upon location and type of facility. There are hostels in homes, lighthouses, state and national parks, downtown areas and historic buildings.

Several things are standard: Most hostels are closed during the day, and expect guests to be out by 9:30 a.m. Registration usually begins at 5 p.m.

Guests are expected to clean up after themselves and to help with some household tasks. For sanitary reasons, sleeping bags are not permitted, but guests are expected to bring or rent a "sleep sack," an envelope of sheeting to protect the pillow, mattress and blanket, which are provided.

The hostel group gets 60 berths a night aboard the Battleship Massachusetts, tied up in Battleship Cove under the Braga Bridge at Fall River, Mass.

The double-decked bunks, with mattresses, are in the former officers' quarters, which are more private than the areas deep in the vessel where scouting groups sleep on bunks with multiple decks.

The hostel cabins accommodate 2, 4, 8 and 12 guests each, and Maurice Francoeur, a supervisor aboard the Massachusetts, said this meant that families could sometimes be given a cabin of their own. Some cabins have portholes; others are inside.

Only the weekends are heavily booked in spring and fall. Reservations are essential for the Massachusetts, according to the handbook. The phone is 508-678-1100.

For urban accommodations there is the 480-bed New York City AYH hostel, which expects to be open on Sept. 1 at 891 Amsterdam Avenue, near 103d Street. The cost will be $19 a night.

Membership is required at most AYH hostels, but an introductory membership card, which costs $3 and may be purchased at most hostels, is good for one night's stay. The $3 can then be credited toward the purchase of a regular membership, priced according to age: $10 for those 17 years old and under and for those 55 and over; $20 for ages 18 to 54.

There is also a family pass for $30. The handbook of all U.S. hostels is provided free to all members, but may be purchased for $7.

American Youth Hostels, Department 950, Box 37613, Washington, D.C. 20013-7613; 202-783-6161.