Apple makes the best quality OS software, a solid suite for organizing your photos, songs, etc, and they package it all in elegant and solid hardware. Their products are expensive but they last longer so you probably recuperate the extra cost. Some of their popular items (most notably the iPad) seem a little frivolous, and are actually more design objects than highly functional machines. I would suggest the MacBook Pro and the iPhone (just don't break or lose it!) for anyone who has the means. Also, don't get locked into an expensive phone contract and data plan.
Hostelworld is safe, and their reservation policy is clear. They have the largest selection of any booking site for hostels, b&bs, and cheap hotels. You may find very slightly cheaper prices on local sites but overall Hostelworld is your best bet.
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