At a certain age, many travelers start to feel like they no longer fit in at hostels. This feeling may start to creep in when you’re in your late 20s to early 30s. You may start to feel out of place when everyone else is in their late teens to mid 20s and you’re significantly older. At some point, you may ask yourself, ‘Am I too old for hostels?’
The answer is no. Anyone can stay in hostels. Sometimes it’s not that simple. When deciding whether or not you’re too old, we will consider different types of hostels, regional differences in hostels, hostel age limits, and more. We’ll also outline some benefits and drawbacks of staying in hostels as an older traveler. We’ll also talk a bit about some alternative accommodation options.
Finally, I’ll share my own experience staying in hostels at different ages. Over the past 12 years, I’ve stayed in hundreds of hostels on 6 continents. I went from being one of the youngest people in the hostel to one of the older travelers. Hopefully, this guide helps you decide whether or not you’re too old to stay in hostels.
Table of Contents
- Am I Too Old For Hostels?
- Hostel Age Limits
- Do You Still Want to Stay in Hostels?
- Who Stays in Hostels?
- Regional Differences in Hostels
- How to Choose a Hostel When You’re an Older Traveler
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Staying in Hostels When You’re Older
- Hostel Alternatives: Hotels, Guest Houses, Airbnb, Private Hostel Rooms, Camping, etc.
- Things to Bring With You
- My Experience Staying in Hostels as an Older Traveler
- Am I Too Young For Hostels?
Am I Too Old to Stay in Hostels?
The simple answer is no. Anyone can stay in hostels. Most hostels don’t have an age limit. I regularly meet travelers in their 30s, 40s, and 50s staying in hostels. In my travels, I have met fellow travelers in their 70s and even 80s staying in hostels.
You can stay in hostels as long as you are physically capable of traveling. There is no maximum age. Everyone is welcome. You’re never too old.
Having said that, you will be one of the older people in the hostel when you get to your late 20s or early 30s. In life, 30 is considered relatively young. In hostels, you’ll feel ancient when you’re 30. Hosteling is dominated by people in their early to mid 20s.
You’ll have to decide whether or not this really matters to you. If you really don’t want to be one of the older people at the hostel, you may be too old for hostels once you get into your mid-30s.
There are also some hostels that you can’t stay at past a certain age. Some hostels have age limits.
Hostel Age Limits
Many hostels cater to younger travelers. These properties occasionally have a maximum age limit for their guests. In most cases, these hostels do not accept guests who are older than 35.
In my experience, age-restricted hostels are the most common in Europe. They are usually party hostels. I have seen age restrictions in only a handful of hostels in other regions. Age-restricted hostels are pretty rare. The vast majority of hostels don’t have an age restriction.
If you’re over the age of 35, it’s a good idea to check for age restrictions before booking a hostel. The age limit will be clearly indicated on the hostel’s website and on their listing on booking websites such as Hostelworld and Booking.com. Read through the description and rules. If there is no age restriction listed, you can safely book, regardless of your age.
Whether or not the age limit is enforced is a different matter. I have stayed in a couple of age-restricted hostels that did not seem to care. There were travelers who were clearly over the age limit. Some hostels may be more strict about the age limit. It really depends on the property.
It’s unlikely that the backpacker manning reception is going to look at your birth date on your passport and calculate your age. If you book an age-restricted hostel and you’re over the limit, you could be turned away. This is unlikely but possible. You’ll want to keep this in mind if you are over the age limit and you book anyway.
Age restrictions are put in place to keep the hostel youthful, social, and active. Most age-restricted hostels are party hostels. They want to create a party environment. They want everyone to be in the same age range. Older travelers may be less likely to stay up all night partying.
Some hostels may also have an age limit in an attempt to keep out older travelers who they consider “creepy” or odd. There is a certain stigma to older people staying in hostels. Hostel management may prefer younger backpackers, students, young workers, and gap year travelers.
In my experience, older travelers are usually young at heart so these restrictions seem pretty pointless. It also seems like a pretty poor business practice to turn a paying customer away because of their age. Older travelers tend to have more money to spend than young travelers. These age limits could also be considered discriminatory.
I tend to avoid hostels with age limits, even though I am not yet past the limit. To me, an age limit makes the hostel look bad.
Do You Still Want to Stay in Hostels?
When deciding whether or not you’re too old to stay in hostels, it’s important to consider your personality and personal preference. Some travelers grow out of hostels in their mid 20s. Others never grow out of hostels.
If you still love the hostel experience in your late 30s and beyond, continue staying in hostels. There is nothing stopping you. If you get to a point where you no longer enjoy staying in hostels, you can look for an alternative accommodation option.
Personally, I loved staying in hostels from the age of 18-25. I never thought I would grow out of it. I loved the social and communal aspects of hostel life. At the time, I imagined myself staying in hostels in my 40s and 50s.
From the ages of 25 to around 28, I didn’t travel at all. When I started traveling again, I stayed in hostels, like I always had.
I quickly realized that my preferences had changed. I started to value privacy and comfort more. Listening to my dorm mates coughing and snoring and talking annoyed me. Waiting to use the kitchen or bathroom annoyed me. I no longer wanted to stay in hostels, even though I wasn’t too old to stay in hostels.
I don’t know when or how this change happened. All I know is that I just wasn’t enjoying the hostel experience anymore. I still loved travel.
Whether or not you still want to stay in hostels may also depend on how old you look, act, and feel. Some people still look and feel like they’re in their early 20s when they’re nearing 40.
Do You Care What Other People Think?
If you’re a self-conscious person, you may not feel comfortable staying in hostels when you’re older. You might worry about what people might think of you.
For example, maybe you worry about coming off as creepy. Maybe you don’t want people to think that you’re poor and can’t afford a hotel. Maybe you just don’t want to be the odd one out. You don’t want to be the one older person at the hostel because you may stick out a bit.
Constantly worrying about what people think could ruin the experience. There isn’t really anything you can do about this. Some people just get self-conscious.
Of course, the reality is that this is all in your head. People will obviously notice that you’re older but they won’t really care. There is nothing noteworthy about an older person staying in a hostel. It’s fairly common to meet people in their 30s-50s in hostels.
Who Stays in Hostels?
The vast majority of hostel guests are under 35. The average age is usually much lower. I would guess that the average hostel guest is around 24. In some hostels, the average age may be younger. In other hostels, it may be slightly older. The average age can vary by hostel type and region.
All types of people stay in hostels. You’ll meet backpackers, gap year travelers, students, hippies, bachelor/bachelorette parties, bicycle tourists, workers, domestic tourists, and more.
Generally, people staying in hostels are either on a tight budget or they’re traveling long-term. People who are looking to meet other people also stay in hostels rather than hotels.
Regional Differences in Hostels
Whether or not you feel too old to stay in hostels can also depend on the country or region you’re traveling in. Some regions attract younger travelers. Others attract older travelers. In some regions, you’ll find a mix. The part of the world you’re traveling in matters. There are places where staying in a hostel at 30+ is completely normal.
In my experience, southeast Asia attracts the youngest travelers. Most of the people you meet at hostels there will be in their early to mid 20s. You may feel out of place in some party hostels. You will meet plenty of travelers in their late 20s and early 30s. Anyone can stay in hostels in this region.
In Europe, you have to keep an eye out for age-restricted hostels, as outlined above. There are also plenty of party hostels where some older travelers may feel out of place. Most non-party hostels in Europe have a good mix of ages. There are plenty of travelers in their late 20s and 30s.
Central and South America tend to attract older travelers, in my experience. The most common age group is late 20s. A traveler in their 30s will easily fit right in these regions.
Africa attracts older, more experienced travelers. It’s common to meet travelers in their late 20s through 50s in hostels. Anyone can stay in hostels here. Hostels aren’t as common in this region though.
Australia and New Zealand usually attract younger travelers who are on a gap year or working holiday visa. Most travelers are in their mid to late 20s. You may feel out of place at some hostels if you’re older.
The Middle East also tends to attract older travelers. I met plenty of 30+ travelers in hostels in this region.
Of course, these are all generalizations. You’ll meet travelers of all ages in all regions. You can stay in hostels at any age in all regions.
How To Choose a Hostel When You’re an Older Traveler
The process you go through to choose a hostel might change a bit as you age. In this section, I’ll share a few tips for picking the perfect hostel for older travelers.
- Avoid party hostels- Most travelers staying in these properties will be in the 18-24 age range. You may not meet anyone your own age. You may feel out of place if you’re the only 30+ person there. If you want to stay in a party hostel as an older traveler, you can. Just know what you’re getting yourself into.
- Stay in boutique hostels- These are basically premium hostels. The price is usually 20-50% higher than the average hostel. For the extra money, you usually get a better bed, breakfast, and some extra amenities like a towel, toiletries, maybe a pool, etc. These hostels attract older travelers in the 25-35 age group.
- Choose a hostel with quiet hours- Look at the house rules before booking. If the place has quiet times after 10 or 11 pm, you’ll probably get a decent night of sleep. If there is no quiet time, people may stay up partying well into the early morning and keep you awake.
- Read the reviews- Some booking sights, such as Hostelworld, show the age range of the guest who left the review. If most of the guests are older and left positive reviews, it’s probably a decent choice. If all of the reviews are from younger guests, you might want to look for a different hostel. Also, look for reviews that mention that the hostel is good for solo travelers. These properties may limit group sizes that can book a dorm room. It makes it easier to meet people if there are other solo travelers and small groups.
- Book a private room- Many hostels offer private rooms in addition to dorms. Staying in a private room gives you the benefits of staying in a hotel and a hostel. You have a quiet and private place to sleep and store your luggage. You also can enjoy the social aspect of staying in hostels.
- Avoid the cheapest hostels- These hostels attract young travelers who are on a shoestring budget. They also tend to cut some corners to achieve a low price. For example, they might not clean as often as they should. The mattresses might be thin.
- Book a smaller dorm- You’re less likely to get woken up when there are 4 people in a dorm than when there are 20 people. In a large dorm, there is always somebody coming and going. I try to stay in dorms with 6 people or fewer when possible.
- Look at the photos of the hostel- There will be photos on the hostel’s website and the booking sites. Check the layout. Look at the dorm. Make sure the hostel looks clean and well-maintained. This is a sign that it is well managed.
- Choose a hostel with curtains over the bunks or pod-style bunks- These give you a little more privacy. You can shut your curtain and nobody will bother you. It also makes your sleeping space a bit darker. If someone turns on the light while you’re sleeping, you won’t notice as much. I try to stay in hostels with privacy curtains around the bunks whenever possible. This was extremely rare when I started traveling. These days it’s becoming more common.
- Try to request a bottom bunk- The bottom bunk is a bit more convenient for older travelers. You don’t have to climb a ladder to get in and out of bed. It’s easier to get in and out of bed if you have to use the bathroom in the night. You can store your belongings right next to you. When you sleep on the top bunk, you have to leave most of your stuff in your locker. Most hostels don’t let you book a bottom bunk. You just have to ask when you arrive.
- Stay in a more expensive hostel- You get what you pay for. When you pay for a slightly more expensive hostel, you usually get staff with staff that is trained in hospitality. They offer better customer service. The staff may enforce the rules a bit more strictly. For example, if there is a quiet time, it will usually be enforced. When you stay in cheap hostels, most of the employees will be other backpackers who really don’t care about your experience. More expensive hostels often offer additional amenities such as a curtain that covers the bed, premium mattresses, breakfast included, etc.
- Choose a hostel with a large common area- If there is a large common area, people will be less likely to hang out in the dorm and make noise. You can go to sleep earlier and sleep better when the dorm is relatively quiet. It’s also nice to have a large common area where you can hang out, relax, and meet other travelers.
- Stay in hostels that focus on an activity- For example, if you’re a hiker, stay in a hiking hostel near a trail. If you’re learning to surf, stay in a surf hostel. If you enjoy yoga, book a yoga retreat hostel. At these places, you’re sure to meet like-minded people who share an interest with you.
- Check for age restrictions- If there is a maximum age listed and you’re older, it’s probably best to respect it and book a different hostel.
- Avoid hostels with age restrictions- Hostels with age restrictions are geared toward younger travelers. They are often party hostels. Even if you’re younger than the age limit, you might want to avoid these properties.
- Book a single-sex dorm- You’re less likely to hear people having sex during the night in these dorms. These dorms are also a bit more expensive in most cases. Most of the younger backpackers and partiers will book the mixed dorm. You’re more likely to be placed in a dorm with older travelers when you book the single-sex dorm.
- Book hostels with co-working spaces- Some hostels these days are designed for remote workers and digital nomads. These places attract an older crowd. Most people who work remotely from abroad are in their 30s or 40s. These places also tend to be quieter because people have to work.
Of course, these are only general recommendations. You don’t have to follow any of them. If you want to party, go ahead and stay in a party hostel. If you’re on a tight budget, book the cheapest hostel. Chances are you’ll have a great time if you have the right mindset.
For more general help, check out my guide to choosing a hostel.
Benefits of Staying in Hostels as an Older Traveler
Older travelers enjoy the same benefits of staying in hostels as young travelers. in this section, I’ll outline a few pros of staying in hostels.
- You’ll save money- It’s almost always cheaper to stay in a hostel dorm rather than a private room. In an expensive city, a hotel room might cost $200 per night. A bed in a hostel dorm might cost $40. You can also save money by cooking in the hostel kitchen. With the money you save, you can travel further and longer.
- You have a good chance of meeting other travelers- It’s pretty easy to meet people at hostels, even when you’re older. You can chat with people in the common areas, dorm room, or hostel bar. You may also be able to book tours through the hostel where you can meet people. You won’t get lonely. There is always someone to talk to if you put in the effort to strike up a conversation. There really is no replacement for the social aspect of hostels. You can’t get that experience at a hotel. It can be difficult to meet other travelers if you don’t stay in hostels.
- Staying in Hostels makes you feel young again- When you stay in Hostels as an older traveler, you’ll mostly interact with younger people. This can make you feel young again. You’ll remember when you were a younger traveler staying in hostels. Old memories will come back and you’ll make new memories. You’ll realize that the hostel experience doesn’t change much over the years.
- You’ll find that age doesn’t matter- in hostels, people don’t care about age that much. A 35 year old traveler, 25 year old traveler, and 18 year old traveler can all hang out, go sightseeing, go drinking, and have a good time. The age difference is no big deal. Everyone gets along.
- It’s fun- staying in hostels is a lot more fun than staying in hotels. Hostels are active. There are always people around. There are events and parties you can participate in. It’s fun, even when you’re older. The environment is energetic and youthful.
- It’s an experience- If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before, it’s worth trying it out for the experience. Even if you’re older. Some people start traveling later in life. That’s no reason to miss the hostel experience. You might love it. You might also find that hostels aren’t for you. In that case, you’ll know to avoid them in the future. It’s worth trying hostels out at least once.
- Hostels have great locations- Hostels are usually centrally located near public transport stations. This makes them extremely convenient. Particularly when you’re traveling without a vehicle.
Drawbacks to Staying in Hostels as an Older Traveler
For some, the hostel experience can change as you age. A few drawbacks to consider include:
- Your fellow travelers might treat you differently- When you’re older, you may find that some travelers avoid you. People may be less likely to strike up a conversation with you in the hostel. You might not get invited out as often as you used to. There could be a number of reasons for this. People might think you’re uncool because you’re older. It may be just because you’re different as an older traveler. People may assume that they wouldn’t have anything in common with you. Some might assume that you wouldn’t want to go out drinking or partying because you’re older. Some people might even think you’re creepy because you’re older. When you’re older, you’ll have to put in more effort to meet other travelers. You may have to start conversations.
- Some people might think you’re broke because you’re staying in a hostel- Older travelers tend to have a higher budget. They have more money because they have had more time to develop their careers and earn and save money. Most older travelers can afford to stay in hotels. Some people might think you’re broke if you stay in hostels when you’re older. They may wonder, why aren’t you staying in a hotel? People might even feel sorry for you.
- There is a stigma to being an older traveler at a hostel- Some people think older travelers staying at hostels are creepy or weird. Both older men and older women can be considered creepy by younger travelers. Some travelers believe that hostels are only for the young. If you stay in a hostel when you’re older, people may think you’re trying not to grow up. That you’re trying to hang on to your youth. Some people think older travelers stay in hostels to hit on younger travelers. You might make some people feel uncomfortable simply by being there. Some people might wonder why you don’t have a spouse or children to travel with. They may think there’s something wrong with you. You’ll just have to ignore people who are bothered by your presence. It’s their problem, not yours.
- You may not be able to relate to younger travelers- If you’re 30-40 years old, you probably don’t have much in common with 18-24-year-olds. They are from a completely different generation. They grew up in a different time. They may have different interests and different styles of travel. It can be difficult to connect with someone that is half your age. I have found that this is rarely the case. Even if you don’t have much in common with the other people at the hostel, you can always talk about the common interest you share, travel.
- Hostels are less comfortable- As we age, we value comfort more. When you stay in a hostel, you’ll sleep on a smaller and lower quality bed. Most hostels buy cheap mattress. If you have a bad back, you might not get a good night of sleep. You might have to sleep on the top bunk. Some older travelers may have trouble climbing the ladder in and out of bed. It’s also a hassle. In addition, there is less space in hostels. You can’t unpack and spread out your belongings. You have to live out of your backpack or suitcase. This gets annoying. I didn’t mind living out of my backpack when I was younger. These days, I prefer unpacking. That’s not an option in hostels.
- You’ll have to deal with rude or careless travelers- When you stay in a hostel dorm, people will walk in during the middle of the night and turn the light on. People will talk loudly while you’re trying to sleep. People will pack loudly while you’re trying to sleep. You’ll have to listen to people snoring. As we get older, we have less patience for this type of thing. If you’re a light sleeper you will struggle. You can wear earplugs and an eye mask make the room quieter and darker.
Hostel Alternatives: Hotels, Guest Houses, Airbnbs, and More.
If you decide that you’re too old for hostels, there are some alternative options to consider. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
This is the obvious option. If you don’t want to stay in a hostel, simply book a hotel room. You’ll have a nice private room where you can spread out and make yourself at home.
Hotels are clean, safe, and reliable. They’re also common. You’ll find a hotel in every city that you visit.
The hotel experience also tends to be pretty consistent. Particularly if you stay in chain hotels. You can stick to your favorite chain and have a similar experience in every city you visit. Some people find comfort in this.
There are drawbacks to staying in hotels. First, they aren’t very social. You’re unlikely to meet any other travelers. Everyone keeps to themselves. Hotels are also significantly more expensive than hostel dorm rooms. If a bed in a hostel dorm costs $20 per night, a room in a hotel might cost $80 per night. In some cities, it’s hard to find a hotel room for less than $150 per night. This makes hotels unaffordable to budget travelers or long trips.
For more info, check out my guide to hotels Vs hostels.
Guest Houses, Pensiones, Budget Hotels, and Motels
These types of properties offer basic private rooms. At a guest house or pension, you’ll usually stay in a bedroom in a large home. The bathroom is usually shared. Some rooms may have a private bathroom. You may or may not have access to a kitchen.
At budget hotels and motels, you’ll usually get a room with a bed and a private bathroom. There is usually no kitchen. Some rooms may have a kitchenette. Some budget hotels and motels also have rooms with shared bathrooms. Sometimes these properties also offer dorms in addition to private rooms.
These budget rooms usually offer very few amenities. Oftentimes, there is just a bed and a small table. There may or may not be a TV and coffee maker. Depending on the climate, there might be a fan or an air conditioner.
In some cases, these properties are as cheap as hostels. Sometimes they cost a few dollars more per night. If you prefer staying in a private room and you’re on a budget, it’s always a good idea to check the price of budget hotels, motels, guest houses and pensions.
These types of properties are hit or miss in terms of quality. Some offer simple but clean rooms. Others are run down and dirty.
Private Rooms at Hostels
Most hostels offer private rooms in addition to dorm rooms. Sometimes the rooms come with a private bathroom. Other times you use a shared bathroom in the hostel.
This can be a great option for those who enjoy staying in hostels but don’t feel comfortable sleeping in a dorm with other people. Those who desire more privacy will also appreciate this option. You have the room to yourself.
When you stay in a private room, you can still enjoy the social aspect of staying in a hostel while also enjoying the privacy of a hotel room. It’s the best of both worlds.
The drawback is that private rooms in hostels are significantly more expensive than dorm rooms. They are often 2 or 3 times the price of a dorm bed. It’s often cheaper to book a budget hotel room than to stay in a private room in a hostel.
Airbnb can be an alternative to hostels. In some parts of the world, you can rent a private room or even a whole apartment on Airbnb for just slightly more than the cost of a dorm bed in a hostel. There are l deals to be had on Airbnb. Particularly if you stay for a week or more.
Many hosts offer generous weekly and monthly discounts. For example, I recently stayed in an Airbnb in Buenos Aires. I stayed for a week and paid about $19 per night. For that price, I got a private studio apartment in a decent neighborhood. I had a private bathroom, a full kitchen, wifi, and a TV with Netflix. I slept in a comfortable queen-sized bed.
To compare, I could have stayed in a hostel for about $15 per night. To me, the extra privacy and comfort is worth an extra $4 per night at this point in my life
10 years ago, I would have opted for the hostel and saved the money. My budget and preferences have changed over the years.
Admittedly, this option is becoming more expensive. Airbnb prices have increased substantially in recent years. In the past, staying in an Airbnb was as cheap as staying in a hostel. For example, I once rented a room in Mexico City for just over $100 for an entire month. Those kinds of deals don’t really exist anymore.
Most hosts have started charging expensive cleaning fees and service fees. A room that is advertised for $20 per night could cost $25 per night when you factor in all of the additional fees.
Another drawback to staying in an Airbnb is that you’re expected to do some cleaning. You often have to take out the trash and wash the dishes.
For more info, check out my guide to Airbnb Vs Hotels.
Camping is a great choice for outdoorsy travelers as well as those who are on a tight budget. Staying in a campground is usually as cheap as staying in hostels. Sometimes it’s cheaper.
If you’re adventurous, oftentimes you can find a place to camp for free. There are free campgrounds in many countries. Wild camping is also an option.
Some hostels also offer camping. Oftentimes there is a courtyard where you can pitch a tent. Sometimes camping is advertised and sometimes you have to ask if they allow it.
Camping at a hostel usually costs a bit less than a dorm bed. While camping at a hostel, you get to enjoy the privacy of your own tent while also enjoying the social aspect of staying at a hostel. In addition, you get to take advantage of the shared hostel facilities including the common areas, kitchen, and bathrooms. You also save some money this way.
As I’ve grown older, I have started appreciating the outdoors more. These days when I travel, I like to spend some time hiking and camping rather than staying in cities all the time.
The drawback to camping is that you have to pack a bunch of heavy and bulky camping gear. You’ll need to pack some type of shelter. This could be a tent, hammock, bivy sack, or tarp. You’ll also need a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag. In addition, you might want to bring some cooking gear.
Camping gear takes up a lot of space in your pack. It is also heavy. You’ll need to use a larger backpack that can handle the extra gear. Most travelers will need 65+ liters of space. You’ll also need to check your bag in most cases. This adds some expense.
Another drawback to camping is that campgrounds tend to be located outside of cities. This is the case because they need lots of open space. If you want to go into the city to go sightseeing, you’ll have to take a long drive. This takes time. The cost can also add up. Oftentimes, you need a vehicle to reach campgrounds. They’re not all accessible with public transport. Some cities do have campgrounds reasonably near the center. This is common in Europe but not in North America.
Things to Bring to Hostels When You’re Older
When you’re an older traveler, you may not want to stay up late partying with the teenage and early 20s travelers. Instead, you may prefer to get a good night of sleep. Many hostels are loud at night. People will come in after a night of partying. Some people may be partying in the hostel. To help you get a better night of sleep, consider packing some earplugs and an eye mask.
If you plan to stay in hostels, it’s also a good idea to bring your own towel, soap, and shampoo. Many hostels don’t supply these items. It’s also smart to bring a lock so you can secure your valuables in the provided lockers.
You should also bring a little bit of patience. Sometimes, you may have to wait to use the shower or bathroom. The kitchen can get crowded during mealtimes. Some guests are inconsiderate.
My Experience Staying in Hostels as a Young and Older Traveler
I started my first solo trip about 2 weeks after my 18th birthday. I stayed exclusively in hostels because I was on a tight budget. At that time, I was the youngest person at most hostels I stayed in. Most travelers I met were in their early to mid 20s. The age difference was never an issue.
One of the most memorable people I met on my first solo trip was an Australian guy named Dave. He was 31 and was backpacking around Europe for the first time, just like me.
We met in a hostel in Prague. After spending a couple of days sightseeing together, we decided to take the train to Krakow together. There, we met a 28 year old Canadian girl, who was also backpacking Europe. We all explored the city together.
Even though he was 13 years older than me and she was 10 years older than me, we still had a great time going out, sightseeing, eating in restaurants, and hanging out in the hostel. Our age difference was never an issue.
I learned that at hostels, age doesn’t really matter. You can hang out with travelers who are decades older or younger than you. It feels natural. We are all travelers visiting the same sites. We can bond over that regardless of age.
I continued staying in hostels throughout my 20s. I feel like the peak ages for staying in hostels is 20-24. Most travelers you meet will be in that age range. Some hostels attract a slightly older crowd.
Now, I’m in my 30s. I don’t feel that I am too old for hostels. I can still stay in a dorm and fit in just fine. Even though I am older than many of the other guests, I still feel welcome. I also still enjoy the social and communal aspects of hostels.
I do feel that I have grown out of enjoying the hostel experience somewhat now that I’m older. Little things that never used to bother me have started to really annoy me.
For example, I don’t like having to wait my turn to take a shower or use the stove. I don’t enjoy sleeping in a humid and smelly dorm room. Sometimes other guests annoy me when they snore or come into the dorm and turn the light on in the middle of the night.
These days, I stay in a private room most of the time. I’ll either stay in a hotel, Airbnb, or a private room at a hostel. If I’m traveling in an expensive city or if I’m only staying for a couple of nights, I’ll stay in a hostel dorm room.
The main reason I still stay in hostels is to save money. In expensive cities, a hotel room can cost $100-$200 per night while a bed in a hostel dorm might cost $30-$50 per night. In cheaper cities, I stay in private rooms. If money was no object, I would probably stay in hotels exclusively.
When I book a hostel, I avoid party hostels. I still like to party once in a while but I have grown out of the party hostel scene. These days, I prefer more quiet and laid-back hostels where I can get a decent night of sleep.
I expect to continue staying in hostels as I age. I don’t feel that I’m too old for hostels. My preferences have changed over the years. Maybe one day I will be too old for hostels. That day has not come yet.
Am I Too Young for Hostels?
Many hostels have a minimum age of 18. Younger guests are not allowed, even if they are accompanied by an adult. Children aren’t allowed. This is an extremely common rule. Many hostels are 18+ only.
This rule is extremely common in party hostels. People don’t want kids around when they’re drinking and partying.
Some hostels welcome people of all ages. In most cases, anyone under 18 will need to be accompanied by an adult. Sometimes kids aren’t allowed in the dorms. Only in private rooms. These hostels are usually kind of hybrid hostels/hotels.
If you’re traveling with kids, it’s important to check the rules first to see if kids are allowed at the hostel. Sometimes they are. Oftentimes they aren’t.
In all my years of traveling, I have never stayed in a dorm with kids. I have met some people who were under 18 who were on a school trip in dorm. I have stayed in hostels where kids were around in the common areas. The point is that it is possible to be too young for hostels.
Some hostels don’t check your age when you check in. They don’t care. It would be possible for a 15, 16, or 17 year old to stay in some hostels but it would be hit or miss. Oftentimes you would be turned away. If you’re a minor, it’s best to wait until you’re 18 to start staying in hostels.
You’re never too old to stay in hostels. You can stay in hostels whether you’re 30, 50, or 100.
Some hostels are better suited to older travelers than others. Boutique hostels tend to attract an older crowd than party hostels or low-budget hostels.
At some point during your travels, your preferences may begin to change. You may start to desire more privacy. You may get tired of sharing a bathroom, shower, and kitchen. The noises and smells of hostels may start to annoy you.
At that point, you might want to start transitioning to private accommodation. Maybe you book a hotel, Airbnb, or a private room in a hostel instead of a dorm. There is nothing wrong with this. Hostels aren’t for everyone. Some people grow out of the hostel experience.
Some people never grow out of hostels. You might enjoy staying in the dorm when you’re in your 30s, 40s, or beyond. That’s fine too.
Personally, I stay in a mix of hostel dorms and private rooms when I travel. I enjoy my privacy sometimes. I also appreciate the social experience that hostels offer.
Are you an older traveler who stays in hostels? Share your experience in the comments below!
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Zachary Friedman is an accomplished travel writer and professional blogger. Since 2011, he has traveled to 66 countries and 6 continents. He founded ‘Where The Road Forks’ in 2017 to provide readers with information and incites based on his travel and outdoor recreation experience and expertise. Zachary is also an avid cyclist and hiker. Living as a digital nomad, Zachary balances his professional life with his passions for hiking, camping, cycling, and worldwide exploration. For a deeper dive into his journey and background, visit the About page. For inquiries and collaborations, please reach out through the Contact page. You can also follow him on Facebook.