Are you too old to stay in hostels? 52



View Profile

Did you backpack around Europe in your late teens on $10 a day staying in hostels and camp sites? Would you consider staying in hostels now or do you think you are too old?

This was a thought that crossed our minds when we set off in 2013 for our 12-month RTW trip to South America, Europe and Asia. Our travel budget was calculated for stays in hostels wherever possible and would depend on location, time of year and the length of stay.

Arriving into our very first Hostel Ventana Sur in Santiago, Chile, we were nervous. Would we be the only grey-haired oldies? How would other travellers view us? We guessed it was natural to feel this way.

Our taxi dropped us at the gate of the hostel and we nervously rang the bell. The gates opened and very loud music could be heard – classical music. We were met by Jason, a young Englishman who instantly made us welcome. Later we found out that he was the Cupcake King – making the best cupcakes we have ever tasted.

After checking in we met up with travellers of all nationalities and ages seated around a long table under the grape vine covered outside patio area. Out came the beer and the wine and we were welcomed warmly. This was such a positive start for us and one that we always look back on fondly. We did not feel too old or out of place. Lots of tips and tricks and stories were shared that night that you can only get by being with other travellers in this type of environment. Staying in hotels you lose out on this camaraderie.

After such a positive experience, we booked another hostel in the Argentinian town of Mendoza. We arrived very late at Chimbas Hostel, Mendoza and were warmly met by our host, who pointed us to the beer fridge and the honour system which we gratefully enjoyed. Here in the overly large kitchen we cooked our meals with travellers of all ages and nationalities, having another wonderful experience whilst sharing the locally-produced wines Argentina is well known for.

This camaraderie between travellers in hostels continued on throughout our travels. We have met solos, couples and families in Cusco, Peru and in Istanbul, Turkey etc. enjoying the atmosphere of staying in hostels whilst travelling the world.

There are many benefits of hostel stays:

  • Good budget accommodation usually in central locations
  • We have had some of the best breakfasts which are included in the price
  • WiFi is free
  • A great source of information on local activities by the owners’ staff and other travellers. Our hostel in Florence, the Archi Rossi, provided free walking tours, microwaveable meals and even free flow ice-cream and water.
  • A great way to meet new people especially if you are a solo traveller.

We have put together some tips for you:

  • When we stay in a hostel we always book a double room with an ensuite bathroom. You do not have to stay in dormitory-style rooms
  • Ensure the WiFi is strong and whether it is available only in common areas or everywhere
  • Where possible choose a hostel that includes free breakfast, this can save you $$ on your daily budget
  • If you are staying longer than a week check to see if kitchen facilities are available
  • We book online to make our reservations. This allows us also to check out travellers’ reviews. When a review states it is a party hostel it is usually the case.
  • Ensure it is located in a safe and central area
  • Be sure to triangulate reviews – check out TripAdvisor, the accommodation booking engine that you are using and best of all, if you can receive a personal recommendation from a family, friend or fellow traveller, this is a good way of ensuring your expectations are met

Originally published here (with editing)


Where do you stay when you travel? Do you prefer hostels or hotels? Tell us below.

Jane and Duncan

Hi we are Jane and Duncan from To Travel Too

  1. I did my OE in my fifties and nearly always stayed in hostels all over Britain and Europe. Leaves money for what is important such as entry fees to tourist sites

  2. Did Europe on $5 a day (there was a book) back in 1970, camped in a pup tent with no floor, had a great time but have graduated to ensuite a now, never had to get up in the night and trek to the loo back then.

    4 REPLY
    • Ah yes, we could too, I remember having a lot of packet knorr soup. The camp grounds in Europe are pretty rugged compared with ours, I remember lining up for a paid shower.

    • Loo’s are a problem in Europe, don’t seem to be too many public ones and you have to pay to pee, if there was the high quality ones that they have here people would be living in them.

  3. No I wouldn’t stay in hostels again last year I stayed in one for a week even had my own room but it was dirty and very noisy. The bathroom was sought of clean I wouldn’t cook in the kitchen to even make a cuppa. I’m no prune I would have preferred to live in a tent for a week at least I might have got some sleep

    2 REPLY
    • I IiiiI wouldn’t judge all hostels by that experience Bea. Yes, some are noisy, others are not. I’ve hostelled for 30 yrs. South America as Jane and Duncan point out was very rewarding. As I’ve got older I give the dorms a miss and have a private room. They range from very basic, to quaint, extraordinary or luxurious. I found hostels in other countries are usually far friendlier than those in Australia which tend to cater to the young tourists. I enjoy having access to a kitchen to prepare my own food if I want. The hostels at Railway Square and the Rocks are very convenient.

    • I’m so sorry you had such a bad experience, I only stayed for a 4/5 nights in each hostel, (35 hostels) they were all great, even had facilities for disabled people and families. 9 months travelling around Europe 2014

  4. We’ve stayed in hostels when we’ve been in London, so much cheaper than hotels, we also did a trip around the South Island of New Zealand and stayed in hostels. We always book a double room, the hostel we use in London includes breakfast in the price. Never had a problem and we are both 70 years old now, hope to do it again one day.

    2 REPLY
    • Mike here-we stay at the London School of Economics B&B in Rosberry Ave 40 quid a night includes breakfast, 15 minute walk from buck palace or s 20 minute bus ride, fantastic.

    • I recently signed up to their newsletter, and the place in Roseberry Avenue looks fantastic, we will certainly keep them in mind if we visit London again, thank you.

  5. Did 2 years around Europe but lucky enough to buy a great Camper Van, back in the mid 70’s Campers were the way to go. Wonderful memories

  6. Yes did it round Europe staying in backpacker hostels most have private rooms with ensuite if you book in advance!

  7. A lot of stealing goes on If you aren’t careful and you don’t know who you will be sharing a room with

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *