I am Too Old to Stay in Hostels

I get asked all the time if I stayed in hotels or in hostels when I traveled to every country in the world. The answer is YES. I have stayed in both during my 15 years of world travel but in different phases of my life. I no longer stay in hostels, at least as long as I can help it. I did however, stay in hostels for years as a younger traveler. Now I am too old for hostels.

You never want to be that creepy old guy in the hostel. You know the dude who is fat, old, bald, walks around in his underwear and still likes to hang out with gap year kids. He gets wasted at the bar and tries to rap to 20 year old girls about his vast traveling and life experiences. Not that I would ever look like that or act like that but again, unless you’re broke, nobody over about 26 should stay in hostels.

The reason I am writing this is because several times a day I get an email asking me for a hostel recommendation somewhere in the world. I’m not sure where everyone gets that I know a lot about hostels because I never write about them and have rarely even mentioned them in my writing and certainly not in years. I guess people assume I do because of what I’ve done and the fact that I am still young.

However, I did spend a few years staying almost exclusively in hostels when I was 20-24 during my travels (although at 24 I even felt old at the hostel). So I feel like I have a lot of authority on the subject and do offer suggestions if I can remember the name of the place I stayed.

Nowadays there are plenty of booking sites on the Internet to make your life easier in finding them. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s these sites didn’t exist and you just went by word of mouth to do a walk in when you got there or a Google search. You would then have to call or use an individual hostel site if they had one that could handle reservations.

That said, I will give you some of my favorite hostels.

1. The Palace Hostel in Brisbane, Australia although I believe it’s now called Base Brisbane
2. Auckland Central Backpackers or the ACB but I believe it’s now called Base Auckland
3. Ashanti Backpackers in Cape Town, South Africa
4. The Flying Pig in Amsterdam, Netherlands
5. Chameleon Backpackers in Windhoek, Namibia
6. The Pink Palace in Corfu, Greece
7. Kabul Hostel in Barcelona, Spain
8. Ballmer’s in Interlaken, Switzerland
9. Sawasdee House in Bangkok, Thailand
10. Beachcomber Island in Fiji

There are so many more I am forgetting but just wanted to name a few. As I am now too old to stay in hostels, I am retiring my hostel days officially, but I am still happy to give recommendations and answer questions as I am sure they won’t stop!

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  1. You’re right on point regarding the self-imposed age limit. Some hostels don’t allow people over the age of 35 to stay there, which makes sense as well. Would schools allow twenty year olds into elementary school? No, it’s time to move on in your life and experience another aspect of traveling…hotels!

    great post!

    • Thanks and I didn’t know some imposed age limits on guests…I’m still under 35 so I guess I’m safe for now!

    • I try to avoid hostels primarily because of all the teenage riffraff they let in there these days. I’d rather be the “creepy” old guy than the ignorant 19 year old. What about some other hostel stereotypes that are worse than the old people? The whiny trustafarian, the stinky hippy, the drunk guy, the loud-mouthed know-it-all, etc.

      • Well said I’m 38 and can assure you I am not that creepy guy , the other hostel stero type frightens me !
        don’t do it to save money as I have funds though when it comes to sleeping while on the road I couldn’t care less where I sleep as long as it’s clean and dry .

      • Paul Arthur Reeves says

        Yes, I know that it is 9 years on after your comment, but thank-you for putting the opposite point of view. I went to my 1st hostel (due to the increasing rates for hotels) last month, at the age of 77! I have traveled alone for 48 years, and wanted to experience something different. It is all very well for Lee to (in my opinion) lay down the law about the age at which people should stop using hostels, but it should be a matter of personal choice. He seems to have a middle-aged attitude (if he is under 30, as he claims). I did not start traveling solo until I was 29, so, according to him, I would have been too old for hostels, before I even began! I found, on my 1 experience that people were very friendly; I was invited to join a card game on my 1st evening, with a group of 20-somethings, and I do not think that they taking the proverbial. You are as young as you feel, and I do not take kindly to somebody half my age trying to tell me whether or not I am “too old” to do something. Rant over, and many thanks for your comment.

    • There shouldn’t be an age limit. Some people don’t have the money for pricy hotels. I always wanted to go to Europe, but really never had the money for even a plane ticket.

      Now I could afford the plane ticket, and very cheap accomidations, but I’m too old?

      I guess I’ll look for campsites, or that’s wrong too?

      “You blink, and you’re old?” My dad who died of liver cancer, and had no fun in life.

      • Oh, so yes! I, too, can finally travel, and I don’t want to blow my budget on a hotel that I only need for a shower and a bed.

        I’ve stayed in hotels; it gets old. Hostels are a whole new world, and I stayed in my first (on Miami Beach — the U.S. seems to have fewer issues with “ageism”) for my 51st birthday. I also had amazing conversations with my roommates, one from Utah and another from Germany. Who wouldn’t want that experience? I’m in college for the third time (am I too old for that now too?); my first time through, I hadn’t the money to “take a gap year and tour Europe.” And why am I “creepy” for wanting to travel now that I finally have the funds?

        And if ageism doesn’t allow me to bunk in with “the young generation” then where are all the “elderhostels” I used to hear so much about when I was a child?

        • Thank you so much! I began reading this article because I have never had the money to travel, I actually still don’t at the age of 52! I was a single mom to 3 kids, I gave them everything I had to give them a good start in life. They are fabulous and busy with their own lives. Now it is finally my turn! I got my motorcycle license at age 50, bought my Harley at age 52. Still want to sky dive, and I want to travel to the places I have always wanted to go! I don’t want a plush hotel (even if I could afford it), I am going to SEE things, to EXPERIENCE things, not to sit in an expensive hotel! I will be staying in hostels! I will be friendly to the young people. But please be respectful to me as well! I have paid my dues in life, I deserve to do what I can in my one and only life! And the lucky ones will ALL be older one day!

      • A lot of hostels are becoming more like budget hotels. You can even get private rooms. I haven’t heard about any upper age limits in Europe. I checked out some in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. No mention of a maximum age. We are 65 and found Generator Hostels, which are all over Europe.

      • Old Dude and Susan, the article is not saying that you cannot stay in hostels. It just says that the writer thinks that he is too old to stay in them.
        Most people who are rich enough to travel when they are 19y old are going to be rich enough in their 30s that they do not need to stay in hostels.
        I recommend that you check the individual hostel’s website and confirm that there is no age limit. If not, then you are safe. If possible, call to be sure. But, I don’t think that this is necessary unless you speak the language well and can afford the long distance call.
        When I started to travel, I was already in my early/mid 30s. I had no money to travel when I was younger. I have stayed in hotels for some trips but I have also stayed in hostels in Europe, Africa, Israel, Central America and at the Grand Canyon. I was solo except for Guatemala where I stayed in two different hostels with my friend.
        I am immature and look a few years younger than my age (now 41) but by no means have I ever felt too old. I have never been the oldest person in my hostel on any one of my trips. I have seen elderly couples in hostels, I have seen single Moms with their children, and I have seen over 35 solo travelers, etc.
        I suggest that you get a private room or a double and buy it out. Be careful to check the price. Sometimes, a private hostel room can cost the same as a lower star hotel and it may be better to just stay in the hotel. Also ask for a private/ensuite bath. If you do have to share, try to ask for a single person in your room of the same gender. I have never had to share with a stranger but that may happen.
        Also, check the reputation of the hostel. Some are full of rules and others are known for partying teens and getting drunk and threesomes. Just make sure that you are not going to want to leave in the middle of your stay. To address another point that was emphasized in the article, behave like a normal person. Don’t walk around in your underwear, don’t hit on the younger women, don’t get drunk, don’t tell people to be quiet or act their parent, don’t do anything “creepy”. You don’t want to be like that man in the picture in his briefs. I am sure that he doesn’t even know that picture was taken.
        Do NOT think that you cannot stay in hostels if you are over 25.

  2. LOL, this made me laugh, especially with the picture of that old guy in his undies. There is always that one guy who creeps everyone out, the old broke guy who tries to be your friend but never buys you a beer!

  3. Wondering if you’re too old to be in a hostel is kind of like a woman asking a man if she looks fat in this dress or whatever-if you think you are then you are…

  4. I met a 62 year old lady while staying in a hostel. she had been traveling for 4 years since her husband died. She was amazing, full of wisdom and I spent a very interesting and rewarding night talking to her.
    I wasn’t aware that hostels were considered only to be for young people. Why does it make sense?
    Are older people who travel the world considered creepy?
    Why should an ‘older’ person spend more money to stay in a hotel?
    Isn’t a hostel part of the experience of travel, and an opportunity to meet other like minded people?
    One of the reasons for travel is to open your mind, I suggest you do the same, and disguard narrow minded ageism.

    • Trust me I have an open mind! Old people in hostels is a little weird. Obviously, it depends on the type of hostel and they way they interact with others and present themselves. Remember, I am basically referring to party hostels here and there are many types. An older lady or man, minding their own business and with their own room is cool in my eyes. Like I said, it’s the old creepy guys that weird me out.

      • Karl Schipul says

        I am sympathetic and know where you are coming from. I agree with you on a general level. Though I might be slightly more lenient. I think there is a big difference between someone like you and that bald guy in the underpants.

      • The hostel I was looking at in London billed itself as “non-party” yet they had an age limit of 50 — one year too young for me. Really?! I’m to be relegated to a private room (with the accompanying massive increase in room rate) even though I don’t look anywhere near my age (and rarely act it!)? I’m nowhere near retirement age; I don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid or social security and I barely qualify for AARP. So why does Europe think I’m too old to behave myself in a room with someone a year younger?

    • I totally agree with you Tara, good to know some people have open mind, this guy says he has open mind , what a laugh he sounds more like a bragger to me , His message is ( look people I am better than everybody )( sure sounds like he needs a lot of attention Bernard

    • Hi Tara – I agree with you and was about to post something similar. I’m sorry Lee, really not trying to be unnecessarily critical here, its just that this type of thing really bugs me. If someone decides that staying in hostels is right for them, no one else should have a problem with it. You can’t make a blanket statement like “no one over the age of 26 should stay in a hostel” and then start saying ‘oh I didn’t mean the nice old lady – I only meant THAT guy…and I only meant party hostels’. I’m 32 and for the last two years have travelled a lot, mostly staying in hostels. No one thought I was weird. Sorry if it makes people uncomfortable but I still like partying! My dad and his partner often stay in hostels because they like to travel, but don’t have a lot of money. Why should they have to pay more if they’re happy and not bothering anyone? My dad is not creepy. Some peoples’ lives don’t follow what is considered the ‘normal’ flow, and maybe they back pack in their 30s, 40s, 50s. Think about this – if someone over 26 who was considering a hostel stay was reading this, now they might feel unwelcome in hostels and pay more money to go elsewhere, or feel judged the whole time they stay at a hostel. Is that the type of effect you want to have on people? Wouldn’t you rather inspire anyone who wants to travel, even the ‘creepy guy’? And yes Marc, ageism is definitely an ism, this article kind of shows that.

      • thanks for that Jo my sister and I are in our 50s and are thinking of doing the hostels in NZ because we do not have a lot of money and I was reconsidering after the comment about old people at backpackers hostels but now I think we will do it I suppose you get negative comments about everything and you just have to get on with what ever you want to do.

    • some of my favorite memories are with the random older people in the hostels, they have the wisdom that we want about travel! I agree, age shouldn’t matter.

  5. Tara, I didn’t know ageism was even an ism?!

    I think Lee is making a joke here but seriously eluding to the weird old people who are creepers…not a nice 62 year old lady.

    • Truth!

      I didn’t know it was an ism either…”ism’s in my opinion are not good!”

      • I feel that if young people weren’t so wrapped up in only themselves, they would love the experience of talking with a person older than them. Isn’t that what hostels are about? Experiences? Quit being so self centred and judgemental and be a little more adventurous, kind and polite. You will be old one day, I hope young people have more tolerance to you, than what you have to us. Personally I find your jokes, this entire topic offensive and humiliating. I was so excited to meet people and hear of their travel experiences! Plus, it is more fun to be able to share your travel memories with someone, even though you are alone. But reading this whole article is saddening.

    • Cheryl tebbutt says

      I am 64 and.love to travel. Light. And cheap.!! I am veg. So hate eggs at breakfast!
      Wish. Someone would mbuild. Plain. Rooms. With. Shower!!l!!too many curtains in hotels pls chairs.+++++
      Hate them…..?.Cheryl…want. Tommgo. To. Auz.

  6. It is pretty creepy when old men stay in dorm rooms. While it may be part of a travel experience when you’re young, there seems a point when older people, especially men, shouldn’t stay in the party hostels. Obviously, there are many kinds of hostels but we all know the ones I mean.

  7. Hi Lee

    Oh dear, Im 53 and still stay in them, otherwise I’d probably have to stop travelling or cut back the amount I do. However I do have some rules.
    1. I never stay in a shared dorm.
    2. I make sure I have a toilet in room or near (can’t hold beer overnight anymore).
    3. Dont fraternise with the other guests. Unless some old geezers are there.

    Ive also found lots of middle aged backpackers places too. Last year in Dakar in Sengal I was one of the youngest in the hostel I stayed in.
    Keep an open mind.

    • Hey Mike, Africa is a lot different regarding hostels, especially West Africa where there are few places to stay period and even fewer decent places. I do like the rules although sorry about the beer situation, and am in no way saying cut back Mike but ya I’m with you on the no dorm rooms.

  8. Anyway I only look 26.

    I wish !!!

  9. Great points Lee. I stayed at hostels in my college years. There are many that focus on the 18-mid 20’s demographic. I have never stayed but the two you reference in Europe: The Pink Palace in Corfu, Greece
    and Ballmer’s in Interlaken, Switzerland are infamous for being party hostels. I have heard that it’s impossible not to hook up at the Pink Palace in Corfu.

    The question is really about, what’s the purpose of your trip? What are you trying to get out of it? If it’s just to party (wow, drugs are legal in Amsterdam, etc…) than maybe these places are the right ones to stay at? (although one might argue that you can do that wherever you live, NYC, Dewey Beach, etc…)

    The one nice thing about a hostel or really anyplace if it’s got the right vibe, is the chance to meet interesting people from other places, share stories (about themselves) and maybe war stories/recommendations about places to go, visit, eat, shop, etc… (although as you reference the internet has changed this, before it, it was vital, now the same info can be found online)…

    Its the experience, the journey…. Anyone can follow in your footsteps and visit the places you have been. But it will be an entirely different experience… Different, people, time, etc…

  10. Definitely agree with this, you are way too old for a hostel!

    Although good point already made that some hostels like in Africa are geared towards anyone but nowadays with various hotel websites you can often get hotel rooms almost as cheap as some of the non-dorm rooms in hostels. Only thing I ever saw as an advantage of staying in a hostel was meeting other backpackers but I don’t think I’d really want to hang out with 20yr old me at this point and certainly wouldn’t want to hang out with 20yr old you.

  11. Great post, Lee! Personally, I’m a fan of the “hostel for a few nights then boutique hotel for a few nights” combination. I’ve met great people in hostels, all very curious an open-minded regardless of age. Once I split a room in Italy with a gal 10 years older than I; another time I bonded with a nice European gal 10 years younger than I in the Dominican Republic. American hostels are not my bag, but hostels in other part of the world I would certainly investigate.

    • Hi Lauren, the only hostel I’ve ever stayed at a hostel in America was in South Beach at 9th and Collins right around corner from Pizza Rustica if you know Miami. I didn’t even know what a hostel was then, I was 19 and we ended up there on Spring Break sophomore year. I am a big fan of boutique hotels or any type of hotel with a common/bar area where you can meet other people. Brand monoliths suck, too stale and boring.

  12. Surprised you didn’t mention the old Scot in NZ farting all night at that hostel in Rotorua….

    • Hahahaha, that was amazing and actually was the inspiration for this article! I could describe it to everyone but so much better told in person!

  13. OH Lee lee lee , you got ur fifteen minutes of attention , good for you I didnt travel the world but I did a lot and I stayed at Hostels a lot and met a lot of not so bragging nice people, unlike you ,,,,people in general have an open mind and share experiences without overbearing and judging , some people age nicely some age negatively, um,, like u for instance I will pray for u to get a better life than bragging.
    I am 68 now and still share some very nice interesting moments while I travel and do my own thing which is sports (snowboarding ,hiking,,,, etc ) At the same time staying away from creeps like you , remember maybee most people havent travel EVERY country but I know many who have traveled a LOT , for those with an open mind I say good for you was nice to meet you . Bernard

    • Hahaha, Bernard you sound like an angry old man who has no clue what he’s saying…I am glad you’ve traveled a lot and hope everything goes well for you. Try reading some of my stuff or get to know me before you make stupid statements like that. Take care.

  14. I’ve only stayed in one hostel, but that was pretty much enough for me, even in my younger days:)

  15. Hi Lee,

    I’m 26, my boyfriend is 25 and we travel the world full time as digital nomads. I have to completely disagree with you on the whole “too old for a hostel thing”. We stay in hostels most of the time, sometimes in hotels, guesthouses or couchsurfing. Of course,as we are a couple we usually opt for the private room option in a hostel but this usually works out to just as cheap as buying two dorm room beds. I absolutely love hostels because they have such a friendly and social nature, I like hanging around in the common room and chatting with people.

    I have never had a problem with people of different ages in a hostel and I really don’t feel like there is an age limit. In fact, some of the most enjoyable and interesting people we have met in hostels have been older than 30. We met a fascinating retired policeman from Poland in a hostel in Borneo who told us the most incredible stories about his life. We met a 50 year old woman in a hostel in Victoria, British Columbia who we became friends with and who invited us to stay in her home in Vancouver. We met an incredibly smart and interesting astrophysicist who was probably in his 60s who was writing a book about the universe and had been living in our hostel in Malacca, Malaysia for 2 months. While traveling solo in New Zealand, I had a hostel dorm roommate in her 30s who became one of my best friends I made in that country and who I still keep in touch with today.

    I really don’t understand what is “creepy” about an older traveler. I know that people can be creepy, especially guys towards girls, but in my experience that is not dependent on age. I think I’ve been creeped on by more young guys than old guys when I look back on my experiences.

    Anyway, I think if someone is out there traveling the world and wants to both save money and enjoy a social common-room environment where they can have interesting conversations with other travelers, why should it matter how old they are?

    • Kelly, I’m so jealous of your digital nomad lifestyle, and you and your boyfriend sound like wonderful breakfast conversation for an “old lady” like me. I’d also like to meet that astrophysicist! What an amazing conversation that would be.

      Why should I stop thinking and learning just because I’ve hit menopause? I’m back in college, finishing my Master’s degree — am I too old for that? I’m looking at an internship and the possibility of yet another career change — am I too old for that, too? So why must I be relegated to some stuffy hotel room with no conversation from like-minded, open-minded world travelers? People get old and die from lack of mental stimulation too, and I have no intention of letting that happen! This world is amazing, with wonderful people like Kelly and that astrophysicist, who “get it.” And I’m not going to meet them in a Marriott. So why are hostel owners excluding us from the conversation?

  16. Hi Kelly, this article was kind of a joke but at the same time it is making fun of a certain type of guy many people have seen at the hostel, apparently not you. Also, of course some older people are cool, interesting etc just like younger people. I am basically referring to the young party hostels in Europe and OZ/NZ/RSA where a lot of these guys go get drunk and do as I said. It’s kind of a joke with my friends and I as you can see from some of the comments. People are taking this a little too seriously as an insult to anyone who stays in a hostel over 30 or whatever. That’s not what I meant but I do enjoy the feedback from people. Hostels are a good way to see the world relatively cheaply and make friends. Me personally, I am over it though as I get tired of having the same questions/conversations over and over, ie, where are you from, how long have been traveling, where have you gone, where are you going, etc…haha, I wsh I had a dollar for every time I had that conversation!

  17. Haha I sometimes feel the same way – I am 26 and pregnant and when I went to stay at a hostel in Sydney the other weekend I had to step around spilt beer and vomit to get to my room :S – although we did have a private room so once we were in it, it was fine

    • That’s pretty gross but also pretty funny but ya that’s what I’m talking about! Congrats on the baby and try not to fall in puke!

  18. Jeez, thank you for raining on my parade buddy. I am about to go back to Europe in a week and I have a great list of hostels to hit. I felt really self conscious with your little piece. It is sad to hear some of your guest saying that older travelers don’t fit in hostels. Why: my money is as good as theirs, and some of them smell so bad and are so rude that are hardly welcoming material for any business owners. I don’t know if you noticed, but excellent hostels are popping out all over Europe they are nice,modern, clean with prices to match…why? because businesses realize there are a lot of better clients out there with more money than a bunch of dirty 20’s somethings making trouble. When I go to a hostel, I am polite clean after myself, and respect people when they are asleep. My main purpose is not “socialize” with my fellow roomates, I go there to sleep and have a shower. If I want fun, I hit the town..that is what I am there for. It is a cheap bed…don’t start the discriminatory talk friend, it is unbecoming. If they kids are really like some are portrayed here…I really couldn’t not care less for them.

  19. Holy Cow people. I can not believe what some of you took away from this blog post! If you want to personally stay in hostels then go stay in them. What Lee is basically saying is he feels he has moved on from Hostels. I own a Travel Agency and I am around Lee’s age and have done the hostel thing as well. I am far from a snob like you are pretty much insinutaing Lee is for his comments but I feel the same way. I am past staying in Hostels. But after 20 years of being in the Travel Industry I can tell you now the normal with a lot of people in society who have been traveling since they were younger is to feel like they want to try a different experience of Travel. This means upgrading how they Travel whether staying in a Hostel and now in a 5 star hotel or going on the Backpacker bus and now trying to go Business Class. Neither is the wrong way it is just personal choice! Since this is Lee’s blog then it is his choice! Yes it all comes down to money and the type of experience you wish to have for sure.
    Think of it this way… If you had gone to London when you were 18 or so you may have been willing to share an apartment with 15 other people.. even switch out beds during the day to share on the cost… Now if you were a bit later on in your life would you not feel you had moved on and upgraded from that experience and now want to share with maybe a few people or even have your own place.
    The way you choose to travel is your choice. But remember there are many different experiences out there. If you have the gift of going back to a country the second time then try doing it a different way.
    Oh and Lee… I am way to old for Hostels as well *grin*

    • More to the point is that so many hostels are excluding older travelers with age restrictions — and, yes, “ageism” is a thing. I’m choosing to stay in hostels after having an amazing experience in South Beach, and because Rick Steves keeps telling me to!!! Why can he and his family stay in hostels, yet the rest of us are “creepy?”

  20. 109 Years ol says

    It’s great to have enough money that you can blithely call others “creepy”; a totally vague, emotionally based criticism that frankly shows weak analytical and linguistic ability.

    You are just a follower, a fashion freak. Luckily, aging will happen to everyone but you.

  21. Uh 26, that soon? So what if you’re a broke grad student at 27 who wants to travel the world before working? Does that mean they can’t travel? I’d set the hostel deadline probably at 30 in this day and age of student loans and debt. “Youth hostels” are no longer for German high school kids whose parents own estates…that doesn’t exist in the 21st century. More like post-college Y-gens.

  22. I arrived at this older post because I’m in my mid 30s and trying to decide if I should stay in tis very nice looking hostel (private room) or in a hotel in my upcoming trip. I’m still undecided, but I definitely relate to what you’re talking about! And, I don’t think you’re saying ALL older men are creepy–wow are people sensitive! it’s about knowing how to act. I remember being in my early 20s, traveling alone as a female, and having to avoid guys like that. I decided I was too old for more traditional dorm hostel set ups about 10 years ago when I stayed in one as a grad student. I had stayed there about 6 or so years before that…and remembered loving it. But times change. I woke up from a jet lagged nap to a group of rowdy British guys around me and wondered what I’d gotten myself into. It turned out to be okay…but not something I enjoy! Even as I traveled in college, I never enjoyed those party hostels. It never made sense to me–they should be for sleeping! Party out at a bar or club!

  23. I’ve stayed in a hostels on two trips – once on a visit to the UK with my boyfriend in my late 20’s (definitely past your 26 year age limit), and then in northern California and Canada as a single mother traveling with my 13 year old daughter (we stayed at family hostels when we could). Now I’m 38 and looking to go to NYC by myself for a few days, and I’m on a super tight budget. It shouldn’t be assumed that all older people a) have the funds to spend on pricey hotels, especially in cities like NYC where a dump costs over $100 a night or b) that even if we had the money, we’d want to waste it on hotels. I don’t believe in extravagant travel, and if I’m traveling alone (which I often do), I have no desire to waste money on a room I have no intentions spending any time in.

    That said, party hostels are a different breed, and I wouldn’t stay in one at the age of 38, anymore than I would have stayed at one with my 13 year old daughter. It’s all about finding the right fit. 😉

    • Myndi, I couldn’t agree more, but how do you find the fit? The hostel websites don’t have an “age” filter or a “party / non-party” filter; I didn’t find out about the age limit on the one I’d chosen ’til I was at the point of making payment! And even some “non-party” hostels have age limits, which is baffling.

  24. Well I am regretting not traveling when I was younger…. Now divorced and on a budget, it seems like it is the thing to do for a few years. I didn’t like hearing that I was to old for a hostel at first, but since reading into this debate, I feel that I am not to old @ 41yrs, because I am not a creepy person.
    I think it is safe to say that everyone will eventually get sick of sitting around talking about, “where they are going, where they are from and for how long their journey will be” in the hostel traveler scene in general, and I sincerely look forward to that new (or missed) experience!! I am sick of the, “how much do you have, what are you getting, where are you going and what are you doing with it all” conversations…. Been there, got enough, going traveling!!!!

    • I hope I run into you in the common room sometime! We may be the only people there over 26…but let’s hope not. One of the travel sites was saying that retirees without a lot of money are starting to look at hostels as a way to stretch a travel budget, age be damned. Maybe I need to start a blog for older travelers…obviously, there are no such sites, or more of us (the uncreepy among us, anyway) would be taking advantage of the experience.

      • Anne Savage says

        Im recent to this page, I\’m very near selling my family home, leaving my adult children, after me and their father split 2 years ago.I\’m really scare but have to do this, thank you for this confidence you have gave me !

  25. True! Make it not more than 28yo. Had fun reading
    this article, Lee.

  26. My major problem with hostels, as a 47 year old mum travelling with kids, is they’re far more expensive than hotels and guest houses for 4 people. That being said, we have ended up in a couple in our last 8 months on the road. It’s been fine. The gap year kids don’t bother my kids much at all.

  27. I stayed hostels for the first half of a year of traveling when I was 35 – mainly to make my budget stretch further. The second half I tried to avoid them or only stayed in private rooms. It wasn’t so much an age thing as it was my personality – I like my privacy and I can be a bit of an introvert so sometimes I just wanted to get back “home” after a long day of sightseeing and chill by myself. At the same time, I was traveling around the former USSR so hostels were quite different from what you find in the rest of Europe and Asia – basically just small apartments with a couple rooms with some bunk beds.

  28. David Costa says

    Lee, I have read your articles, quit being so insecure! Have fun and quit worrying about what people think of you so much!! Cheers!

  29. Celeste Jennings says

    Hey Lee,

    Have you been to Abashiri and Sapporo in Hokkaido? Any hotel recommendations?

  30. In my late 20s I realized I was too old for Hostles. The crowd had become, to me at least, a mass of ignorant loud youth.

  31. There is totally a point where you just can’t stay in hostels any more. On the other hand its great way of meeting people while you travel.

  32. I didn’t go on any long term backpacking trips after graduating from University, so I missed out on the Hostel life. So for a change, I decided to stay at a hostel in Los Angeles a few months ago to keep my costs down and try it out for once. I am 34, and had some concern that I would be “too old” for this.

    Strangely enough, I fit in well and was able to make some friends. I more or less did my own thing in LA for a few days, and chose to hang out with some of the younger backpackers whenever I wanted to. But not once did I feel “creepy” or “too old.” It is all about how you carry yourself and if you act your age or not.

    Ironically, the only time anything got “creepy” was when my Japanese roommate decided to have sex in our room after literally only being at the hostel for a few hours. It would have been nice had they either used the bathroom or some other place instead. To make matters worse, the guy she hooked up with came back to our room the next morning to grab a pack of cigarettes that he left on her bed. Dude, just let them go. They are gone! You already have done enough damage as is.

    Moral of the Story – Creepiness works both ways on the age spectrum in hostels. Don’t be one!!

  33. True story, to save a bill in Sydney I bought a 2-night stay in Sydney ($86/night) for a private room but shared bathroom. Every time I went to take a shower dudes were launching boogers in the showers and coughing up gumballs or phlegm (seemed they were struggling to make it as nasty as possible), and I had enough by day 2. I didn’t want to stand in those dank, diseased showers and I didn’t want to be in that nappy spot a second longer. I checked out and upgraded for $60 more a night ($148 single, regular hotel) and swore to GOD, I’d never stay at another nasty hostel again… Someone else can save the cash; hostels are gross as shit.

  34. John McVirgo says

    I’m shocked at the bigoted attitude of the ageist low-life that posted this evil sh*t:

    “You know the dude who is fat, old, bald…”

    I hope you never come to the UK because with an attitude like that, I’d call the police and get you locked up.

    • That said, do you know of any hostels in London that do allow folks over 50? I’m having a hard time finding something, seriously! I’m neither fat nor bald; old is matter of perspective. I just want a cheap place to sleep and a hot shower so I can get up early and see an amazing city; I don’t need mints on my pillow and turn-down service.

  35. I couldn’t have written it better myself… I can’t be more over hostels especially when you wake up in the morning just to find out that at least half of the people in the room aren’t actually staying there and had no idea how they ended up in your room. That said never stay at any hostel in Sydney 😉

  36. Money. It’s that easy yet many people don’t get it.
    I don’t like hostels anymore. I try to stay at hotels or better, guesthouses, but sometimes it’s too expensive if I travel alone.
    I don’t get angry or anything but it’s still surprises me how clueless Americans and West Europeans are about the world. Some people are just more privileged but many of them don’t understand it.
    For many people it’s often travel cheap or stay at home.Many choose to stay at home but is it the message we want to give as travellers?

    • Monica, I have to agree with you: we Americans, in general, tend to think the world revolves around us. But there are a few of us who do want to experience the world before we die, and had to wait ’til family was grown and gone and the divorce papers signed before we could. Now that money is still an issue but time is more easily had, I want to expand my limited horizons, but like you, I find private accommodations cost-prohibitive. I also want the experience of meeting other people who have traveled and learn from them, and seriously, what “young whippersnapper” doesn’t get a kick out of giving advice to some “creaker” their grandparents’ age? Hey, I’m not vain — age has taught me that life’s too short to remain ignorant.

  37. Bummer. In a couple years I hope to retire. It will be a modest retirement. I hoped to travel Europe. Thought it might be possible by staying in hostels. But I’ll be mid 50s, bald and fat. I guess I’m too gross and creepy to stay at hostels with the cool kids. Thanks for saving me from the embarrassment.

  38. WOW…..SO i guess I’m gonna have to rethink this…..im a young 47 yo….ill be going to ireland and amsterdam next year….ill be staying at barnacles and flying pig hostels.
    I’m doing it because its cheap and the people who stay at these places are fun and full of life..
    i love hanging out with younger people ….so I’m not gonna let any of what you said bother me one bit..
    im gonna party and have a blast with all the younger crowd……Ive never been considered creepy by my younger peers…..
    Personally i think you got this all wrong…..
    live on brother!!!!!

  39. Cyril Butler says

    If you prefer abiding by illogical cultural norms above travelling the world then that is fine but calling older 41 year olds like myself creeps for using hostel accommodation to travel the world then it is a sad reflection on you. 2 older people than me staying in Franz Joseph right now. One French lady in her 60s and a guy in his 50s. Both undoubtedly have seen much more of the world than you will ever. Older people who stay in hostels are not broke or in poverty either just could not afford 9 weeks hotel accomodation. The only thing old and aged in this conversation is social conservativism more suited to the 1930s. Sure I can feel out of place with loud 20 year olds but have met great 25 year olds who were well travelled and had more than enough in common with.

  40. I recently started staying in hostels at the age of 36. I could not afford to travel up until recently. I plan on traveling across Europe this year and will definitely stay in hostels. I am 39 years of age now. Staying in hostels is the only way I can afford to travel.

  41. Mr Traveller says

    I don’t think the age limit is true for all hostels.
    I’ve basically lived in hostels for more than 7 years now and it varies a lot.

    Times I’ve felt like an old person (25 at the time) because the hostel was targeted towards young people then I’ve been to places where the average was above 30 and there was a great mix of people that glued really well.

    Of course it really depends how good you are at judging the right place, then there’s luck!

    PS I think the age limit is 35 for guys, that’s when you can noticed that we are starting to age a little 🙂

  42. George Waring says

    We live in a world where traveling, experiencing new things and meeting new people is creepy? Not in my world, I’ll sleep in a doorway to avoid such judgmental people.

  43. I also want to add that there are other cheap alternatives- Couchsurfing is free. You can stay with an older person or with a family and have your private room. I have even known people to get the place to themselves.
    Also, AirBnB often rents out rooms. I mean that you don\\\’t have to pay $100/day for the whole apartment. You can pay $50/day for a room in the apartment.
    Check out these two options if you have decided that hostels are not for you. If you have your own apartment or house back home, another thing to consider is home swapping. This works best if you live near a tourist attraction or in a big city. By tourist attraction, I mean anything from a beach or a popular mountain or any location that people like to visit.

  44. Geronimo Tagatac says

    I’ve been traveling and staying in hostels since the mid-1960s. I’ve never really come across any of the strange older people described in some of the previous posts. Most of the problems I’ve encountered have to do with younger hostelers, from Thailand to the Baltics, coming into dorm rooms drunk, throwing up on the floors and in the bathrooms, turning on lights at 4AM, shouting, lacking any social skills and, at times, belligerent. I’ve met a lot of great, thoughtful, well-read, well-educated, and well-travelled young people, too. We’ve shared beers and had wonderful conversations. Some of the most interesting people I’ve met in hostels have had have been with older people, as well, like the retired physics professor, in Vienna, or the dentist doing volunteer work, in Quito. Another thing I’ve noticed is that South American and Asian countries rarely have age restrictions in their hostels. I think that it’s related to respect and admiration that these cultures have for older people. They don’t fear them, or try to exclude them the way we do in the west. I’ve found that Asian backpackers are more than pleased to engage with people older than they are. Younger western backpackers have a near phobia of older people.

  45. NoSoCreepy:) says

    Not sure what the writer’s intention was, but I sure am feeling bad about a hostel reservation I just made for spending 3 nights at The Flying Pig in Amsterdam. I am a 37 year old father of two who will be returning from a backpacking experience in the Alps. Growing up, I never had the means to travel across Europe, but now my wife and I are doing extremely well and I thought I’d experience the hostel/backpacking experience while my wife is busy with other family affairs. I am pretty laid back and the idea of bunking with people from other backgrounds (age, culture etc.) is not scary for me. In fact, that’s what I would be doing the week before in the Alps as I bunk with hikers in small village refuges.

    Perhaps this article was written with better intentions, but I feel like it’s not constructive. There are creepy people everywhere and within each demographic. Let’s not discourage people to do what they want to do simply because they are of a certain age, gender or cultural background.


  46. Many hostels do ‘not’ discriminate against people aged over 35. Suggest everyone use those hostels and stick two fingers up at the ones that do practice such absurd age discrimination.

    Running a hostel is a financially demanding business with ‘lots’ of competition. Hostels that discriminate on age should take note that older hostelers are usually more able to pay to stay at hostels than younger hostelers. I am 66 and find it easy to chat with other hostelers of any age.

    People of any age can misbehave while in hostels – but it is much more likely that some younger hostelers will cause trouble.

    Hostel management should take note that older hostelers are usually financially better off than younger hostelers and therefore more likely to be able to stay at hostels.

    I remember many years ago when the UK YHA almost went bust because of its many repressive bullying rules.such as age restrictions. At that time hostelers found out that they could instead choose to stay in a B&B for about the same price as hostels but with none of the restrictive oppression. Today all that nonsense has been chucked in the rubbish bin and the YHA is now a thriving business offering an excellent service to all.

  47. WorldwideWayne says

    Hostels are a big industry and there’s something out there for everyone. It just takes a little research, a strong sense of who you are and an even stronger sense of who you are not. I suspect the age restrictions are for party hostels. Think about it: You’re working the front desk at the Pink Palace on toga night and a 65-year-old man walks in. You know he’s going to have a bad experience so you send him elsewhere. And save yourself a scathing review.

  48. Doesn’t help that you look about 35-40 as well. I stay in a shared room here and there, 29, look mid twenties. People finish school before 28? Damn. career student.

  49. I’m guilty of being retired and staying in hostel dorms. I’m the ageing rock & roller type. However, I found my roomates too be Ok except for the snoring folk. Its your girlfriend back home who tells you to forget youth hostelling.

  50. This thing about being “too old for hostels”.

    What nonsense. I took a sabbatical aged 43 to travel in South America, best decision I ever made. I was bored to tears when staying at hotels and happy when staying at youth hostels. Even better if you share the room. You meet lovely people, sometimes make close friends. I prefer rooms for four people, more than that and it gets too much.

    The thing with youth hostels is that private rooms are a lot more expensive. Not that I don’t enjoy the privacy. Sometimes they work out more expensive than your own room in a mid-range, cozy hotel. This is because the beauty of the hostel is that it is sociable.

    First time I stayed at a youth hostel I was 39. I have never looked back. i try to combine youth hostels with midrange hotels when I am tired. I am 46 now and sadly no longer “on the road” ; but am planning one day, to travel for even longer than in my sabbatical, or perhaps adopt a line of work that allows me to take 2-3 months off each year, solid, so I can travel.

    The reasons to stay in hostels are not always financial. It’s more fun. You don’t have to try and mingle with the youth, but sometimes will inevitably get dragged into activities with them.

    Honestly during my travels aged 43 I never ever had the feeling I was too old.

    To those older travellers considering hostels:

    Enjoy life, as nobody is getting any younger, and ignore this nonsense.
    But then as an older traveller you probably know this already.

    It’s called “older and wiser”

  51. At times I feel “old” staying in hostels, at times I do not – yes, one of those “old ladies” at 51, though I have been travelling off and on for over a decade (and when I was younger). I try to avoid the party hostels, (though occasionally not possible) and read the reviews for the “hipster” ones (how “hip” are they, many are great, some are just …well, full of attitude), and do stay in dorm rooms in most places. Like many older women, I cannot afford a private in many countries. Mainly I try to read between the lines in reviews or go by word of mouth – some areas (more rural) often have a more diverse crowd, or more of a choice in hostels, yet it can be challenging in other places (most party hostels or dives or mainly cater to organized groups, don’t want older people, or only one game in town (with hotels and Airbnb being prohibitive for a single person in these areas ).

    In some places, I see more and more older hostellers – we are a growing market – and not all upscale Some of us have travelled or lived abroad much of our lives – made for interesting lives, but little $, others have returned to travelling or begun travelling after being downsized or “put out to pasture” be it from the workplace or relationships or semi-retiring, and others who are travelling full time. and age discrimination when it comes from a hostel can be tough but when it comes from other hostellers rude comments it can be even tougher (rarely happens, but it can, usually by those who come in loud and drunk)
    . I would love to see more hostels that cater to the “mature” traveller – not physical age – but a mellower vibe – and there are many – and hopefully there will be more (as all types are needed – when I first travelled at 19 I sought a different environment than now – in fact, rarely stayed at hostels as many were too restrictive in those days.

    (and yes, I am writing this in a dorm room)

    • I am 55 –have traveled and lived abroad as a young woman –still consider myself a young woman in many ways. Getting ready to travel this summer, and yes, mostly staying in hostels. I am going to be away for almost a month. And while I am not dirt poor, who has the kind of money to stay in an overpriced hotel every night? And like it has been said here –isn’t it part of the experience? I am traveling solo (yes you can still be adventurous at the age of 55! I contend that keeps you young!). I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars and only be able to see a fraction of the places I want to see. Now, yes, I did research the hostels a little bit and no I do not want a frat party! I did have to book a dorm room for one place (but only 4-bed room). Mostly private rooms. I do think the originator of this post is a little too harsh. I say –go for it!! Travel is wonderful –for people of all ages.

  52. Well, well, I am 67 (young and young at heart), female World traveler, and since my 20’s, spent most of my nights in hostel beds – sharing the tiny rooms with 4 to 20 sweaty bodies! One must realize, in reality, one day, soon, all the teens and the twenty-somethings – will be – 30, 40, 50, 70-90, if you live that long! Every single one of you will be just like the “old” folks you are referring to – and I doubt it very much if, when you turn 67 like me, that you will be as active, alive, healthy and traveling the World as I am doing now (2018) – in Morocco, after three months in the Schengen Zone.
    The point being, there is no such thing as being “too old” to stay in a hostel, if you so wish. There is a border line, a comfort zone for individual, 20’s or 80’s that you have to adjust yourself to fit in the atmosphere of the “now-a-day” hostel scenes. The twenty-something, well, life’s a party – for some, but for most after 40’s, they generally not real party animals (women, in particular). Many of these upper age group are adventurous souls, they love to travel, have wealth of knowledges and information in their travel bags that they will share with you, if you only ask.
    Yes, wrinkles on our faces simply means, we have gained some wonderful experiences in our life times, and one day, we hope you will too.
    Set aside the age discrimination, ask us questions – nicely, you may learn something!
    Like Rick Steves said in his “Back Doors” guide book, “Don’t be a judge, be a student, absorb and learn” and you will be a much happier traveler!
    Bon voyage.

  53. The author of this post is really narrow minded.
    When I was in my twenties I was okay with being with other young people, but I would have been glad to have had the chance to meet older people in hostels. I had spent a lot time with older relatives, and neighbors, and I knew how interesting it was to listen to the many stories they had to tell, and I appreciated the advice they had to give based on experience.
    I’m in my 50’s now, and when I travel I still plan to stay in hostels whenever I can. I don’t strike up conversations with really young people, but they often start conversations with me, and sometimes, they even ask me to hang out with them. I have met very nice people in the 60’s and 70’s in hostels . In Mexico City in 2013 I met a delightful Austrian couple in their late 70’s in a hostel. The wife had learned enough Spanish to get around prior to her trip.
    I plan to stay in hostels as long as I am able to travel. I really just want an inexpensive place to sleep, but I always meet nice people as well.
    Okay, Lee A., now that you’re getting older, perhaps it’s time to get wiser.

  54. I really think living in hostels is the best only if your not carrying very costly items. It is really affordable and you make many friends while you are on the trip. I’ve lived in hostels and I really enjoyed y time over there. If you are a solo traveler, hostels are the best option!

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