Hostels as alternatives to hotels – for any older traveler

As the travel season continues to ramp up post-pandemic, many will try to find ways to save money and seek out unique experiences while traveling. One consideration is to use hostels instead of a hotel. These hostels are no longer just for the young – yes, that’s their design and purpose – but the hostels are ready to welcome budget conscious travelers of all ages looking for a unique experience.

Hostels are affordable options for travelers who are simply looking for a place to rest for the night. Typically, they are built around common spaces such as internet rooms, kitchens, and other gathering spaces. They also usually have laundry facilities that customers can use as well.

Throw in extra perks like free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and a chance to meet other travelers from around the world, and the hostel experience is worth considering for the budget-conscious traveler. Hostels are used even more in Europe and around the world, but they are also growing in popularity and number in the United States.

While hostels have a reputation of being only for young people or young travelers backpacking through Europe, this is no longer the case. According to guest data Hostelling International USA (HI USA) – the nation’s largest hostel brand with properties across the United States – at least 50% of their hostel guests are over the age of 30. This data was collected through surveys, member profiles and group contacts. .

Michelle Hirscheld, Sales, Marketing and Revenue Management Manager at HI USA, said, “It’s not uncommon to see retirees sitting at the breakfast table across from 18-year-olds. sabbatical or a family traveling with young children.

She explained that while HI USA’s mission specifically refers to young people, that doesn’t mean older travelers shouldn’t feel welcome.

“HI USA’s mission is to bring people from diverse backgrounds together in one place, and age is just one of the many diversity factors you’re likely to find at our hostels,” she says.

Hostel experiences

Lola Bindel, 61, is a nomad who has been traveling across the country since the spring of 2021. Although she normally lives in her van at campgrounds and RV parks, she recently took a trip to Mexico with his son and sister, where they used a luxury hostel outside of Tulum.

The Mayan Monkey has a bar, swimming pool, free yoga class on weekday mornings, free breakfast with good WiFi and is centrally located to the ruins and other sites in Tulum. Bindel describes it as a resort-style inn.

“I found the Mayan Monkey hostel from Google searches and booked it on There are three Mayan Monkey hostels in the Yucatan Peninsula, and I would love to try them all,” she says. “Would definitely recommend because for $19 a night you get so much!” She and her adult son rented bikes from hostels to ride to nearby ruins and beautiful nearby beaches.

Chava Dean, a hospitality and concert worker, uses hostels when traveling for pleasure or between concerts all over the United States and around the world. She stayed at her first hostel in Israel at age 39 and in other places including Ghana, Germany and North Carolina.

“I like to stay in hostels to save money, because paying more than $100 a night would eat into my tight budget too much,” she says. “They can be a great way to meet people, find out about cool local activities, which are also budget-friendly, and some include breakfast and offer coffee. Many have private rooms which are a bit more but can be great for some privacy if you have the funds and/or are traveling with someone.”

She discovered that some of them in Tel Aviv have specific age ranges – up to 30 – and notes that reviews will usually indicate whether they are party hostels or a key. lower, whatever the desired atmosphere.

Some properties are both a hostel and a hotel, such as the one in Frankfurt, Germany. She appreciated the convenience of having an on-site restaurant and bar for guests.

Dean recalls another stay in Asheville, North Carolina, where the hostel offered single rooms in an old house in a great location, with the option for guests to pay less to stay in a tent in the backyard.

“Although I was the oldest there, I felt comfortable as I think a lot of guests are of the same mindset – a unique low cost place to stay where you could meet nice people to hang out with.”

Things to keep in mind

Hostels usually have shared showers and bathrooms, which are not private for private rooms or dorms.

Check hostel policies on age. Some have minimum requirements (no children) while others have maximum ages.
In dorms, guests may be required to remove sheets and put them back upon departure.

Check reviews and comments. Several hostel-specific sites, such as Hostel World, can provide the most information and reviews.

Don’t expect the perks or amenities of a hotel. However, laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, and access to a communal kitchen can make up for that.

As we navigate the new world of travel, hostels should be considered as a budget alternative to hotels.
They won’t have the comforts of hotels or, in most cases, private bathrooms, but the experience of meeting other travelers from around the world and their cultures can provide a stronger overall experience. Regardless of age, hostels invite travelers to explore the world around them.