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Am I Too Old for a Hostel

Recently I had an argument with my wife about staying in a youth hostel which prompted the thought --when’s the right time to admit you might be too old for such an establishment? 

After a recent European trip where we stayed in a few Austrian and English hostels, with more lavish pubs in between, she objected to a night in a New Zealand hostel during a hiking holiday.

Apart from the fact it was by a lakeside, full of fellow hikers and their experiences, had drying rooms and welcomed muddy boats, was friendly and economical does she have a point?

It’s a lively debate around the globe as more older people seek to travel longer and cheaper with the ability to share kitchens and small dorms with others.

In the US they are called ‘Grey Gappers’ in homage to perhaps a shameless revisiting of happy memories from their teenage gap year. (I plead guilty)

Ironically it seems the younger people who go hostelling either welcome the senior crowd or don’t notice them. The hostel experience is about diversity.

So are we too self-conscious about checking into the world wide brand of the youth hostel when our outward age suggests we are anything but?

I believe yes.Inside shot of one of England's most picturesque and simple old-style YHA's called Black Sail in The Lake District. The hikers are all in their 50s and 60s

The youth hostel movement began in the 1912 in Germany to bring impoverished youth into the great outdoors and many of us, particularly from Europe, have grown up with it and it with us.

When I first ventured out to Scottish youth hostels they were so Spartan you had to take your own knife and fork. But the locations alongside lochs, glens and remote beaches made the approx. $1 a night tariff the bargain of the century.

English hostels made you do cleaning jobs, banned alcohol (although pubs were usually close) and gave preference when crowded to those who hiked and biked with drivers turned away.

It’s all changed to keep the product more attractive to a more demanding generation. Dorms are smaller, there are private rooms with en-suite, bars sell beer and wine and hot meals can be provided. 

But you can still stay in castles, stately homes, historic barns and haunted barracks. We even slept soundly in a hostel’s Mongolian-style yurt (tent) with its own pot-belly stove and carpets on the top of the UK’s South Downs. 

There are also some great YHAs in Australia to check out, such as the water-access only retreat in Sydney’s Pittwater, although I’d prefer more in rural and adventurous locations as in Europe.

As a tip, I would stick to officially accredited Youth Hostel Association premises where membership can get you a discount and standards are regulated. There are good less-official hostels but some may be more ‘party houses’ than relaxing hideaways.

In short, I will continue to frequent youth hostels for all of the reasons outlined above and hope some of you may discover their charms too.

My wife agreed to the stay at the NZ hostel perhaps because the best reason of all for older people to use them is because they can help you feel young again. 

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Am I Too Old for a Hostel

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Anonymous
Anonymous from VIC commented:

i would like to know more about hostels in Australia, mainland and Tasmania, thanks, Diny. 

Anonymous
Anonymous from QLD commented:

The last hostel I stayed in was in Frankfurt, Germany, a few years ago. By the time I added the cost of the cab fare from the railway station to the hostel and back to the accommodation cost, I found it cost about the same as staying at one of the hotels close to the railway station. 

Kye
Kye from NSW commented:

Not too old I loved the hostels I stayed in while in Europe Meile washing machine & dryer was fantastic 

Lesley
Lesley from VIC commented:

Never too old to stay in hostels 

Anonymous
Anonymous from VIC commented:

i plan to stay in hostels in china this year they look amazing most have private rooms with breakfast checkout hostelworld.com 

Anonymous
Anonymous from QLD commented:

I,m stayed ng in Univervity Accom in London this year. Another cheaper alternative! Eh suite this year too! 

Anonymous
Anonymous from QLD commented:

having been an owner occupier of a small 28 person backpackers hostel in new zealand the ratio of older guests would have easily been 30 - 40% . Most were well versed in the back packing culture of happy and laid back travellers who put more emphasis on enjoying what the area has to offer than an impersonal hotel. The beds and mattress were replaced frequently , plenty of hot water and showers / laundry. Socially and informative conversations were abundant or quiet rest time . Worth a try but do your homework some establishments may not suit .safe travels. 

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