Travel How old is 'too old' to stay in a backpacker hostel?

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Malifice

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Asking this for a 46 year old male friend.

To be fair I... errr.... 'He' just came back from 4 months in Central America staying in all the big party hostels on the way.

While your default status at any hostel at that age as a bloke is always the stereotypical 'creepy old guy in the hostel', it wasn't too bad (as long as you avoided being creepy, and played it cool).

Anyone else have any experience to share, or want to know how it went for a middle aged dude backpacking the world (again), or is thinking about doing similar?
 

The Passenger

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While your default status at any hostel at that age as a bloke is always the stereotypical 'creepy old guy in the hostel', it wasn't too bad (as long as you avoided being creepy, and played it cool).
From about your mid 30's onward's I reckon you'll start to be judged more harshly if you go down the "creepy old guy" route in comparison to someone younger acting the same way - although obviously if you go full creep it doesn't matter how young you are, people won't want to hang around. If you're mid 30's and above and cracking on to young lasses just out of high school, no matter easy going you make yourself out to be you're certainly going to have a few dubious words spoken about you behind your back (potentially even to your face).... depends on whether you're comfortable with that or not. It also depends on the size of the hostel - if you're in one of those massive Generator hostels you get in Europe, you'll stay fairly anonymous, but if you're in one with 10 to 20 rooms, familiarity amongst everyone is a lot higher.

I was about 33 when I last stayed in a hostel, which IIRC I did twice that year but both times my dorm room only had one or two of their other beds occupied and I don't actually recall even interacting with the others. I was just visiting mates, so literally viewed the hostel as no more than a bed. That was a good 5 years ago now, but I'd have no problem staying in a hostel again if it was just me going away for a weekend. I'd probably do a private room these days though - think may days in dorm beds might be finished. If it's my Mrs and I away for a weekend or even taking a week off work we would definitely be in a hotel, but we have discussed an extended backpacking trip once we can get out into the wide world again, and that would probably be a combination of hotels, posh hotels and private rooms in hostels to keep the budget stretched, and also provide some external interaction which isn't going to hurt on a 3+ month holiday.
 

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Malifice

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Being a bit more picky and choosy helps as well.

Full blown party hostels can be incredibly difficult for a middle aged dude to navigate successfully.

I tend to strive for a social hostel, that isn't a full blown party hostel. Part of the experience is meeting people. It's one of the things that makes them better than the soul destroying nature of hotels, particularly for long term backpacking travel.
 

ash_1050

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Stayed in hostels when I did a trip to South America for my 30th with the understanding that I was on the cusp of being 'too old' to fit in with the younger crowd. Couldn't see the benefit of doing so beyond 30, you've effectively become that weird 'old' guy who's still trying to fit in with the kids. Plus also if you're over the age of 30 surely you're past the point where your sleep quality is entirely based on to what your room mates or the hostel itself is doing that night by way of social events. Sure hotels aren't as fun, but neither is hanging around a bunch of people 10+ years younger than you trying to fit in.
 

Caesar

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I stopped staying in hostels when I turned 30.

I might consider it in future if I was travelling on a budget with my wife or family - when I was a kid we stayed in a couple of really nice family-oriented hostels in Switzerland. But my days of bunking down as a single person in a youth hostel are over - it's just way too weird.
 

Malifice

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Yeah, it was definitely weird being a dude in your 40's in notorious Central American party hostels (Naked Tiger, Zephyr etc).

A lot of people were actually OK with it, and judged you more as a person than just 'the creepy old dude in the hostel'. Gotta say, I was actually pleasantly surprised by a lot of reactions. Of course, a lot of people find your presence there outright weird, and you do even face hostility from time to time.

The stand-offishness I understand. I was probably the same 20 years ago when I first hit the hostel scene. I'd love to say I wasnt, but I was. I didnt mean it, I guess I just felt like I couldnt really connect with those older than me at the time so avoided them.

I did see families staying in hostels though (homeschooling in the common room), and occasionally met a few peeps in their 40's as well but we were pretty rare. Average age was 20-somethings.

Plenty of hostels have a 35 and under age limit. Would be dope if there was an established hostel scene for 25's or 30's and older so you could avoid the 'creepy old dude in the hostel' vibe.
 

Run n Spread

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Never. Now a days you can get your own room. You don't have to stay in a dorm.
Then its basically a hotel room then a gym like shower on your floor (maybe 2 others to share) and shared communal facilities.

Last year I stayed in a backpackers in NZ. It was great. Had my own room. Shared the kitchen and there were also 70 yo couples staying who just cooked their own meals. Remember it was pissing down rain on the last night and a bunch of us just randomly kicked a soccer ball around and set up a match. Ultimately everone's travelling and enjoying life. No one gives a crap how old you are. Just have to accept there will be noise around and yeah if you're old don't be the creepy old dude toolie who hits on 18yos. Otherwise go for it. Travel large.
 

revo333

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Most hostels I've stayed in were ones that didn't have a social scene at all so there was no interaction with anyone and it felt like a hotel anyway.

If you are using it for a place to sleep I don't seem a problem with it, but if you are going to be that guy that hangs around trying to socialise with younger people I don't think you are going to have a good time.
 

Malifice

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If you are going to be that guy that hangs around trying to socialise with younger people I don't think you are going to have a good time.
It was a mixed bag to be honest. Kind of bounced from awesome and having tons of friends of all ages to being shunned from time to time. You've just gotta accept it I guess.

Europeans and Canadians tended not to give a sh*t. Travelled with Dutchies, Brits, Germans, Swiss, Danes etc and they were fine.

Aussies and Kiwis were the harshest, and almost all of them were assholes or treated you like you were invisible. It got super weird when a 20 something Welsh guy I was travelling with for a week or two with hooked up with an Aussie girl, who then joined us with her 3 mates. The Aussie girls all basically ignored me for the next week or so (meaning he basically did as well) giving off that 'you're too old to travel' vibe, until it just got so uncomfortable I just left to travel solo again.

That night I met a French couple, and it was all good again. I should have bailed earlier, but when you're travelling solo, it can be easier just following the crowd, even when its going sh*t.

I was initially planning to do the with a GF by the way (at which point no-one gives a sh*t how old you are). It's only when you're single (and a middle aged male) it enters the red zone of creepy.

Thats the secret to middle aged hostel travel. Do it with a GF. You're instantly non threatening and non creepy, and everyone treats you well.
 

FRUMPY

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Comes back to the 'older' person themselves. If you're willing to put up with any shenanigans and noise then go for it. Wouldn't worry about anyone else opinion

Sent from my CPH2005 using Tapatalk
 

Malifice

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Comes back to the 'older' person themselves. If you're willing to put up with any shenanigans and noise then go for it. Wouldn't worry about anyone else opinion

Sent from my CPH2005 using Tapatalk
Family of 5 boys then off to the Army. I'm not phased by most noise and shenanigans or even by sex in a dorm really. I've stayed in some pretty mental party hostels. In Brazil, it was super loose. There was frequent sex in the dorm (often, I may have been a perpetrator on a few occasions) heavy drug use, drinking, all night parties, bedbugs and even a turd covered in glitter (unsure how that happened).

Everyone knew what they were in for (it was advertised as a crazy party hostel), and no-one batted an eye. Super friendly environment where everyone was on the merit system at the bar (and it was mostly adhered to). Middle of Carnival in Rio.

Even after 25 years of Hosteling, I don't really mind that stuff. I find it infinitely preferable to travelling solo and hanging in a hotel alone.

In general (in non party hostels) snoring I cant stand (if you know you snore like a chainsaw, get a private FFS). And turning the lights on at 4am to pack your bags (always involving plastic bags for some reason). That's a real killer. Pack them in the evening FFS, or drag your sh*t outside and do it there.
 

The Passenger

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Thats the secret to middle aged hostel travel. Do it with a GF. You're instantly non threatening and non creepy, and everyone treats you well.
Yeah, no one is bothered by an older couple and if anything, they tend to get a lot of curious attention. I have come across plenty* of 50+ couples in hostels over the years.

*When I say plenty I mean about half a dozen. It's not like it was an every night occurrence or anything like that.
 

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Malifice

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Yeah, no one is bothered by an older couple and if anything, they tend to get a lot of curious attention. I have come across plenty* of 50+ couples in hostels over the years.

*When I say plenty I mean about half a dozen. It's not like it was an every night occurrence or anything like that.
Its insane how differently you're looked at on account of being there with a GF, as opposed to being there solo.

You default to the status of 'creepy sex pest who is only here to hit on twenty something year old girls' if you're on your own as a middle aged dude in a hostel. Having a GF immediately makes you un-creepy by default, and you can just be a traveler again who likes to drink and have a good time with other people, and have socializing and cheap accommodation rolled into one package.
 

The Passenger

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Its insane how differently you're looked at on account of being there with a GF, as opposed to being there solo.

You default to the status of 'creepy sex pest who is only here to hit on twenty something year old girls' if you're on your own as a middle aged dude in a hostel. Having a GF immediately makes you un-creepy by default, and you can just be a traveler again who likes to drink and have a good time with other people, and have socializing and cheap accommodation rolled into one package.
Probably feels unfair to the non creepy middle aged guy, but it's a pretty natural reaction for those just out of high school or university, and even a fairly normal feeling for someone in their late 20's.

Equally a middle aged woman staying in a hostel isn't going to arouse the same feelings as a middle aged man.

Same deal as if you've somehow ended up at uni night in your late 20's or something like that.
 

Occidental

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Backpacked around South America a few years ago. I wanted cheap accommodation at most times, so stayed in hostels quite a bit. You can get your own room and socialise as much or as little as you like. By no means are all hostels “party” hostels. I’d do a bit of research & tended to choose single rooms if I could find them in a central location & hostels with reviews that were on the quiet side.
I had shared dorms when I had no other choice - including mixed dorms.
No one ever seemed to judge or hassle me. If you are worried about your age or what other people are going to think about you, then maybe don’t travel like this at all.
If people are going to judge you by your age, then it’s them with the issues, not me!
Did the backpacking in my 50’s and loved every minute of it.
 

Malifice

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Probably feels unfair to the non creepy middle aged guy, but it's a pretty natural reaction for those just out of high school or university, and even a fairly normal feeling for someone in their late 20's.
I hate to say it, but that was me. I was stand offish towards older dudes as a 20 year old. Not for any other reason other than I felt I didnt have anything in common with them.

So I do understand when it happens to me now I'm in my 40's.

Same deal as if you've somehow ended up at uni night in your late 20's or something like that.

Also applies to me.

It's probably contributed to my Peter Pan mentality. Most of my friends are 10 years younger or more, and my GF is 26. I've never been a big 'house, car kids and mortgage' dude. It's pretty much been a revolving door of random hookups, younger friends, booze and travel.

Weirdest thing is my midlife crisis is 'I need to get married, buy a house and have kids before its too late.' All my married friends midlife crisis seem to be 'Travel the world and hook up with younger women' which is basically the life I'm pretty convinced it's time for me to walk away from.
 

checkraiseulite

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totally depends on your personality and level of social awareness / social skills and what you’re looking to get out of the hostel. age is increasingly just a number.

have had no interest in staying in hostels since i was about 25 and could afford other options. good times before then and very eye opening when i was very young.

also enjoyed the not so subtle brags in this thread. was worth reading.
 

Shell

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I decided at about 35 that it was no longer for me, too noisy and smelly, but if you're, I mean your mate is happy, to do it go for it. Who cares what others think?
For me it was at a hostel in Perth the penny dropped. I would have been... 30ish.
I was like looking around the place thinking "I am too old for this sh*t" and checked out, and check into a hotel down the road.


*i still would use the hostel at Apollo Bay tho. Private room. Its clean, cheaper, and great spot.
 

Shell

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Its insane how differently you're looked at on account of being there with a GF, as opposed to being there solo.

You default to the status of 'creepy sex pest who is only here to hit on twenty something year old girls' if you're on your own as a middle aged dude in a hostel. Having a GF immediately makes you un-creepy by default, and you can just be a traveler again who likes to drink and have a good time with other people, and have socializing and cheap accommodation rolled into one package.
Well its not insane.
Women deal with sh*t all the time from creeps.. not even exclusive in hostels, just everyday life.

Not having a go at you tho.. just stating fact.
 

Gigantic

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Being around 20 year olds in a party hostel when I'm in my 30s is a hard no for me.

Maybe I'm starting to age too quickly but I can't be around that level of energy in a hostel common room. Let alone sharing a 8-bed dorm with them.
 

Shell

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I remember being in a fairly crap 12-bed dorm in NYC in 2003 (I was 23). I had no choice, my mates from camp wanted to go "cheaper" rather than the more expensive hostel which looked ******* amazing.

Ended up having a blackout (all of the eastern side of US was out and some of Canada) so all the doors were useless- cause all electronic keys.

Woke up in the middle of the night, needing to pee. Walk into the female toilets- there is literally 10 men standing around at the basins. I stand in the door- look at them- they look at me- I turn the fu** around and gtfo of there. Had a very pleasant rest of the night busting to pee...


Then woke up in the morning, my toiletry bag was gone from the foot of my bed. And the chick in the bed across from me, all her credit cards, money and passport were gone. (mine were locked in my locker + the key under my pillow)
 

Malifice

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I remember being in a fairly crap 12-bed dorm in NYC in 2003 (I was 23). I had no choice, my mates from camp wanted to go "cheaper" rather than the more expensive hostel which looked ******* amazing.

Ended up having a blackout (all of the eastern side of US was out and some of Canada) so all the doors were useless- cause all electronic keys.

Woke up in the middle of the night, needing to pee. Walk into the female toilets- there is literally 10 men standing around at the basins. I stand in the door- look at them- they look at me- I turn the fu** around and gtfo of there. Had a very pleasant rest of the night busting to pee...


Then woke up in the morning, my toiletry bag was gone from the foot of my bed. And the chick in the bed across from me, all her credit cards, money and passport were gone. (mine were locked in my locker + the key under my pillow)
Yeah the US Hostel scene is pretty rubbish. There are a few good ones, but they tend to be full of locals.

You dont find too many Americans in Hostels outside the US either.
 

Shell

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Yeah the US Hostel scene is pretty rubbish. There are a few good ones, but they tend to be full of locals.

You dont find too many Americans in Hostels outside the US either.
Really?

I came across a fair few.. mainly England... sometimes over here. When i went around Europe it was mainly hotels or private hostel rooms tho.
 

Run n Spread

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Also depends on the country. In NZ and Vanuatu you can stay in a clean, cheap hostel with your own room to a good standard and share facilities. Where in Asia I just used the exchange rate and sprung extra for a 5 star resort. No way I'd hostel in Bali or Thailand for example.

Also depends where. Stayed in 1 as a early 20s in Pacific Islands but it was the sort of joint locals would wonder in after work for a beer, hit of pool or swim. Never done the party scene. I wouldn't at my age anymore.
totally depends on your personality and level of social awareness / social skills and what you’re looking to get out of the hostel. age is increasingly just a number.

have had no interest in staying in hostels since i was about 25 and could afford other options. good times before then and very eye opening when i was very young.

also enjoyed the not so subtle brags in this thread. was worth reading.
True. Now a days I like to get out enjoy the environment and local scene so just use it as a place to crash.
I remember being in a fairly crap 12-bed dorm in NYC in 2003 (I was 23). I had no choice, my mates from camp wanted to go "cheaper" rather than the more expensive hostel which looked ******* amazing.

Ended up having a blackout (all of the eastern side of US was out and some of Canada) so all the doors were useless- cause all electronic keys.

Woke up in the middle of the night, needing to pee. Walk into the female toilets- there is literally 10 men standing around at the basins. I stand in the door- look at them- they look at me- I turn the fu** around and gtfo of there. Had a very pleasant rest of the night busting to pee...


Then woke up in the morning, my toiletry bag was gone from the foot of my bed. And the chick in the bed across from me, all her credit cards, money and passport were gone. (mine were locked in my locker + the key under my pillow)
Like anything thou. Some places just attract sleazes.

Thou funny thing about the party scene. Had a night out at the pub last time and the joint was locked. Someone was still in the kitchen (was near the front door) and let me back in. I out partied them.
 

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