Hostels aren’t just a backpacker’s best friend or for college-aged travelers. While there are certainly hostels out there that warrant the stereotypes, there are countless more that are simply comfortable, casual and wallet-friendly accommodations for travelers looking to meet new people and save a significant amount of money.

While some may scoff or say there comes a time when you’re too old to stay at a hostel, hostels are some of the best-kept secrets in budget travel. While hotels can have their appeal, hostels have played a starring role in many of our own travel memories for their affordable accommodations, friendly interactions and memorable moments — at any age. So, before you start your travel search on, read on. Whether it’s your first time staying at a hostel or your hundredth, we argue you’re never too old to stay at a hostel. Here’s why…

Hostels are for everyone.

From teenagers on gap year to families on spring break to senior citizens on holiday, you never know who you’ll meet at a hostel. No matter your age or the size of your bank account, folks who stay at hostels all have a few things in common: they love to travel, save money and are incredibly savvy.

“Hostels open the door to the opportunity for multicultural experiences – you get not only the local culture of the place you’re visiting, you also potentially experience cultures of the other hostel guests. On top of that, through their stories, you can experience the area through the filter of their culture and not just your own,” said Katie Dickinson, 30, who always stays at hostels (her favorites include Mad Monkey in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and K’s House in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan.

Hostels are usually cheaper than hotels.

Saving money on accommodations means you can use the funds to do more in your destination – treat yourself to a spa day, eat a fancy meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant, buy more souvenirs, or stay longer. Travelers can also use the savings to book more trips or travel to destinations that were just out of reach when pricey hotel costs were considered.

Hostels are friendly.

If you’re going solo, but want the opportunity to meet like-minded travelers, hostels provide an easy, non-creepy way to strike up conversations with random strangers. Who knows? You might meet your next best friend or partner, or, at the very least, someone with who you can explore the city or enjoy a meal.

“I’ve always found hostels to have a friendly community vibe about them which is much nicer than a hotel environment for me,” said Kelly Crawford, 47, who enjoys cooking in the communal kitchens many hostels have.

“You’ll always find some people who are inconsiderate, but overall most people are considerate and don’t make much noise,” said Crawford, whose favorite hostels include Urban Holiday Lofts in Chicago, IL, and HI Houston at the Morty Rich in Houston, TX. “You should at least try it once to know what you are getting into and if it’s something for you.”

Hostels typically offer a prime location for less.

Hostels are a hassle-free way to stay centrally located, as many are located near major transit hubs like train stations and are often located in a city’s most desirable area. Plus, hostels cost a fraction of what it would cost to stay at a hotel in the same neighborhood.

Hostels are a convenient (and cheap) jumping off point for sightseeing.

Arranging local tours is often easier at hostels. Not only do you have the benefit of asking other travelers about their experiences with organized tours to pick the best tour operators, but you can also book tours as a group, saving more money than if you booked as a single person, couple, or family.

“Usually you can find a few people who want to do the same things as you that day and you can save a bunch of money that way,” said travel blogger Nathaniel Perlow, 27, whose favorite hostels include Wombats Hostel in Vienna, Austria, Bodhi Hostel in Cocle, Panama in La Jungla Experience in Chiriqui, PanamaLost & Found Hostel in Chiriqui, Panama, and Bolita Rainforest Hostel in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

Why pay for hotel amenities like a doorman or 24/7 room service when you’re spending more time away from your room than in it? There’s little sense journeying to a far-flung locale only to stay put in your room for the duration of the trip. Hostels can provide a home base while freeing up funds for additional adventures.

Hostels are easy places to meet other travelers.

Part of the fun of traveling is meeting new people – young and old. Gaining insider knowledge about a place – whether from locals who work at the hostel or from other travelers – ensures you’ll have an authentic experience and not fall victim to tourist traps.

“It’s also a great place to hear what other people liked about your new city or didn’t like. I’ve been able to even avoid a few scams because I heard about how others had been ripped off first from stories I heard while staying in a hostel,” said Klarrisa Frank, 30, a travel blogger whose favorite hostels include Townhouse 50 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, DESTIL in Tirana, Albania, Buffalo Backpackers in Pristina, Kosovo, Sir Toby’s in Prague, Czech Republic, Hostel Meteora in Trikala, Greece, and Last Point in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Hostels offer options for all types of travelers.

Want some privacy? Book a private room. Feeling lonely? Go hang out in the common areas. Hostels offer a variety of options, allowing you to switch up the tone of your trip, from strictly business to party hardy almost instantaneously.

From location to price to vibe, hostels come in all varieties. From bare-bones dormitory style accommodations with little more than a bed and running water to boutique environs that rival a 5-star hotel, and everything in between, there’s a great hostel out there for every traveler and every age. Just be proactive and do some research by reading reviews from fellow travelers and viewing photos of the hostels before you book.

“Hostels can be dirty and filled with bad guests, but so can hotels or any kind of accommodation. The key is to read the reviews of other travelers beforehand to know what you’re getting into,” said Nathaniel, 31, who quit his job as a lawyer to travel full-time. He’s been to 35 countries on 6 continents since September 2016, and his favorite hostels include the Generator in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Discovery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Francesco’s Hotel & Hostel in Ios, Greece.

Hostels connect people with common interests.

Lisa Kaplan, 47, and Ruben Millor, 52, are on a year-long journey, so staying at hostels help them spend the majority of their budget on adventures and food.

“There will always be naysayers who say ‘you’re too old to do X,’ but trying new things, being open to new ideas, and being flexible keep you young. Also, we blend in by doing many of the same activities as the 20-something crowd: trekking in Peru, canyoning in Ecuador, and skiing in Japan,” said Kaplan, who recently stayed at Alpes Huaraz in Huaraz, Peru.

If saving money allows you to travel more and you’re flexible, hostels are an invaluable resource to travelers of any age.

Have you stayed at a hostel? Share your experiences in the comments and start your next travel search on

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About the author

Lauren MackLauren Mack has traveled to 40 countries on five continents, including Cuba, New Zealand, Peru and Tanzania. For many years, she called China, and then Taiwan, home. Countries at the beginning of the alphabet, particularly Antarctica, Argentina and Australia are on her travel bucket list. Lauren is a multimedia travel and food journalist and explorer based in New York City.

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