Am I Too Old to Stay in a Hostel? Hostels in your Late 20s and 30s

Oxford, England

Oxford, England

Recently, a travel blogger I follow on Instagram shared a poll asking which of several travel-related freebies you would choose if you could only have one for a year. 

The two most popular options were free flights and free accommodation. 

Unsurprisingly, most people chose free flights. And to be honest, I would probably also choose free flights if this was happening in real life. But there was a part of me that wanted to ask:  

Is money no object?  

Because at this point in my life, I would pay for a cheap flight abroad if I got to stay in a five-star hotel for free.  

Just imagine me sipping champagne from room service in my king-sized bed, overlooking downtown London. 

Living my best life.   

But until a private benefactor from an Instagram poll decides to fund my luxury hotel bill, you can find me staying in hostels on most of my trips. 

Wait a minute... am I too old to stay in a hostel?  

Ah, the age old (pun intended) question: am I too old to still be alive because I’m pushing 30? 

Ok maybe it isn’t *quite* that dramatic... but it feels that dramatic sometimes. 

Depending on where you are from in the world, staying in a hostel in your late 20s or 30s may not seem odd to you at all. But if you do happen to be from the Southern U.S. like me (or another area of the world with less modern ideas on age), you may have been asked a few passive-aggressive questions about when you intend to stop staying in hostels. 

Because of these questions and comments, you might be wondering if you are, in fact, too old to stay in a hostel. So let’s answer this question once and for all:  

If you are wondering if you are too old to stay in a hostel, you are not. 

There’s this funny thing I’ve noticed about aging: the older I get, the less I care what people think.  

If you had asked me if I would still stay in hostel dorm rooms in my thirties when I was 24, I probably would have told you I would not. Because at 24, I still spent way too much time worrying about what a hypothetical stranger would think of my hypothetical 30-year-old-self staying in a hypothetical hostel dorm room. But since I just turned 29, this scenario is less hypothetical. And thankfully, I care a lot less about what strangers think nowadays. 

Caring less as I age does not appear to be a phenomenon that is unique to me. While some of the hostel dorm rooms I’ve stayed in were full of people in their teens and early twenties, some of those dorm rooms also included 60+ year old men who snored away happily all night long and were at the point of caring so little about what people thought that they could probably have cared a *bit* more (I'm looking at you, old man walking around the dorm room in just your underwear in Budapest.) 

In all seriousness, there are only two factors that determine whether or not you are too old to stay in a hostel:  

  1. The hostel has an age limit, and you exceed that limit 

  2. You, personally, don’t want to stay in hostels anymore 

Start by Reading the Hostel’s Rules  

I use Hostelworld for my hostel research, planning, and booking, and the hostel descriptions on that platform are generally very thorough. When you are choosing a hostel, make sure to read the descriptions and rules. If there is an age limit, it’s usually clearly identified. If you are over the limit, you may want to look elsewhere. 

That being said, I’ve stayed in some hostels that did NOT appear to enforce their age limit whatsoever (let’s say hello again to our underwear-clad friend in Budapest). If you want to attempt to exceed an age limit and not get caught at a hostel, you can certainly try. At least you’ve done your research and know if an age limit exists, so you know what you’re walking into.  

I hesitate to give any general information on age limits, because every hostel has a different approach. But I've personally never stayed in a hostel with an age limit below 35, and I’ve personally stayed in more hostels without a stated age limit than with one. I wanted to include this in case you are wondering whether you’ll have a good selection of hostels to choose from in your 30s: based on my personal experience, there are still a lot of options out there for you (just do your research).  

If you don’t exceed the age limit or there isn’t one, there are still some things that may be different about booking a hostel in your late 20s and 30s than in your younger years. For one thing, you’re actually reading the hostel description before you book. But you also may be looking for a different type of hostel than you did previously.  

To be clear: if you want to party like an 18-year-old even though you are definitely not 18 anymore, more power to you my friend. I do not mean to rain on your parade whatsoever with these tips. I just need to have a conversation with my fellow human beings in their late 20s and 30s that have discovered the concept of a 2-day hangover through (unfortunate) personal experience at this point in their lives.  

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. 

How to Book the Right Hostel in your late 20s and 30s 

If you want to sleep at least a *bit* during your travels, you are more interested in meeting like-minded people than sleeping, or you are somewhere in between... reading the hostel reviews is a great place to start. 

At this point in my life I’m doing a lot more solo travel than I was when I was younger, so I like to look for hostels that mention a good environment for solo travelers in the description and reviews. Hostels catering to solo travelers also tend to limit the size of groups that you can book in a dorm room, which leads to a cool variety of people in your dorm that you can meet and hang out with and a lot less noise than the scenario where you are in a 12 person dorm and the other 11 people are there for a bachelorette party. Win-win. 

You should also check reviews for what people are saying about the hostel’s vibe overall. Unless you want to stay in a party hostel, you may want to avoid hostels that say “this is a party hostel” in the description and reviews. Overall, the attributes we’re looking for in a hostel may differ from each other and from ourselves in our young 20s. Acknowledging that fact up front when booking your accommodation is generally better than being blindsided by a situation you don’t want to be in when you arrive. 

What to Bring to a Hostel in your late 20s and 30s  

Honestly, I think most of the essential items I recommend that people bring with them to a hostel aren’t age-related. But since several of these essential items have to do with actually sleeping (at least a *bit*), they are arguably more important for my late 20s and 30s hostel dwelling friends.  

We’ve all been staying in hostels for a while this point, so we know the drill. Some people snore. And some people come in from partying all night around dawn. And all sorts of other noises are generally in play. Bring your earplugs and an eye mask if you want to sleep. 

Another thing you probably know if you’ve been staying in hostels for a while (but I'll mention it just in case): be flexible with your routine. If you need to sleep some during the day because it’s too crazy, hot, or loud at night, do that. Take showers at weird times to avoid lines and a lack of hot water. Do what you need to do to make hostels work for you.  

In Conclusion: Stay Positive... and Wear Pants 

As with most travel topics, when you choose to stop staying in hostels (if you ever choose to stop) really isn’t anyone else’s business. 

Do what works for you, and let others do what works for them.  

But please, don't walk around the hostel dorm room in your underwear. 

Regardless of your age. 

Are you a fan of staying in hostels? Do you think that there is a certain age when people should stop staying in hostels? Let’s hear it in the comments.