Youth hostels for midlife travellers

 |  by  |  Daredevil


For some time now youth hostels have brimmed with families, business travelers, midlife women and grey nomads. But the youth hostel is no longer the domain of, well, youth.

During my backpacking youth in the 80s and 90s I rarely saw anyone over the age of 30.  Except for the time when an 80 year-old lady treated herself to a trip around the world because it was her last chance to see it before she died.

I never did lose the habit of staying in backpacking hostels and much prefer them to expensive hotels. And, looking around my fellow travelers in Sydney’s youth hostel at Central, I’m not the only one. In fact, two very elderly women checked in just ahead of me and made me wonder whether I’d still be travelling when I was old.

The main difference between a hostel and a hotel is sharing. In a hostel you share rooms, kitchen facilities, bathrooms and leisure areas. However, sharing facilities does not suit everyone, but hostels do have a lot going for them. Below is a list of pros and cons.


  • Youth hostels are cheap
  • Centrally located. Most hostels are in the heart of the city and within walking distance of tourist sites, public transport and cafes.
  • Provide inexpensive internet service
  • Often provide entertainment nights and opportunities for socialising
  • Is a great way to hear about local pubs, restaurants and night life through word of mouth
  • Generally friendly


  • Can be loud and full of school groups and young travelers who like to party
  • Rooms are sparsely furnished
  • Roommates (if you book into a shared dorm) can be awkward
  • Generally, heating is not provided so it can get a little chilly on cold nights
  • No tea or coffee making facilities
  • You have to pay for towels

However, for a city like Sydney, a family room can be as little as $100 and won’t stretch your budget.

I stay in hostels because they are cheap, centrally located and close to public transport. Oh yeah, and sometimes, it even reminds me of my more reckless days as a young backpacker.



About the author

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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