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Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

Bournemouth, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
9 reviews
Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

Hi, Well the time has come to sell up and pack my bags!

Have decided to sit down and plan my travels, these could be for three months or ten years, depends how things go. I will be starting in Canada and intend circumnavigate the globe westward

My question:

What are the pitfalls of a person in their 50's going traveling, using hostels etc.

64 replies to this topic
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
12,314 posts
155 reviews
1. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

How exciting for you! The world will be your oyster. I think there are more bonuses than pitfalls. Some extra challenges to doing this a generation older than many is the physicality of carrying a backpack (maybe harder for women), less comfortable beds, sharing rooms with strangers, and possibly loneliness due to being a generation older than many. However, hosteling is now for all ages and I expect you will find more older folks using this option than say 10 years ago. I like my private space, and privale rooms in hostels are not always the cheapest private lodging option, so I haven't used them yet. I do get newsletters from travel bloggers in their 60s & 70s that routinely use hostels. I have a friend that uses 'Backpackers' for most of his travel, sharing a room with only one 'stranger' and he has been doing that for years. He is now 74.

Level Contributor
3,851 posts
21 reviews
2. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

You might find this recent trip report from a "senior" traveler informative: https://goo.gl/7mem8u

Level Contributor
5,434 posts
152 reviews
3. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

Please get comprehensive travel insurance.

England, United...
Destination Expert
for Somerset, Solo Travel, Exmoor National Park
Level Contributor
35,075 posts
111 reviews
4. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

It is the share thing. Even with private rooms there will be the sounds of people coming and going, chatting into the night maybe. On the other hand that may depend on the location and time of year.

I haven't yet used hostels as I can often find a small family run hotel that is just as cheap and more interesting to me.

I do find that now I have the chance to travel when I want my 'suitcase' requirements have changed to either a small one or a back pack for the short trips. Just a case of organisation.

I do know a couple of people on the wrong side of 40 who have travelled extensively YHA for instance has discounts for members and frequent users. It's possible that other brands do too.

There is a guy from Oz who has been posting regularly as he travelled round a lot of Europe recently. Previously he's been pretty much round the world picking up train passes and cheap tickets, basing himself in cheap hotels. With the right research you can pick up all sorts of deals to get around. The forums are good places to read and get the information as well as posting questions. I've got more trips planned than I can possibily get to at the moment just this way.

Here are the forums


Have fun

Western Ireland...
Destination Expert
for Sligo, Charlottesville, Virginia, County Donegal, Western Ireland
Level Contributor
22,506 posts
293 reviews
5. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

Greetings Ivan,

"""" What are the pitfalls of a person in their 50's going traveling, using hostels etc."""""

I am quite a bit past my 50's, this past year I spend quite a bit of time in Ireland, staying in small independent / family owned hotels, as well as hostels, (YHA & family owned). As Sue B. mentioned some small family run hotels can be just as cheap as a hostel, which is true, I look for location, availability & cost in choosing where I will stay.

At the hostels I stayed at in Ireland, there is only one I won't recommend or return to. In regards to other guests, I have met seniors older than myself, solo travelers, young adults & families, I have enjoyed exchanging travel info & being included in outdoor activities with the new acquaintances I met, some have became great friends. I do stay in a prvt. room, some hostels have wifi, t.v.'s, & laundry facilities. I do recommend getting travel insurance, wherever I go, I don't leave valuables or internet info unsecured.


Safe Journeys & Enjoy!

Kesh grammy

Virginia Beach...
Level Contributor
6 posts
42 reviews
6. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

We traveled to Germany last fall to visit with family, and we are in are late 50s. Having never traveled to Europe, I was intent on experiencing a stay in a hostel and a stay in a local B&B. We found a hostel in Bamberg that interested us ... particularly because there were private room options. We booked way ahead of time, and we couldn't have been more pleased. The hostel was very accommodating, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Will definitely do it again next time we travel to Europe. And, yes, absolutely all of the other guests there at the time were much younger than us ... but that wasn't a problem at all.

Happy travels!!!

Edited: 08 August 2015, 02:14
Level Contributor
354 posts
8 reviews
7. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

For variation and interesting cultural exchange see www.servas.org

Level Contributor
1,338 posts
69 reviews
8. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

I am not entirely sure what the hideous American euphemism "seniors" really means but always though it meant elderly or pensioner. As someone in their 50s I would have thought you should have no physical problems in travelling than someone in their 30s and could not be categorised as a "senior", elderly or pensioner.

We are both elderly and pensioners and have no problem travelling independently around Asia and Africa. I confess staying in hostels has long ago lost its charms for us and now look for a little comfort for our evenings. Last year we used a local bus to travel around Malaysia and shared part of the journey with an Englishman of 84 backpacking and travelling by himself for 3 months around the Far East. This gave us hope that we still have many years of travelling in front of us before we have to resort to the holiday fate of the really elderly of cruises!

As a couple, we have found no problem in finding people to pass an evening with in local restaurants and bars. Not sure whether this would be more challenging if travelling as a single.

Edited: 10 August 2015, 20:55
Victoria, Canada
3 posts
2 reviews
9. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

I've been travelling on the cheap on and off for the last few years and love it! I meet the most interesting people both older and younger than I am (at 59) and I find it incredibly stimulating to spend time with new friends. I often do daytrips from hostels with younger people and have been treated kindly and respectfully. Having said that, I really try to do the same with younger folks. If I can't keep up the pace (ie Grand Canyon hike), I turn back early in order to meet the group at the bus at the agreed time, rather than hold everyone back. I chat with everyone (and there are lots older than me), accept invitations, but try not to overstay my welcome......... Some advice - get good travel insurance, use earplugs and sleep mask, don't be critical of youthful adventures (there's always someone with a hangover lol), and carry a good credit card that you are not afraid to use! A good night's sleep, a hot shower and a drink in an adult bar go a long way to making a trip more enjoyable!!! Be Brave!

Salisbury, United...
3 posts
10. Re: Too old for backpacking and staying in hostels?

Well, I did it in my late 40's for 6 months, & would do it again, now in my early 60's! I didn't really come across any pitfalls, except in (I think) Jasper in the states, where it was very family orientated, expensive, & a very big, dark, & depressing hostel, in the basement. The only place I felt a bit unsafe,(I was travelling alone at that time). Good Luck, I wish I was solvent & could come with you!!! Best wishes D(Doreen)x

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