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Backpacker hostels are all over the world these days.

Backpacker hostels are all over the world these days.

I have been saying in hostels since 1986 and I have also been working in hostels for several years. From time to time, it’s being discussed whether hostels should have an age limit or not. Here are my 5 cents about age limit in hostels or not.

I have been staying in hostels for more than 2 decades. these days I stay there less, as i can afford places that gives me a little more privacy, but I still stay in hostels frequently because of the good social scene and the good wifi they usually have. I have also worked for many years in hostels and seen some of the pros and cons of having, or not having an age limit at a hostel.

Should there be an age limit in hostel dorms?

Should there be an age limit in hostel dorms?

Arguments against having an age limit in hostels.

 

The obvious argument against an age limit is that there are many backpackers that are seniors these days. I meet people pretty much every week who are older than 60 and travel with a backpack. Some of them do not have a lot of money, so they should be given the option to sleep in a cheap dorm bed too, just like the younger people have. And they should also be allowed to participate in the great social atmosphere, which in my opinion is the main reason to stay in a hostel.

Hostels are great places to socialise.

Hostels are great places to socialise.

Arguments for having an age limit in hostels.

When you stay in a hostel, space is cramped. You sleep very close together and share bathrooms and so on. This can create some problems when you have older folks in a dorm. First of all, older people tend to snore more and snore louder than younger folks. I am one of those myself (I’m 47 by the way). Some older people also have a harder time sharing their space with younger folks, who will often come back to the dorm late at night after being out drinking and partying and I have seen many arguments over the years between a group of young partying backpackers and an older person in the dorm who demands the place to be quiet after a certain hour. There is also an issue when it comes to a small, but problematic group of older men. When I worked as a receptionist in hostels around the world, I would quite often have a guy, typically between 30 and 55, asking at check in to be put in the dorm with the most young women. The vast majority of people in backpacker hostels are young people and you will quickly drive the majority of the young women away if the dorm has a couple of guys the age of their father, trying to take a sneak peak when they change clothes. Many young girls won’t mind too much changing clothes next to a guy their own age, but I know from many women that being in a dorm where some old guy camps himself all day long in bed, hoping to see a naked girl, is very uncomfortable for them. And trust me guys. This happens a lot. I have dealt with this issue dozens of times when working as a hostel receptionist.

 

What should be done then, when talking age limit in hostels or not.

 

Some of the problems I mentioned now can be solved by having single sex dorms, but many young couples travel together and prefer to stay in the same host dorm and it’s sometimes a little hard to separate people properly if you have both mixed and single sex dorms. A single sex female dorm should always be an option though, unless a hostel wants to lose clients.

You might have the problem here though, that some older women are often trouble makers in a dorm, if together with a bunch of young girls. They will often try to dictate when the lights have to be off, if the window should be open or not and they are often surprisingly undiplomatic as they get older.

Nice hostel in Mooloolaba in Australia.

Nice hostel in Mooloolaba in Australia.

Having a dorm where you try to put those who are +30 in could be an option. I am more in favour of having a few cheap single rooms in a hostel though and then telling the older folks that they will have to pay the price for a single if they want to stay there. I would do this if I was running a hostel.

And remember that I am a 47 year old guy writing this, so I am not just here to tell older folks that they are idiots. I am just saying that the hostels are first of all the young backpackers domain and when I stay there, I would rather be remembered for being that old cool guy with lot’s of travel experience to share and not for the guy who is running around the dorm at night yelling at the young people for doing exactly what I was doing myself when I was that age.

 

Happy hostelling, young or old 🙂

Greetings to everyone from an old traveling fart.

Greetings to everyone from an old traveling fart.

Claus.

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4 Comments

  1. As a 43 year old female who has ran hostels aswell. I have a thought. I would not be pleased to be told to book a single room. Becides the extra costs….Most socialising happens in the dorm (i think). And I don’t identify at all with being the one to enforce light, window or noice at all.
    Ok… Noice.. maybe. But I did the same when I was 25. When there are people sleeping you try to keep your voice down…

    Talking about female dorms. A hostel that does not have one is not smart. I use them for two reasons: man snore more and their feet stink more (sorry) and I dont want to ruïn any young mens dreams and hopes or the future by accidently showing them what a female body starts to look like over the years ?

    Fortunatly, as a hostel manager I have never had the request of an older man for the dorm with the most girls.

  2. I don’t see a point in limiting entry to hostels by age. It’s too blanket of a limitation that crowds out the good guys. If a receptionist or manager suspects a creep (as in those man requesting dorms with the most women), they should refuse them service; if there’s a complaint, they should kick them out. Bad apples should be dealt with on a case-by-case, individual basis, not based on a characteristic like age.

  3. Wow! Sorry, but I completely disagree with your arguments FOR age limits.

    1. When it comes to snoring, age is FAR less of a factor than weight. Larger people snore more, period.
    2. Sexual assault and creepiness occurs more among younger men than older men.
    3. Your argument that older women like to dictate the terms of a dorm room – where did you get those stats? I can’t find ANYTHING to corroborate this.
    4, I have never heard from the hostel owners I know that there are a lot of older men who want to stay in rooms with the most good-looking young women. And if that’s a problem, you just refuse their stay.

    I’ve stayed in dozens of hostels, am also 47, and have never seen any of the issues you describe as problems specifically caused by older people.

    Almost everyone I’ve ever met at a hostel – young or old, but particularly old, has been cool. Backpackers young and old know the environment they’re in and they go with it. I personally prefer to be around younger people because I have more in common with them and it reminds me of the excitement I felt when I first started traveling.

    I’m glad you wrote the article, because it’s something I’ve thought of too. But there are a lot of generalizations about older people here that you really need to back up with facts before you post them, I think.

    I prefer hostels to hotels. I wrote about it.

    I’d hate to see age limits imposed because of over-generalizations like the ones here.

    Michael

  4. david shuttleworth

    I went on this site googling for an answer as to why age limits ARE being imposed in dorms. I’ve just come back from a trip round Italy and East Europe where it seems to be pretty much the norm. From Rome to Montenegro and Croatia- it posed a problem for me as a 59 year old traveller.
    I assumed it was for the reasons listed above- the possible intolerance of older people and the potential for creepiness. But surely if you are in a dorm, you know the score. People shouldn’t really be making a noise late at night or early in the morning but you gotta accept that it happens and put up with it if you want to save money by sharing a sleeping space with randoms. I’ve travelled for many years in dorms and people repeatedly accepting phone calls and chatting away at 6 am has pissed me off whatever age I was and i think i have a right to tell the person to shut the fuck up and switch their phone off however old I get to.
    I found the comment interesting about the fact that younger people are more likely to be creepy or guilty of sexual assault. Not sure if i agree as ‘sex tourists’ (and surely guys who book in and ask for a dorm full of young women can be classed as such!) tend to be older guys. But the main thing is that women would find the attention of ugly old guys more creepy than that of young hot ones. Laws of attraction.
    It’s a shame that more and more hostels are doing this age limit thing when people my age have lots to offer to the scene in terms of experience. Surely if we’re still doing this at our age we know the score, we accept the limitations of a dorm and we should be cool about it. And even when I was younger I often found the older eccentrics, still wandering the planet against the grain, to be interesting characters.
    In all the dozens and dozens of dorms i stayed in, I’ve got on with people from 17 to my age. I never sensed I was unwelcome in there. So I’m not sure why this increasingly spreading ban on us geriatrics is occurring.

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