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- what are hostels
- what it’s like staying in a hostel
- hostel booking
- is it safe to stay at a hostel for a woman over 50 traveling by herself
What is a Hostel?
Since renting a hotel or some type of accommodation can take a huge chunk out of a traveler’s budget, hostels are a great way to help stretch your travel dollars while on the road. Room options can range from dormitory-style to single/double private rooms.
Staying in a Hostel: what is a hostel like?
The dictionary hostel definition doesn’t tell the full story. Each hostel has its own personality but what all of them have in common is a real sense of community with plenty of opportunities to meet other travelers with similar interest. If you’ve been traveling alone for long stretches, staying at a hostel during your journey is a great way to re-acclimate yourself to being social. Even an introvert needs some social interaction in small doses. It’s a great way to alleviate loneliness while on the road.
The staff at hostel supports its patrons by offering great amenities (and meals), tips on the best places to eat and recommendations on things to do around town.
So will you feel like a fish out of water as a solo female traveler over 50? Not at all. Don’t get me wrong, most of the guest at hostels will be between the age of 18-27 and from a foreign country (if you’re staying in a hostel in the United States). But don’t be at all surprised to see other baby boomers; solo or couples, male and females at a hostel. That’s what is so great about staying at a hostel; you will run into a hodge-podge of people across nationalities, generations, and gender.
My stay in at the Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco
With all of the many amenities that was advertised, it sounded better than some hotels I’ve stayed in. Lots of free stuff such as:
- breakfast everyday
- dinner 3 times a week
- free wifi (everywhere – even in the rooms)
- plenty of plugs to charge up the phone (ultra-important)
- Laundry Room
- coffee and tea (24 hours)
- dry sauna
Cost for a shared room: $50 + $20 refundable key deposit (included clean linen).
One of my roommates, a nice young woman from Beijing was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sleep with the comings and goings of people checking in and out (there was one empty bunk above me and another one above her). But I assured her I could sleep through a category 5 hurricane with no problem. So I wasn’t too surprised when upon waking the next morning, two more roommates had joined us. Yeah, didn’t hear them come in.
Hostel Booking Tips for Boomers
Research, research, and research some more – Not all hostels are created equal. Some are more sedate, others are more like Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. Somewhere in between is the perfect hostel for you.
You can book some hostels through Expedia but a good place to start is Hostel Worldwide. What I love about Hostel World is that it’s a booking site and a sort of TripAdvisor/blog for hosteling. It’s also perfect for letting you know the vibe of the hostel (i.e., party central or laid back atmosphere). Each hostel is rated, includes reviews and a list of amenities. Be sure to cross-reference hostel reviews through TripAdvisor.
Hostels have many rooming options if you are uncomfortable with the dormitory-style. Private rooms cost more and depending on the hostel can cost as much as a room at your neighborhood Marriott or Hilton. Be sure to research the details of the room, if you are leaning towards a private room at a hostel.
Are hostels safe?
Hostels are safe. Most hostels lockdown to the outside world after dark. At the Green Tortoise, the only way you could get inside the hostel after-hours was to be buzzed in (after you’ve verified that you were a guest there).
You also want to research the surrounding neighborhood. Here are some things you want to be aware of when looking at whether to book at a particular hostel:
- Where can I grab a bite to eat?
- What is transportation like?
- Do the buses stop running at a certain time?
- Can I get Uber or Lyft if I plan on going out at night?
- When you go out do you need to be back inside before dark before the neighborhood crazies come out?
Boomers don’t forget…
- Stop paying a lot on airfare: Learn when to buy plane tickets to save money
- 9 best travel backpacks you should consider buying
- Traveling alone for the first time