Hostels for the Senior Who is Young at Heart
8 Tips for Enjoying Convenient Budget Travel Accommodations
By Bill Hrick
|A hostel in the European countryside can be easy on the budget and relaxing.
The constant variations in value of the U.S. and Canadian dollars against the euro has made those older, independent travelers like me more budget-conscious. This can mean moving from cheaper hotels and B&Bs to hostels.
Some older travelers no doubt see hostels as exactly the wrong place to find the privacy and comfort they've worked all their lives to achieve. Yet with a little preparation a hostel stay can be convenient,
affordable, and a great place to meet new people.
I recently spent a month traveling solo through Ireland staying 26 nights at 13 different hostels in nine cities and towns. Along the way I learned a thing or two about how to enjoy a youthful environment.
1) Book ahead
A great hostel advantage is it's not always necessary to book in advance, though the online tools now are better than ever. If you want more comfort and
greater security, call or go online to the many hostel booking websites and reserve a single room. More expensive, yes, but worth it.
2) Bring earplugs
I cannot stress this enough. You may well learn, at 6:30 in the morning, that the handy hostel you booked
next to the bus station—like Isaacs in Dublin—also happens to be beside the elevated train tracks.
3) Request a bottom bunk
If you're sleeping dorm-style, those 3 a.m. bathroom trips can be a real experience from the second
tier. Besides, you're older, and seniority still counts.
4) Locate an alternate bathroom
After you've checked in and stored your luggage take a few minutes and find the public
bathroom on another floor in case yours is always in use.
5) Rent a towel
You'll always get clean sheets and a pillow, but you may have to ask for a towel. Some hostels offer them
for free, others charge a euro or two.
6) Use the kitchen
Many hostels have surprisingly spacious and well-equipped cooking facilities. Even if you don't cook
often at home, buy food at a local grocery and have at least one of your three meals at the hostel. A hostel meal leaves more money for the reasons you're really traveling.
7) Grab an extra breakfast
Not every hostel includes a free breakfast and some have very spare offerings. But if you find
a place, like Kilronan House in Inishmor, that provides juice, cereal, toast and jam, go back a second time and fuel up.
8)Take care of yourself
A hostel offers a secure sleeping environment but it is not always the place for proper bed rest.
So be realistic: eat well and moderate your evening activities.
Most of all, don't be a stranger. New friends and fresh knowledge: that's what the hostel experience for an older independent traveler is really all about.
For information about youth hostels that you can book online, such as Hostelling International, see Transitions Abroad's section on Hostels Abroad.
Bill Hrick is a freelance editor and writer in Victoria, BC, Canada.