3 Ducks Hostel in Paris (Photo taken in 1995)

I feel fortunate and deeply grateful for having had several opportunities to travel solo when I was in my 20s. Back then, I wanted to grow, but I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone. I was adventurous, restless, and eager to meet people from around the world. But I was also budget-conscious. Where did I find like-minded individuals? At youth hostels, of course!

Accommodations were nothing fancy: a bunk bed, a shared bathroom, and maybe a kitchen. There was always noise and people milling about. It wasn’t the place to be if you wanted your beauty rest. But it didn’t matter. It was all about the experience!

I loved the shutters and large windows at 3 Ducks Hostel in Paris

While planning an upcoming trip, one of the travel websites I visited suggested staying in a hostel. I didn’t wax nostalgic, though. My knee-jerk reaction instead was: “I’m too old for hostels!”

What can I say? I’m in my forties now (I turn 46 this month) and I prefer to slip into my comfort zone of silent moments, more space, and a slower pace. Less allegro, more andante.

I guess I just feel like… I wouldn’t fit in anymore with the younger travelers: bright-eyed, curious, carefree, and full of wanderlust and boundless energy!

Seriously, though. Am I too old to stay in a youth hostel?

No, of course not! Many hostels have even dropped “youth” from “youth hostel” in order to attract travelers both young and young-at-heart.

Although hostels can set a minimum age requirement, like age 16, there is no age cap, as far as I know!

I stayed here in 1998. This photo is from 2015.

If you are flexible, don’t mind noise, can do some light cooking, and are OK with the idea of sharing (a communal bathroom and a dorm room with 3 or more people), then hostels may be a good option for you!

Need a place to stay while visiting Paris? Washington, DC? Montréal? Consider staying in these three hostels:

3 Ducks Hostel in Paris

Washington International Student Center

Auberge Alternative du Vieux-Montréal

What I gather from the reviews and photo galleries on these three hostels’ respective websites is that they have only gotten better over the years: new and improved rooms, bathrooms, furniture, lockers, dining areas, and more!

I like what I see… Who knows? I may just book a hostel for my upcoming trip after all and give it another go! Still so much to experience out there…

In the 90s, I did a brief stint at this SF hostel as an information desk volunteer

Tell me in the comments: When you travel, what type of accommodations do you prefer, and why?