I’m (Almost) 30 And I Still Stay in Hostels – Here’s Why (and How)

I love fancy hotels as much as the next robe-wearing, toiletry-snatching girl you’ll meet.

Hotel Birger Jarl Stockholm Sweden
case in point

But sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense… or cents.

I don’t want to spend $150 on a budget room at some outdated nondescript chain hotel when that same amount of cash could get me a later stay somewhere super swanky like Lebua in Bangkok or La Purificadora in Puebla.

I want to save my accommodation budget for incredible experiences, not blow it on mediocre ones, especially when I’m traveling for weeks or a month at a time. $150/night, over a month, is a whopping $4500. YIKES!

Overpriced times like these call for desperate measures awesome hostel stays.

But first, let’s be honest. Reeeeal honest.

Back in the day, I had no problem saving mad cash and spending just a couple bucks on a rickety bunkbed in a dorm room… maybe even without air conditioning. I spent the vast majority of my time out and about, and crashed in my communal room for just a few hours each night (a few buckets of Sangsom helped).

I didn’t need comfort, coziness, or even a good wifi signal. As my dad would put it, I didn’t mind staying in a “flophouse”, as long as I had a place to lay my head for the minimum price.

Today, though, I’m older, have trouble sleeping, and tend to travel for work (or at the very least, be traveling and working at the same time). I need a good snooze and fast internet connection, and I want some creature comforts and privacy.

Plus, I’m nearly 30 and married – I feel a bit too “old lady” for shared bunkbeds.

These days, I value my sleep at the same level I value my cash.

But how do I translate that into reality?

I still stay in hostels for their wallet-friendliness (and sociability), I just opt for a private room for my sleep quality.

Me at Oras Hostel, Vilnius, Lithuania
yay: it is possible!

YES, it’s true: most hostels DO have private rooms!

Why should you stay in a private room at a hostel? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons…

Upsides of staying in a private room at a hostel


A private room usually works out to be double or triple (or maybe even quadruple) the cost of a dorm bed at a given hostel, but still half or a quarter of the cost of a “regular” hotel stay in the same city.

I’ve stayed in private rooms in hostels for anywhere between $10 and $30, depending on the location. Totally, totally doable, even if you’re traveling for a month (or more) at a time.

The price for a private room can skyrocket to $60 in more expensive places (like Singapore, Sweden, and the US), but this is a HUGE savings as compared to hotel costs in the area.


Best Hostel Ever Room2Board Jaco Costa Rica Pool
many hostels offer bars, or other friendly common spaces

If you’re in your 20s or 30s, hostels are the best and easiest places to meet other travelers in your demographic. This is perfect if you’re traveling solo and want to make new friends. The hostel workers will also most likely be in your age range, meaning they are the ultimate people to hit up for recommendations on the coolest (and also least touristy) things to do.


Most successful hostels are located in the midst of the prime tourist areas and within convenient reach of public transportation points, aka exactly where you want to be. Yay!

Almost the same level of privacy as a hotel

Best Hostel Ever Room 2 Board Jaco Costa Rica
private space

You’ve got your own bed, your own room, your own space (for doing morning yoga, working until 2am, or eating random snacks in bed until you fall asleep. you do you.) … except for maybe that whole shared bathroom thing (but more on that in a bit).

Tour hookups

Hotels usually offer overpriced tours that include a convenience markup. Hostels, on the other hand, are catering to a lower-budget audience and don’t add in a bunch of fluff and stuff that you really don’t need. So what if you have to walk a few minutes to a central square instead of being picked up direct from your hotel? I like the exercise and saving a few extra bucks.

Some hostels are REALLY cool

Best Hostel Ever Room2Board Jaco Costa Rica Pool

And some even have pools. Places like Room2Board in Jaco, Costa Rica, Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, Israel and Chicago Getaway Hostel in (obviously) Chicago, IL, USA are revolutionizing the hostel world with equal or better amenities as compared to hotels (including beach access, pools, beer pong tournaments on-site, movie and game rooms, and more), at typical low hostel prices.


For whatever reason, I actually find that midrange hostels tend to have the BEST wifi. Much better than “cheap” hostels (which makes sense), but also even better than hotels.

Downside of staying in a private room at a hostel

Less in-room amenities

Most hostels don’t provide toiletries, robes and slippers, or daily housekeeping for any of their guests, including those in private rooms.

Shared bathroom (potentially)

Best Hostel Ever Room 2 Board Jaco Costa Rica
not a bad shared bathroom

Some private rooms have private bathrooms (which is, of course, preferred), but most have shared bathrooms. I find I don’t mind this as much as I’d imagine (unless there’s some stomach trouble going on or the bathroom is super icky).

Can be noisy

If you crave some peace and quiet, you’ll want to avoid any place with the reputation of a “party hostel”. This is pretty easy to figure out via TripAdvisor.

Breakfast might be lacking

Stay in Tel Aviv - Abraham Hostelthe hostel breakfast dreams are made of: totally not typical

Hostel breakfast is usually nothing compared to hotel breakfasts (except for at Abraham Hostels in Israel: wowza that’s the best hostel breakfast in the world, hands down). In most cases, you’re lucky to get some coffee or tea and white bread.

Pin it for Later: It Makes Sense – Stay in Private Rooms at Hostels

I'm nearly 30 and I still stay in hostels: here's why (and how!)

Do you stay in private rooms at hostels? Why or why not?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook


  1. July 4, 2018 / 4:30 pm

    That’s an excellent sum up about hostels! You may like to check out the 5 Star Hostels too!

    Safe travels,

    • Steph
      July 5, 2018 / 8:08 am

      Hi Matt,

      Yeah I’m familiar with hostelgeeks.com and love the concept, but there’s a very disappointing lack of hostels represented in Latin America. There’s NONE for Mexico, where I live and tend to travel most often, which has tons of incredible hostels.

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