Cheap Hostels in Europe for Baby Boomers
by Karen Berger
Remember the hostel and Eurail-Pass plan? Back then, $10 a day was a reasonable budget, if a little on the stoic side. You got your rail pass, ate your fruit and cheese and bread, and told yourself you’d check out the high-end restaurants when you were old.
After all, when you’re a wide-eyed 20-something seeing the world for the first time, who needs luxury digs and Michelin-starred meals?
Okay, well, now it’s 20 or 30 or 40 years later and those stars are shining mighty bright. But, if you’re like me, your problem is you can’t afford all those stars on a nightly basis.
Hostels for Adults?
Here’s a travel strategy that can add zest to your trip and save you enough money so that you can afford a few all-out luxury nights: Revisit your digs of yore. That’s right. I’m talking about hostels.
Ew, yick: Snoring strangers, squealing 13 year olds, and a frat-party beer fest?
Well, maybe not. A lot of European adults use hostels as a matter of course, and if you have an adventurous spirit, you just might find some like-minded people to chat with.
Travel Tips for Older Hostellers
Here’s how to survive the hostel scene:
- Avoid official youth hostels in big cities and huge tourist destinations. Use private hostels instead. Best bet: second-tier cities and rural areas.
- Choose hostels with smaller capacities: They won’t have room for a group of forty 13-year-olds.
- Check out descriptions of the facilities: There’s a big difference between hostels with rooms for four, five, or six, and hostels with dorms for 20 or more.
- Avoid hostels during the school holidays, particularly winter and spring vacations.
- Reserve in advance.
- Leave behind most of your expensive electronics and be sure to lock or carry crucial equipment with you.
- In France, gites d’etap are a type of hostel found in smaller towns and rural areas. They are set up for cyclists and hikers – but anyone can book in. Some of these even offer private rooms for couples or families (ask when you book). All have cooking facilities.
Then put the money you saved away to the travel dreams you really want to pursue: A five star villa for a couple of nights, a great meal in Paris, or a hot air balloon tour.
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