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Youth Hostels 101

Youth Hostels for Seniors and Baby Boomers

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Youth Hostels 101

Youth Hostel Room, Münster, Germany

Photo © Nancy Parode

Most of us think of youth hostels as large dormitory rooms filled with noisy, backpack-toting teenagers. Particularly during summer months, this picture can be quite accurate, but there’s more to youth hostels than you might think. When summer ends and students return to school, youth hostels, especially those with “family” rooms, can be a low-cost, convenient alternative to hotels.

Let’s take a look at youth hostels and how they work.

What Is a Youth Hostel?

According to Hostelling International, youth hostels go all the way back to 1909, when a Richard Schirrmann, a German teacher, decided that his students would learn more from their class trips if they had convenient, comfortable places to stay. He and his eight students happened to be sleeping in a farmer’s barn at the time; they’d been caught out in a storm and were forced to seek shelter.

Schirrmann began by opening one hostel, at Altena in Germany. Today, you can find hostels in over 80 different countries and book your stay at one of over 4,000 different youth hostels.

If you visit a youth hostel, you’ll find travelers of every age. Families with infants, student groups, business travelers, and seniors all stay at youth hostels.

Next: Youth hostel pros and cons

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