Our First Hostel Experience

Several of our friends and more experienced travelers thought we were a bit crazy to choose to stay in a hostel for the first portion of our RTW life reset. We opted for a 6 bed co-ed dorm room at the first hostel, just to add to the fun. We figure if we were going to do this, we would go all in!

Hostel #1 - Sydney - Mega Size

Our First Experience

This hostel had a total of 540 beds, a concierge, bar, restaurant, etc. It is quite the operation. They had all the activities you could imagine, from local tours to beer pong. Pick your poison. Our 6 bed room was filled when we walked in. Other than us, there was a girl from Germany, a guy from China, another guy from Holland, and (believe it or not) a guy from Virginia, USA! The guy from Virginia lived 45 minutes away from a place that we previously lived in the state. Quite the small world!

The room was around 10ft by 20ft and had three bunk beds. There were six mid-size lockers to store our bags and gear. All-in-all, it was pretty tight! We’re glad we brought small backpacks. There were other travelers who brought larger backpacks, but they were unable to fit them in the lockers. 

Hostel in our 40s

We were there for a total of three nights, and we had the same roommates for the first two nights. They were all great and very considerate. They knew we had traveled for 31 hours and were attempting to recover from our travels and 14 hour time difference. They were all VERY quiet when coming into the room in the evenings since we went to bed/sleep fairly early those first two nights.

Kitchen Chaos

Ok, maybe chaos is too strong of a word. The kitchen had dozens and dozens of cubes where people could store food goods, as well as rows of refrigerated shelves to store food that required refrigeration. There were around 6 cooking stations, along with pots and pans, utensils, etc. However, when you consider that this is a 540 bed dorm, the kitchen was quite small. Frankly, we didn’t even try cooking. We stored food in the kitchen area, but purchased prepared foods or ate out those first few days.

Going Back to College

I would have to say that the biggest “flashback to college” component was the bathroom. It was just like the bathrooms we both had in college, right down to the puking guy in the middle of the night. 🙂 It was around 2am and I was wide awake (time change), so I went to the bathroom. I walked in and there was a girl standing there, which threw me for a loop. Then I realized that she was standing in the doorway of a stall where her friend/boyfriend was feeling a bit unwell. Needless to say, it was quite amusing and reminded me of times 20+ years ago.

Buzz Saw Orchestra

Ok, while I said earlier that our roommates were considerate, this is true…while they were awake. However, once they fell asleep two of them had impressive snoring skills. It was “almost” harmonious. In a 10×20 room, both Rachel and I were glad that we had eye masks and ear plugs. According to Rachel, one evening I was “breathing quite loudly”, adding to the orchestra. I completely deny this accusation. 

Roommate Swap

Something that was interesting was coming back to our room and finding that three of our roommates were gone and replaced by a new set of travelers. This second group was not as pleasant, but fortunately we knew we would only be with them for one evening. A new and additional issue was the more odoriferous nature of two of our roomies. I believe it was their hiking boots and socks; either way, when I walked into the room it was quite the assault to the senses. 

One benefit I anticipated was a better night sleep – goodbye snoring friends! Wrong.

One of our new roommates put the previous two to shame. His snoring was to the level of almost being a form of acoustic art. Even better was that his bed was right next to mine…about 3 feet away. Smothering him with a pillow was an option, but I thought being imprisoned after 3 days on our RTW trip was not a good idea.

Hostel #2 - Port Macquarie - Personal Size

Our Second Experience

Our second hostel only had around 16 beds and we were only staying there for one night as we travelled up the coast from Sydney to Brisbane. It is very small, intimate, and feels like a house. We opted for a private two-person room. The bathrooms were shared, but with fewer people it wasn’t an issue. If the original hostel felt like a college dorm, this one felt like a college apartment. There was a core group who had been at the hostel for a long time with other guests rotating in and out. Because of that, you almost felt like you were visiting their apartment.

Functional Living Area

I am writing this post sitting in the lounge area of this hostel. Rachel is in a chair to my right, working on a different post. There is a guy from Canada cooking in the kitchen. The couple that runs the place is cleaning up. A guy is sitting next to me on the left is eating his dinner watching cartoons with a friend, while his other friend is asleep on the couch. The hostel dog, Chili, is walking around begging for food. It’s nice. Very homey. 

Better Kitchen – Despite the Roaches

The kitchen was WAY more accessible and usable. Frankly, it was half the size of the one in the larger hostel. Considering that there were 16 beds, versus 540, you can imagine the increased convenience! However, the kitchen was a mess. Despite the many signs instructing people to clean their pots and pans, their moms aren’t there to clean up for them, etc., it was pretty rough. We suspect this is why we saw a few cockroaches scurrying around the kitchen area in the morning. 

Staying at a hostel in your 40s
Our First Theft

We did experience our first theft at the small hostel. Someone went in to our labeled food bag and took one of our bananas. Not cool. Ironically, as we were cooking breakfast (which is when we noticed the missing fruit) we saw a bowl with a piece of banana left in it – evidence!

Was there snoring?

No, but there were a group of three guys hanging out not far from our room door in the middle of the night. The World Cup was on, and I think they were taking a break outside in between game. It was short-lived and far better than dealing with a snorer throughout the evening.

Overall Conclusion

First impressions, can you stay in a hostel in your 40’s?
  • Absolutely. Realize (at least in our very limited experience) that most other guests will be 18-25, which means that you are old enough to be the parents of many of them.
  • There is a good amount of late night partying and associated drama. If you have ever been to college, it will be quite the flashback for you.
  • We much prefer the smaller hostel versus the larger. I don’t think we would choose another mega-hostel unless it was the only affordable accommodation or we knew we were only going to be there for one night. The mega-hostel felt very impersonal; the small one was nicer despite the cockroaches and stolen banana.
  • You will learn quickly what your comfort level is. Public bathroom and shower? Snoring guy in the next bed? The occasional cockroach? Smelly feet funking up the room? We chalk it all up to part of the experience, but admittedly, my tolerance for all of this is far lower than it was 20 years ago. Given, we’re in our first week of our RTW travels…I suspect by the end my tolerances and expectations will be quite different than they are now. 

I think hostels are good, but we both like our quiet, personal time. Would I want to stay in one all of the time? No. However, I think it is a good way to travel affordably, meet new people from around the world, and most importantly, push your limits in ways that most of us in our 40s probably haven’t in a long time. Many of us like to THINK we can handle it. That we’re ok with living like college kids again. Dropping ourselves into that world is one way to learn whether that is true or if, in reality, you’re way more adaptable and flexible in your head rather than real life. 

Will we stay in more hostels on our RTW life reset?

Yes. Ideally, they will be smaller hostels and we will select a private room if available. 

Do you have any thoughts to share about hitting the life reset button? Please post below or contact us directly!


Danielle · July 17, 2018 at 7:51 am

You’re far braver than us guys! It’s hostels with private rooms and ensuites or anything else (!!) over dorms for us these days. Great read, happy reset!

    Peter & Rachel · July 22, 2018 at 2:17 am

    Thanks, guys! We suspect we’ll opt for the private rooms, when available, as well!!

Deb · July 17, 2018 at 12:34 pm

What a pleasure to follow you guys!!! I have traveled for 10 years; only 4 – 6 weeks at a time & some of it with my mom. Always a hostel; usually smaller and often a private room with shared bath. I even stay at the Vanderbilt YMCA in NYC 🙂 Guess I have been blessed; positive experiences – often found business professionals stayed in the same places as well as older folks…. I will be headed to Chile in November – hope my good fortune holds. Looking forward to more of your adventures

    Peter & Rachel · July 22, 2018 at 2:16 am

    Thanks for the post, Deb! Despite the quirkiness at times (and the stolen banana LOL), we enjoyed our hostel stays. We hope to visit Chile as part of our trip – we can’t wait to visit South America!

Kevin · July 17, 2018 at 5:22 pm

Awesome post! I recently binge-watched your youtube videos — great to see your adventure if off and running. I am 42 and plan on doing something similar next year. Looking forward to seeing more posts and videos!

    Peter & Rachel · July 22, 2018 at 2:14 am

    Thanks, Kevin! Us Gen-X’rs need to stick together!

Kirby · July 17, 2018 at 9:37 pm

I am a high school teacher back in VA who takes educational travel trips to Europe every few years with students. I am so enjoying sharing in your journey, thanks for taking us all along!!!!

    Peter · July 22, 2018 at 2:12 am

    Thank you, Kirby! We’re having a great time, so far!

AdventureswithCharlie · July 22, 2018 at 1:10 pm

When we were walking the Camino Norte we quickly learned the joys of hostel life smells, snoring etc.. we actually got used to it and really enjoy our hostels now. Ask other travelers to see where the best ones are. I stayed outside Denali once for $25.00 and had my own cabin. Not all hostels are the same. We love to fellow travelers and mentality and the savings can’s be beat. The young people traveling have great energy.

    Peter & Rachel · July 22, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Charlie – Funny enough, the friend we are staying with just did the Camino walk a few months ago! We agree, talking with people and getting their recommendations is key. Since we wrote the post we had a great experience at a different hostel. We’re excited to see what other places we’ll stay at along our journey! The $25 cabin sounds terrific…hopefully we can secure something like that, as well!

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