Can you stay in a hostel with kids? Yes, you can, many hostels today have private family rooms but a few “party” hostels do still only take guests over 18 years old. Is it cheap to stay in a hostel with kids? No its not, a hotel or guest house is often cheaper with kids. This post explains why hostels aren’t a good choice with kids, usually.
We’ve stayed in many hostels with kids, all over the world. However, staying in a hostel with your children isn’t necessarily cheaper than staying in a budget hotel or guest house. This post is about our experiences of travelling with kids and using hostel accommodation from time to time.
We ended up staying in a hostel in Kuala Lumpur for almost 3 weeks, with kids aged 6 and 9. It felt like home, we didn’t want to leave.
This wasn’t a youth hostel, it was a backpacker’s hostel, not the sort of place most families with young children choose to stay in when they are travelling, but it worked out brilliantly for our family.
The hostel we chose to stay in wasn’t the cheapest, but it was affordable for us as budget travellers, the facilities we got for our money made it well worth it.
We payed around $50/night for a large, comfortable private room for a family of three, over our budget, but KL is an expensive town.
Reasons Staying in a Hostel With Kids Worked for Us.
1. Hostels are social places, people hang out in communal areas when they aren’t out exploring, for me, as a single Mum with two kids, it was nice to have other grown ups to chat to. The children found a few people happy to talk to them too. The staff were lovely, they made a real fuss of the kids.
2. The kids can’t wander around, checking out the sites all day, it’s too much for them. We found that a few hours of exploring, maybe two sessions a day, was all we wanted to do. It was lovely to come back to the hostel for some down time, we weren’t confined to a hotel room, there were plenty of seating areas to use.
3. The movie room. If you are planning on staying in a hostel with kids, keep an eye out for facilities like movie rooms, they are a Godsend. Happy kids, I could watch with them, or get some work done as they soaked up Shrek, it made travelling with kids absolutely blissful.
4. Kitchen facilities. We didn’t cook, but we could have used the facilities. We found it was cheaper and easier to eat out. If you have picky eaters on your hands staying in a hostel with kids is a great idea, you’ll love having a hostel kitchen and a big fridge at your disposal.
5. Free breakfasts make mornings a lot easier. Many hostels offer toast and jam, it’s basic, but it saves you a lot of time and money. The free coffee kept me going while the children had an easy fix breakfast as soon as they woke. I carry Marmite, for a bit of variation. It meant we didn’t have to get showered and dressed to go out for breakfast first thing. I’m finding, now we are in Batu Ferringhi, that many places aren’t open at breakfast time ( for us 7-8am), we’re having to hunt around a bit, that isn’t the case in Kuala Lumpur or Georgetown.
6. If like us, you are trying to get a bit of school work done now and again, I actually found it easier in the public areas with proper tables, than in our private room. Having other people around seemed to help the children focus. ( We’ve probably only done about an hour of written work in almost 4 weeks, all of it in the hostel).
7. The staff at the hostel we stayed in were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. They could give us information on transportation, opening hours, where the nearest bank was, it seemed they could answer any question and did so happily. I don’t know if all backpacker’s hostels make staff training a priority, it’s something I will explore, but so far, the hostel has been the best.
Downsides of Staying in a Hostel With Kids
1. Smokers. As with any place where young backpackers congregate, there was a fair bit of cigarette smoke. They were outside only at this hostel, but we still found it unpleasant and nobody wants their kids breathing that stuff. But we’ve had the same problem in a motel and a guest house. Once you’re on the road, it seems to be one of the things you have to put up with, you can’t control your children’s environment as you can at home.
2. There was some late-night noise. We go to bed around 8pm, so people were up much later. Interestingly, the kids slept through it, it was me lying awake.
3. Communal showers are a feature of backpacker’s hostels, we had no problem with them at all, I’m just mentioning it for those who may struggle.
4. Booking hostels seems harder for families, the big online sites, Hostelworld and Hostelbookers, don’t have options for selecting 3 or 4 bed rooms, you have to work your way through a long list ’til you find what you want. The smaller, cheaper hostels aren’t on the bigger sites such as Agoda. Some hostels don’t allow children, or have particular age restrictions, another time waster when you are trying to book online. I think you’ll find many will wave this restriction if you turn up in person or contact them directly.
5. Bunk beds. Be ready for them!
The backpackers’ hostel in Kuala Lumpur, Back Home, really made our trip, we loved KL, in part, because we had such a great base. We stayed in the hostel dorm as a family for a while too. with no real problems, I’ll post about that another time. The staff there were so great that they saved my sanity with a “special room” when I was homeless and freaking out. Big thumbs up from us for staying in hostels as a family, we think it’s great.
Staying in a Hostel with Kids first appeared on World Travel Family
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Thursday 16th of July 2020
Dubai is safe to visit. Person-on-person crime isn’t much of a concern to travelers here, due to the fact that Dubai is a heavily monitored city. Always choose the best hostels in Dubai.
Monday 13th of July 2015
That's fantastic, and thanks for the quick response. I've been looking more on your site and its making me even more certain I'm doing the right thing. Thanks
Sunday 12th of July 2015
Hi. I am aware that this is an old site, but wondered if you are still available for advice. I don't plan on leaving for our trip for another 5 years yet (I want my boys to be similar ages to yours). How much money do you think you took with you and spent in a year? How easy is it to find accommodation for children at an affordable price? Did you do a lot of planning (i.e. you knew which countries you were going to in what order before you left) or did you go where the mood took you? Sorry for lots of questions but I hope you are still around to be able to help
Sunday 12th of July 2015
Hi Carrie, it's not an old site, we're still travelling, still on the road 2 years later. In the first year we spent $30K I have posts breaking down this amont search "money" in the search bar or find it in the categories in the right hand side bar. No, we planned nothing, we just had a one way ticket to KL and took it from there. Have a good poke around the site, you'll find all the information you're needing. Accommodation, we've payed between $12 and $150 per night ( New York) pretty easy, we have lots of posts about the actual accommodations we've used too. Good luck!
Wednesday 9th of October 2013
"I was wondering, how much younger do you think your boys could be and still have this long term travel work? I mean – I am ready, and contemplating a trip to Chilé in a few months, but we have a 16 mos old. You think your same trip (thus far) would be doable with say a 3 yr old? Just curious as to your take…" we backpacked with our girl when she was just 2,5 years old to argentina where we did every day 2 trips out to see the whales. it was no problem at all.quiet the opposite in fact! dont forget YOU have a life too. even though your child/children might not remember, YOU will remember! my partner and i are currently travelling for a year or so in southeastasia and ozeania with our 2 girls. 22months and 5,5 years old. so far everything goes very well. i would say: just do it,dare to leave your comfort zone, you will be so much rewarded!
Wednesday 9th of October 2013
Wednesday 9th of October 2013
Clarice, I don't know. We've travelled with ours since they were babies and it's never been a big deal. We're doing this for their education, so to take them before they could remember much would be futile, that would be about holiday and having fun, not learning. Also a valid reason to travel, of course. I see no reason not to travel with kids of any age, you face the same difficulties at home as you do on the road. It would depend on the parent and their comfort levels. You have to be a lot more watchful outside your own home. This particular hostel would not be suitable for children younger than mine without constant obsessive supervision, there were a lot of stairs without barriers of any sort and nothing to stop children falling from high balconies. Hostels are not designed with children in mind so there will not be safety features in place. Personally, I think bunk beds are very dangerous with children, my boys weren't allowed on the top bunk without close supervision. All 3 of us slept on the bottom bunk.
Sunday 30th of June 2013
Pleased to see my grandchildren are having such a wonderful time. Thanks for having the courage to give them such enrichments in life. Granny