So, until now you didn’t realise that working in a hostel during your travels was an option. We’re so glad you stumbled across this guide - prepare to have your mind blown wide open!
Seriously; choosing to work at a hostel is a great idea for saving money, meeting people and spending significant time somewhere you might never have done otherwise.
Read: Volunteer and Travel the World - a review of the best volunteering platforms + hostel volunteer tips.
This is your answer to why working in a youth hostel is a must, hostel travel jobs FAQ’s, and how work exchange for accommodation can lead to fantastic bonus opportunities.
Here is a cheeky shortcut for the different topics covered in this guide. Feel free to skip straight to the part which interests you:
Table of Contents
- Why should you consider Working at a Hostel?
- Is there such a thing as Paid Hostel Jobs?
- Tips for Working at a Hostel
- How to get a Job in a Hostel? (+ $20 discount)
- What about Working Hostels?
Whether you intend on visiting the United States, South America or some far-away Island, we’re here to help you on your hostel job search.
Still in need of saving some dosh before you can set off on a big adventure? Here are 14 Ideas to Save Money for Long-Term Travel.
Make sure you become aware of the different types of hostels that are out there, too.
Why should you consider Working at a Hostel?
Let’s dive straight in and have a look at the 5 main reasons why working in a hostel will turn out to be one of the best decisions you ever make. For backpackers and long-term travellers, living and working at a hostel is rewarding and a lot of fun rolled into one.
To help you save even more, here are 21 Ways to Save Money while Travelling.
1. Develop New Skills
So you’re intrigued about working in a hostel and think it sounds pretty rad. But what does it mean to work in a hostel, what will you be expected to do?
There is a whole host of different hostel jobs that need to be done on a daily basis. Some of the most common hostel worker jobs include:
- Reception work (bookings, check-in)
- Housekeeping (room turnover, kitchen cleaning etc)
- Preparing free breakfast/dinner
These are the kinds of things anyone can pick up. They are also usually done in return for free accommodation, not payment. But you never know, it really depends on the hostel!
There are also more specified jobs that require experience and know-how, such as wall artwork projects, bartending, photography/videography for the website and social media, and writers to promote the business.
Useful article: 17 Tips for Sleeping and Staying in Hostels
Basically, there is huge scope for developing new skills as well as fine-tuning your current areas of interest.
Administration, cleaning, cooking, web development, activity organiser - all of these (and more) are some of the things you can learn whilst working at a hostel.
2. Affordable way to Travel
Deciding to work in a hostel is one of the best travel tips we can give you. It supports an affordable way to travel, which also means the length of time in which you travel is increased.
Did you know? Most hostel jobs offer free accommodation in return for your time. This is usually in a shared dorm of varying size. If you’re lucky, you may even get a free breakfast or dinner thrown in!
Important: Pack Smart and avoid upsetting your roommates.
Other perks that save you money is the infamous ‘free food shelf’ and ‘free box’ which are nearly always found in hostels.
It’s simple; travellers move on and leave their unwanted food behind - you reap the benefits! A free box is a place where other bits can be put. Such as unwanted clothes, left behind shoes, travel gadgets etc. You’ll be amazed at some of the things that people accidentally leave behind, and never bother to collect!
3. Get to know the Area & Locals
The longer you stay in one place, the more you will get to know the area, locals and local culture!
That’s one of the cool things about backpacker hostel jobs; you’ll end up in places you may never have done otherwise. It’s the ideal way of discovering local secrets and off-the-beaten-path gems.
Get involved in festivals, music events, poetry evenings - check out posters and hostel advertisements to discover what's coming up.
What’s the best bit? Hostels usually only require your help for a few hours a day, so that means you have tons of spare time! Use it to get a part-time job - why not become a tour guide? - explore the area and focus on personal projects.
Bonus: Hostel staff can usually get great discounts for surrounding tourist attractions. Just let them know you intend on recommending them to guests, offer to advertise them on the hostel info board or put their leaflets in reception.
4. Travel the World (by staying in one place)
Hostels are, without doubt, the best accommodation when it comes to meeting people from all walks of life.
By staying in a hostel long-term, you will get to travel the world by literally staying in one place. It’s so exciting to see who will walk through the door next. Will it be someone from North America, or some small town in South Africa that you’ve never heard of? Everyday is a surprise!
Also, breaking the ice and making friends in hostels is so much easier than you might initially think. Hopefully wherever you end up, there will be organised activities and events to bring everyone together. From movie nights and BBQs, to drinking games and yoga.
Nothing of this kind offered? Why not suggest to start something yourself. Which brings us nicely on to…
5. Practise your Passion(s) in the Hostel Space
Everyone has a certain something they love, a passion, an interest. Heck, in this day an age it’s safe to say that each person has several! And hostels are a great place to practise and share these interests with others.
As long as the hostel management are happy with it, you can use the communal living spaces to your advantage.
Perhaps you’d like to offer morning yoga sessions, or throw a vegan cooking class once a week. If you like to make jewellery you could hold a workshop and sell your items to travellers. Offer a haircut for a few euros, organise a walking tour, give massages - the possibilities are endless.
Get creative and take advantage of the many faces that pass through, the space and the spare time.
Is there such a thing as Paid Hostel Jobs?
For sure! Jobs at hostels can include a paid position, such as working in the bar, at reception, as manager or becoming part of the cleaning team. Though we’ll be honest, they are a bit harder to come by than hostel volunteer work.
Why? Well, they usually require previous experience and the owners would prefer to take on people that will be around for longer than a few months. First impressions count, so front-of-house staff have to be great with people, tolerant and think on their feet.
Top tips: #1 Check the larger and famous/popular hostel chains for paid opportunities. They are in a better position to pay staff (compared to small, family-run hostels). #2 Aim to apply during the peak season when they will be super busy. #3 Suggest having a tip jar in reception for hostel workers.
Tips for Working at a Hostel
Ok so now that you’re convinced that working at a hostel is the best idea you’ve heard all year, it’s time to prepare.
These simple and effective tips will definitely help you to have a great experience rather than a "what the hell am I doing?!" kind of dilemma.
1. Do your Research
Before you get too excited and agree to go and work at a hostel, make sure you do some research about the place.
Read reviews on booking platforms, check out their official website and make sure the area in which it's located is somewhere you’ll enjoy being for a period of time. For example, being stuck in the middle of nowhere without access to a car might seriously suck.
Here are 11 ways to Find the Best Hostels and what to look out for.
2. Ask Important Questions
So let’s assume you’ve spoken with the hostel and they agreed to take you on as a new member of the team. Great! Now it's time to ask some important questions.
First things first; Are Hostel Safe? Discover 11 safety tips for hostel travel.
It’s all too easy to get carried away and forget that it’s also your responsibility to be prepared. Unfortunately, not every employee will care for their employers or be upfront with what they expect. Many young travellers are taken advantage of by being worked too hard for zero payment, for example. So avoid this and ask important questions before you arrive.
Some questions definitely worth asking include:
- What are your weekly hours?
- Confirm your agreed length of stay
- Is it a paid or voluntary position?
- What are your living arrangements (shared dorm, how big etc)?
- Best/cheapest way to reach the hostel?
- Will a staff member be waiting to welcome you?
3. Know your Rights
If you intend to work in hostels for free accommodation, don’t agree to work full 8 hour days, 6 days a week - this is not fair. Simple as that.
Each country will have different rules and regulations regarding employment, so it’s always a good idea to check these out when visiting a new place. For example, is a contract necessary? Is it legal to work for free accommodation?
4. Check Visa Requirements
Following on from knowing your rights, make sure you also become familiar with visa requirements for the country you’re in. Some countries may require a Working Holiday Visa for paid work, whereas as others only require a tourist visa.
5. Work Hard
Seems obvious, right? Yet it’s easy to think that because you’re volunteering your time for food and/or accommodation, you don’t need to put in as much effort. WRONG.
At the end of the day, working in a hostel is very popular in the travelling community. There will always be someone waiting to take your place - remember that.
Living and working at the same hostel means you will essentially become a face of the business. Checking people in and cooking a meal in the same kitchen means you have responsibility to represent the hostel well. The hostel owners have every right to take away a job from someone that doesn’t take this seriously when their livelihood is at stake.
6. Play Hard
How to work in a hostel and not burn out? Make sure you play hard as much as you work hard!
It helps to spend some time outside of the hostel once in a while to avoid cabin fever. Invite friends - the ones you don’t live with - out to a local bar, and go for walks/exercise away from the hostel property in your spare time. When you begin to get annoyed by every little thing about the hostel, you know you need some space, so take it!
Relax and have fun; one of the most important tips to follow when carrying out your hostel work! Part of great customer service is to smile, greet people and create a home-from-home for yourself and others. It’s work experience that could potentially create life-long memories for the guests you interact with. Good luck!
How to get a Job in a Hostel? (+ $20 discount)
Great question! There are a few ways to go about this. First things first, decide on where in the world you’d like to go and have a look on Hostelz.com to find hostels in the area.
Read: Why choose Hostelz.com for Finding Hostels? 7 Simple Reasons
Other options for finding work in a hostel abroad include:
- Become a member of Worldpackers - +2000 hostel job opportunities
- Contact a hostel directly via email
- Search HelpX and Workaway (voluntary)
- Have a look at Hostel Jobs (paid, voluntary, long-term)
- Talk to travellers about their experiences
Looking specifically to work at a party hostel? Slumber Party has hostels in 7 locations across Thailand, and they are always on the lookout for new team members.
Top tip: Check out bigger hostels and chain hostels that have several properties. They need more staff and will often offer training in management, hospitality etc in their hostel job vacancies.
-- Click the link below to enjoy $20 towards your Worldpackers membership --
What about Working Hostels?
Working hostels work a bit differently to your usual hostel. They have more of a focus on providing accommodation for travellers that want to find a job in the area, with a primary focus on seasonal work (fruit picking, pruning etc).
For example, working hostels in Australia and New Zealand offer an affordable weekly rate in a shared dorm, and simultaneously help you to find work at a nearby orchard or farm.
If you’re lucky, the working hostel will provide transportation to your job, but car pooling with other travellers is more likely.
A working hostel is usually only home to working travellers, and not backpackers that are in the area for sightseeing.
They tend to be located close-by to seasonal work places with easy access to a supermarket, but not much else.
In short, at a working hostel you can expect to:
- Pay a weekly rate for shared dorm
- Have access to a job board
- Hostel staff will help you with employment
Good to know: Spots fill up fast in working hostels, so it’s a good idea to get in touch a few weeks before seasonal work kicks in.
A perfect example of a family-run and helpful working hostel is Hone Heke Lodge Flashpackers in a prime fruit picking/packing area of New Zealand.
What’s it like to live in a hostel?
This will depend on the hostel type, who’s staying, the size of the hostel - many things! As long as you’re open-minded and interested in meeting people from all walks of life, you’re bound to have a fun and memorable experience living in a hostel.
Which is better, hostel life or home life?
We’re so glad you asked. Here is a must read guide on Why Hostel Life is Better than Real Life (8 solid reasons).
What is it like working in a hostel?
Again, this will depend on the job description. One thing’s for sure; you can literally roll out of bed and be at work within seconds. Working in a hostel turns everyday in to a holiday. There are freebies, endless people to meet and often fun activities and events to join. The working day is also pretty short, usually just 2-3 hours a day in return for accommodation.
What’s it like working in hostels in Southeast Asia?
As you can imagine, working in a hostel in Bali, or any other idyllic Southeast Asian destination is well… idyllic. Beaches, good food, cheap living, parties. Yes please. Have a look at all hostels in Southeast Asia here.
How do hostels work?
In a nutshell: hostels are budget accommodation for backpackers and travellers that wish to enjoy a social atmosphere. Here is a hostel owner’s guide to How to Create an Irresistable Hostel - learn what to expect.
Are there many hostel jobs in Europe for English speakers?
Hostel jobs Europe are aplenty! That’s because Europe is a huge continent and the hostel world is huge here, too. Check out the many outstanding hostels in Europe and discover where you’d like to work.
Are there many hostel jobs in France?
Hostel jobs France are abundant, too. It’s probably the delicious cheese and beautiful language that makes it so popular. Check out all of the hostels in France and find out which ones offer work opportunities.