Hostels – more than just accommodation

Most independent travellers stay at a hostel at some time during their travels. But did you know these hostels can provide more than just a cheap bed for the night and a great place to meet like-minded travellers! They are also a great source of work.

So what types of jobs are available in a hostel? 

In most hostels there are two main types: reception and cleaning work. However, depending on the type of hostel other roles may be available such as party planning, photography, tour guiding, painting, gardening, chauffeuring, bar staff (if the hostel has a bar), cook (if the hostel has a restaurant/coffee shop), the list is limitless, but these kinds of roles are not as common as the regular two positions of cleaning and reception.

Reception work involves checking guests in, updating the booking system, answering the phone and dealing with guests if they have any problems and/or want information such as what to see and do, etc. You don’t necessarily need qualifications or experience either to work on reception as you should be shown what to do.

Cleaning is self-explanatory but basically you will ensure the bathrooms, kitchen, communal areas and also the bedrooms are clean and tidy. Cleaning will be done on a daily basis usually after breakfast and once people have gone out for the day. So it can include vacuuming, mopping and cleaning of surfaces.

What do you get in return – Pay and Working Conditions

What you will receive in return for working in a hostel will depend on the individual hostel. Some may only provide free accommodation in a shared room while others may provide free accommodation and a small wage. Some may include free accommodation, a small wage and a free meal (usually breakfast but could be lunch or dinner). Some may also include free wifi and laundry use. It will be up to you to negotiate with the manager/owner of the hostel.

Working hours can vary from hostel to hostel so have these sorted out before you take on the position. Working hours can usually be anywhere from 20-30 hours per week, but remember, you’re not a slave and just because you’re getting free accommodation out of them doesn’t mean they can take advantage of you. I would suggest your get your terms of employment in writing so you both know where you stand.

How to find a hostel job

Before you start applying for a job in a hostel it is a good idea to consider what type of hostel you’d like to work in. There are all kinds of hostels: party hostels on islands, sport/adventure hostels such as in ski fields, eco hostels in rain forests, etc. It’s really worth thinking about what you really want your time at the hostel to be like. It is great going out partying, but would you want to experience that on a daily basis, if not, then a quieter hostel might suit you better. But how do you tell what type of hostel it might be? Research what services the hostel offers, does it have party nights at the bar – then this would be a party hostel. Is the hostel accommodation only, then this one would more than likely be a quieter hostel.

You will find many hostels are staffed by travellers. If you have arrived as a guest of the hostel and decide you would like to work there to then become friendly with the staff already there and make it known that you are looking for work.

Another option for finding a position is to contact the hostel before your arrival. Check out Hostel World, even though it is a booking engine to book your stay in hostels you could use it to see what hostels are out there and use their contact details to approach them for work – that way you have a job and somewhere to live in the one go.

About the Author: Sharyn McCullum spent a long time travelling around the world. She often stayed in hostels and still does though sometimes she upgrades herself for a bit more privacy and comfort. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.

Thanks for sharing!

Join Us!

For global travel advice and tips on living, working, playing and travelling around the world.

You have Successfully Subscribed!