Many backpackers travel on modest budgets and are always looking for ways to make their hard earned dollars stretch as far, and as long as possible. As accommodation costs are one of the top expenses for backpackers, there is a way to make this cost cheaper or non-existant and still be able to enjoy the fun and lifestyle of staying in a hostel. You work for accommodation in a hostel. Here’s how.
What is Work for Accommodation in a Hostel?
Simply put, work for accommodation in a hostel is basically that. You work in the hostel in exchange for your accommodation. You will agree on a set number of hours in return for a bed in a dorm room. This is a great way to reduce your accommodation costs as you travel the world.
What Sort of Work Can You Be Expected to Do?
The work will vary with each hostel, but there are a few standard jobs that all hostels need performing each week. The most common work is dorm cleaning. You can be expected to work 2-3 hours per day cleaning the bedrooms of fellow backpackers. This can include doing the vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the fridges, windows and other surfaces. There will also be bins to empty and bathrooms and toilets to clean. Cleaning work will normally be done from around 9am onwards, or after backpackers have checked out or gone out for the day.
Other work on offer could be working at the reception desk checking in and out hostel guests. There is also the possibility of working at the travel desk, if the hostel has one. You will need local knowledge for this job to provide directions and information on tourist attractions. However, you will probably need to be staying more than one night to get this type of job. The longer you are staying at the hostel the better the bargaining power.
In some of the lager hostels you may even gain a job as the entertainment manager. This will see you ensuring the guests have plenty of activities to get involved in. This could be arranging the free weekly BBQ, organising movie nights, etc.
All these jobs are available, but more than likely you will need to stay longer than one night to be able to bargain for free accommodation.
Cleaning is one job to do that can you can do in return for free accommodation in a hostel
How many Hours will you Work?
To receive a free bed in a dorm, you are usually required to undertake around 2-3 hours of work per day. But this will depend on what work you are doing. The hours are usually decided upon on as to how much the hostel bed would cost. If you are staying in a bed in a 6-bed dorm, you may only work for 2 hours however, if you have a bed in a 4-bed dorm, you may need to work a little longer. Each hostel is different though, and you will need to negotiate with the hostel manager.
Is Work in a Hostel always available?
Not always. Hostels are reliant on paying guests to cover their costs and to make a profit. If you are only staying one night, it may not be an option. However, as many backpackers are known for taking off at short notice vacancies are often needed to be filled. Therefore, there is no harm in asking. I suggest, you would have more chance of working for your accommodation if you are staying a week or more.
How to Organise Work for Accommodation in a Hostel
There are two ways to organise work for accommodation in a hostel. Firstly, simply ask at reception when you arrive and secondly contact hostels beforehand via websites and apps such as HostelWorld. HostelWorld lists hostels from around the world. If you go to the website and type in your destination, you will receive a list of hostels. Each hostel listing will include the the services on offer like free Wifi, breakfast included, 1.5km from centre of town, etc. They do this to encourage potential guests to choose them. Use the information to you advantage by advising the hostel what skills you have that could be adapted to turn these skills into a few hours work in return for your hostel accommodation. So definitely visit the HostelWorld website or app to get contact details of hostels where you could possibly gain free or cheaper accommodation by offering to work.
Get a Job in the Hostel
If you find yourself wanting to stay in one location for a while, you could commit to working in a hostel for a season or more. Then you would not only receive free accommodation, but a wage, and maybe free meals while on duty. Sound good. Read my post here on how to get a job in a hostel.
Final Words on Exchanging Work in a Hostel For Free Accommodation
There you have it, my rundown on how to work for your hostel accommodation. If you have done this, or are planning to do it, I would love to hear your comments or questions in the comments below.