Work in hostels can be easy to find abroad with a low time commitment and an incredible way to stretch your travel money by getting free accommodation while meeting a lot of travelers who are notoriously kind and fun.
The benefits vary from place to place, but you are ultimately working with people from all over the world who love budget travel and are ready to exchange ideas and inspire you to take on new challenges with their amazing stories!
Positions Available/Pay: Hostel work isn’t limited to cleaning bathrooms and making beds, in fact that is rarely why they hire travelers.
Positions at hostels such as Pub Crawl Leader, Bartender, Receptionist and Hostel Manager can get you some pretty great benefits while socializing with people from all over the world in several languages and often getting you free room and board for only a few hours of work per day.
In Antigua, we went out hiking with an adventure travel company which had a hostel attached to it. Guests arrived to work the hostel for a few weeks and in exchange got free lodging and to go on the adventure company’s awesome hiking tours up volcanoes (that were not cheap! Brilliant!)!!
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I personally have used this exchange in places where I couldn’t work because I couldn’t get a work visa. In the Greek islands, for example, it is pretty tough for an American to find work legally at times, but by volunteering unpaid in a very nice hostel, travels cost MUCH less and you can take some extraordinary tours that may not have been in your budget!
Where to Find Positions/How to Apply: When Adam and I were living in Guatemala, we often saw paper signs posted inside the front doors of hostels looking for work/housing exchange in hostels around Antigua. If you don’t see a sign, still feel free to inquire about a need for help–there is nothing wrong with this question.
If you are in town for a bit and/or staying at the hostel, make friends with the people who work there and be helpful–you may get noticed for your awesome attitude and suddenly a position opens up just for you!
If you want to start making arrangements before you arrive, you can search online for hostels in the areas that you will be visiting, find contact info on their pages, and send them an email asking whether the hostel needs an extra hand for a few weeks. Include your resume/CV and be professional, highlighting any relevant work in your background such as working in hotels, restaurants, bartending and guiding.
Also mention life experience and education, including relevant certifications and language skills–being able to speak in broken Spanish is better than nothing, don’t leave it out. And finally, don’t forget to mention if you’ve had any experience staying in hostels–it matters!
Hostels often are pretty open about if they are a “party hostel” or one that is a bit more quiet/calm, so you can adjust your search to your liking. One of my favorite hostels on Lake Atitlan, La Iguana Perdida, has volunteer opportunities posted directly on their website. While we stayed there, we met guests of all ages, a couple with a child, and people were resting by 10 pm…there are different opportunities worldwide that can be found all over the place!
Next, you can do an online search for hostel job boards like hosteljobs.net and hosteltraveljobs.com. This is by no means a comprehensive way to find current openings in my experience, but can inspire a new area where you may not have thought to look. If you are looking for even more ideas, check out a hostel booking site like hostels.com to find hostel names, then use those names to find their homepages.
Good Luck and Keep Traveling!