Hostel Jobs Worldwide: 347 Backpacker Hostels & Guest Houses Open To Volunteer Work Exchanges

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Working for your keep in a hostel is a good way of cutting down on expensive accommodation costs and circumventing local employment visa requirements. Though it can be a grey area many hostels are willing to provide unpaid work in countries where avenues for paid employment are closed.

In return for cleaning, changing beds, laundry, working on reception and all the other small day to day chores involved in keeping a hostel ticking over, volunteer workers can expect in return at least a dorm bed in staff quarters. Free wifi, laundry and any service provided as standard to paying guests should also be expected.

   

Most hostels will also provide breakfast and perhaps other meals, while two for one beers, free tours and activities and bike hire may be other available perks. Sometimes pocket money is provided and – if work visas are not a problem – a paid job might be offered some time down the road. Bar work, leading pub crawls and selling tours bring their own rewards of tips, free beers and commission.

Work hours vary from hostel to hostel with some expecting two or three hours’ of effort a day, while at others the role is almost akin to a full time job. Some hostels have formal work exchange programmes with information and application online but most jobs will be found through the coincidence of some work needing doing and your face fitting, especially if you have already got yourself known by staying a few nights as a paying guest.

Hostels in need of temporary help will typically want sociable and well-travelled English speakers willing to pitch in where needed. The ability to use a phone and a computer will complete the skill set required for most volunteer hostel workers.

Picking a hostel requires some thought. If you don’t enjoy staying in a party hostel chances are you won’t want to and won’t be suitable to work there either. And of course the opposite is also true.

Is It For Me? First Hand Experiences By Former Hostel Workers

* Work at Hotel in Guatemala Jungle – Wade Sheppard, an experienced working traveller, says the volunteers at the Finca Tatin keep the wheels of the place turning, but rarely do the dirty work. He and his wife work through the day for a free bed, good food, and jungle living.
* Kona: Where we Live – Professional Hobo Nora shows us around the place she was staying in Hawaii in exchange for improving the property.
* Work For Accommodation – Save Heaps Of Money Whilst You Travel! – Chris Stevens has clocked up some serious savings around the globe as a result of working for hostels.
* Volunteer Work in a Fairy Chimney Cave Hotel – Brandon Fralic spotted this work exchange in Turkey in the Jobs Abroad Bulletin.
* Living and Volunteering in Cappadocia – Crystle-Day and Julian volunteered with the Fairy Chimney Inn too.
* I Became a Mural Artist in Vientiane, Laos – After painting an elephant on a wall in exchange for bed, board and beer, Kristin impresses the owner of her hostel and gets paid to keep painting.
* Affording Travel Interview With Eric: Free Accommodation at Hostels – Nomad Wallet interviews Eric Reed, who has worked in hostels in England, Cambodia, Turkey and Greece.
* 10 Things You’ll Learn From Working at a Hostel – Bartending at a hostel in exchange for free accommodation taught Monica Gray many things including saying goodbye to people and how to ignore a mouse running across her pillow.
* Panamania – It’s a Surf Christmas! – Chelsea and Andrew volunteer in a small hotel in Santa Catalina.
* My Week as a Pai-rate: Working at a Hostel With Workaway.com & How You Can Travel For Free – A $30 one year subscription to a work exchange website led Tina to a hostel job in Pai, a hippie town two hours from Chiang Mai.
* How to Find a Hostel Job And Travel The World In The Meanwhile – Hostel lover Ewa Gabara funds her travelling life style by working in exchange for free accommodation.
* Volunteering in a Hostel in Northern Ireland – While she didn’t initially care much for the city, Belfast kind of grew on Els thanks to the owner of Arnies Backpackers.
* My Volunteer Work Exchange Experience at a Hostel in Malaysia – Amélie works for her accommodation for three months in Malacca after being poached by the owner of a guesthouse she had stayed in previously.

Two more useful resources to read are the Facebook page of The Hostel Worker and this at once amusing and horrifying Reddit post asking staff of hostels all around the world, what is the weirdest shit you’ve ever seen happening amongst backpackers?

Hostels To Try For Work Exchanges

While we have kept the original title to this post from when we initially published it on our old blog, time hasn’t been kind to many of these businesses. We have added a few more that we have found, but almost certainly the number of hostels we have listed is below 347. And, instead of listing them below as we did previously, we have moved the listings, leads and well we think they dos to our Free or Cheap Volunteer Work mini site. Just click the links below to be taken straight to the Hostel Work Exchanges section for each country:

Albania …Andorra …Armenia …Austria …Azerbaijan …Belarus …Belgium …Bosnia & HerzegovinaBulgariaCroatia …Cyprus …Czech Republic …Denmark …Estonia …Finland …France …Georgia …Germany …Gibraltar …Greece …Hungary …Iceland …IrelandItaly …Kosovo …Latvia …Liechtenstein …Lithuania …Luxembourg …Macedonia …Malta …Moldova …Monaco …Montenegro …NetherlandsNorwayPolandPortugalRomania …Russia …SerbiaSlovakia …Slovenia …Spain …Sweden …Switzerland …TurkeyUkraineUK

… Algeria …Angola …Benin …Botswana …Burkina Faso …Burundi …Cameroon …Cape Verde …Central African Republic …Chad …Comoros …Congo …Congo DR …Cote d’Ivoire …Djibouti …Egypt …Equatorial Guinea …Eritrea …Eswatini …Ethiopia …Gabon …Gambia …Ghana …Guinea …Guinea-Bissau …Kenya …Lesotho …Liberia …Libya …Madagascar …Malawi …Mali …Mauritania …Mauritius …Morocco …Mozambique …Namibia …Niger …Nigeria …Rwanda …Sao Tome & Principe …Senegal …Seychelles …Sierra Leone …Somalia …South Africa …South Sudan …Sudan …Tanzania …Togo …Tunisia …Uganda …Zambia …Zimbabwe

..Afghanistan …Bahrain …Bangladesh …Bhutan …Brunei …Cambodia …China …East Timor …India …Indonesia …Iran …Iraq …IsraelJapanJordan …Kazakhstan …Kuwait …Kyrgyzstan …Laos …Lebanon …Malaysia …Maldives …Mongolia …Myanmar …Nepal …Oman …Pakistan …Palestine …Philippines …Qatar …Saudi Arabia …Singapore …South Korea …Sri Lanka …Syria …Taiwan …Tajikistan …Thailand …Turkmenistan …United Arab Emirates …Uzbekistan …Vietnam …Yemen

Australia …Fiji …New Zealand …Pacific Islands …Papua New Guinea

…Belize …Canada …Caribbean Islands …Costa Rica …Cuba …El Salvador …GuatemalaHonduras …Jamaica …MexicoNicaraguaPanama …Puerto Rico …Trinidad & Tobago …USA

ArgentinaBoliviaBrazil …Falklands …French Guiana …ChileColombiaEcuador …Guyana …Paraguay …Peru …Suriname …Uruguay …Venezuela

Useful Resources For Finding Hostel Jobs

Many of the hostels we’ve listed use the work exchange networks to recruit their volunteers. A small sign up fee is required to join these websites, a list of which can be found here. Try also Hostel Jobs.

Image courtesy Barnacles Budget Accommodation

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blog // magazine // working abroad > volunteer & gap year
This piece has been adapted and updated after first publication in an older version of our blog