As you might have noticed I change my places of living quite often. And while it might not be anything surprising anymore, as we live in the era of digital nomads, I must say that I’m not part of this group. I do not work remotely and hostels define my lifestyle.

Many times I’ve been asked how I manage to travel around and work at the same time. Well, this is not really a big secret. Work in the hostels is for sure one of the best ways to keep your budget at least at the same level or even (sometimes) grow a little.

Before you start searching for a hostel job you should consider a few important things:

  1. A lot of hostels search for volunteers and not permanent, paid staff. This means that you will work in exchange for free accommodation and some extras like breakfast, meals, free usage of the hostel facilities. Still, it happens that volunteers are being paid too but don’t expect a high-level salary.
  2. Free accommodation means very often a bed in the shared dormitory. Sometimes hostels have private apartments/ rooms for their staff.
  3. Hostels are looking for the multidisciplinary people. So if reception is not your thing don’t worry. The tasks range from reception, housekeeping, web/graphic designers, entertainers, painters, artists, etc. It all depends on the need of the hostel and your skills.
  4. Amount of hours that you work depends on the hostel. In some, as a volunteer, you will be asked to work 4/5 hours a day and the rest is your free time. During the week you get 1 or 2 days off. But again: it all depends.
  5. Yes, permanent/ paid staff also happens in the hostels. But you need to be aware that, that means staying in one place for a while, working full-time, very often you need to have the country work permit and perform your best.

Let me just stop for a moment at the last point. At the beginning of my hostel adventure, the trend to build the hostel staff mostly on the volunteers was growing. Lately, I’ve noticed that this is changing. Hostels noticed that even tho they save money like this (or at least that’s what they think), the service performed by volunteers is not equal to the service given by the professional, permanent staff. Since volunteers are not being paid you can not expect them to give their 100% (despite giving a free bed).

That is why a growing number of hostels employ permanent staff with experience in the tourism industry.

Another important thing I would like you to know is to never (ever!) allow to overuse you! You are there to help but also to enjoy the new location and country. So you should have enough of free time to do that and the working hours shouldn’t be the same as the permanent staff.

How to find the hostel work and travel the world in the meanwhile:

workaway logo

Photo source: website

Common between backpackers. Possibility of cultural exchange around the world by volunteering in different ways. From hostels, eco-resorts through babysitting, creating websites, vintage, wine tasting till helping in the construction of new buildings or restoration of monuments. The number of possibilities is overwhelming.

In order to contact hosts you need to register as a workawayer

  • if you are a solo traveller, it costs around 25 euro (29 USD) for one year
  • if you travel with your second half or a friend you can choose the ‘couple option’ – around 32 euro (38 USD) for one year.

Volunteer position you can search by the countries. If you find the hosts that interest you – contact them. Be creative – think that hosts get tons of emails each day from people like you – starving for the adventure.


Photo source: website

The platform where you can exchange your skills for accommodation in unique places around the globe. As a traveller the first step is to sign up on the platform and fill in your profile account. You get your own travel buddy that will guide you through the website and help you out before, during and after your volunteering period. All hosts are verified. 

Since 15 of October 2017…

Worldpackers announced their annual membership. After choosing this option you will have access to all hosts that are available on the platform and you will be able to book your stay with them just after making a payment for an entire year (and you will not be charged for other bookings on Worldpackers).

The cost: US$49 (single fee). However, by signing up through this link, and using this code: WPAFFILIATE, you will receive a $10 USD off from the price. So for the cost of US$39, you get the whole year of access to the new adventures!


Me and my hostel team!

Hostel Management

Photo source: website

Part of the HostelManagement website that is dedicated to the hostel job offers. 

As a traveller, you simply create your work profile and search through available vacancies. There is also a forum where you can exchange your thoughts and information.

The Working Traveller

Even thou I have never used this website, I add it as yet another resource for finding work on the road. Apart from some job offers, which are not only in the hostels, you can find also travel inspirations, interviews with volunteers and travellers.


Another resource for hostel job offers. In order to apply for the job or volunteering offer, first, you need to register. The membership price is either 9 euro/year or 14 euro/year.


An online listing of hostels, farms, homestays etc. that offer volunteering opportunity. As a helper, you can choose between a free account or the premium one. The second option costs 20 euro for 2 years and allows you to see all the host details and reviews.

The Hostel Girl

The hostel blogger – Katie Dawes, recently has added to her blog a ‘Hostel Job’ section. There you can find links to the hostel job openings.

Contacting directly with hostels

Personally my favourite method. Although you need to be really patient and spend some time on it. What I usually do is to google through the hostels in the places that I am planning to go and send emails to those that suit me the most. Of course, each email has a little bit different content based on the hostel style. But the sense is still the same: I want to exchange my skills for the accommodation.

Don’t forget to attach your current CV with your photo!

Going directly to the hostel

If you are already in your dream destination, you can go to the hostels of your interests and either talk with the staff/ managers about the work exchange possibilities or leave your CV.

These are my recommendation of how to search for the hostel job. But remember that it will not work if you will not dedicate some time to it. Afterall if you want to travel on the budget you need to be creative and very patient!

If you know other manners to find a hostel job let me know in the comments.

Good luck!

P.S. This post is available also in polish.

Like it? Pin it!

Note that this post might contain affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through them recommended products, I will get a small commission with no extra cost for you. This small money allows me to go for a beer after finishing my shift in a hostel (very often much-needed) and supports maintaining this blog.
Posted by Ewa Gabara

Posted by Ewa Gabara

Founder of Don’t Mess With The Receptionist. I geek out on hostels and I’m a long-time receptionist turned into a copywriter. I help the hospitality and travel brands conquer the world with words.

try frontdesk master free for 30 days and get 10% off your first invoice

Find me also on:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This