Everything you need to know about working in a hostel

“So, what are you going to do during your career break”? my boss asks me on my last day. “ “I’m heading off to Albania, working in a hostel”
The look on his face speaks volumes.
“OK, there are two things I don’t understand in that sentence. First, you are going to work? And second: in Albania?!”

I laugh, but I’ve never been more excited! I’d been wanting to travel long-term for a while, but neither my parents, neither my bank account thought that this was an achievable idea. Stubborn as I am, I was determined to prove both of them wrong! I didn’t want to teach English abroad, nor did I want a full-time job. I wanted to find something where I helped out a few hours a day and had enough time to explore the place. A hostel job seemed like the perfect combination!

If you’d love to work in a hostel and need some practical advice, read on!

work in a hostel

  1. How do I find a job at a hostel?

Google “find a hostel job” and you’re off to a good start. There are various sites that list places looking for people to help out.
I found all my hostel jobs on two websites: www.helpx.net and www.workaway.info
You pay a small fee to register, but it’s absolutely worth it!  You can narrow jobs down by country or type of work, read reviews from previous helpers, get in contact with the hostel,… There’s no shortage of possibilities!

Another option is of course: throw yourself out there and ask! If you are planning on staying a while at the same hostel, why not ask if they need help cleaning in exchange for free accommodation?

  1. What exactly will I need to do?

This really depends on the hostel. Make sure that it is clear what is expected from you before you start! A few of the tasks I did:

– Checking people in and out
– Providing local information about the area
– Socializing
– Cleaning (a lot!)
– Serving
– Website design
– Gardening

Some places will ask you to do bar work, prepare breakfast, organize activities, …
Make sure you know before agreeing on anything!

  1. What skills do I need?

The most important skill is being sociable! You are going to be constantly claimed. Whether it is to rent a hairdryer, to ask for the nearest ATM, to complain about the small beds, …
During the day when everybody is out, it is generally quieter, but do expect some people to simply hang around wanting to chat to you!

Depending on where you are planning to help out, language skills can also be an important asset. You will deal with international visitors or staff and if you speak the local language, it’ll be easier to communicate and meet people outside the hostel.

During quieter times, hostels often need handy men (or women) to repair or prepare for the upcoming season. Painting, building, website design & gardening skills are often sought after.

And last but not least: cleaning! Not a skill as such, but a very important task of working in a hostel.  It’s not all glamorous!

  1. How many hours will I have to work?

Again, this depends on the place.
In Albania, I worked +/- 2 hours a day, in Portugal and Spain +/- 4 hours, in Belfast +/- 6 hours. Make sure this is clear before you start working, so there aren’t any surprises afterwards. Read reviews from previous helpers to get an idea!

  1. How much money will I earn?

Sorry to disappoint you, but you are not going to get rich from working in a hostel. This is all about the experience! The most common thing is that you get free accommodation (dorm or private) and food in exchange for a few hours of work. You rarely get paid, unless it is a full-time job and/or management function.  Sometimes you get some pocket money or discount on alcohol.

     6. Where I’ve worked:

Berat Backpackers: Albania

Arnie’s Backpackers: Ireland

Camping Toca da Raposa: Portugal

Boutique hotel Los Castaños: Spain

Have you ever worked in a hostel? Or maybe you’d love to and still have a few questions left? Don’t be shy, drop me a line!

3 Replies to “Everything you need to know about working in a hostel”

  1. Karin

    This is a really good article. I often wondered how it is, I might try it when the season starts again 😉 Have you ever found a job like this without using the websites?

    • Els Post author

      It’s a great way to get around, stay for a while to get to know the place and limit your expenses, would definitely recommend! I found all these jobs on the above mentioned websites, but I heard that sometimes just asking to help out can pay off too. Go for it! 🙂


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