This post was written by expert vagabond, Ana, from The Art of Epic Living!
Working in a Hostel
First of all, let’s review what a hostel is, since some people hear the word “hostel” and think of the horror movie!
A hostel is a type of budget-friendly accommodation, which usually offers both dormitory style as well as private rooms. Hostels are cheap options which cater specifically to young people and travelers looking for an affordable place to stay.
Depending on the place, hostels will usually offer different events, parties, excursions, family-style dinners and other social activities to their guests. You can easily meet new, like-minded travelers in the common areas, and will most likely make new friends from all around the world!
Hostels offer a great vibe and an amazing way to save money!
SO, now that you know what a hostel is, its important to know a hostel employee can hold a variety of jobs! I have worked at hostels all around the world, and my positions including 1 or more of the following responsibilities:
- Checking Guest In and Out
- Providing Local Information and Directions
- Mingling with Guests to Create a Social Environment
- Bartending and Serving
- Promoting and Planning Events
- Leading Bar Crawls and Booze Cruises
Basically, a hostel will need the same types of employees that can be found at a hotel, but will also need people to run the social side of things as well.
Hostel jobs allow you to minimize your cost of living, make amazing new friends from all around the globe, offer accommodation in a prime location for free and allow for an awesome work environment with many fun times to be had!
Portugal: Rising Cock Hostel in Lagos. I helped at reception, promoting/planning/executing parties, Bar Crawls and booze cruises.
Argentina: Hostel Inn at Iguazu Falls. I was an event coordinator and party planner.
Peru: Loki del Mar Hostel in Mancora, Peru. I was a bartender, event and party planner.
Where the Job Exists
You can find hostels jobs pretty much anywhere, particularly places which appeal to backpackers and budget travelers!
Europe in the summer time is a very busy season for backpackers, and December-April in Central and South America will also be hot-spots for finding work. I have not traveled to Southeast Asia yet, but you would easily be able to find hostel jobs, especially during the peak season!
There are obviously more hostels in bigger cities, or cities that are hotspots for young travelers. I have always sorted out a location that I would want to live in, and used that as a starting point for job!
Try to pick a place you’d like to stay in for a while, and THEN begin the job search!
How to Get a Job
SO, you’ve decided that you want to work in a hostel- live the good life, make amazing friends, wake up every day to a fun work environment- sounds like a grand old time!
The key to success with finding work is networking and putting yourself out there!
The first thing that I advise you to do, is figure out where you would like to go, and GO! This is not the sort of job that you need to research online, forward your professional resume and follow up with a fancy pants interview in business casual.
This is the type of job that requires you to have a social, likable personality. While you can try to email in advance, and apply online, but it is better to meet the staff, see the hostel and charm their pants off, and apply in person!
You don’t necessarily have to wing it completely; maybe you can send an email or book and mention that you would love to be a staff member if they are looking, in order to show your interest. Once you arrive, in person, that’s when you can seal the deal!
It will help you to get a job if you get to know the hostel staff and locals of the town you are staying in. If you demonstrate that you are a cool, responsible and easy-going fellow traveler in need of work, you will have any easier time securing a position. Try to prove that your personality will mesh with the guests and workers, and that you will be a good fit!
You can use the sites Hostel World to search for hostels in a given city. You can get the contact info, directions and links to websites for each hostel, so that when you are ready to begin your job search, you will know addresses and names of the hostels.
Also, you can get an idea of the hostel’s character through the info and reviews. Is it a party place? Chill place? Make sure that you are going for hostels that match the type of environment you’d like to work in!
Last but not least, although I have talked about the importance of finding a job in person…it is possible to sort one out beforehand with Hostel Management. This is a search engine for hostel jobs, which allows you to search for hostels looking for employees based on location!
I think that this is a good tool for people who are intimidated on my “wing-it” approach, but keep in mind that you will be living and working at this place, and you want to make sure that it suits what you’re looking for!
Even if you have not had any hostel job experience, many of the skills that you have learned from previous jobs are 100% relevant in making you an ideal employee.
If you have good people skills, you are ahead of the game!
If you have worked in hospitality, restaurants/bars, or customer service, you most likely are able to interact with other people with a friendly attitude. Make sure to mention if you have had experience with reception, cash handling, cleaning or other directly related experience.
At the end of the day, your personality is the most important thing to show-off when applying for hostel jobs; the duties themselves are fairly simple to learn, but you have to be the right fit to get the job. Show that you are happy, good-natured and fun, yet responsible and reliable as well.
Availability & Pay
Is it seasonal? Year-round? Do they pay hourly, salary, commission, etc.?
I would say that in most places, hostel job availability goes hand-in-hand with the weather and the season. If you go there at the start of the “peak” season, or just before the start, you will probably have first pick for jobs, before the rest of the crowd shows up.
Sometimes it is possible for an employee to get a wage, but don’t count on it!
Usually hostels offer employment in the form of accommodation, and free or discounted food and alcohol. It is also sometimes possible to make commission from promoting and selling tickets to tours, excursions and other events, and even tips if you are a bartender.
This is not the type of job to go for if you will need a wage- it is for someone looking to extend their stay in a place that they love, and looking for a minimal cost of living while abroad.
When you work in a hostel, you eliminate most of the expenses of traveling (accommodation, transportation, food) so you are able to have a home base for a bit, and have all of the benefits of staying in a hostel, without having to pay for it!
As a plus, you will likely get discounts at local bars, restaurants and shops. For example, as a bar crawl leader, I was never paying for drinks!