Tel Aviv hostel work

Working In A Hostel: Everything You Need To Know In 2023

Affiliate Disclosure

Working in a hostel is an excellent way to travel and cut costs, and even make money at times. At the least, you’ll get free accommodation and at most, you’ll even make money! Whether you’re looking to travel cheaper, longer or just have a great way to meet people and make friends while traveling, working at a hostel is a great way to go!

I worked at a hostel for a number of months in Tel Aviv. I had just officially moved there and needed a job, and I worked as a paid receptionist. Besides my own experience, I stayed at the hostel in-between apartments and also worked with the volunteers closely. I loved my experience talking to tourists, hanging out and making friends from all over the world!

Here’s everything you should know about working and living in a hostel in 2023!

Sarah working in a Hostel in Tel Aviv Israel

Pros of Working in a Hostel

✔️ Making friends from all over the world by socializing, playing games and eating meals with people while working, plus avoid loneliness

✔️ Free accommodation, sometimes meals and/or pay

✔️ Participating in events, festivals and more

✔️ Learning new skills and increasing your confidence

✔️ Getting to know the area well enough to practically be a tour guide

✔️ Leading events and using your own skills in the hostel (like teaching yoga or selling postcards with permission)

Cons of Working in a Hostel

✔️ Dealing with some sketchy guests at times and awkward situations

✔️ Not getting enough sleep

✔️ Lack of personal space

✔️ Work hours and responsibilities vary by hostel

Alice in Wonderland - working in a Hostel in Tel Aviv, Israel

Working in a Hostel: Volunteer and Paid Job Opportunities

Living and working at a hostel is generally what travelers do, and sometimes the jobs are paid, while sometimes they’re volunteer in exchange for free room and sometimes food as well.

Hostel job definition and work description: What do hostel workers do?

Usually, volunteers work at hostels for a few hours a day. At the hostel where I worked, the volunteers had 5-hour shifts with some days off. I had a paid job as a citizen, so my shifts were 8 hours.

Volunteers who work in hostel in exchange for free accommodation usually do a bit of everything, and you may get more perks like free or discounted drinks, free food, tips and free tours. Here are some of the job responsibilities for hostel volunteers:

  • Bartending
  • Event planning and managing
  • Leading bar crawls
  • Hostel kitchen work including cooking meals, washing dishes and organizing leftover food
  • Decorating and painting
  • Leading walking tours
  • Hostel Cleaning Work
  • Taking photos and video for social media
  • Fixing things

For paid hostel jobs, you usually have to be a local or have a visa, or you’ll need to stick around long enough for more serious work. There’s more of an interview process and you’ll need to be trained more on things like hostel software and other job responsibilities. Paid hostel job opportunities include:

  • Receptionist positions
  • Cleaning jobs
  • Managing jobs
  • Bartending
working in a hostel

How to get a job at a hostel

First, you’ll need to think about your skills and how you can stand apart from others. Use past job experience, degrees, social skills and other talents you can use at the hostel (playing music, cooking, event planning, bartending, tour guiding, language fluency) to show that you’re the perfect candidate!

Also, remember that hostels are laid-back places, but they still want good workers. If you’re a responsible worker with skills for the job and social skills, and you love chilling out and having a good time with new people, you’ll be great!

You can apply ahead of time if you know where you’re going to make sure you get a position, or if you’re traveling spontaneously you may have to search around and get jobs on the go, which you can also do (just be flexible because you may not have as many options, or you may not be able to find an open position).

  • In Person: You can go to the hostel, or call first and make an appointment. You can also stay for a night or two and discuss working with the manager or owner first.
  • Facebook: In some countries (like Israel, for instance), Facebook is used for everything from finding jobs to getting places to live!
  • Hostelworld is a hostel search engine you can use to search for hostels wherever you’re traveling.
  • Hostel Management has a job board where you can apply for paid hostel jobs.
  • is just what it sounds like!
  • Worldpackers has hostel and other types of volunteer and work opportunities for travelers – and it comes with insurance!
  • Workaway is another site with volunteer and work abroad opportunities.
  • HelpX has opportunities for hostels and other types of volunteer work abroad in exchange for free stays.
  • Working Holiday for Australia and New Zealand

How Hostels Work: Hostels explained

Hostels are dormitory-style budget travel accommodations, and usually have private rooms as well. Sometimes they have age limits, but not always. Some are more geared towards younger adults, but many hostels are popping up that are focused on all ages and older ages of travelers!

Some hostels have gender-specific and mixed dorms, while others only have mixed dorms. There are big chains – like Abraham Hostels in Israel – and there are smaller, locally-owned hostels.

Most hostels have options for travelers like:

  • Walking tours
  • Longer, more involved tours
  • Events
  • Bar
  • Meals
  • Bar crawls
  • Areas to hang out, play beer pong and watch movies, work and eat

Each hostel will have its own vibe! Some hostels are party hostels, while others are more upscale or chill. Some hostels have more official events planned and meals offered, while others are more laid-back, for example.

Working in a Hostel Tel Aviv

Should I volunteer or work in a hostel?

Working in a hostel is for you if you’re looking for budget travel or a way to save money while traveling, if you love socializing with new people from around the world, and if you’re not afraid to work hard and be laid-back!

Working in a hostel is not for you if you need your personal space, if you want everything around you to be clean – and cleaned – while traveling, and if you don’t want to have to work while traveling.

Tel Aviv Beach Israel Sarah
This photo was after my interview for the hostel job! I loved living and working near the beach in Tel Aviv.

Working Hostel Reviews: Check Before you Work

Here’s a list of things to research before agreeing or applying to work or volunteer at a hostel:

  • Location. Make sure the hostel is close enough to where you want to be so you can get places easily without needing to have a car.
  • Is it a brand name hostel? It doesn’t have to be, but check to find out more especially if it’s a smaller, local hostel.
  • Check reviews online on booking sites or by asking around.
  • If in doubt, stay at the hostel a night or two to suss it out for yourself first. Make sure the hostel is safe, the owners are legit, the accommodation is good for you, and find out about the working conditions and benefits.
  • Check local laws. Find out things like visa requirements and legal work laws to know what you’re owed in terms of compensation, and how many hours you’re required to work.

The best time of year to work in a hostel

Each country has peak tourist seasons. For example, summer in Israel is the best time to work in a hostel because that’s when the most – and most fun – tourists are there, and when the most events are taking place, so it’s an exciting time. If you’re looking to be more on your own, you can also go during the shoulder season and still have some travelers around. Keep in mind that you will probably encounter more competition for hostel work in peak seasons, so applying ahead is key!

Tel Aviv hostel pub crawl Israel

Why I’m glad I worked in a hostel: Hostel life advantages

Working in a hostel is the best way to travel without actually traveling, and to meet people on your travels or otherwise. The number one thing I loved about working in the hostel was all the cool people I met! I made all kinds of friends from everywhere in the world.

Working in the hostel made me feel independent and free much of the time. Yes, I was working for a boss… and yes, I had to keep up with responsibilities. And yes, there were some times when guests were obnoxious (welcome to the wonderful world of customer service.) But overall, it was worth it just for the good times and meeting people (I mean… how many other jobs let you drink a little on your shift?)!

Working in a hostel: Stories from my own experience

If you’re looking for some anecdotal stories to learn more about what working in a hostel is like, here are some of mine!

What is it like to work in a hostel?

Working in a Hostel Tel Aviv Israel cat
Cleaning up in the morning with the unofficial hostel cat

I worked at the hostel for a few months. I remember when I started, I had to learn the hotel software they used to check guests in and out – that was the hardest part of the job at first, but thankfully the owners were super understanding about the couple of mistakes I made in the beginning (so refreshing after working at jobs in the US where I was expected to be perfect from day one)!

Other things my hostel receptionist job included were: putting laundry in bags for the laundry people and weighing the bags, some light cleaning, washing the water glasses, and dealing with guest issues. But also socializing – that was a stated part of my job, and much of what made working in a hostel so great! I loved when I had a deep conversation with guests, but also the nights of beer pong and bar crawls!

I also went on a pub crawl at the beginning because I got one free. The pub crawls would start at the hostel though, and I already felt like I was part of a fun group there so I didn’t really feel the need to go on them usually! The hostel also had parties I would go to when I wasn’t working with outdoor music and drinks, and when I was working they’d have Shabbat dinners I would attend – sometimes when I got off a shift, too!

At one point, I was working so much I was basically at work for 8 hours, off for 8 hours, back for the next 8 hours and so on – just enough time to eat and sleep, but not a full night’s sleep, in-between (since this was my full-time job at the time and I was paying rent for an apartment in expensive Tel Aviv). At this particular hostel, all the paid receptionists worked all the shifts, so I was working random night shifts mixed with other ones.

I would get up and walk to work, grabbing a coffee on my way, whether it was 6:00 am or 10:45 pm, and would make more coffee once I got to the hostel! I actually started appreciating the night shifts once my body switched from struggling to stay awake to relying on caffeine… but then I realized I couldn’t remember people’s names, and I could tell it was affecting my mood. It’s definitely unhealthy to have the hours of sleep I was getting – not just less than 8, but randomly at night or during the day between shifts.

The Story of the Flying Roach

One night, a couple was staying in a private room. The man came down in the middle of the night to ask me to kill a roach in their room… which honestly, I shouldn’t have had to do. Grow up dude… this is a hostel… in Tel Aviv. But, I decided to play nice… so the hostel could get better reviews. No good deed goes unpunished. So this roach turned out to be flyer… and I was chasing it around and spraying and moving furniture in the open room. All the while, I was laughing at myself, while the couple stood there, stoic. Look, some people just aren’t cut out for hostels. That’s okay! If you don’t want this situation, don’t stay in a hostel! Go get yourself a 5-star hotel, people! But, hey, I got my cardio for the night.

Working in a Hostel FAQs

Is hooking up in hostels common?

I would say it’s fairly common for hostel guests to hook up, but not common enough to keep me from staying in hostels sometimes to save money. However, it can affect your quality of sleep if people in your dorm start hooking up, so just be prepared – if you want to get away, you can just go to the common areas for awhile!

Can I work in a hostel abroad?

Yes! There are mostly volunteer, and sometimes paid hostel jobs abroad. You can apply in advance or check when you arrive to find out if there are opportunities and the details for working in the hostel.

Can families stay in hostels?

Sometimes, yes. Most hostels have private rooms you can book, which is perfect for families – but be aware that taking young children to most hostels in general is not a good idea. A family of all adults can stay in a hostel dorm if there’s no age limit, but make sure all family members are okay with a hostel stay, which may mean less sleep than usual, and interrupted sleep.

Can you stay in a hostel for a month?

You can stay in a hostel for a month, either as a volunteer, paid worker (sometimes) or as a guest.

Is Hostelworld legit?

Hostelworld is legit, but check with the hostel first because many will offer a discounted rate for booking directly.

Are there hostel jobs for couples?

Yes, couples can volunteer at hostels to work in exchange for free accommodation! Just check with the hostel first to discuss options and details.

Working In A Hostel: What You’ll Need & Resources

Here are some things I recommend to bring if you’re going to be staying at a hostel while volunteering:

👉 Padlock for Hostels & Luggage Storage: These will save you money, especially at hostels because you can avoid having to rent a padlock!

👉 Earplugs

👉 Sleep Mask

👉 Microfiber Towel

This is the perfect travel towel, because it takes up little space and is quick to dry. You might want it as an extra or for the beach.

👉 SIM Card or Other Phone Plan: You can get a SIM card at the airport on arrival, or do an e-SIM or International Phone Plan. A SIM card is the cheapest option!

👉 Universal Power Adapter

This one works for the US, UK, EU, and AUS:

👉 Portable Charger Bank

👉 Travel Credit Card: I wish I had known this younger, but you can avoid foreign transaction fees on your credit card if you get a travel card! I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and I love it (the free flights from points I’ve gotten way exceed the minimal yearly fee, but there are other options without any yearly fee, too)!

👉 Earthwash Laundry Detergent Sheets

👉 Apple AirTags for Luggage Tracking

You’ll probably be locking your luggage away, but this is a great way to have some peace of mind about it!

👉 AirTag Covers for the AirTags (these are the ones I have)

Final Thoughts About Working In A Hostel

Working in a hostel is definitely worthwhile. If I’m traveling and need money or a place to stay, I absolutely would do it again – temporarily, of course! But that’s kind of what it’s about, right? When you travel, at some point you gotta pick up and travel to the next destination!

👉 Travel Resources

👉 For flights, WayAway is a flight aggregator that helps you find the cheapest flights. Use the code MUKI-TRAVELS for 10% off WayAway Plus.

👉 To rent a car, is a great tool to use.

👉 Find more tips on things like travel insurance, what to pack, and more on my travel resources page.

👉 More Posts To Check Out

👉 The 63 Best Things To Do In Chania, Crete (With Map)

👉 Is Copenhagen Worth Visiting? 38 Ways to Make Your Visit Worthwhile (+ Pros & Cons)

👉 Is Istanbul Worth Visiting? 25 Ways to Make Your Trip Worthwhile (+ Pros & Cons)

👉 Is Haifa Worth Visiting? 38 Ways To Make Your Trip Worthwhile (plus pros & cons)

👉 Is Athens Worth Visiting? 31 Ways to Make Your Trip Worthwhile (only one is the Acropolis!)

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