If you want to travel around the world on a budget, volunteering at a hostel is a great way to live for free. In exchange for a couple of hours a work a day, you’ll have a place to stay for free. I think that’s a pretty good deal, especially as the work load won’t be difficult.
I have some personal experience with this. At this very moment I’m sitting on a couch in my hostel in Kiev, Ukraine. I’m volunteering here in exchange for a bed. I think I’m getting a great deal!
Most of my work is doing laundry, and since we only have one machine, much of my job is actually waiting for the washing cycle to finish. Two hours of reading every four shift, check.
I’m also always meeting new, interesting people. Yesterday four cool Canadians came in. We all went to the bar last night and a couple of them ended up getting their heads lit on fire. Good times.
If this sounds like a good deal to you, let’s check out how you can make it a reality.
How to Find a Volunteer Job at a Hostel
1) Check out
You may get lucky and find a hostel volunteering opportunity there. Or maybe some different work you like even better. Simply search for you city and see what’s available.
2) Go to
Find all the hostels in the city your interested in. Next, take the names of those hostels and find their websites. For example, the website for the hostel I’m volunteering at is;
Once you’ve found your hostels website, navigate to the Contact Us section. There you should find a contact email. Copy that email address and send them a message.
What should you say?
Well I don’t know if there is one correct message and one other one that’s not good. I think a good email will disclose a few sentences about yourself and why you want to volunteer. Next, briefly mention some related work experience if you have it. Or if you’ve already stayed in many hostels, mention that as well.
Finally, offer customize the message a bit. Check out pictures of the hostel your emailing and find something that looks cool. Maybe the location, or the common room, or an in-house cafe. Mention that you think the hostel is desirable because of that. Just don’t forget to change this part of the message for every hostel!
And that’s it. Send this message to a bunch of hostels and wait for some replies.
When I was doing this I sent out three emails, five days before I was ready to arrive. One hostel never replied, one hostel very nicely declined, and one said yes.
And that’s the story of how I’m here. Literally ten minutes of work and I found a place to live for free for a month.
So I’ll end this post with an exact copy of the email I used to secure this job. It’s awfully informal, rather short, and conversational. But it get’s the point across and worked for me.
Cheers from Kiev
P.S. In Russian, it’s very common to do smiley faces not like this 🙂 but like this )), in case you think I made a grammar error.
My name’s Sam and I’m living in Northern Ukraine right now. However, I’m coming into Kiev on Friday. What I’m looking for is a place to work / volunteer, and I think Kiev Central Station looks awesome, I love the layout of the common rooms and kitchen.
In exchange for a place to stay I’d be happy to help out with whatever you need. Registering guests, keeping the rooms tidy, or organizing events.
I’m American, 23 years old, and I almost speak intermediate Russian. Если удобно для вас, можно разговаривать по-русски.
If you think this sounds like a good deal, please send me an email back. I’m going to be in Kiev waiting for your reply.