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14 replies
Working in Hostels
Zacshleigh
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When I was away, the only opportunity that I felt was really attainable was working in a Hostel. It is my understanding that you have to be from another country to work in a hostel, so that really works out.. and knowing about backpacking helps even more. Have any of you ever worked in a hostel? Should I consider it? I have a university degree and a decent job working in real estate (not an agent) here at home… I think that working in a hostel would be minimum wage type of work (no?). But it would be an amazing experience. Thoughts?

bjam2
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I don’t know much about it but the crew at a hostel I was just at in Barcelona, Spain asked if I wanted to work there cus their 3 months were up so they were done working there and they said they got room and board. Thats about all I know, it sounds cool though so I’m gonna research it more, if I find anything I’ll update.

Jabulani
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I am interested in working in Europe somewhere to experience the culture. Anyone have any suggestions?

EricaT
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bjam2: which hostel in barcelona were you staying at?

Zacshleigh
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Okay, so.. there is a 3 month term suposedly? That’s amazing! I’d likely want to move after that long anyway. I’m really interested in this.. Anyone know anything else?

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Wow, this sounds awesome! I’d like to know about it too

I am traveling for 51 days
Bath, Haltwhistle, London, Füssen, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Speyer, Nördlingen, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Rome, Ostia Antica, Athens, Delphi, Athens
chryscrazy
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You don’t have to do it for that long…I think that is just the limit. When you ask about it, do it quietly and away from other travellers. I haven’t done this yet but I did talk to some people who were working in hostels to find out how they did it for my next trip over.

sighet
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I think they deleted that i might be intrested in employing travelers in our hostel contact if intrested.It is only small but in a very nice place.

Don
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quote:so.. there is a 3 month term suposedly?
This might refer to the 3 months that you get to play tourist in Schengen-land without jumping through all the hoops required for a work permit.

TheVoiceInMyHead
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Ok, I have worked in hostels and even run one at one point, so I consider myself quite an expert on the subject. Also, when I started off, Iw as quite in your same situation: a degree and working epxerience.

These are a few things you want to consider:
-Numbers: out of every 100 guests I talked to, 70 were definitely not interested in working in Europe since bound to their own trip schedule. A good 30% though, was keen on working in a hostel. Now, that is a really high pecentage. Definitely putting into account all the hostels in Europe, the possibility of absorbing workers does not goes above 2 or 3% AT MOST. Therefore be ready to remain on the 29%-27% of people who WILL NOT GET HIRED
-The time limit is really well… limited, in most hostels. They ask you to commit for a minimum of two weeks (some hostels accept even one week), as a general rule, for menial tasks (and in many hostels to start off with cleaning is the only way to advance towards the management). An engagement lasting 3 months is quite rare I would say and attainable only with some advance: you will not get a proposal for three months(or even for one, unless they need a cleaner on the spot) if you arrive in the middle of the busy season, like in July or August. Your best chances is to apply in advance, so that you can be contacted in May and start working in June. After August, the traffic of the hostels decreses and allows to cut the number of employees drastically. Usually, during the winter time, hostels have mostly local staff.
-You do not absolutely need to be from another country to work in a hsotel. On the contrary: the managment and best positions will most likely be from the country the hostel is located into for practical reasons: they need to communicate sensible information very precisely in the local language(hostels have to do with taxes, impositions and other burocratic issues as any other commercial establishment! Be from the country is a plus to fill those positions). What instead is required is to be proficient in a number of different languages. I am sorry to tell you that English is not within this pool of languages: any hostel has permanent staff speaking in English, and even if their English is broken, preference is definitely given to other idioms. The language you speak is some sort of treasure you bring with you, especially if it is one of the following: French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Swedish. They are generally not interested into non central European languages, so that you know.
-Preference is definitely given to Europeans: for obvious reasons. The language, the ability to employ them regularly with short term contracts if needed, and all that. Very very few to no hostel will hire you for three months for an administrative position (this is what you are looking for, right? I assume you are not into cleaning bathrooms) if you are not from Europe and without having a strong bond with you (created because you are a regular customer, because you are a friend or anything of the like)
-It will be easier to find a job away from big cities: quite true in general. So forget about capital cities. Most of those hostels are quite well run and organized establishments, accepting drop-in workers just for menial tasks. But their better positions (even the receptionts) are filled with people satisfing the above requirements and often chosen with a large time advance.
Payment none to very very basic. You always get a bed(food only if the hostel has a cafe’ service) for free, but be ready to share with up to 10 or more people. Hostels are not keen in treating their employess particularly well (except for one hostel I know in San Francisco). Sharing for extended periods of time can be really hard, due to the lack of privacy. When you work on cleaning (approx 3-5 hours a day), you usually do not get anything but the bed. A generous hostel will pay a worker working full time between 75 and 150 (VERY generous) euros per week in big cities, less in small towns, without a contract and still reserving you a bed for free. Minimum wage is a variable reality in Europe and definitely can be applied only for regular, contracted jobs (and sometimes even not for those, if they hire you with an ‘internship formula’). Usually a hostel pays below minimum wage, since you are guested for free.
The Job managment jobs are really, really really hard to find. I found mine out a real fluke (keep in mind I do satisfy the requirements above: European, 4 languages, travelling experience, REALLY flexible on working hours, etc etc etc…). If you really want to try, expect to start off from the bottom: cleaning duties are the most requested to fill. And with some luck and drive, in a few months, you will be able to work your way up. Keep into consideration that full-time positions give really little free time: one day a week free usually, and very demanding workin hours (yep, they want to milk the most out of you). Working as a cleaner will instead break your back (you will need many hours of rest and little partying since cleaning hours start between 7 and 9 am) but give you at least part of the afternoon to experience the city.
An amazing experience? it really depends on you and on who you end up with. The where has little importance in my eyes, but what you can stand is a capital factor in establishing whether it will be amazing or not. If total lack of privacy isn’t an issue; if you think you can bare with a few sleepness nights due to the guy sleeping above being very sick, people being drunk and all that (and mind me: it is not as when you do your own travelling. Then there is the excitement of being on the reoad, and visiting new place. Here instead you are fixed in one city, looking at everybody else pass by. This will be your life for some time, and you must be ready to take it); if you are ok talking to people almost non stop (hostel workers are in extremely high demand: considered cool by the maiority of travellers, they are asked to go out, show the city, have a beer continously), then you are already standing on good ground: there are chances you may enjoy this type of job. But at that stage, you have to keep into account that you are working and living with others. Expect to be exploited, expect to have to deal with petty crimes/criminals, expect to have a permanent roommate oblivious of the basic rule to live pacifically with others, expect to be asked to work on your day off, expect to be waken up by an emergy at 4 AM, expect your boss to abuse you and make you do tasks not part of your job, expect to be yelled at: either by your boss or by some nasty traveller. In that sense, if you are a novice, I will definitely suggest you to start with some small hostel in a small mountain town: likely the atmosphere will be more relaxed.
All together, it can be fun, but negative moments are to be expected. They will come and spoil your day, your week, your month or your experience all together. So, you do your own math on this.

Personally I found the aura of glory interesting for two weeks, after which I had aready heard the same conversation over and over (you cannot imagine how boring travellers are: "so what is your itinerary?", "where are you from?", "what is your favourite city so far?". These and a handful of other questions, mixed with the same travelling anedctodes presented unchanged ad nauseam, will be repeated gazillion times in any hostel every day), I got fed up of giving every day the same direction to the airport/museum/club, I had lost any interest in showing the nightlife to backpackers and was all together revolted at how low some human beings can drop when they are sure nobody is knowing them (really, really, really low).
I think the experience can be more enjoable if you care less about life and are able to take lots of shit. If you are with a friend, that can also help, but again, to find a job for two people is harder than to get a position for one.
I ended up staying in one hostel for half a year in a European Capital, but due to personal reasons, not because the experience was amazing. I have positive things to say about my stay, but not due to my job, the people I have met or the freedom I enjoyed. And I am not sure I would do it again. For sure the two people I met there who became my friends will never return to a hostel job again.
So, well, this is what I had to say about it.

TheVoiceInMyHead
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And by the way, I can tell you are dot-on about hostels being the only opportunity to find a job in Europe.
If you have about a chance out of 10-15 to get a job in a hostel (two position to be filled and at least 30 foreigners wanting it), expect to be even more disadvantaged for a job outside a hostel, if you have got no European passport, you are a young worker or backpacker and are not a professionist with years of experience in that field: there the competion becomes extremely fierce and I would say you have a chance out of 100 or 150 to find something. For bar work about one chance out of 50 I would say.
Or so experience teaches me: I saw litereally flocks of Americans/Australians/Canadians who came here sure they would have found a job and failed miserably, having to return home after having spent loads of cash and months of their time.

Marty
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Thevoice… : I was pretty exhausted by the time i finished reading ur post so all i really have to say is: CHEERS! Thanks for the reality checkWink Honestly, i also had a very naive view on the whole euro ‘work’ thing. The more i read in these forums, the more ‘real’ this fantasy i have of a euro trip becomes.

ariesfour85
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im going to europe after i graduate (in a year’s time) and im looking forward to getting a job after my month long trip, preferably in a hostel or cafe type establishment…just wanna experience the euro lifestyle. not really particular on the salary, etc. any recommendations guys? oh yeah, i also read/write spanish

Ruthlindsay
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Great Thread! I am currently living and working in Lyon as an Au Pair and come August I am hoping to move to Paris (I realize this is a terrible month to move to Paris!). I am hoping to find work teaching English, but I thought it might be a good idea to find work in a hostel for the first few weeks or month if I can so that I’d have somewhere to stay and then I could go about finding work teaching. The problem is, I’ve looked online, and no hostels seem to have their phone numbers or emails listed! How on earth am I supposed to get in touch with them to talk about employment prospects!
I don’t even know if this is a realistic idea, but I’m sort of just going for anything at this point…I need a job, and I’m not ready to leave France yet!
Soo…if anyone has any advice, I would LOVE to hear it!!!
thanks!
ruth

Zacshleigh
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In response to the long poster: I have stayed in my fair share of hostels to know that I would have a severe lack of privacy and have to be a cleaner. Cleaning wasn’t the part that I was considering to be the great experience of it all. Overall it seemed that your outlook on the idea is very pesamistic.. to each their own.. I’m not naive about it at all.. but you deffinately had more bad things to say than you did good.

I was by no means looking to be a receptionist or manager. If I wanted a good job I would absolutely be capable of getting a better one, having a dual citizenship, being bilingual and having years of work experience in a good feild. I’m still considering my options & work opportunities. thanks for your input.