• Please type a Country or Region name

Work Exchange in Hospitality

Home | Work exchange in hospitality > Written by Shay Gleeson | Last updated on 10th Mar, 2023.


volunteering in a hostel


Choosing to do a work exchange in hospitality is a great way to travel the world on a shoestring.


In this guide, we run through the most common questions you might have about volunteering in a backpacker hostel, Bed and Breakfast (B&B), hotel, guest house or other hospitality establishments.


If you're new to the work exchange concept - don't worry! Simply put, it's a type of travel where you exchange your time and skills for accommodation.


Table of contents




Why a work exchange in hospitality?


Reduce travel costs (substantially): Travel is a expensive business. The biggest outlays are airfares and accommodation. A work exchange in hospitality is a sure way of tackling your accommodation bill -- reducing it to zero. How does it work? It's simple, free accommodation in exchange for work.


Learn new skills: Travel broadens the horizons -- it broadens skill sets too. You get the opportunity to learn new languages and cuisines. The new skills that are learnt on a work exchange in hospitality are boundless. Every culture has different ways of doing things -- this is what you'll see and learn.


Meet interesting people: If you're adventurous at heart and love meeting people, then working in a backpacker hostel is a great way to meet like minded kindred spirits. Simple put, it's where they hang out.



How many hours help are required?


In a typical work exchange in hospitality arrangement, hosts require between 20 - 30 hours a week help about the place. In return, hosts offer a comfortable bed in exchange.


Many hosts also include meals as part of their offering. Some offer addition perks such as vouchers to local attractions, use of onsite equipment such as bicycles, skis, surf boards, or wind/kite surfing kit.


The types of hospitality stays offered on HelpStay include volunteering in backpacker hostels, guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, retreat, wellness and fitness centres.



What tasks will I be helping with?


The tasks will depend on the needs and preference of the host. Some of the common tasks include:


  • Cleaning: Keeping the place clean and tidy, including making beds, cleaning bathrooms, and doing laundry.

  • Reception: Greeting guests, checking them in and out, and handling any questions or concerns they may have.

  • Serving guests: Breakfast or other meals, serving drinks, and setting tables.

  • Kitchen: Assisting the Chef/Cook with the preparing of meals, washing dishes and kitchen hygiene.

  • Maintenance: Fixing any broken items, repairing damages, and keeping the place in good working order.

  • Gardening: Maintaining the grounds and gardens, planting flowers, and keeping the outdoor areas tidy.

  • Marketing and promotion: Assisting with marketing and promoting the hospitality establishment through various channels, such as social media and travel portals.

  • Art & music: Drawing and painting indoor/outdoor wall murals. Playing music in the bar or running a DJ set.



What skills do I need for a work exchange in hospitality?


In the words of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, we say too - 'Come as You Are'. If you come with the right intentions and mindset, and are prepared to get stuck in, you'll be more than welcome in any establishment.


If you're sociable and outgoing, you'll get to help with front of house duties like welcoming and entertaining guests. For those who have a technical edge, you'll find plenty of online tasks that hosts will need help with. If you're the outdoor type, there's always grounds and gardens that need looking after. If your the artistic type, let the host know, they'll always have something for you.


The important point to remember is that when you're asked to do a task, try to do the best job you can. That way you'll have a happy experience. If the task is new to you, don't be shy, ask the host to guide you until you become familiar. Remember, it's in the host interest that you perform the tasks well.



Is HelpStay legit?


Every host listed on HelpStay and our sister site Free Volunteering is screened and approved by our team. Our team cross checks host contact details online by researching and matching them to where a website, Facebook or linkedin account exists.


However before you agree to a stay, do your own research, have plenty of chats with the host both via message and video phone, discuss your work day, and where possible seek out feedback from past volunteers.


If the host that you're communicating with is listed on HelpStay and you'd like to know our thoughts on that host - drop us a line. The important point is to get a clear mental picture in your head how your stay will feel before you endeavour on your trip.


Before you go, remember to download our free guide on how to make the most of your experience. It’s a quick read but more importantly it’s an essential read if you want to ensure that you have a successful volunteering experience.



Explore work exchange opportunities


Join our Climate Compliance 6 month Program (Caribbean)
Saint Vincent And The Grenadines
Else Marie
Marketing & Enrollment Manager
From 18 € / day:
Dormitory Shared
Full Board
Help with Guest House jobs on Cat Ba Island (north of Vietnam)
Tien Dai
Guest House Manager
Dormitory Shared
Full Board
Volunteer in a Hotel & Hostel in Huaraz (Peru)
Managing Director
Dormitory Shared
Join our hostel team as a volunteer (Canary Islands)
Office Administrator
Dormitory Shared
We're building a Permaculture Farm near Jaipur (India)
Permaculture Farmer
Dormitory Shared
Full Board
Volunteer painting our hostel in the heart of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
Backpacker Hostel Manager
Dormitory Shared
Lend a helping hand at a festival/wellness destination (southeastern California)
United States
Coordinator & Resident/Host
Dormitory Shared
Help us provide adventure experiences to all ages and abilities (northern Ireland)
Volunteer Coordinator
Dormitory Shared
Full Board
We're a hostel in Cali, and seeking help on reception (Colombia)
General Manager
Dormitory Shared
Volunteer at a Animal Shelter, Farm & Hostel in the Andes (Colombia)
Resident & Host
Single Private
Help at a Guest House on the north of Madeira Island (Portugal)
Guest House Proprietor
Dormitory Shared
Join our Circus Hotel - Have fun & laughter with us in Malmo (Sweden)
Circus Director
Single Private