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How to Work in a Hostel

By Eric Reed

NEW YORK (MainStreet)--As someone who writes about both travel and finance, I often find myself thinking about the odd intersection between the two. On the one hand, travel at its best is about throwing off your day to day life and exploring something new. It's about leaving behind the mundane to find the extraordinary, and, let's be honest, what could be more mundane than worrying about the next paycheck?

On the other hand, without that paycheck you're going nowhere in a great big hurry. Food, room, tickets, booze, it all costs money. Without your infrastructure at home, virtually everything you do comes with a price tag, from taking a nap to a simple drink of water. On even the smallest trips, you start bleeding cash the moment you walk out the front door. It may not seem dashing or romantic, but money is the fuel that keeps the travels going. Without good planning, it's all too easy to end up far from home and without enough cash to get back. Trust me, I know.

That's how I ended up working in a hostel.

The Good

For travelers low on cash, or just tight with their budget, working at a hostel can be a great way to save some money while seeing the world. The upshot is obvious: a free place to stay, maybe even with breakfast or a generous bartender if you're lucky. It's a huge money saver since lodging is one of the big three expenses of any trip along with transportation and food. If you can eliminate lodging and cut down on transportation by staying in one place for a while, a tight budget can suddenly get a lot more breathing room.

A hidden benefit is actually getting to settle down somewhere for a while and becoming part of the community--an odd part of the community to be sure, but you're still buying groceries, catching the bus and finding a place to get your daily cup of coffee (if you're into that sort of thing). Instead of building your day around tours, museums and Must See Sights, you go to work, run errands and maybe catch a movie or meet up with friends if there's time.