What is a hostel? What is the hostel life like?

Learn what a hostel is and what the hostel life is like. Find out how you can work in top hostels around the world in exchange for free accommodation.



Oct 22, 2018

Travel blogger, Brazilian, 27. Helping Travel Lovers and Sharing Experiencies w/ Love!

Piratas da praia hotel in recife brazil

Although the hostel concept has reached nearly every corner of the world, there are still many people who don’t know for certain how to explain what a hostel even is and a prejudice still exists for this style of accommodation.

Today, there are hostels that are structurally organized much better than many hotels and other accommodation out there. 

What happened was that the number of people who started to travel alone increased and with this came the necessity for individual reservation options, since in the past, even if you were alone, you probably had to pay for a private room, making it much more expensive to travel on your own.

What is a hostel?

Hostels are hospitality businesses that have shared rooms and spaces. So you only pay for your bed and share the room with other people you don’t know. 

The prices for this type of stay are much more affordable because of this co-living and the whole culture of the place is "do it by yourself", making it different than a hotel. 

Normally, they offer facilities like a fully equipped shared kitchen, laundry room, social area, etc. In addition, because it’s a more laid-back and collaborative environment, the hostel itself often hosts parties and organizes tours around the area with the guests. Most of the time, these tours are not just to well-known touristic points, but they also take you to more reserved places only known to the locals.

The cool thing here is that even if you are traveling alone, you will always be surrounded by people just like you. The environment is conducive to creating new friendships and the exchange of experiences and many laughs.

hostel in chile

What is the hostel life like?

Living in a hostel is an experience that makes you grow as a person.

You will greatly develop your collaborative spirit. You will not mind sharing your food, drinks, stories, and laughter.

You will see that bonds will be created with great ease and the things you have in common with other travelers will exceed your expectations.

By having a certain turnover of people, you will meet people from different regions, countries, cultures, and lifestyles, and the best of all: each has their own suitcase of experiences and stories to share with you.

You will live in a rhythm in which the day of the week becomes unimportant and where you’ll even forget to look at the clock to see what time it is.

You will have moments just for you, for example relaxing in a hammock after hours, reading a book in the midst of nature, returning from the beach 30 minutes before starting work, watching the sunset every day, among other experiences that the rush of a 9-5 daily routine just doesn’t give you.

Why stay in a hostel?

If you are an open-minded type of person who isn’t bothered by sharing spaces with strangers, and who likes to meet and find new people, stories, and experiences, you definitely should choose to stay in a hostel.

The vibe of the place is very different from a conventional hotel. Guests create connections easily and turn into a big family.

In addition to breakfast, hostels typically offer activities that bring all the guests together. Whether for a party at a local bar, for a pizza night or for game night.

The tours usually involve the whole gang too and you realize that you just don’t want to leave the place.

hostel in Philippines

Who is recommended to stay in a hostel?

If you are in search of traveling with a purpose, where you get to know a local culture, local places, and other travelers, the hostel environment is certainly for you!

You will form many new friendships and discover who you are as a person.

For those looking for a more affordable price, alone or with a small group of friends, staying in a hostel often fits the budget way more than the other available hotel options. 

Many hostels also have private rooms that can vary by location, but they can accommodate from 2 to 5 people.

What is working in a hostel like?

Working in a hostel will not demand grand technical knowledge from you. Your skills will have to be between having good communication, friendliness, and energy. These will be your main requirements during the time you do a work exchange

The administrative part of your work will be passed along to you by someone from the hostel staff, so just relax. Your work routine will depend a little on the functions agreed upon with the host.

In the administrative part (like the hostel reception), the work will basically be attending the phone, responding to email, making reservations, checking-in, and checking-out and answering questions from the guests.

It is a very relaxed work environment that requires no uniform and no commute. Put on comfortable clothes and shoes, and your best smile!

cafe hostel in sao paulo brazil

Positive points about working in a hostel

  • You will get to meet lots of awesome people and create great friendships.
  • By talking with so many different people, you will realize that the world is much bigger than the bubble you are used to living in, there are so many incredible life stories.
  • You will be working in an environment without all the pressure of goals to be attained and deadlines to be met.
  • You will definitely wake up happier every day :)
  • You won’t spend hours in traffic trying to get to work.
  • You will learn about the routine of a hostel and the processes of managing this type of business.
  • Your relationship with your “boss” will be that of friendship, partnership, and cooperation.
  • You will feel fulfilled in helping other people.
  • You will be able to practice another language if you travel outside of Brazil, or if you receive foreign guests.
  • You’ll learn to be more organized with your own things, due to the fact you will be living in a shared environment. You’ll start to think more of your neighbor.
  • You’ll spend the money that would have been for your stay on experiences instead.

Negative points about working in a hostel

  • You will be sharing the room with other people, so if this part of not having your own privacy makes you uncomfortable, after a period of time it could be a problem for you.
  • You will have to say goodbye to people that you loved meeting, but that stayed as guests for just a short time…and that’s it! You will have to learn to deal with goodbyes.
  • Because you will be living at your place of work, you may not be able to totally disengage from the activities, but might continue working after you’ve already completed your shift. But this is a very personal trait. Try to control yourself so this does not happen.
  • If you have to have a space just for you, to be alone in silence or do whatever, it might be a little more complicated. But nothing will prevent you from touring the area and finding a corner in the middle of nature just for you.
hostel in barcelona

All of my experiences living and working in hostels in exchange for accommodation have transformed me and brought me many great reflections and changes in my personal life. 

They are unique experiences that, besides the fact of giving me great knowledge of interpersonal relationships, have also made a big impact in the quest for self-knowledge. 

Now that you know everything about what a hostel is really like, time to start planning your first trip to a hostel!



Oct 22, 2018

Travel blogger, Brazilian, 27. Helping Travel Lovers and Sharing Experiencies w/ Love!

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