Volunteering in a hostel

As you may have gathered from my previous post, I really liked Montañita and wanted to stay for a while. To save on accommodation costs, I volunteered in a hostel, and I lived and worked at Kiwi Hostel for three weeks.

Volunteering generally consists of working a few hours a day in exchange for accommodation and food. The deal of course varies from place to place, but I was required to work 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, in exchange for a bed and two meals a day.

  • I had a private room, and it was great to have my own space and unpack my rucksack after several months in dormitories
  • the hostel has really powerful aircon, which was a real treat in hot and humid Montañita
kiwi hostel communal area montantia
tropical plants line the outdoor seating area

I therefore feel like I got a really good deal, and the hostel itself was a lovely place to live. (Check out my review here.) It is up a hill looking down over the town and the sea beyond, and I enjoyed sunsets on the roof terrace.

sunset montanita

My work consisted of convincing people to come to the hostel. I went to the bus stop to meet the bus every hour between 7.30am and 1.30pm, and pounced on bleary-eyed tourists as they stepped off the bus! In Spanish they call it being a jaladora. It was pretty easy and I was pleased to have a job that required me to speak Spanish!

My pitch went something like: “Hi! Do you need a hostel?” Then irrespective of their reply I’d say: “At Kiwi hostel we have double bunk beds, aircon, a roof terrace…” and more often than not people would follow me to take a look, and then stayed!

Once I had filled the hostel and didn’t need to go and find tourists, I spent the mornings working in reception, answering guests’ questions and the like. It didn’t feel much like working as it was so sociable. As anyone that stays in hostels will know, guests are generally young, chatty and out-going.

I also modeled for the hostel’s promotional photos!

Kiwi Hostel Montanita
photos from Kiwi Hostel’s Facebook page


The volunteers alternated in cooking lunch for the staff. After lunch I was free to do as I pleased all afternoon, and I often went to the beach with some of the guests. (You can read more about what I got up to in Montañita here.)

Dinner wasn’t included, which I quite liked as it meant I could do my own thing in the evenings.

The owner tended to organise entertainment at the weekend and one Saturday afternoon I came home to loud saxaphone. The Capulis were performing on the terrace.

The setting sun behind them was an amazing backdrop and the haunting flute was a wonderful change from weeks of listening to reggaeton!

I would really recommend volunteering in a hostel to any long term backpacker! I saved so much money and had plenty of free time to enjoy Montañita.

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7 thoughts on “Volunteering in a hostel

  1. I volunteered in many hostels in Australia in exchange for accommodation, and totally agree it didn’t really feel like work! Really is the best way to do it 🙂


    1. Hi Sketchpacker!
      I found out about Kiwi Hostel by going and asking. Montañita is a town with lots of hostels so I figured if I asked at enough places I’d find somewhere!
      But a friend has since recommended workaway.info, a site with volunteering and live-in options across the world.
      I haven’t signed up yet as you have to pay, but she said it’s worth it as it can potentially save you so much money.
      Let me know if you find something! Where are you headed to next?


  2. I never thought of volunteering at a hostel. I stayed in one before in Estonia. Would be such a great way to meet even more people and save some money while at it.


    1. Hi Because I’m Cheap!
      It definately lets you meet even more people, because you are the one person every guest knows. My experience was really fun! I spent time with different people every day and am still in touch with lots of the travellers I met there! Give it a try 😉


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