When you find yourself abroad at a place where you would like to stop for a while, try to introduce yourself to the hostels’ staff. Ask if they offer “Work in exchange for Accommodation”. It’s a common practice all over the world, so you won’t get any rough answers by asking, worst you can get is a polite “not at the moment“. You can also plan ahead by sending e-mails in advance before arriving at your destination. At times, hostels even post ads in search for this kind of collaborators, try browsing employment websites!
If you are lucky and speak the local language pretty well, you could be offered a job at the reception, otherwise the tasks commonly offered are: re-arranging the rooms, cleaning, and basic renovation works. Be smart and try to avoid the toilet shifts, be creative… 😀 …
For the hostels, it’s a good bargain. If you think about it, the hostels gets the needed workforce with so much ease and at no cost. Moreover, the collaborators are also happy to do the job.
Apparently, aside from a free bed, some hostels also offer some pocket money to the collaborators, but this has never happened to me, honestly.
The stairs to the beach of Gnarabup in Margaret River, Australia.
Work in exchange for accommodation, my experience in Australia
The last two months of my trip to Australia was spent at Margaret River, in Western Australia. If you ever decide to visit “Oz”, I would highly recommend that you don’t skip the West coast. To me, the beaches are the most beautiful in the country, and it’s definitely less touristy than the busy East Coast. One can Surf without seeing anything built around, sometimes not even parked cars, this was a daily experience there.
At the time I was staying at hostel in Prevelly, a few steps from the sea, and I was working in Margaret River in two different places. Due to the community being a small one, there was no bus service; I ended up using “hitchhiking” as a means of public transport…
I and the other long term guests racked our brains out to find any sort of task that could help us accumulate hours of work which would be discounted from the weekly rent. Together with José from Chile, I developed an assembling line method of making beds. While with Nicolas, from France, we become experts at finding tasks around even when there was nothing to do. There was nothing we wouldn’t have done... XD
A Dirty Job
One day the manageress of the hostel, also a traveler but older, told us:
“Guys, if you wanna work, I have a job for you…”
“… but it’s a dirty job, do you wanna to do it?” Smiles mischievously.
Nicolas and I look at each other…
… we could.
“There’s a clogged urinal, we need someone to unlock it using the fire hose.”
Nicolas and I look at each other…
Well, it was too late to say no I guess.
Nicolas was only two years younger than me at the time, but I went with the old dear “rule by the oldest“ : I’m staying out of the restroom operating the hose. He places himself on the doorpost, holding the lance of the hose in the urinal with his foot, ready to eject himself if necessary. The first two times, I open at full pressure and he jumps out of the restroom in an Indiana Jones motion…
We agree that I would open slowly and then gradually increase the pressure.
He’s staying on the edge of the bathroom, giving me directions:
“Go… go... go... ”
Then, I remember him screaming desperately:
“Stop! Stooop! ”
Note: As an altenative: “Go… go... go... Stop! Stooop!” I remember him shouting desperately. All on the same line.
I think I remember that we succeeded in the mission, but the bathroom certainly did not come out very well.
I left Margaret in January to Fiji and then went to New Zealand. From that crew, I saw only Neo again, an Italian guy. I met him in Portugal more than eight years after. Still, this is one of the traveling periods I remember with most contentment.
- The longer you stay in the same location, the lower the costs of your trip will be. Read more about my theory.
- There are several ways to save on accommodation costs while traveling. These include Couchsurfing, Wwoofing, House Sitting, Au pair and working in exchange for accommodation.
- You can search for these opportunities on the spot or plan ahead by browsing the web and applying before leaving for your destination.
- Consider the advantages, disadvantages, and commitment that these solutions imply before accepting.
- Once you accept, do your part.
Credits: Cover: jeshoots.com Grarabup: E. Shakespeare Urinal: Unknown.