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Work for accommodation in Sydney Hostels – how does it work?

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Many backpackers arrive in Sydney Hostels with a modest budget and are looking for ways to make it stretch as far or as long as possible. One of the best ways to do this is agree a deal with a hostel to work in return for free accommodation. As hostel bills are usually one of the top expenses for travelers, getting a job like this will drastically cut your outgoings, whilst still letting you live the fun, social lifestyle of a true backpacker.

So what is work for accommodation? It is simply doing one of many job that hostels need performing every day, for a set number of hours per day or week, normally in return for a bed in a dorm room at no cost to you.

What sort of work can you be expected to do? This varies with each hostel of course, but there are a number of standard jobs that virtually all hostels need performing each week.

The most common work is dorm cleaning. You will normally work 2 hours a day, or maybe 10-14 hours a week to earn a free dorm bed for the week. It basically involves cleaning up the bedrooms of your fellow backpackers, doing the vacuuming, cleaning the fridges, windows or cupboards/lockers etc. You will have to empty the bins and clear out any leftover belongings that over-laden travelers can no longer carry and have left behind. The work normally involves early mornings starting at 9am, so that the beds and rooms are clean and tidy for check-in’s later that day.

Another common job that Sydney Hostels offer free accommodation for is working on the reception, or travel desks. You will be responsible for greeting guests, checking people in and out of the hostel, giving them their keys and linen and showing them around the hostel. You will normally need a decent level of local knowledge as you will get asked directions to the beach, airport and tourist attractions on an hourly basis! Hostels with a separate travel desk may ask you to be pro-active and sell tours and trips to guest. Sometimes you will have to sell a certain amount per week to ensure you cover your accommodation costs.

Probably the most fun and desired job that Sydney hostels offer for free accommodation is the role of entertainments manager. You will be asked to ensure guests are happy and entertained every night of the week, which normally means taking them out to the bars and clubs each evening. It can also involve daytime activities like arranging the free weekly BBQ, or getting the latest DVD release ready for movie night.

Each hostel will have a number of other ways in which you can work off you accommodation, so just ask at reception for what help they need with. It is wise to visit a few hostels in person to introduce yourself and ask about any opportunities. Hopefully you will only need to wait a week or two before something comes up, as many backpackers move on quite regularly leaving vacancies to fill.

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