How it actually is to volunteer in a hostel in Spain

by Roxana Mihailescu
Dinner in the gypsy cave at El Granado Hostel in Granada, Spain

If you’ve made it to this article, you’re probably looking to spice up your trips and save some $$ in the process. Good. Here we go.

Why Spain?

First, a bit of context. In November 2020 I went to volunteer in Portugal as a social media manager through a European Solidarity Corps program. You can read all about that here. I was living in the small city of Faro, in Algarve, just 3 hours by bus from Sevilla. And as we all know, I love Spain, and honestly, who doesn’t? Fiestas, tapas, sangria, all the good words that have an “S” in there. Anyway. Sevilla. Always wanted to go, so I did. Just a small inconvenience – there is a pandemic and, in May 2021 when my volunteering program ended, the borders to Spain were kinda closed. However, I could go through by bus because I had a flight ticket back home. Fortunately, the officers didn’t ask twice why I didn’t choose to fly to Bucharest from Portugal instead of Sevilla.

I had 4 days to spend in Spain before going home. I stayed at a hostel in Sevilla (La Banda Rooftop Hostel) and made some friends there who recommended I go to Granada. Actually, they kind of used the words “there is no way you come to Andalusia and don’t visit Alhambra”. So I booked a bus for the next morning and a hostel, also recommended by the people at La Banda – you will notice that very often when you travel people will tell you what hostels are good, so you will never end up in a shitty place. That, or just send me a DM to ask.

The next day I went to Granada for a day and stayed at El Granado Hostel. I went to Alhambra, which on one hand was a good idea because there was literally nobody there (they have just opened after the lockdown), but on the other hand, it is very rushed to visit if you’re just for a day in Granada. But at the time I had no idea I would return so soon after.

How I ended up volunteering at the hostel

The morning before going back to Seville I was in the common area of El Granado and started chatting with Fran, who was in charge of the activities of the guests and a very good friend with the owner of the hostel. He liked the content I was doing on social media and suggested coming back during the summer and volunteer as a social media manager in exchange for accommodation. I said I’d love it and two months later I started.

A normal day as a volunteer

What I really loved about working at El Granado was that it felt like being part of a big family. Although the guests were different every day, the vibes stayed the same. I would start the day by having breakfast in the common area with everyone. When I was there in May they also had this cool tradition where a girl used to cook pancakes every Sunday and the guests would come with their own toppings and share. Unfortunately, she left, so if you go and volunteer there please be the one who brings the pancakes back 🥞

After breakfast, I would start working outside, on one of the terraces. I used to work around 4 hours a day, but since I was in charge of social media, I would take pics and videos all the time, so my schedule was super flexible. At night, we would either chill while someone was playing the guitar or go partying. I went to Granada in July for around 3 weeks and the clubs were opened, but not so full. We used to start the night by pre-drinking at the hostel, and some nights we would have dinner with sangria included (my fav type of night). After the bar or club, we would all go to a square and stay there until late. Oh, how I miss those times.

How can you volunteer in a hostel

There are many ways to find a job while traveling. Either do what I did, which is stay at a hostel and ask if they need any help – you might get a positive answer and start right away. You don’t need any special skills, just be sociable and show them you like to be around lots of people. Most of the jobs require you to make sure the guests have fun, so being easy-going is the key. Basically – showing that you can be the responsible mama-bear at a party, but also the first one on the ring dance.

Here are two other ways:

  • EMAIL YOUR FAV HOSTEL FEW WEEKS/ MONTHS BEFORE – be friendly and ask if they need any help. Tell them what you can bring to the place and be excited about the opportunity.
  • ONLINE PLATFORMS – there are platforms that post these kind of opportunities. My favorite one is Worldpackers, which connects you to verified hosts, so it saves the hustle of finding them yourself. What’s cool about it is the WP Insurance, meaning that if for some reason anything goes wrong, they’ll help you find a new host, while providing up to 3 nights of accomodation in a hostel. You can create a membership and apply for as many trips as you want here.

Would I repeat the experience?

No doubt. Actually, I am applying right now through Worldpackers to go volunteering again in a hostel in January. Where? Well, you already know I love Spain. I was thinking of Tenerife because it always feels like spring there. Any other suggestions? Comment below your dream volunteering destination 🌍

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