The Great Hostel Give Back - Earn Free Stays at HI USA Hostels

The Great Hostel Give Back

Eligibility Requirements


To be considered for the Great Hostel Give Back, groups must:

  • Have at least 6 members, but no more than 30 members (including group leaders)
  • Have a planned service opportunity in the local community surrounding the hostel that aligns with HI USA’s mission and values
  • Participate in an approved hostel activity and hostel orientation
  • Complete the online GHGB application
  • Please Note: Groups who have previously participated in the program, and completed the program requirements, may reapply for this year’s program.
  • Groups who did not fulfill the program requirements are ineligible to return for this year’s program

Participating HI USA Locations


Great Hostel Give Back is available during the months of January and February at the following HI USA locations (based on availability).

SO = locations with Service Opportunity Sites.

E = locations offering additional educational programming options.


HI New York SO, E


HI Portland, Hawthorne District
HI Portland, Northwest


HI Nashville Downtown


HI Austin
HI Houston


HI Richmond


HI Seattle


HI Madison

HI New Orleans will host GHGB groups each year in July and August. Please check back here for updates.

Program Requirements


  • Submit a credit card as guarantee for cancellations/damages.
  • Complete two hours of service each day in the community surrounding the hostel for each free overnight. If help is needed to find a group service project, please visit
  • Participate in a hostel engagement activity and a short hostel orientation with a HI USA staff member or trained volunteer.
  • Complete a post stay survey and submit at least three photos of the group participating in the service project or hostel event (all participants/group members over 18).
Failure to schedule or complete the program requirements may make your group ineligible to participate in the following year's Great Hostel Give Back programs.

Educational Program Opportunities


Our Boston, Chicago, New York City, and all three San Francisco hostels will offer additional HI USA education programs for groups to add on to their stays in lieu of a Hostel Orientation. This is a great way to enhance the learning opportunity that goes along with the GHGB. Groups can select from either Hostelling 101 or Study Abroad 101 in lieu of a hostel orientation.

In order to participate, groups must stay a minimum of three days and have one hour available for their educational program. If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please indicate your program and desired date/time on your GHGB application. We will let you know if that time is available.

Hostelling 101

Are you interested in exploring the world? Having a hard time figuring out where to start? This program is designed to introduce the concept of travel through hostelling to first-timers.

Learn what makes hostelling great and how you can get involved in our international network, meet others, and begin to change yourself and the world!

Study Abroad 101

Did you know that studying abroad will not only allow you to immerse yourself in a new place and culture, but will also lead to increased professional development, job opportunities, and scholarships down the line? Getting there is not as hard as you might think!

Service Opportunity Sites


To assist groups with finding a service opportunity, select HI USA locations have partnered with local non-profits looking for volunteers. Groups staying in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles/Santa Monica, San Diego, San Francisco, New York City, or Washington D.C. may elect to work with a pre-identified Service Organization. Check out our list of available sites and organizations here.

Group leaders should arrange their group's dates of service directly with the service organization prior to completing the GHGB application.

Application, Selection, and Reservations Process


  • Complete and submit the online GHGB Application between now and February 15.
    • The application will be reviewed to ensure that groups have met the requirements and that hostel is available on the requested nights.
    • Selection will be based on group eligibility, hostel availability, and alignment of volunteer service to HI USA’s mission and values
  • Within two weeks, the group will be notified of acceptance into the program by an HI USA staff member.  At this time you will need to book the room.
    • A credit card is required as guarantee for damages, changes and/or cancellation (see Changes and Cancellation Policy below).
    • Once the room is booked, a separate HI USA Staff member will reach out to confirm your volunteer activity, schedule your hostel activity and hostel orientation.
  • Complete the Program Requirements.

Changes & Cancellation Policy


  • All changes to reservations must be received in writing at least 14 days prior to arrival.
  • Adding group members to the reservation after confirmation is subject to availability.
  • Reductions of more than 10% in group size or cancellations with less than 14 days' notice will result in a cancellation fee equal to the customary cost of the first night's stay for all canceled beds.