Share your passion. Make a difference. Earn free travel.
Across the country, HI USA volunteers provide activities, events, and outings for our guests from around the world. If you love travel, love sharing the best of your hometown with visitors and love meeting new people then you should consider volunteering with us!
The benefits of volunteering with HI USA include:
- Meet new people from all over the world, including travelers, staff, and fellow volunteers
- Work to increase understanding and tolerance by helping people break down cultural barriers
- Help travelers to the community have a great travel experience
- Build skills in public speaking, foreign languages, intercultural communication and more!
- Participate in appreciation events for local volunteers
- Receive personal and professional development opportunities
- Earn HI USA membership and dorm overnights at HI USA hostels
Check out what HI USA's volunteers from across the country had to say about their experiences:
Sharrod F., HI New York City Volunteer
It's like being an Ambassador for New York City. I get to share my experiences and knowledge of the city while learning about different parts of the world. I would encourage others to volunteer at HI USA, because you will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and a chance to engage with like-minded people that like to travel. The hostel atmosphere will spark the travel bug inside you.
Stephanie Y. – Travel Scholarship Committee Volunteer
I love the people I get to meet while volunteering! It's such a great experience engaging with travelers from all over the world and getting to know them better. Plus, it's not often you can gain experience learning to communicate with people from 8 different cultures in the same conversation and work towards a common goal. I especially loved my experience being a part of the Explore the World Travel Scholarships program this year and helping people achieve their dreams and make an impact on the world. I hope to be involved again next year!
Karen M. – HI Boston Volunteer
I love all the amazing open-minded people I've met like my fellow volunteers in Boston and the international hostellers. I have gained better leadership skills, and interpersonal skills and connections. A special experience I remember was two summers ago when several other Boston volunteers and I took a trip to the HI Eastham hostel on Cape Cod to help close it for the end of the season. On this trip, I grew close with my fellow HI volunteers as well as our community engagement coordinator, Michael. I also learned so much about HI and it's history and how it was once a global coalition and after unification, broke off into national groups. The director of the Eastham hostel, Donnie, had been working in HI hostels for a long time and taught us all about it. Her and her husband, Mike, were incredibly welcoming and after we did all the work to clean out the hostel, we were able to explore the cape and enjoy the beach. Unfortunately, Donnie passed away shortly after but I'll always remember her great stories and wonderful attitude that encapsulates the hosteling experience.
Keith T. – HI Los Angeles Santa Monica Volunteer
I have been volunteering at Hostelelling International in Santa Monica, California for over three years. I live an hour away from the hostel, but it's worth the drive. I love meeting new people (especially from other cultures) and traveling. When I travel, I often stay at hostels and meet new friends. I wanted to find a way to meet new people from different countries when I was not traveling so I found the closest HI hostel to me and the rest was history. I started by hosting a Pub Crawl every Wednesday night. It was a great opportunity for the guests to meet up and talk. It was super successful, so I started a Sunday night Pub Crawl. I am grateful to everyone I spoke with because through their eyes I learned to appreciate my own city of Los Angeles. Through my volunteer experience, I have made various friends from all over the world. I had the opportunity to meet up with them in their own countries and some had returned to California.
Derek S. – HI Chicago Volunteer
Volunteering with HI USA has been a tremendous experience. I love that every day is a new adventure with new faces. Since I began volunteering, I have met travelers and friends from all around the globe. Some may be quickly passing through with only a brief moment to see the popular sights, while others are may be entering a new phase of their lives or have more time to spare. In addition to the guests, the other HI USA volunteers I have met all have a passion for sharing their knowledge of the city and culture with others. Even though everyone comes from different backgrounds, the guests and volunteers at HI USA are part of a global community. Since I began volunteering at HI USA, I have made new lifelong friends that I would otherwise have never met.
Below are some volunteer frequently asked questions that can assist you in making your decision to stay at a Hostelling International USA hostel.
What are some volunteer opportunities with HI USA?
HI USA volunteers assist with various projects including, but not limited to:
- Offering opportunities for cultural exchange among travelers by leading hostel events, such as community meals, game nights, movie nights and more
- Sharing the local community with travelers by leading excursions and tours for travelers, such as walking tours, museum tours, pub crawls and more
- Serving as a concierge or info desk volunteer and sharing the highlight of the city; where to go, what to see, how to get there and more
- Teaching travel education classes, such as World Travel 101 and Women Traveling Solo
- Serving as ambassadors and attending events on behalf of HI USA
- Serving on various committees to help with local or national projects
Do you offer work/trade opportunities?
HI USA does not offer volunteers free room and board or work exchange programs in return for volunteering.
Where can I find out about volunteer opportunities in a specific hostel or city?
Click HERE to search for opportunities by location. Enter your city and state or zip code.
If you have questions about an opportunity or cannot locate an opportunity in your area please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I become a Volunteer?
Becoming an HI USA volunteer is easy as 1, 2, 3!
- First, complete the Become a Volunteer form
- Then, complete the Online Orientation under My Account
- Begin searching for opportunities in your area and Express Interest for opportunities that you are interested in. From there, a volunteer coordinator will follow up with you.
Volunteers 17 & Under Questions
Do adults need to accompany youth volunteers?
Yes. All youth between the ages of 14 to 17 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian that is at least 18 years of age. Volunteers 17 and under must provide a waiver and release form signed by a parent or guardian.
Can youth volunteer with HI-USA?
The minimum age for volunteers is 14 years old. All youth between 14 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older at all times. Youth may not be dropped off to volunteer. NOTE: not all hostels support youth volunteer positions. If you have questions about which hostels accept youth volunteers please email email@example.com
Can a group of youth volunteer together?
The minimum age for volunteers is 14 regardless if a volunteer is with a group or not. A group must have 1 adult chaperone to every 5 youth. In addition, each youth must provide a waiver and release form signed by a parent or guardian.
The group leader will need to contact the hostel or region directly to set up a volunteer opportunity. Note: not all hostels and regions are able to support volunteer groups. If you have questions about which hostels and regions accept volunteer groups please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Examples of volunteer projects that youth groups have assisted with include:
- Outdoor cleanup projects
- Light hostel makeover projects
- Hosting kitchen supply drive for hostel
Note: If your group does not meet the age or chaperone ratio requirements listed above please contact email@example.com with your group volunteering request.
Volunteers are an essential part of the hostelling movement, playing a key role in sharing their own life experience and passion for travel with travelers locally and from around the world. HI USA volunteers are vital contributors to the future of hostelling by providing innovative ideas and resources and by serving as hostelling ambassadors in their local communities.
HI USA is committed to:
- Treating volunteers as colleagues (not just ‘free help’).
- Connecting volunteers with suitable assignments (with consideration of personal preferences, skills, life experience, education, employment background and availability).
- Training volunteers about Hostelling International USA (its policies, its people, its programs).
- Preparing volunteers for the job at all time (orientation, information about new developments, training for greater responsibility).
- Providing volunteers with sound guidance and direction by someone who is experienced, patient, well-informed and thoughtful, and has the time to invest in giving guidance.
- Offering multiple opportunities over time (through advancement; through transfer from one activity to another; through special assignments).
- Listening to volunteers and inviting volunteers to share suggestions and to have honest opinions respected.
- Appreciating volunteers for the time and skills contributed.
If your company has an Employee Volunteer Program, please contact Kassi Oliver, firstname.lastname@example.org, to learn more about partnering with HI USA. Please note HI USA does not offer work trade opportunities in return for volunteering