On June 23rd 2017, one day late of ¼ of a century on this planet, I stepped foot into my first hostel. I had departed from Milwaukee, WI 18 days earlier by plane, and I arrived in Seattle, WA by car. The Green Tortoise Hostel in Seattle was to be my place of employment for an undetermined amount of time (ended up being 4 months). Now I have been trade-working at the Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco for 5 months, and it’s impossible to say one location has a foot up on the other. I will however say, that moving into a hostel has changed my life enormously, and entirely for the better; these are some of the major reasons why.
1. Meet New People
The amount of new people coming into my life has never been more plentiful. Everyday is a new adventure, and this is due certainly to the diverse selection of humanity I come in contact with on a continually refreshing basis. I have been a hostel resident for 9 months now, first in Seattle and now in San Francisco. I have spent many, many nights in a full dorm room. Most people you meet in hostel dorms are going to be excited to talk to you (if they find out you work their, they’re going to be ecstatic to talk to you). I have met professionals from every line of work. The Seattle Convention Center was a 10 minute walk away from me last summer; my favorite guests stayed for the PAX Convention (Penny Arcade Exposition), and the DOTA World Championships! I had a DOTA 2017 pin, but the backing fell off and I have since lost track of the pin. SF is a little different than Seattle, in which it is dense and easy to travel. Seattle is easy to traverse, but while SF has several large hills scattered about the city, Seattle is a constant uphill battle from the Sea to Capitol Hill. The truth is: I found Seattle reminding me of Milwaukee, and I can’t put my finger quite on…why. Space-time just seems to be creepy-crawly in those places. Remember I call one of them home, though.
2. Learn Out Of Necessity
Learning is an important part of life (shout out to all the beautiful teachers!). From my travels I have realized adaptation is a practiced skill, and so is confidence. Since leaving my hometown to come work in hostels, I have fine tuned many of my dreams, and even fulfilled a few. Beautiful as well as deplorable times lay behind me, but the great vastness of life glitters like the proverbial yellow brick road in front of me, and intended to traverse the leagues and clicks of life fully, and holistically. I write to educate, entertain, practice, and procreate. I would be nothing without what I have learned, and traveling opens the mind up to new ways of thinking. This is your planet as much as everyone’s, and it is not just your privilege, but your duty to explore as much of it as possible. You will learn as you go.
3. Tax Free Living
One of the huge advantage about trade-work, is that you don’t pay taxes on your labor. Their is a direct exchange between the hostel and yourself, in which you work a specified amount of hours in exchange for accommodation. At current, 23 hours of my time is worth 1 weeks stay; in Seattle the magic number was 21 hours, but everything in San Francisco is a little more expensive. Normally one would pay part of their income to the government before having access to their money, but trade-work avoids that process. There are downsides to this, such as apparent gaps in work history, and you are not building a financial portfolio for your future endeavors, but if you are well educated on these risks, and you know what you’re getting into, then you be confident about your decisions at least.
4. No More Grocery Shopping
I have not needed to shop for food in 9 months. The organically revolving folks of the hostel provide for a continual source of food brushed-aside. People stay for a couple days, maybe only a night, and they often will leave their food behind. The system is poetic, and it has graced me fully. Besides the sustenance which rolls in that way, Hostels will often offer free dinner as well as breakfast, to attract potential guests to there location. The one I am located at offers quite a bit in terms of free food; for which I am thankful.
5. Get Out Of Your Hometown!
The last thing you want to say when you’re old is “ I wish I had traveled more.” When my grandkids (I don’t have any kids) ask me why my back always hurts (my back already hurts, let’s get real) I want to recite stories of my younger years. I have learned so much since I left my home town, and traveling the world is certain to bring unto oneself a most unique life experience. I haven’t left the United States yet, but that is what I intend to do next. The places you will go are counted only by your constant vigilance in accountability for them; let that not be a lost phrase upon the way. You can go anywhere in the world. You can also move to a many number of places across the globe. A lawyer friend of mine told me “3 years is the amount of time to get any project off the ground,” and I imagine a permanent move, with a blanket of security and all that, would require about the same investment. Living in hostels is a great way to expose yourself to many different part of the world rapidly, on the cheap, and in the end you may decide you want to live in a place you
6. Learn About The World.
Knowledge is power, and the more people I meet, the more knowledge I gain. Hostels are a great place for meeting folks from around the world, all with different professions and backgrounds. The Green Tortoise Hostels are especially nice; San Francisco has a HUGE ballroom, and Seattle has a smoking room, for cigarettes and marijuana. Imagine walking downstairs in your home, assembling a breakfast plate, and sitting down to eat with a local from Mumbai. When you choose to work in a hostel, this becomes your daily life.
7. Start the Adventure Right Now!
You’re thinking to yourself “Wow, this is awesome! I want to move into a hostel, WHERE DO I START, CHRIS?” Well, I have the answer for that timeless question. For over 10 years now the answer for a great number of questions have had the same answer; this included. YOU START ON THE INTERNET. The two most prominent websites for finding work-trade are Workaway and HelpX. I find WorkAway to be more user friendly, and it is the platform I use. Neither of these websites are free, but they are well worth it. WorkAway is currently $36.00 per year for a solo traveler and $46.00 per year if you sign up as a couple (or as friends). HelpX costs 20 Euros for a two year membership ($24.60 USD). I will give you an insider tip for working at the Green Tortoise right here: The Seattle GT uses WorkAway, and the SF GT uses HelpX, so make sure to sign up for the proper website if you are hoping to apply at one of these two locations! I was able to work at the San Francisco location since I was employed at the Seattle location; I have never had a HelpX account, but I have met many trade-workers who use it, and they are all top notch!
That’s All Folks! That concludes the best information I have for you at this time. Really, life is all about going out and doing things, and hostels are a great way to get out and start doing things today; like right now.
Good luck on your travels! Make sure to comment! OR you can find me on Instagram and hit me with the DM if you have questions on any of these topics. Seriously, you can message me any questions, and I will do my best to answer them, and with gusto!
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