Volunteering – 3 Weeks in Zostel Jaipur, India

After we stayed in Zostel in Delhi and Agra we totally fell in love with the brand and the bet that wherever you went in India Zostel was always somewhere you could rely on to be a great stay. That being said we got chatting one night with the Zostel Agra staff about how we love to travel and volunteer as we go – they told us about the Zostel internship and we were instantly intrigued! A few emails with the CEO and various other Zostelites, a short application form and a kind of whatsapp interview and we were granted the opportunity to volunteer in as many Zostels as we wanted as long as we spent a minimum of 3 weeks in each. Amazing! We initially picked Udaipur and once our first couple of weeks there were up they asked us if we’d be happy to head to Jaipur – awarded with the title of the “Best Hostel in India” we thought YES PLEASE!

After 3 weeks of solid work in Zostel Udaipur (which you can read about here!) we arrived in Jaipur ready to have a couple of days relaxing, ready to start work refreshed and energised! So of course the obvious thing to do was to book into an expensive hotel (and by expensive we mean £15!), order room service, watch films and sleep….so that’s what we did (after a 30 minute walk and annoyed tuk tuk journey later but that’s normal in India)

Our first day came around all too quickly but we were super excited about seeing and volunteering at the ‘Best Hostel in India’ and meeting some more awesome colleagues and backpackers along the way! It didn’t take long. We walked up the stairs only to be greeted by a rather dishevelled and tired looking Bhomsingh – the manager. It turns out he thought we were arriving the day before and had been waiting for us ever since but all was quickly forgotten and he showed us around the hostel and introduced us to everyone! Bhom has an infectious positivity about the hostel and backpackers and this is clearly mirrored throughout the hostel itself. Everyone is chilled, the atmosphere brilliant and the property layout awesome! We couldn’t wait to get started!

The Work

Bhomsingh said he was happy for us to help in any way we could and having already had some experience in running the daily activities we jumped right back in and made this our primary job. Basically, we had to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves and create an open, friendly atmosphere where everyone felt involved and able to lap up the life and energy that both Jaipur and Zostel has to offer. So first things first we changed the activity board and made sure that there was something going on every single day should people want to join in! In every hostel we have ever been in we have found that its so much easier to meet people if everyone gets together on a tour and enjoys it together so we thought it imperative to get as many people on these activities at once! As work goes, organising activities for like minded people and talking to as many people as possible doesn’t really constitute as ‘work’ but if you can get it, its great fun and makes for a very enjoyable three weeks!

Sunset trips to Nahargarh Fort and the Sun Temple, Monkey Temple walk, Amber Fort combined with the hidden Panna Meena stepwell were just some of the tours we ran and were all amazing attractions to go and see multiple times! As we see it, this is one of the biggest benefits of working in amazing cities in foreign countries, especially with Zostel as we were given the freedom to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted and to explore the city we were working in so that we could provide the best information possible to guests!

In the evenings we planned everything from table football competitions, quiz nights, UNO nights, movie nights, a group trip to the famous Raj Mandir cinema to watch an epic Bollywood movie and of course nights at the bar!!

You can tell we get super excited about each and every one of these but we guess its easier for you to see the activities board rather than us explain every single one so here you go!

As well as running the activities we helped out on reception when we could, giving the extremely hard working staff some much needed rest-bite! We absolutely loved sitting on reception; popping up from behind the wooden desk to greet new faces every half an hour or so and chatting to them about where they’d come from, where they were going and getting them all riled up about Jaipur and all our fantastic activities of course! It was great to see the ins and outs of how the hostel and its systems work – we used to get so annoyed in India every time we checked in and were faced with the huge book to fill in (if you know, you know!) but after seeing what goes on behind the scenes we understand a little better and realise its a necessity – I think we’ll be much nicer to whoever presents us with ‘The Book’ next time around!

The Team

The team in this hostel is so accommodating and it took all of about half an hour to feel like part of the family! Day to day we would sit with Maya, Bhom and Juned around the reception desk checking people in and constantly having a giggle!

Then you have Rakesh and Praboo who look after everyone with their cups of steaming chai, coffee and afternoon kulfi’s or samosa – neither can speak much English but we made great friends through some knowing looks, gestures or dance moves and our basic Hindi words! The team here are such a great little family and we cant thank them enough for having us be a part of that – in their words “too much missing you!”

The Hostel

You can read our full review of the hostel here but we think it without a doubt deserves the accolades its been awarded. Having moved on now and already stayed in a handful of other hostels since we realised how spoilt we had been staying in Zostel Jaipur for so long. Its sparkling cleanliness really stands out and there is not really anything we can fault – its simply awesome!

Overall

In addition to the experience we have always been open that volunteering is also a way for us to save money and so extend our trip. In three weeks at Zostel Jaipur with free bed and food we spent a total of £80 compared to the £210 we would normally have spent. Of course we could have saved more except we wanted to see some of the sights of Jaipur ourselves which inevitably cost and we indulged in a few nights of beers at the local restaurant with some fab groups of travellers – some opportunities just cant be missed!

Three weeks in Jaipur went so ridiculously quickly that neither us nor the team could quite believe it when it came round to our leaving day! All in all our experience with Zostel Jaipur has been absolutely fantastic both in what we’ve learned about running a hostel but mostly for the people we met. We know that we could go back to India at any time in the future and still have a home at Zostel Jaipur. Hopefully one day!

Happy volunteering!

C & J

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