A Backpacker’s Guide to Working in Costa Rica

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Costa Rica | 1 comment

A foreigner cannot work in Costa Rica, unless he or she has a work visa or does volunteer work. But if you are going to be a backpacker in the country, you can get many job offers for housing and food. The preferred activities for millennial backpackers are jobs on farms, and in hotels, hostels, and private homes.

Backpacker’s Guide: The Basics

The basic requirements for these activities are:

  • Be over 18 years old.
  • Basic knowledge of Spanish.
  • Can adapt to the environment and interact with people from different cultures.
  • Some accept solo travelers. Others accept groups of two or more people.
  • Working hours of 4 or 5 hours a day.
  • Working days are generally 5.
  • The use of any type of drug is prohibited, and this prohibition is serious business.
  • Some places do not allow smoking or alcoholic beverages.


The offer in these facilities usually include:

  • Shared with other travelers: bedroom and bathroom,
  • 2 or 3 meals a day,
  • Internet access.
  • The option to register online to receive a certificate/ evaluation. This is helpful and opens up more opportunities.


Not included in these plans:

  • Flights and travel insurance.
  • Transportation to or from the facilities.
  • Cash payments (although tips may be received).


Backpacker’s Guide: Working on Farms

You can choose between animal, agricultural or mixed farms. Having previous experience is a plus. If not, you have the opportunity to learn about them from their owners, who are usually willing to teach those who are interested in learning.

Before making your decision for this option, consider the following aspects:

  • Agricultural farm Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash
    Agricultural farm Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

    Do you like working with animals? If not, it may be better to choose an agricultural farm.

  • Bring your personal things, such as sunscreen (very important), old and comfortable clothes to work in, a pair of gloves, and rubber boots to work in the field.
  • Be aware that you will be in contact with nature, so you may encounter spiders, snakes, scorpions, etc.
  • You should be well informed about the weather as most of your work will be outdoors. The rainy season in Costa Rica is quite long, from May to November.
  • This period on the farms is not a vacation. You will have to work, and often, it is hard labor.


Below you will find the most common activities on these farms.

Farms with animals

  • Feed animals.
  • Cleaning and general maintenance.
  • Take care of the animals.
  • Maintenance of fences and wiring, or boundaries of the farm.
  • Milking, egg collection.


Agricultural farms

  • Help with Eco Projects Photo by Kamala Saraswathi on Unsplash
    Help with Eco Projects Photo by Kamala Saraswathi on Unsplash

    Help with Eco Projects.

  • Farming, plant crops, sow seeds.
  • Help in outside tasks such as harvesting (corn, coffee, beans, lemons, strawberries).
  • Maintenance of fences and wiring, or boundaries of the farm.
  • Creation of spaces for an organic and sustainable farm.
  • Cleaning and general maintenance.


Backpacker’s Guide: Working in Hotels and Hostels

This is an option for those who dislike farm work. The offers are extremely wide and include city, mountain, and beach sites.

Serving Pints for a Free Stay and Food? Photo by Elevate on Pexels
Serving Pints for a Free Stay and Food? Photo by Elevate on Pexels

Here, the skills and hobbies of each person can be an important plus.

If, for example, you know how to play musical instruments, surf, do event animation, theater acting, bartending, or singing, your chances of getting jobs in these places will be good.

Some of these offer to include backpackers for free on their sightseeing tours and excursions.

The basic activities are:

  • General maintenance.
  • Kitchen.
  • DIY and building projects.
  • Social networking or graphic and web design help.
  • Tourist reception check-in and out.
  • Beautification and decoration of internal and external areas.


Private Households

Here, you would be working in a family home, which is an excellent experience of getting to know the lifestyle of a local family. The help you are providing include:

  • Help with construction or remodeling.
  • Help with Pets.
  • Language practice.
  • Babysitting.
  • Landscaping and garden design.
  • Help around the house.



These experiences help the personal growth of the individual. If you are going this route, please remember, it’s a serious commitment, but there is no need to forsake the fun.

There are websites where you can find information about these options, with ratings and comments from other users. Among them are workaway.info and couchsurfing.com

At TCI we are here to provide you with more information about these plans. Contact us and dare to experience backpacking as an exciting lifestyle. Share your backpacking job experiences with us!

by: Roman Vergara