Hospitaleros who volunteer in the hostels along the Camino de Santiago have, to the best of our knowledge, not yet been examined, from the perspectives of voluntourism and pilgrimage research. This article aims to give an insight into a unique form of volunteering based on 32 interviews with hostel wardens conducted between 2017 and 2021. The results indicate that – while hospitaleros primarily indicate interpersonal motives for their service – the voluntary work serves as a kind of “substitute drug” to satisfy the longing for and dependence on the Camino. With increasing iterations, (1) the strength of the personal motives seems to increase and (2) the relevance of interpersonal motives to shift away from the pilgrims, and towards neighbors around the hostel. After returning home, the hospitaleros suffer – like pilgrims – from the so-called “Camino Blues”, which complicates the acclimatization in their daily routine.


pilgrimage, voluntourism, hospitaleros, hostel warden, Camino de Santiago

ORCID Identifiers

Andreas Braun -



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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