House and pet sitting is fast becoming the go-to travel hack for millennials on a budget. Enabling travelers to live like locals while away from home, the concept is fast making its way into the mainstream market. But what exactly does it entail? Here’s our guide.
If I told you that last year I spent 12 months living rent-free on a Caribbean island, you probably wouldn’t believe me. You’d perhaps assume I was staying with a family member, or volunteering in exchange for a place to stay.
The truth is that thanks to one connection I made through a house and pet sitting platform called TrustedHousesitters, I found myself living in a luxury ocean view home, caring for three dogs, and spending my days working on the patio or exploring the nearby beaches.
For the last seven years I’ve been house and pet sitting my way around the world and to date I’ve lived rent-free in eleven different countries. Here’s what I’ve learned.
House and pet sitting helped me see the world.
I’ve always been a frugal traveler. Choosing to pack a versatile international carry on bag and avoid baggage fees, and utilize the full length of a tourist visa rather than hop around and pay for additional flights, I love to travel for less. It’s no surprise then, that when I discovered the concept of house sitting I knew it was right up my alley.
Choosing to house and pet sit has helped me avoid impersonal, and often costly hotel stays. It has enabled me to send time living like a local, and make new connections and friendships, some of which have lead to further house sitting opportunities.
So far my housesitting career has taken me to popular cities like Las Vegas and San Diego; to the Caribbean islands of Antigua, Barbados, St Kitts, and Nevis; to Wanaka, New Zealand; and to Melbourne, Australia. I’ve ticked off bucket list items like diving the Great Barrier Reef and volunteering in Costa Rica, and managed to fund perpetual travel for far longer than I’d ever imagined.
What is house and pet sitting and why should you give it a try?
House and pet sitting are exactly what the terms imply. Homeowners in need of pet and/or property care seek an individual, couple, or family to take over their daily responsibilities during the period for which they are away from home.
Housesitting stays can come in all shapes and sizes, some offer a city center apartment with one cat, others require someone to care for a rural lifestyle blocks with cattle and chickens. Each opportunity is unique, and each homeowner will be looking for a different kind of sitter.
The one great thing about house sitting is that no money exchanges hands between the owner and the sitter. Because of this I tend to look for sits in destinations that I wouldn’t normally be able to afford to visit, capital cities where accommodation is expensive, or far-flung destinations that require a costly airfare to reach. That way I can reduce the cost of my stay by living for free while I’m there.
How do I become a house and pet sitter?
As a member of a housesitting platform like TrustedHousesitters you can apply for and accept any house sits that you feel best suit your travel style. You can sign up online and most platforms offer the option to opt in for a daily email alert that delivers the latest opportunities straight to your inbox.
There are no prerequisites and no qualifications required to house and pet sit. Much like owning or renting your own home, you just need to be confident in your ability to fulfill the responsibilities handed over to you during your stay.
What should I consider before accepting a house sit?
The most important thing to consider before accepting a house sit is the cost of travel to, and the visa requirements for the country you want to visit. Research both before applying for a house sitting stay to ensure that you can commit to the opportunity if your application is successful.
Another important consideration is the list of responsibilities the owner is planning to leave for their sitter. If you can’t competently take on everything they will hand over to you, it probably isn’t the best opportunity for you.
It’s also worth considering that you’ll probably want to travel light when heading off to your sit, this could help you save additional funds on the cost of your airfare, but it will also make your life much easier once in situ at the property. Choose a packable daypack that you can fold away in your luggage, and condense your toiletries into a handy travel kit bag to reduce weight. A USB electrical adaptor plug is another must-pack item when housesitting abroad.
Becoming a house and pet sitter has enabled me to see more of the world for less, meet local people, and spend time integrating in communities all over the world. If you’re looking for a savvy way to save on your adventures in 2018, I highly recommend that you give it a try.
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