I travelled around Europe for over 7 months this last year. And, understandably, many people asked:
- How I can afford to travel for so long? AND
- How I managed to stay on top of the study requirements for my Masters while enjoying my travel?
There are several ways I’ve been able to afford such extensive, lengthy travel. One of which is Housesitting.
If I was staying in hotels/furnished apartments or even hostels for my entire journey, spending thousands of dollars on accommodation, then I would certainly not be able to stay for as long as I have, or be able to continue to stay. One of the main ways I’ve been able to explore the world for this long is by housesitting, along with a few stays with friends and family throughout Europe, and the odd AirBnb hire.
Australian Mornings on Channel 9 did a segment on Housesitting in March 2015.
What is Housesitting?
Imagine you want to go on a holiday for a few weeks but you have a pet(s) that you’re unable to take with you and/or you don’t want your garden to go wild and/or you’re worried about leaving your home uninhabited for an extended period of time.
Enter, a Housesitter (a normal, everyday person/family/couple, like you or me). Housesitter(s) live in your house while you’re away, take care of your animals, garden, home, collect your mail and so on.
How do I find out about housesits and how does it work?
Most people might just ask some friends or friends-of-friends to housesit for them but there are also several websites where homeowners can list their homes, pets and holiday dates. Housesitters can then apply for these ‘housesitting listings’.
As a Homeowner
Homeowners create a profile of themselves, their home & location, their pets and responsibilities to be fulfilled by any housesitting applicant. They then list dates they require a housesitter(s).
As a housesitter
The websites I use charge a yearly membership fee of between $50-$100 (which you definitely get back by the savings you make on accommodation).
You create a profile, upload a photo and/or video, write a blurb about yourself, where you’re from, if you have a police check, the experience you have, which locations and dates you’re available to housesit. Sites also have the ability for external and internal references to appear on your profile.
You can search for housesits on a world/Australia map, by date or by the types of animals you wish to care for. If you find a housesit you’d like to apply for, you apply to the homeowner online with a message/email. And contact starts from there. Most often, I’ve exchanged Skype details with the homeowner and we’ve spoken in person before confirming/booking the housesit just to ensure, from both our perspectives, that it is a good fit.
Depending on the location of the housesit, you may arrive the day before the owner departs to go over the daily animal feeding/walking routines etc.
- Free accommodation!
- Varying length of stays – I’ve done housesits for long weekends, 7 days, 2 weeks 3 weeks and I’ve even seen listings for up to 6 months! If you’re flexible with location then you’ll be able to find something that suits you. For me right now, the longer stays are great while I’m studying because I don’t feel like I’m rushing to see all the sites as well as complete my studies; I typically alternate between 1day of exploring and 1 day of study. But sometimes, it’s nice to just chill and take a day at home.
- The feeling of a home-away-from home. Staying in a lived-in home often with affectionate animals, compared to a sterile hotel certainly helps ward off homesickness.
- The opportunity to meet locals – many of my hosts have introduced me to neighbours and shown me the best local places to shop and visit before they departed for their holidays.
- The use of a kitchen to save money on eating out (many hotels don’t have cooking facilities).
- You often get to see non-touristic places, off the beaten track, that you might not normally have visited.
- Depending on the homeowner, they may also let you use their car, bike, other transport items.
- A great option for families who often need larger places or more rooms to accommodate children.
- The homes are often not located in the central, tourist districts of a city/town so you may have to drive or take public transport if you want to visit the more popular, touristic spots.
- You will have to organise and pay for your transport to/from the housesit.
- The dates are more often than not already decided by the homeowner who has booked his/her holiday, so your flexibility is usually required.
- I’d say at least 95% of housesits involve caring for animals (from dogs and cats to parrots, chickens, rabbits, sheep, horses and guinea pigs) so if you’re not an animal person then it may be harder to find housesits.
Do you have to pay to be a housesitter?
I’ve not had to pay to housesit yet (aside from the website membership fee), however I have seen some listings where the homeowner asks that the housesitter contribute to heating bills in the winter (which I think is fair enough). I have heard of some housesitters who charge the homeowner for them to housesit but I’ve not done this myself or met anyone personally who does this.
Where can you housesit?
All over the world! I get daily emails with new housesitting listings from Australia and NZ to Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, Turkey, all over Europe, The UK, Canada, The USA, Costa Rica, Mexico and more.
Personally I’ve booked housesits in Australia, The Netherlands, Spain, Cyprus, France, Turkey, Italy and the UK.
Is Housesitting for you?
As I said above, most housesits involve caring for animals you need to be prepared for the responsibilities involved when you apply for a housesit. If you love animals, are trustworthy and easy going, I feel like housesitting is something that can be a great way to explore somewhat undiscovered places in the world, getaway from the rat race and even enjoy a different way of life!
If you have any questions about my housesitting experiences please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about housesitting and getting your profile started head over to www.trustedhousesitters.com