Travelers in the know have discovered this brilliant travel hack as a way of traveling the world and paying zilch for accommodation. Want to know more?
What is house-sitting?
As the name suggests, house-sitting is minding or looking after someone’s home while they’re traveling. Most often, it also involves looking after a pet. It’s free accommodation in exchange for the owner’s peace of mind, knowing that someone is caring for their home and pets. Some house-sitting assignments don’t involve pets, but most do.
What are the duties of the house-sitter?
House-sitting duties include doing some light housework, watering the plants, taking in the mail, and taking care of any minor emergencies that might crop up while the owners are away.
Of course, you need to be an animal lover, as caring for beloved pets is paramount. This duty will entail feeding, cleaning, and providing comfort and affection. Dogs will need daily walks and play. Cats are generally much easier, as cats do their own thing. Owners always appreciate a quick update on their pet and occasional photos to reassure them that all is well, and their pet is happy.
Occasionally, a house-sitting assignment might involve caring for exotic pets such as horses, donkeys, llamas, guinea pigs, or even reptiles. It is necessary that you feel capable, caring for these animals.
What are the benefits of house-sitting?
- You’ve been traveling for a few months now, constantly on the move, from hostel to hotel to Airbnb but never really feeling at home. The magic of house-sitting is that it lets you live like a local and feel perfectly at home. You get to slow down, stop and wind down in a comfortable home with an adoring pet. What could be better than that?
2. It’s free. You take care of the home and pets and in exchange, you get to live there for free. Yes, this includes all utilities and Wi-Fi. Occasionally, if it’s a particularly long house-sit, the owners may ask you to pay the utilities. Issues like this would all be discussed and negotiated in your interview with the house owners.
3. Living like a local and traveling slow is the best way to travel. With house-sitting, you may be there long enough to make friends, meet your neighbors, start an activity, and feel part of a community.
4. If you love animals and miss having a pet, this is your chance to enjoy pet ownership for a few weeks, months, or more. Walking a dog is a great way to explore the local neighborhood and meet new people. Imagine relaxing in the evening with your new best feline friend curled up on your lap or at the end of your bed. With house-sitting, you don’t feel the need to get out there every day exploring the sites and tourist attractions. You can take it much slower and discover the lesser-known pearls of beauty in the area.
5. Sometimes, the owners may provide you with their car. If the home is in a remote location, this can often be the case.
6. Most often, you become good friends with the homeowners. They might ask you to house-sit for them again one day. Also, they may recommend you to other homeowners.
7. If you’re planning to relocate to another country sometime in the future, house-sitting lets you experience the lifestyle in that country before you make your final decision.
How do I get my first house-sit?
If house-sitting sounds like something you’d be interested in, the big question is how do you get your first house-sit? It is possible to find house-sits through your family and friends, but probably the easiest way is to join one of the dedicated house sitting platforms such as Trusted House Sitters or Mind My House.
When you join one of these house-sitting sites, you will be required to pay a small annual fee but consider it as a fraction of one night in a hotel. In return for your annual fee, you will receive daily alerts on available house-sits in the cities or countries that interest you. Many full-time travelers go from one house-sit to the next by perfectly coordinating their travels with the locations of the house-sits.
You will be able to select a house-sit and read its requirements, and if suitable, you can apply. Understand that the house owner may receive many applications, and so you must have a well-written profile and references.
How do I make an engaging profile?
Your profile needs to be honest and highlight your abilities. Explain why you want to house sit. As a first timer, you may not have any testimonials but, you can upload a character reference from a previous employer or a friend. Your profile should ensure the prospective homeowner that their home and pets will be cared for responsibly and lovingly.
House sitting is a most rewarding activity in that it allows one to travel more, save on accommodation costs, live like a local, and enjoy pet ownership for a short moment in time. House sitting can take you to some stunning locations that you may never have even considered before. Why not give it a go? You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.