My travels have evolved significantly since I started traveling full-time in 2007.
Initially, I volunteered in trade for my accommodation as a way of staying somewhere for longer periods of time in addition to having a deeper local experience than I might if I were just passing through.
Over the first few years, I milked goats, painted murals, designed marketing and promotional plans, cooked meals for large groups of people, led eco-treks on llamas, landscaped, sailed, and yes, I even occasionally cleaned toilets. All in trade for free accommodation (and sometimes food).
These were all highly varied and incredibly enriching experiences. But as the years went by and my writing took off, I found that between my volunteer requirements and my online career, I often had difficulty with time management. And if I was actively on the road, travel fatigue would set in quicker and quicker.
This was when I discovered house-sitting as the perfect medium: it’s free accommodation, allows time for writing and relaxing, and gives you a chance to experience a slice of the local lifestyle.
As a full-time traveler, I’ve discovered that long-term house-sitting sets a pace of life that I can maintain over the long run and not get exhausted or fall prey to “motion sickness on the road”. I even get to to enjoy the comforts of home – somebody else’s home, that is!
Landing a House-Sitting Gig
I’m not the only one who thinks house-sitting is a pretty cool way to travel long-term on a budget (or even short term on vacation). I’ve applied for dozens of house-sitting gigs that I never got a foot in the door for. Why? Because homeowners are inundated with applications when they list an availability on one of the many house-sitting membership sites.
So it’s a bit of a trick to get noticed by a homeowner and land the house-sitting gig of your dreams.
I recently chatted with Lisa Logan of TrustedHousesitters.com, who gave me some great pointers for successfully landing a house-sitting gig. Not only that, but they’re giving readers a discount on a TrustedHousesitters membership! Check it out:
Below are a few e-books about house-sitting, designed to help you shorten the learning curve, land your first gig, and embrace the experience of house-sitting. All three books cover the basics such as how to set up a profile that gets you noticed, questions to ask homeowners, tips for landing gigs, and advice to help you get the most from the experience.
Choose the right one for you; each has a different flavour and style.
The House Sitting Book
This e-book covers the house-sitting lifestyle from many different angles.
Not only does it cover many of the concepts and pointers in the article above, but this book also goes deeper (way deeper) to help people with any degree of travel experience to delve into the world of house-sitting and living abroad.
In addition to house-sitting basics, Josie even details her own 3-step method to getting low-cost apartments, if you have your heart set on a destination but no house-sitting gigs avail themselves.
I will say that some of the sections and concepts covered seem a bit antiquated or basic to me; geared more towards technophobes than location-independent savvy travellers. But if you’re new to both house-sitting and the travel game, this book could be the perfect introduction for what you need to know. And Josie peppers everything with personal anecdotes and illustrative experiences that fill out her concepts nicely.
The House Sitting Book: Travel the World and Your Lodging is Free (102 pages, $9.99)*
How to Become a House-Sitter
Fellow Canadian full-time travelers Dalene and Pete Heck of Hecktic Travels have over four years of house-sitting around the world, in locations such as Ireland, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, Honduras, Canada, London, and New York. With house-sitting, they saved over $30,000 in accommodation costs in the first 3 years of their travels alone.
It’s a brilliant read, full of practical tips and advice, and is well laid out with resources, examples, and even a few discounts for house-sitting memberships. Check it out!
How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World (50 pages, $19.99)*
Live Your Dream! House Sitting Around the World
This book has one of the most comprehensive listings and descriptions of house-sitting sites and services, including many I’ve never heard of before. It also has good checklists – for both the house-sitter and homeowner, tips for animal care (including questions to ask the homeowner about their pets in advance), and good notes and resources for house-sitting as a family, as well as solo.
The large chapter dedicated to homeowners is redundant (and in my opinion, inapplicable, since the book is for wannabe house-sitters), but a good reinforcement of the basics, and for any travelers leaving a an empty house in their wake, this chapter could be helpful. They even do a good job of telling you why you might not want to become a house-sitter; for example if you’re dealing with limited vacation time and the position requires you to be home all the time.
Live Your Dream! House Sitting Around the World (132 pages, $9.99)*
My Travel Style
So my own travel style has evolved to hinge on long-term house-sitting gigs around the world. I tend not to choose my destination; rather the house-sitting opportunity dictates my next move.
And every day, I receive notifications of inspirational house-sitting opportunities around the world; I tend to contact a handful of homeowners each week, and I see who takes an interest in my profile.
So where to next? Who knows. That’s half the fun!
*(yes, this is an affiliate link. I’ll get a small commission if you purchase through this link, but there is no cost difference to you).