I haven’t crunched all of the numbers… but, in the past five years, it’s safe to assume I have spent more money on travel than just about anything else.
…It’s a pretty essential part of being a travel writer (with an incurable case of wanderlust)… but, the way my bank account is set up, it definitely isn’t my most affordable vice.
One of the biggest expenses associated with all of that travelling has been paying for accommodations. As a matter of fact, lodging is probably THE biggest expense eating up traveller’s holiday funds. Even the most experienced, penny-pinching wanderers still wind up spending huge chunks of their travel budget on a place to lay their head… but, guess what? This doesn’t HAVE to be the case.
Can I let you in on a little secret?
What if I told you there is a way to avoid paying for accommodation all together? …And, no, you don’t need to be an “influencer,” “travel blogger,” or a full-time “digital-nomad” – Literally ANYONE (with the exception of people under the age of 21… and most likely convicted convicts) can use this method to start getting free accommodation all around the world.
This budget travel hack is a game changer, and, in just ONE month, it has saved me about $2.4k in travel expenses (according to the average nightly hotel rates in each of these destinations). I’ve stayed in a Madrid high-rise with killer city views, a spacious flat in Berlin’s trendiest neighborhood, and, am now writing this article from a chic patio hammock on the beautiful island of Mallorca… all free of charge, and all thanks to one GENIUS platform – TrustedHousesitters.
TrustedHousesitters is an online community connecting homeowners with verified sitters around the world. They offer members help and support through their Membership Services and Vet Advice lines 24 hours a day/7 days a week, and cover all sits with an Insurance Backed Guarantee.
When I discovered TrustedHousesitters last November, (and the holiday membership discounts they were running at the time), I pretty much immediately whipped out my credit card and signed up… anddddd then, I (also pretty much immediately) forgot all about it (shameful, I know!) – That is, until this summer.
Right around mid-June, the travel bug bit me HARD… but my bank account just wasn’t having it. It was then that I finally stopped sleeping on the TrustedHousesitters membership I’d paid for 8-ish months ago, and, thankfully, I’ve managed to get more than my money’s worth out of it since.
Here are a few reasons why becoming an international housesitter is one of the best ways to travel on the cheap… and some things to think about before signing up!
⁕ Save Money
This one is a no brainer.
One of the biggest perks of housesitting with TrustedHousesitters is to save money while travelling! Investing in a membership will cost about as much as a single night in a hotel… and is good for unlimited housesits throughout the year. Though the initial fee might seem steep, if you land just one housesit through the platform, it will have paid for itself.
There are lots of other money-saving perks that come from staying in someone’s home, too, including having a quiet space to work and strong Wi-Fi (both necessary for teaching online), and access to free laundry facilities (crucial for long-term travel) and a full kitchen (to cook your own meals).
Saving money on food and accommodations (and being able to work and make money on the go) means you’ll be able to stretch your budget further and travel longer. It also means you’ll have more money for the important things… (like activities, wine, and more flights).
⁕ Make New Four-Legged Friends
These days, my social media is filled with people my age posting sonograms, gender-reveals, and their kid’s back-to-school comparison photos. Meanwhile, I’m over here trying to curb my puppy fever… and pet-sitting has been the perfect solution.
I can meet (and cuddle) cute, furry friends, get my puppy love fix, and experience what it’s like to be a pet owner first-hand. This experience has made me realize there is NO way I’m ready to have fur babies of my own right now… (but I’ve still got all of their names picked out for whenever that day comes).
On TrustedHousesitters, you’ll find homeowners seeking sitters for a variety of animals including dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits, fish and even ants… (yes, ants)!
If Thailand weren’t so far, I totally would have applied just so I could add “Queen ant-sitter” to my resume.
⁕ And Two-Legged Friends, Too
Housesitting is also a great way to make connections with new, interesting people - the animals’ humans (aka homeowners)… though you won’t spend nearly as much time with them as you do with their pets!
Before each housesit begins, you’ll meet the homeowner in a “hand-off” period. You may even be invited to stay an extra night beforehand to get situated and acquainted with the pets… (and sometimes after if they’re really hospitable).
Funnily enough, during my first few sits in Spain and Germany, I didn’t meet any Spanish or German homeowners, but I did meet like-minded travel lovers from Israel, the UK, and Virginia.
It was really interesting to hear their stories, and a great opportunity to learn through cultural exchange. They answered all of my questions about their homes, pets, and neighborhoods… and taught me some other interesting things, too… like Spanish and Hebrew dog commands.
⁕ See New Places… From a new Perspective
Chances are, you won’t be house-sitting smack-dab in the city center in the midst of all the tourist attractions. You WILL, however, be staying in a real home (not a done-up AirBnb), in a real, local (considerably more quiet) neighborhood, and you will no doubt experience what life there is REALLY like.
Sometimes, you’ll land a housesit in a home or neighborhood that is SO nice, you won’t want to leave!
While housesitting in Berlin, I stayed in a part of the city I had never been to before… and spent most of my time wandering the area. I enjoyed being off the well-beaten tourist track so much that I didn’t make it to a single “top rated” attraction all week.
House-sitting for locals (and picking their brains about their favorite things to see and do in the neighborhood) means you’ll get the full, inside scoop… and other recommendations you didn’t even know you needed like the best underground bars, cozy coffee shops, and local market sushi stands.
Sold on BECOMING AN INTERNATIONAL house-sittER?
Not so fast! - HOLD ON A SEC!
There are a lot of benefits to becoming a house-sitter, but, before taking the leap, there are some important things to consider first. I won’t call them “downsides,” just things that come with the territory… though, for some, they might be a deal breaker.
⁕ It isn’t really “free”
For one, you have to pay a membership fee… but that’s not what I’m talking about when I say house-sitting isn’t really free. Wanna hear another shocking secret? – Nothing is!
For example, when bloggers and influencers receive comped hotel stays, tours, or “gifted” products, that stuff isn’t free either. In exchange, they’re delivering a service.
Whether it’s a blog post, photos, or a mention on Instagram, these “freebies” involve some behind the scenes work… and housesitting is no different.
You do save yourself paying hefty room and board expenses, but it’ll cost you your time.
…more on that in the next section.
⁕ It’s a huge responsibility
TrustedPetsitters would be a more appropriate name for this platform.
On rare occasions, homeowners on TrustedHousesitters are just looking for someone to come water the plants and mind the homestead while they’re away, but, more often than not, they’re are looking for someone to look after their pets, too.
It IS great for animal-loving travellers, but it also requires sacrificing your time (and freedom)… because you’re not on your own schedule when you’ve got an animal depending on you.
For me, this has meant early morning wake up calls, long walks in the rain (when I’d rather not), and typing with one hand while belly rubs or tug of war is demanded by the other.
It has even meant switching up my travel style… because my usual “leave bright early in the morning with no set plans and wander til’ my feet are sore” itinerary just isn’t possible when pet-sitting. Instead, I have had to plan my days around meals, walks, medications, playtime, and whatever other responsibilities the housesit entails… and some sits (and pets) are MUCH easier than others.
I’d imagine cats (and also ants) require much less time and attention… but cats make me sneeze, and, as you’d imagine, ant sits are rare.
For now, I’ll stick with puppy-sitting. Even though it’s a big responsibility, and requires more of a time commitment, for me, this isn’t a deal breaker… (probably because of my puppy fever).
⁕ Landing your first sit can be tough
...because, as you can imagine, there’s a lot of trust involved when you’re homeowner choosing a stranger from the internet to come stay at your house and take care of your pets.
I can’t tell you how many times my applications were ignored or straight up rejected due to my age and lack of experience on the platform.
Some homeowners prefer applicants who are retired or travelling as a couple, (with a heavy priority given to retired couples)… and they’re usually very open about it. These homeowners also usually have the sweetest houses in the coolest locations, sooo even when their listings clearly indicate their preference towards retirees (which I most definitely am not), I apply anyway, cause ya never know til ya try!
I guess I kinda get where they’re coming from. In most cases, I’m sure retirees are more mature, responsible, and trustworthy than a 20-something travel writer… but we’re not ALL party animals. What these homeowners don’t know is that the wildest thing that’ll happen at their house during my sit is a few wine nights, some solo dance parties in the kitchen, and me crashing out on the couch with their pup by midnight.
As discouraging as it is to be denied based on your age (or lack of “verified” reviews confirming important things like your character, experience, and overall cleanliness), when you’re just starting out, keep an open mind, be flexible, and keep at it!
Search and apply for sits close to home, and in cities that may not necessarily be the “most popular” destinations. Verify your account, spruce up your profile, reach out to family and friends to provide references, and, most importantly, send more thoughtful application letters!
After doing these things, I landed three awesome sits in my first month of actively using the platform. I now have verified reviews on my profile which will significantly improve my chances of getting more housesitting opportunities in dreamy homes like this… (and perhaps, one day, in convincing someone set on a retired couple to take a chance on a travel writing house-sitter in her 20’s).
Travel is my biggest expense…
…but that doesn’t mean it’s “expensive.”
At least, it doesn’t have to be. Not if you’re smart about it… and willing to get a little creative.
Thanks to TrustedHousesitters, I’ve not only found a solution to my fur baby fever… I’ve also been able to meet cute pups, cool people, and to travel to destinations I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity (or the money) to go to otherwise.
As an animal-less pet-lover (and a travel writer on a budget), I really couldn’t recommend it more.
Nowwww, if your housesitting plans involve throwing the biggest Project-X style party the neighborhood has ever seen, do me a favor… and don’t. We “lazy, entitled millennials” have a bad enough rep, (and a hard enough time starting out) as is! On the other hand, if you’re in search of a way to travel further, longer (while spending less), this is the PERFECT opportunity for you, and you’ve got my support – 1000%!
Interested in getting started
…(and not planning to throw any ragers)?
↓ Click here to learn more or to sign up now! ↓
Then keep in touch! I’d love to hear about your TrustedHousesitters experience!
Share your story in the comments below
and Happy Housesitting!
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!)
Interested in becoming an International House-Sitter?