How to Use House Sitting to Travel the World

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

One of the most stressful parts of long-term travel is figuring out how to make your money last for as long as possible. Flights can be expensive and accommodation can be outrageous; these easily take up the bulk of your travel expenses. 

But what if there was a way to save on a hotel and stay in a private residence in exchange for some of your time and effort?

Here’s the inside scoop on house sitting, and why it’s the best way to save money while traveling around the world!

What is House Sitting?

When people go on vacation, whether it’s a few days or several months, they may not be comfortable leaving their house empty for the duration of their trip. This is especially true when there are pets at home that need care or precious plants that need to be watered. 

Enter: house sitting! 

When homeowners go away, they can find a house sitter to look after their home, care for their pets, and even tend to their gardens. This gives the host some peace of mind while they’re away and an eager traveler a place to stay for free in exchange for their time and efforts. 

person lying in hammock with dog next to him

You may be asking yourself, “Why not put the pets in a kennel or take them traveling?” 

First of all, if you have a pet and you’ve ever taken them traveling, you know how challenging it can be. It’s hard for pets to leave their home environment, which is why it’s much more preferable for most pet-owners to leave them at home with someone trustworthy looking after them. Not to mention this gets rid of the stress of having to take a dog or a cat on a crowded plane or a long car journey.

House sitting can also be a much cheaper alternative for people with multiple pets as boarding them can be much more expensive, especially long term. Plus, with someone at the house, it’s much less likely to be broken into, mail can be collected, and general house upkeep can be done, too.

With house sitting, home owners can enjoy their travels knowing their home is taken care of and house sitters can find an awesome place to stay for free in exchange — a total win-win situation for both parties!

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House Sitting: Why Do It?

The biggest pull of house sitting is the opportunity to help someone in exchange for a place to stay. 

While the accommodation isn’t necessarily free (you’re providing a service in exchange for home access), the house sitting model can come in handy especially when traveling long-term in more expensive countries where even the hostels are outrageously priced (cough cough United States and Europe). 

With house sitting, not only do you get a much nicer stay than a cheap hotel room or a bed in a dorm, you also get the satisfaction of lending a helping hand to a fellow traveler and curling up with sweet pets at the end of the day! 

All in all, house sitting means you get to save your money for flights instead of accommodation, allowing you to travel for longer and visit more places. It allows you to stay in a local, home environment and gives you the chance to provide a service in return. 

Plus, PETS! 

cat sitting on couch under plants casting shadow

House sitting gives you the opportunity to hang out with pets while on the road if you’re missing your own fur babies, and the chance to connect with local people all over the world! In all likelihood, you’ll probably get to know the homeowners before they set off and connect with them on the tail end too. Who knows, your new international bestie could be right around the corner!

Another reason why house sitting is the best is that you’re able to explore local neighborhoods you may not have ventured to otherwise. Since you’re staying at someone’s private residence, you’ll be able to have the full local experience instead of just staying in the center of the city for sightseeing. 

Lastly, house sitting gives travelers the chance to reconnect to their regular routines. It can be super hard to maintain your daily schedule while on the go, but house sitting gives you the chance to slow down a little bit, cook your own breakfast, and seek some quiet space when it’s time to work. You can do yoga in the garden, journal on the porch, and regain some sense of stability, even a million miles from home. 

Tips for First-Time House Sitters

Are you ready to embark on your house sitting adventures? Here are a few tips for first-time house sitters looking to score their first gig!

Start Your Search

The easiest way to find a house sitting job is through the web. Lucky for us, today there are many platforms that allow you to make a profile and then connect with people in need of a house and pet sitter.

There are many platforms to choose from, but we generally stick to TrustedHousesitters which has the largest selection of house sits to choose from and features that make it easy to trust and use. Read our review of the platform to learn more about why we love it.

Simply browse the listings and find house sitting assignments that fit your interests and experience. 

Trustedhousesitters webpage

Build a Dream Profile

Since you’re essentially asking a stranger to hand over the keys to their house to you, you’re going to want to present yourself in the best way possible. The first impression home owners get is your profile on house sitting websites. 

Build out your profile honestly, but put your best foot forward — you should almost think of this as applying for a job! List any experience you may have house sitting or as a homeowner yourself, talk about your love for pets of all kinds (you never know what you may be asked to look after), and any special skills you may have – think languages, gardening, organization, and anything else that may come in handy during your time as a house sitter.

Be Diligent and Quick!

House sitting opportunities go quickly, so you’re going to want to be diligent about checking the website for new listings that could be of interest to you. Once you find one that you absolutely want, go ahead and apply!

Keep in mind that the “best” or most good-looking house sitting opportunities get snatched up quickly, so stay on the ball if you hope to secure one in a popular city or a swanky residence somewhere nice.

You can set up email alerts for a specific area so that as soon as something pops up, you’re able to apply. This is particularly handy if you don’t feel like spending hours scrolling through listings.

Include a Thoughtful Message

When applying to specific house sitting opportunities, you’ll have the chance to include a message with your profile. 

Use this space to let the homeowners know a little bit about yourself and why you’d make the perfect house sitter for them! Make sure to tailor the email to the specific listing (talk about your love for dogs if there are dogs to care for or your green thumb if there’s a garden to look after) to give a personal aspect to it. 

Prepare References

The best thing you can provide to a homeowner when applying for a house sitting gig are solid references. To have someone vouch for your character, trustworthiness, and responsibility is invaluable when it comes to securing an opportunity and finding awesome people to house sit for. 

You can ask pretty much anyone for references — think your neighbor whose cat you took care of that one time, or your landlord who sees how beautiful you keep your own home. The bottom line is you want someone to be able to speak about your reliability, honesty, and general personality in a positive way!

Follow Through

Once you’ve secured a house sitting opportunity, be sure to follow through!

Show up at the agreed time to meet with the homeowners, treat the house as well as the homeowners do – or better (no parties!), follow all house rules, and take care of every single thing laid out for you to do — even if you absolutely hate taking out the trash.

Finally, make sure to have an emergency contact for pets and the house, just in case. You never know what may happen and it’s better to be safe than sorry!

dogs sitting on blue couch

The bottom line is: if you’re a long-term traveler looking for a solution to keep you on the road for longer, house sitting is the way to go.

The annual membership for a house sitting platform like TrustedHousesitters is basically a two-night stay in a decent hotel and it will repay itself time and time again as you stay in comfortable homes across the world in exchange for petcare.

Be greeted by furry friends as soon as you walk in the door and have a true, local experience by staying in a neighborhood you may have never ventured to in the first place.

And the best part? You won’t have to pay for a thing.  

Looking for more inspiration? Check out these articles

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How to Use House Sitting to Travel the World | Looking for a way to travel without completely breaking the bank? Check out our guide to how house sitting can save you heaps while on the go!

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