Travel for Free by House-Sitting Your Way Around The World. We've Got the Scoop
Try house-sitting, a great way to see the world for less. (Photo: Bart Speelman/Flickr)
by Kaeli Conforti
You’ve heard about pet–sitting, but what about house-sitting to save money while traveling? Dalene and Peter Heck are one Canadian couple who did just that: five years ago, they sold everything for the sake of travel, and started a website, Hecktic Travels, about how they saved over $30,000 in accommodations costs by house-sitting their way around the world.
The basic idea is reciprocity: keep an eye on someone’s home while they’re away, and you get to stay in it for free. It’s a win-win since the owners get the peace of mind in knowing their houses (and sometimes pets) are safe, and you get to take the price of accommodations out of your vacation budget. (You’ll also save money on food, since your lodgings now include a kitchen.) Jobs can last anywhere from two weeks to six months and give new meaning to the term culture immersion.
Wouldn’t you love to find someone who needs a house-sitter in St. Bart’s? (Photo: Robert Brown/flickr)
"The best part about the whole experience has been the ability to really dig in to a destination and get to understand the culture. We get to know people and visit places that regular tourists never would," said Dalene Heck.
A number of websites, such as House Sitters America, The Caretaker Gazette, Mind My House, and TrustedHousesitters.com among others, provide listings for a fee (ranging from $20 to $60 depending on the membership), but consider this an investment. The couple recommends creating an account on multiple websites to increase your chances of being chosen for a coveted house–sit job.
Planning ahead is the key, since it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to fully flesh out the details of a contract. House-sitting hopefuls from the U.S. should remember to check Visa requirements for countries they plan to apply for, Dalene warns. “In 28 countries of Europe, Americans are only allowed 90 days total at a time, so the dream of bouncing around from house-sit to house-sit indefinitely isn’t really an option there.”
One couple house sat in British Columbia (Photo: pnwra/flickr)