12 Aug How to Travel the World for Free: Housesitting
One of the most expensive aspects of travel, especially if you plan to go on the road long term, is accommodation. While hostels and guesthouses can be quite fun and exciting (see: dirty, loud shitholes filled with bed bugs and backpackers playing musical beds), you may hit an age (see: 30ish) where you want to step it up and travel with a bit more style. So in case boutique and luxury hotels aren’t your thing, maybe check out housesitting. Enter Peter & Dalene of HecticTravels, housesitting aficionados.
Who are you strangers?
We are Dalene and Pete Heck, a Canadian couple who have been married for almost 12 years, and traveling the world for over 4. In 2009 we decided to stop our soul bleeding – we quit our cushy corporate jobs and threw our lives into backpacks. We’ve been to 34 countries together and have no plans to stop.
Tell me what is house sitting and how did you decide to start house sitting
House-sitting is essentially a reciprocal exchange of services that is mutually beneficial for both a home-owner and house-sitter. The home-owner gets a responsible person (or couple) to take care of their property and possibly pets, and the house-sitter typically gets accommodations rent free! There are some variations to this – for example, the home-owner may ask for some utilities to be paid and sometimes house-sitters will get paid for their services (but those occurrences are quite low).
Where has getting free accommodation via house sitting taken you?
So many great places! Manhattan, a Caribbean island, London, Turkey, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, and more. We’ve spent somewhere over 700 days house-sitting in our 4 years of travel. It has saved us a lot of money!
Can you tell us about the possibility of working in conjunction
with house sitting abroad?
This can be tricky, given that house-sitting opportunities can vary substantially in length, as well as notice for availability. We have, however, had some success – while on a six month house-sitting job in Roatan, Honduras, we took to volunteering at a local school. That turned into some substitute teaching opportunities, and could have been a full-time job at the school had we chosen to stay on longer with the house-sit.
Other then that, we haven’t really tried. As our businesses are online, we can typically work from anywhere in the world as long as there is a good wi-fi connection.
What is the best house siting experience you have had?
That is a tough question. I would have to say it is a toss-up between enjoying six weeks rent-free in Manhattan (I mean, REALLY. How else would that be possible?), or our repeated sits in Turkey. We loved it so much the first time, we returned for another three months a year later. Even though the last occasion had some very difficult moments (one of the dogs we were taking care of died), we endlessly love that part of the world and will probably return again in the future.
What is the worst house sitting experience you have had?
Also Turkey, only because of our favourite dog passing away. We love each animal like our own, and as a house-sitter the situation is especially difficult because we have to be sure to constantly communicate with the home-owner what is going on and to ensure that they are comfortable with how we handled the situation. Just a difficult time all around.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to house sit?
House-sitting is such a fantastic way to see the world, I would recommend it to anyone who really wants to dig in and learn the culture of a foreign country (and save oodles of money). On the other hand, it is important to recognize that it also comes with big responsibilities, just like having your own home and/or pets. That has to be the absolute first priority.
Well not going to lie, this sounds fantastic. Especially, if like me, you like animals but can’t have your own due to travel-olic reasons. Perfect. If you want to know the ins and outs of the house sitting game, you can buy Peter and Dalene’s book and get your foot in the door – literally. CLICK ME or the book. Boom – accommodation sorted.