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).

House siting with dogs in Ireland

House siting with dogs in Ireland

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!

Housesitting in Ireland

Housesitting in Ireland


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.

Roatan House Siting job

Roatan House Siting job

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.

Location Independent working

Location Independent working

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.

House Sitting in Turkey

House Sitting in Turkey

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.


Turner barr

Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.

  • The Lost Londoner
    Posted at 17:02h, 12 August

    I would love to have a house sitting experience. However I think most of my time will be spent in those scruffy hostels with gap year students 7 years younger than me! Rock on

  • Jonny Blair
    Posted at 21:07h, 12 August

    It’s something I’ve yet to try – always seems to me to be a more luxury way to travel, and right now I’m happy with my dingy backpacking pursuits round hostels, tents, night buses and airport floors. Will bear it in mind in future though. Safe travels, Jonny

  • Jane Has A Backpack
    Posted at 02:23h, 17 August

    House-sitting is fun though you have to be responsible keeping the house (with pet at some). You just need an open communication with the owner to make then comfortable on leaving your their precious home.

  • John
    Posted at 13:41h, 19 August

    Loved this article, thanks!

  • Charli | Wanderlusters
    Posted at 02:22h, 24 August

    Love these guys. We’ve been house sitting all over the world for the past two years and it was thanks to Pete and Darlene that we decided to give the concept a try. After reading their house sitting 101 post on their fab blog we signed up to and have looked after homes in 6 different countries to date. It has definitely enriched our experience of travel no end. Happy house sitting!!