As a guest blogger I wrote the below article for "Informed Explorer"
(this website has been deactivated)
(this website has been deactivated)
By; Mike Hopkins; Travel Thru My Eyes, Let’s GO
Have you ever thought about traveling the world without paying for lodging? It can be done, and I along with many others do it. How you may ask, by house and pet sitting.
Basically house and pet sitting can be equated to watching your neighbors’ house and taking care of their pets while they go on vacation (Wikipedia definition of house sitting). Many of us have done it and have had family, friends, or neighbors “keep an eye” on our homes while we were away. In today’s society, house and pet sitting is rapidly becoming the method of choice for vacationers.
As a single traveler from the US, I’ve sat million dollar homes, homes by oceans or lakes, with pools, and with and without pets. Some of the home owners I knew prior to sitting, while others I met only a few days before they left on vacation. These homes are located both in and out of the US and I only paid for my transportation and food.
House sitting assignments are available throughout the world and range from a few days to several months, with some being a year or longer leaving you to decide where to go and how long you want to stay. Many home owners invite you to stay, or offer a place to store your excess baggage after they return so you can continue traveling throughout the extended area.
How do you become a house and pet sitter? It’s really quite simple; I recommend registering on one (or more) of the many websites designed to bring home owners and house sitters together. Personally, I use Trustedhousesitters.com, Mindmyhouse.com, and Housecarers.com.
Here’s how it works:
- Register as a home owner and/or a house-sitter.
- Create a profile; be honest.
- Place an advertisement.
- Use the site tools to help in your search.
- Search your preferred location for a prospective house to sit or a sitter.
- Make contact with the home owner or sitter via emails, telephone conversations and if possible personal meetings. I think this is the most critical part and you need to be open and honest.
Become familiar with and use the sample agreements and guidelines provided by the sites.
Okay you’ve registered as a house sitter, but you don’t want to just hang around the house doing the same things you do at home; you want to travel, explore. Not a problem; while you’re communicating with the home owner let them know you may take some day trips in the local area, but commit to being in their home every night. In my experiences the owners have been a wealth of information, recommending places to see and things to do, as well as those that are not worth your time or money.
On one house sitting assignment I took daily walks in the Costa Rican rainforest. I watched a family of monkeys swinging in the trees, saw adult and baby toucans as well as several other species of birds. I traveled to neighboring villages, and explored the wildlife around Lake Arenal.
A second travel option while house sitting is to move from one assignment to another without returning to your home. While sitting another home in Costa Rica I applied for an assignment in Panama. After communicating with the owner via email and Skype, she said that since I “was in the area” she choose me from the nine applicants she had received. This extended my stay in Central America from the original 3 week sit in Costa Rica to a total of 8 weeks with 5 of those weeks spent in Panama.
But let’s not forget our goal is to travel so with your house sitting assignment complete simply extend your stay and travel.
When my most recent international house sitting assignment was completed, I had planned on staying an additional week. I wasn’t sure exactly where I would go, but I had three months of house sitting to figure it out. In the end I took a bus from Costa Rica to Granada Nicaragua, where I experienced a “Choco Therapy Message”, toured some islands of Lake Nicaragua, and enjoyed the local culture.
As you can see, house and pet sitting is not only a way to see the world without paying for a room; it’s also a unique way of traveling of its own. You enjoy the surrounding area on your own schedule, you experience life as a local, and you have a “home base” from which to extend your travels.
To read more of Mike’s published articles or blogs visit Travel Thru My Eyes, Let’s GO