House Sitting: How to Get Free Housing Anywhere

By Sara | September 20, 2016

We just wrapped up a two week stay in southern Spain. Our days were filled with puppy kisses, long breakfasts, and nightly sunsets over a stunning view. The best part? All of it was free, thanks to house sitting. If you’re wondering how we scored such an awesome place on a travelers budget, and are interested in learning how to get free housing, read on!

What is House Sitting?

For many travelers, finding affordable accommodation can be difficult. Staying in hostels and using websites like Airbnb and HostelWorld can certainly lower the cost of accommodation abroad, but for those looking for free housing, there’s another option: housesitting.

We signed up with Trusted House Sitters at the beginning of our trip, and have used it several times throughout our European travels. The setup is simple: Home owners who plan to be away for an extended period of time list their home on a house sitting website, and travelers who need a place to stay apply for the job. Home sits vary in responsibilities but typically include locking up the house each night, maintaining the landscape of yards, and caring for any pets that homeowners have. In exchange for looking after a house, travelers receive free housing.

How Does it Work?

To apply for a house sit, travelers should first choose which site they’d like to go with. There a number of options at the bottom of this post that have good reputations, and we personally use Trusted House Sitters. Most house sitting websites have an initial sign up fee, but this pays for itself after two to three nights of house sitting, and is well worth the cost.

After signing up, fill in all the applicable profile details to show home owners who you are and what you can offer. If you have anyone willing to write you a review from previous experience, this is very helpful and should be added as soon as possible.

Once your profile is live, start applying for house sits! Make sure that each email is unique and clearly says who you are, what you can offer to the particular sit, and what experience you have that makes you the perfect fit. If it helps, think of each message like a job application. We’ve included additional tips and tricks to land your first sit below.

Landing Your First House Sit

1. Sign Up For Emails and Apply Quickly

When you sign up, allow Trusted House Sitters, (or related site) to send you daily emails. These emails contain the most recently posted house sits, and you should apply for any that suit you immediately. Most house sitters choose their sitter out of the first few people that apply, so it’s important to have your profile in that bunch.

2. Be Flexible

When it comes to applying for house sits in a certain location, it helps to be flexible. Most house sits aren’t in major cities, and the ones that are go incredibly fast. Try to be flexible with your location preferences to open a wider net of potential sits.

3. Practice Email Etiquette

Email etiquette is important, as this is the only impression outside of your profile that potential hosts will get of you before a Skype call. Double check for spelling and grammatical errors, include the names of the home owners and their pets in the email, and let your personality shine through in your writing. Imagine you are in a home owner’s shoes, about to leave your pets with a stranger. What would you want to see in an application message?

4. Have References

Having references on your profile boosts your chances of getting chosen immensely. Users gain references by completing house sits and having hosts write reviews for them on their profile. If you’re trying to get your first sit and find yourself getting declined even after following the rest of the above steps, try to get a reference another way. Most sites allow people to ask references about your work ethic, character, or past home and pet sitting experience outside of the platform. When we signed up, we asked our neighbor, whose dog we had watched several times, to write a review about our ability to care for pets. This review was enough to land our first house sit, and we’ve had no troubles since.

Which Site Should I Sign Up For?

The sites below are some of the best house sitting sites out there. Each of these sites has testimonials from travelers, and a decent variety of sits. Take a look and find one that suits you best.

1. Trusted House Sitters

  • World wide, most house sits are in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
  • Same cost for both home owners and sitters ($75 for 3 months, $120 for one year)
  • Take 20% off with this code

2. House Carers

  • World wide, most house sits are in the United States and Europe
  • Free for home owners, $50 per year for sitters

3. MindMyHouse

  • Smaller house sitting database, most house sits in the United States and Europe
  • Free for home owners, $20 per year for sitters

4. House Sit Match

  • Primarily caters to European House Sits
  • Free for home owners, has two membership levels (£35 and £75) per year for sitters

5. House Sitters America

  • Caters to United States House Sits
  • Free for home owners, $30 per year to be a sitter

6. Aussie House Sitters

  • Caters to Australian House Sits
  • Free for home owners, $65 per year to be a sitter

7. Luxury House Sitting

  • For luxury listings, smaller database
  • Free for home owners, $25 per year for sitters

House sitting is a great way to get free housing while exploring new places. It allows you to meet new people, see places you may not have otherwise, and often times, cuddle and play with adorable pets. Regardless of your motivation, house sitting is an experience worth looking into!

Some of the above links are affiliate links. This means that we make a small commission if you choose to sign up after clicking on some of the links in this post, at no extra cost to you.

AirBnb vs. Hostels

By Sara | March 10, 2016

Every traveler enjoys having a nice place to rest their head at night. Hotels can be an expensive option, so more and more travelers are turning to hostels and Airbnb’s. The question is, which one is right for you?

What Are They?

Airbnb: Airbnb began as a Silicon Valley startup and is now a major travel resource. People who have extra sofa’s, bedrooms, or entire properties can list them on Airbnb, add some photos, and set custom prices per night, week, and month. Travelers can book either a shared space, private room, or entire place to themselves and all payment goes through Airbnb’s system.

Hostels: Hostels are similar to the concept of a hotel, but usually don’t have the luxury amenities. Most hostels have a series of rooms with bunk beds and a shared bathroom, and charge by the bed per night.

Pros

Airbnb: Staying with a local can give travelers a great insight into the local culture, and can help to foster new friendships. The large range of price points provides flexibility and can accommodate budget and luxury travelers alike. Airbnb’s are also quieter than hostels and can feel more like home. And, if anything does go wrong, the Airbnb service team is quick and reliable (we’ve tested this!).

Hostels: The major advantage of hostels is the price, particularly for solo travelers. If all you need is a bed and a bathroom, hostels are the way to go. Many hostels have discounts on excursions, and an information desk with activities. Lastly, since hostels can accommodate more people, it’s very easy to make friends or even find a travel companion.

Cons

Airbnb: The host controls the home, so things like quality of wifi, temperature, and pets are all factors that you’ll have to accept or modify by talking with your host. Additionally, Airbnb trust stems from user reviews, so if you’re just starting off it can take a while to get an accepted stay.

Hostels: The downside to hostels varies depending on where you stay. They are typically a bit rowdier, the wifi signal isn’t as good, and amenities aren’t usually as nice as Airbnb’s.

The Verdict

Though there are pro’s and con’s to both, we try to book Airbnb’s whenever we can. A general rule of thumb is to stay in a hostel if you’re looking to meet new people or get a cheap stay, and book an Airbnb is you want to work, relax, or live with a local. If you haven’t tried out Airbnb yet, here’s $35 off your first stay!

Where do you stay when you travel? Comment below your favorite Airbnb or hostel!

Finding Places to Stay on the Road

By Sara | February 18, 2016

One of the highest costs when traveling can be booking a place to stay. However, there are so many alternatives to staying in hotels that accommodation can become one of your lowest costs. Below are five websites that we use to find places to stay when we travel.

1. Airbnb

We were hosts with Airbnb when we lived in California, and had such a great experience that we knew we wanted to use them when traveling. What’s great about Airbnb is the flexibility. Whether you prefer an entire apartment yourself or just need a sofa to crash on, there’s an option and a price for every person.

Booking is simple and their customer service team is excellent should you have any problems.  With Airbnb, we’ve been able to stay in some very nice, conveniently located places while learning about the local culture and making some lifelong friends. Get $35 off your first stay here.

2. HostelBookers

HostelBookers is our go-to site for when we want to meet other travelers. The site allows you to choose to book either a bed in a dormer or a private room, and prices are rarely more than $15-$20 per night.

In some countries like Morocco and SouthEast Asia, hostels average $5 a night, leaving the rest of your budget for experiences and food!

3. HostelWorld

HostelWorld is very similar to HostelBookers, but doesn’t always have the lowest prices. You can still find great hostels all over the world though, and the platform is easy to use.

4. House Sitting

A different option while traveling is signing up for a service like Trusted House Sitters or House Carers. These sites allow you to stay for free in someones home in exchange for taking care of their pets and house while they are away. We did this for two weeks in Spain, and wrote about our experience here. If done correctly, you can eliminate your housing costs completely by just house sitting.

5. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is another free option and a way to meet locals. We haven’t personally used this service and have found that many hosts don’t want to host two people. If you’re a solo traveler, you may have better luck.

What are your favorite sites to use when traveling? We love to hear how other people travel and hope that these tips help you plan your next trip!