When planning your round the world adventure, you’ll often have to take into account that hotels and hostels can eat up 30, 40 even 50% of your budget depending on where and how you travel. There are ways to avoid these deep gouges into your budget, like volunteering or WWOOFing, but what we have found works best for us is housesitting. For the last two and a half years, my partner Dani and I have been able to save over $12,000 in accommodation costs without sacrificing on comfort or style. We have done this 12 times across four continents – and we’re not the only ones.
The owners of this budget-savvy site, Warren and Betsy, have also had several housesits and the comprehensive monthly expense charts right here on this site show just how much they have been able to save with housesitting. Let’s compare two monthly charts – one that included housesitting vs. one that did not. In the September 2012 expenses chart, over 37% of their monthly budget was spent on accommodation, presumably because the duo were doing some heavy traveling and staying in hotels as they went. In August of 2011, however, they did not spend a dime on accommodation (you can see that chart here) thanks to the opportunity they had to housesit in Brussels.
This is part of the reason Dani and I have become so passionate about housesitting; the concept is so simple, yet creates a win-win solution for everyone involved. As housesitters, we live rent-free in homes across the world in exchange for keeping people’s houses and pets safe and happy. For example, we have lived for two months in a beach house in Costa Rica that easily would have cost travelers over $50 a night for a double room, and cared for an adorable former junkyard dog named Diesel while the owners traveled through the United States. Over the Easter holiday week in Tuscany, we had an entire Bed and Breakfast to ourselves caring for five outdoor cats while the British owner whisked his Italian girlfriend away on vacation. Home and pet owners are free to take longer trips knowing everything is safe and secure at home, and housesitters can live as locals rent free around the world.
Although it is difficult to give exact numbers, housesitting saves us even more money than just accommodation. Looking back again at Warren and Betsy’s September 2012 graph, you’ll see that they spent 47% of their budget on food and alcohol, numbers which are very similar to our own when traveling. However, with housesits we have access to a kitchen stocked with cooking utensils, pots, pans, a blender, sometimes even things like pizza ovens or bread makers. This means that we can cook our own food, and not just noodles like in a hostel kitchen. Sometimes we pick up local ingredients and attempt local dishes or recreate our favorite meals from home. We can’t be entirely sure how much we save cooking for ourselves as opposed to eating primarily in restaurants, but when we analyze our monthly budgets, we normally cut our overall costs by 50-60% during the weeks that we housesit.
The best part is deciding what to do with that extra cushion in our budget. Sometimes, if we know we are going to be doing heavy traveling in expensive places, the savings are simply and sensibly pocketed for future use. Other times, we splurge on the finer things we, as long-term travelers, often deny ourselves, like expensive meals, new clothes, new books, or even deciding to book a more expensive flight rather than a bus to our next destination.
There are several websites you can sign up to, but which to choose varies by where you are looking to housesit. We have put together a full analysis of 20+ websites in a directory on UltimateHousesittingGuide.com, and go into even more detail in our ebook Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting. Break Free includes over 100 pages packed with step-by-step details such as:
How to get started with housesitting
How to find great housesitting opportunities
How to get your first housesit, even with no experience
How to write a stellar profile
How to be an excellent housesitter and get great references
How to deal with issues of insurance, contracts and emergencies
The book also includes samples of profiles, application letters to model yours after and full checklists that both housesitters and homeowners can use (and print!) to make sure everything is covered before, during and after the housesit. Find out more about the housesitting book on Amazon.com.
Dani and Jess are a German-American couple who left their adopted home of London and set off to travel the world in 2010. With the motto ‘Two Girls. One Globe. No Regrets’ they have since traveled through North America, Europe, Mexico, Central America, South East Asia and now South America, while running their travel website GlobetrotterGirls.com. The girls are digital nomads, street food junkies, LGBT travelers, hotel enthusiasts, street art lovers, vegetarians, and avid housesitters.