Learn How to Travel Around the World without Paying for Hotels
Have you ever wondered how some long-term travelers are able to afford a life on the road? After all, sleeping in hotels can get expensive and easily break your travel budget.
To answer this question, we turned to the traveling couple behind Hecktic Travels to introduce you to the wonderful world of house-sitting. Learn how they successfully spent the past year traveling to Honduras, Ireland, Belgium, the UK and Spain without paying for hotel accommodations!
House-Sitting Around the World – 5 Questions with Hecktic Travels
Before we get started, please introduce yourself and tell us about your recent travels
We are Dalene and Peter Heck, a couple of Canuckleheads who sold all our belongings in 2009 to travel. We spent a year traveling around South America and returned to Canada for a family wedding, half-expecting to want to settle down after being surrounded by the comforts of home. We weren’t in Canada long when we realized that we wanted to be back out on the road again!
Since then we have spent six months in Honduras, two in Ireland, and have cruised around Europe since last summer. We are enjoying the sun in Morocco right now before we had back across the Atlantic for some time in New York City.
Q1. You have spent much of your travels house-sitting in various parts of the world. Can you explain what house-sitting is all about and why you prefer traveling this way?
House-sitting is essentially an exchange of services between a home owner and someone looking for a place to stay. The home owner needs to be away from their property, yet does not want to leave it empty for a variety of reasons – pet care, security concerns, etc.
As house-sitters, we move in for the duration of their absence and essentially live rent free while taking care of the property.
This is our favorite way to travel for many reasons! We love having a place that feels like “home” on the road; if even for a short period of time, it allows us to enjoy comforts that we wouldn’t get in hostels. The jobs we have taken have ranged from two weeks to six months, which also means we get to spend more time in one area and really get to know it well.
It is also very good for the budget – for our six month house sit in Honduras, we spent only $4,000 the entire time as the only costs we were responsible for were food, gas for the vehicle, and other personal expenses.
House-sitting has taken us to Honduras, Ireland, Belgium, the UK and Spain. Coming up we have jobs in New York City and Turkey! For us, it really doesn’t get much better than this.
Q2. If our readers are interested in house-sitting in Europe, how would they go about doing this? Where do they start?
There are several websites that match potential house sitters with home owners, and many of them have different areas in which they excel and have lots of listings. Wannabe housesitters should start by perusing all of the available housesits on each site to see which might be the best fit (it is possible to search through all jobs before buying a membership on most sites).
Consider buying memberships to more than one website to improve your chances, spend a good amount of time setting up an attractive profile, and sign up for email alerts based on desired locations.
Our preferred websites are (in order of preference):
1. Trustedhousesitters.com – This excellent site has the best functionality of them all, with great opportunities in Europe (as it is based in the UK). Use the promotional code HT09 and get 25% off an annual membership!
2. Mindmyhouse.com – Another well designed site with a good number of jobs in Europe
3. Housecarers.com – The least user-friendly website but has plenty of opportunities around the globe
Q3. What has been your best house-sitting experience and why?
Our very first one was still our best – in British Columbia!
When we decided to continue traveling but also wanted to rest up a bit, we scored two months in the Kootenays. The home owners were awesome to deal with, it was a beautiful house in the mountains, near excellent hiking and they even left kayaks on Upper Arrow Lake for our use. It was the perfect setting and we would go back to house sit there in an instant if our schedules ever mesh.
Q4. Do house-sitting assignments dictate where you will travel next or do you look for house-sitting opportunities after your travel plans are set?
They definitely have dictated our travel plans for us so far. We watch for new opportunities closely and then jump on any that fit our timeline and are in an area that we have always been interested in seeing.
We are just about to start a 6 week house sit in New York City that we applied for on a whim, same with the one following that for three months in Turkey. When we started our two month house sit in Ireland last June, all we knew was that we wanted to get to Europe, and lo and behold, we were soon offered two months in a 10th century manor in the middle of the country. What an experience!
Q5. Can you share some tips that might help a first time house sitter? What should a newbie look for when researching house sitting options?
A newbie, first and foremost, should outline their own expectations. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of securing such an opportunity and forgetting to make sure that you will actually enjoy your stay there.
Consider such things as: Would you want to take care of pets? How many and what kind? Would you rather be in a remote area or city? How much are you willing to pay (sometimes home owners will ask for utilities to be covered)?
Also, when in conversations with potential home owners, be sure to ask any and all questions that you may have - never leave anything unanswered as it has the potential to cause misunderstandings and problems down the road.