Home away from home: Housesitting for traveling families

This guest post was written by our friends Dani and Jess, also known as the Globetrotter Girls. We’ve enjoyed following their travels over the past couple years (they just passed their 1,000th day on the road!) and we’re happy to share their story about housesitting – a unique travel style that is growing in popularity. They actually just wrote a book about it. The photo below was taken from the private beach of their recent housesitting gig in Mexico – yes please!

How housesitting solves the accommodation conundrum for traveling families


For wander-lusting couples with an insatiable love of travel, having a baby is no reason to keep you from hitting the road – just look at Cam, Nicole and Baby B! Becoming a party of three hasn’t stopped them, and it shouldn’t stop you, either. Of course there are adjustments to be made, which, for most globetrotter types, boils down to the issue of spontaneity.

Long gone are the spontaneous days of just showing up and hunkering down in a dingy backpacker cheapie for the night (but who would miss that anyway, we say!).

Instead, traveling families have to plan out their itineraries much more precisely, especially when it comes to accommodation. One obvious choice is to stay at nicer hotels, but that eats through your budget quickly, and we wouldn’t wish that on anyone!

Renting vacation apartments can be a much better option when traveling with kids because they offer more privacy and a kitchen.

But there is still one option that trumps all other accommodation options by a long shot. That option is housesitting, which is a win-win solution where you care for someone’s home and pets while they go out of town in exchange for absolutely free accommodation.

Housesitting is not something specifically for families – anyone can be a housesitter.

Cutting accommodation costs entirely from your budget allows you to travel longer and more often, which is one reason why Dani and I have become so passionate about it.

But for traveling families, housesitting has some major advantages that makes this travel trend the accommodation option of choice.

1. Safe environment

When housesitting, you stay in a private home, just your family and perhaps a couple of temporary pets. In our experience, the homes we have housesat range from small suburban ranch homes to luxury properties, meaning there will be space for the kids to play safely at ‘home’.

2. Kids have their own rooms (and so do you!)

No roll-out mats, sleeping on the floor or squeezing into one bed when housesitting. More often than not, homes have two or more bedrooms, meaning everyone has their own space and privacy.

3. Routine and stability

Housesitting almost always involves caring for animals, which can be a real plus for animal lovers. But for families with kids, having that element of responsibility makes it easier to stick to a clear routine.

If the children are old enough, they can help out or even be entirely responsible for feeding/walking the animals. Either way, there is stability and routine that helps ease the adrenaline-fuelled travel experience for kids of all ages.

4. The kitchen and creature comforts

Mentioned fleetingly above, vacation apartments can’t even begin to challenge housesitting in this particular aspect. When housesitting, you don’t only have access to a kitchen; you have access to a kitchen that real people actually use. This means you can prepare meals just like at home when you want (and eat in restaurants when you don’t – you’re on vacation!).

It also means you have things like Tupperware, which is often missing in vacation apartments, so you can make snacks as you go out exploring for the day. This saves time, money and energy when blood sugar drops and kids get crabby.

5. Living like locals

In our post Dream Housesits Around The World, we include the stories of two traveling families who incorporate housesitting into their travels: (1) a couple with three boys who housesat in a luxurious villa on a tropical island in Malaysia, and (2) a single dad with his 11-year-old son currently housesitting on an oasis in Morocco. What an experience for those kids!

Whether you only housesit for a two-week vacation or decide to travel long-term with your family, your children will get to experience local life where ever you travel. They might make friends and learn in a very real, very authentic way, what life is really like, rather than only seeing the tourist attractions.

How housesitting with kids can work

After joining a housesitting website and searching through housesit opportunities, you might notice that homeowners are typically looking for ‘young professional or older couples’. This is usually done to filter out younger or single housesitters, but that doesn’t mean families can’t apply.

What we’ve found is that people who hire housesitters to care for their home are usually much more relaxed and are really just looking for someone responsible enough so they can go away without worrying. You might be at a disadvantage with empty nesters or second home owners interested in keeping their homes in pristine condition, but there are also plenty of families with kids who use housesitters.

We housesat for two families with toddlers this year and the houses were baby-proofed, complete with crayon markings on the walls and stains on the carpets. However, when we applied for both of these housesits, it was not clear that either couple had kids. We only found that out when we Skyped or emailed with them after being chosen.

Both couples would have been fine with families housesitting, which is why it is worth it to apply and see what happens. After all, at least the homeowners can be sure you’re not going to throw wild parties!

Housesitting with kids is a great way to create meaningful travel experiences for the entire family without paying a penny for accommodation. We encourage you to give it a shot when planning your next family adventure!

If you’re interested in learning about how you can start housesitting, check out the Housesitting Website directory that compares over 20 housesitting websites.

You can also pick up the ebook Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting, the most comprehensive book on housesitting ever put together. There’s also a bonus housesitting membership discount especially for our readers, which will easily cover the cost of the book (more details here).


Author Bio: 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 the globe 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. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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