When you have been traveling for a while, you will start to miss the little things about having a house. Whether you are staying in campsites, hostels of hotels (you fancy thing, you), you are going to be annoyed by something in living situation. We are currently traveling and living in a tent, and my biggest annoyance is the effort involved in getting up to use the bathroom in the morning. With all that effort, it’s not worth going back to bed afterwards. So once you need to pee in the morning, no more sleepy time. Your annoyance maybe a little more glamorous than mine, however I’m sure it is equally as frustrating.
If you have not already considered housesitting as a travel option, you should. Not only do you get free accommodation, that’s right, you live rent-free in someone’s house, but you also get to enjoy all of the benefits below:
- You can shower without flip-flops on
If you have been on the road for a while I know this will bring a smile to your face and a lustful dreamy glaze to your eyes. Imagine showering without flip-flops. Imagine having a whole bathroom to get dressed in, or walking around the house in a towel for hours after a shower. Ladies, I’m talking to you here. This is not a pot shot at men’s cleanliness, just that it is much more common to see guys running around campsites and hostels in a towel than it is girls. The downside of showering without the aid of footwear is that what you thought was a great tan on your feet might wash away with a good scrub.
- You can walk around the house in your underwear
Is there anything nicer on a warm summer’s morning that getting out of bed and making breakfast in your underwear? I think not. Try doing this in a hostel, or campsite. For our first housesit, I do not think that I put on pants until after midday most days. The way a vacation should be!
- You can get to know a place, and the locals
When you’re traveling, your accommodation will be filled with other travelers, with the only locals the ones who are paid to look after you. It’s hard to know whether these people are just doing their jobs or whether you can ask them to join you for a beer after work for a friendly chat. With housesitting, you have the great opportunity to get to know your neighbors. These people do not have to be nice to you, and they are the most authentic types of locals around. Whilst hospitality and tourism workers are accustomed to showcasing the best of their town and acting as on-demand tour guides, the people you meet whilst housesitting are not. They give you the nitty-gritty truth about their town and also some great secret-spot tips!
- You get to pretend you have pets again
Missing Fido? Join the club. I love to have the company of four-legged friends for my daily walk or run. Most housesitting opportunities come with the responsibility of looking after the family pets also. In most cases this is a cat or dog. The idea is that the owner saves money on a pet kennel, you get free accommodation and the pet is not removed from their house. It is a winning situation all-round. Even better is that you get to feel the affection from a pet again. The lucky dogs we look after are doted upon and taken for the best walks of their lives.
- You get to use a clean washing machine, for free
If I have to use one more washing machine that manages makes my clothes dirtier than before they went in, I might turn homicidal. I am fed up with caravan park, hostel and laundromat owners who do not clean their machines. Especially in beachside towns. Those things fill up with sand and that sand covers my clothes. It makes me grouchy, and ruins my day. Especially as we do washing every second week and it’s a big day for us. Clean underwear and sheets, yes please! Itchy sand-covered underwear and sheets, no thanks. I heard a horror story from someone who put their clothes in a machine after a sugar cane-field worker had done his, and they came out so sticky they attracted mosquitos for weeks.
Housesitting means that you have access to a domestic, clean washing machine. You do not have feed all your coins into it, you do not have to waste a morning waiting for the thing to finish and you do not have to worry about what other people have put through it before you.
- You can store leftovers in the fridge, and buy ice-cream in a tub
This may not relate to hostel or hotel-dweller, but campers will understand this one. We have not been able to store spinach, lettuce or ice cream since we left our house. We live out of an esky/cooler with ice most of the time. Ice melts and turns to water and anything that is not in a sealed container or snap lock bag is ruined, usually when you least expect it. Ice cream is impossible to keep frozen, and leafy greens spoilt at the tiniest drop of water touching them. First thing I purchase when we head into a housesit? A tub of coconut ice cream and a big fresh head of lettuce!
- Housesitting is a great way to see the bigger cities which can be expensive for travelers
City accommodation pricing is out of control. A campsite or hostel that is a fair walk from town can set you back three or four times as much as those in picturesque regional areas. However it is nice to visit the cities and sometimes it can be downright unavoidable. Housesitting is a great way to live right in the middle of the action, and not pay the exuberant fees. Housesitting websites generally do ask for a joining fee. These range from between $50 – $120 per year. However if you look at how many nights of accommodation that would pay for in a city, versus how many free nights of accommodation you will get out of the membership, you are sure to come out ahead. Our membership fee of $65 to an Australian Housesitting site paid for itself within the first 24 hours. We scored a 2 week housesit in an Australian capital city, saving us over $500 in accommodation expenses.
- You get to hold the remote and choose the movies
I spent a lot of time in hostels in my youth, and due to this, I have seen every episode of The Simpsons ever made, in at least four languages. It is difficult to find a TV show or movie that everyone agrees upon in a hostel setting, so back then, it was always The Simpsons that was shown as a happy middle-ground. Everyone likes The Simpsons, right?! I’m sure there is new show has eclipsed this now, but if you’re a long-term traveler you will know what I’m talking about. You will also be desperate to regain control of the TV, whether that is to turn it off altogether, or to select the shows that you like to watch.
- Hot water on demand and no queues for the bathroom
Hot water, all the hot water you have dreamed of, rushing out above you. It flows just for you. There is no queue to use the bathroom, no one banging on the door for you to hurry up, or stop singing in the shower. Campers, I know you’re particularly excited about this. Solar showers have their place, and they are certainly better than a cold shower, however imagine having a shower with water pressure; a shower where you do not have to turn the water off to lather us your hair. A shower that is elevated off the floor and the water just drains away, instead of pooling in muddy circles around your feet.
- You can live in locations that you did not dream of visiting before
Thinking of sticking to the coast for the summer, but then you see a housesit opportunity inland. The house is kitted out with a pool and is close to a National Park with swimming holes and waterfalls. You had not even considered this town as being on your hit-list, but maybe it should be. Free accommodation is a strong driver, and the 9 luxuries listed above also make housesitting a very attractive option, even if it is away from your original route. Housesititng in unique locations is also a great way to get away from the hoards of other travelers who are on the same tourist-route and have
Interested in learning more?
Head to our Resources for world travellers and would-be-travellers for more info about other’s experiences, or check out the links to Trusted Housesitters below. Also great is Aussie Housesitters.
Globally Trusted Housesitters is the biggest housesitting website, with opportunities to stay for free in Spanish bedsits, Australian rural properties, Central American villas and much much, much more. We are huge advocates for Housesitting and this site is great place to start. The membership fee will easily pay for itself as the gigs start to roll in. When you sign up, please make sure register via this link so that we get a nice little ‘thank you’ from Trusted Housesitters too. It all helps to keep us on the road for that little bit longer!
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