I save thousands of dollars on travel by babysitting pets all over the world
- I love to travel and see new places, but my bank account is less keen.
- This year I have started animal sitting to get free holiday accommodation.
- This makes traveling much cheaper and gives the company bonus on solo trips.
I’ve always loved to travel, but my bank account has other opinions.
Since the COVID-19 restrictions have eased, I’ve been wanting to get back into adventure and lean into my wanderlust. But my dreams of ticking off every destination on my travel bucket list started to fade when I started calculating the costs.
But this year I’ve discovered a life hack to get free accommodation wherever I go, making my adventures much more affordable.
Instead of paying top dollar for a hotel or Airbnb or sleeping in a hostel with several strangers, I live in people’s homes and take care of their beloved pets through TrustedHousesitters.
It’s a win-win for all parties involved. I get a free place to stay on the reservation. I take care of their pets and they take care of their house and fur baby.
You still have to pay for your trip, so it’s not a free trip, but it’s a way to save hundreds of dollars or even thousands, as it’s possible to stay home for months at a time.
In October, I spent a week in idyllic Vienna looking after 18-month-old Molly, the perfect companion for a solo trip – even if there was a bit of a language barrier.
When I saw the ad to babysit Molly, I simply applied for the ride through the Trusted Housesitters app and was invited to have a Zoom call with her owners, who live in a suburb of the Austrian capital Vienna.
We talked about what she needs, if I have any experience with nervous dogs and rescues and how I can look after their home. We quickly agreed that we were a good fit for each other, so I booked tickets to Vienna that evening.
This meant I had to include pet-related chores in my vacation time. Molly needed two trips a day, so I needed to structure my sightseeing plans accordingly.
But she was happy to be alone for up to four hours, so I could go out and explore while she snuggled on the couch. This worked well as Vienna is a small city so it was easy to see a lot in a four hour window.
Getting back to her very excited wagging tail and impressive jumps only added to the adventure.
In truth, if you want a responsibility-free holiday, this is not for you. But I was happy to have more downtime than I usually enjoy in the form of either cuddling Molly or taking her for walks.
I’m going to Munich, Germany in January to babysit cats. Feline friends may be a better option for people who want less time-consuming responsibilities on vacation.
The final bonus of this “travel hack” is how you can meet great people all over the world. The family I sat for left the day after I arrived, so we enjoyed an evening playing cards and chatting with each other before the holiday began. You make friends – furry and otherwise – and get to travel in a way that doesn’t hurt your bank account. A great solution to expensive wanderlust, in my opinion.
A great travel hack – but you have to be careful
As a British citizen I can clap in Europe with few restrictions. After Brexit, we can live in an EU country for 30 days out of every 90. But you must check which restrictions may be in place for you.
Earlier this year, an Australian woman said she was turned back at the US border when she arrived in the country to sit with TrustedHousitters, Insider’s Ryan Hogg reported.
When she arrived in Los Angeles, border officials began questioning her about her travel and asking more questions about her house-sitting, she told Insider.
When she told them how long she had been housebound, where she was going to do it, and how she found such opportunities, she was rejected and sent back to Australia.
While US Customs and Border Patrol could not comment on Gourley’s specific case, a spokesperson said the house sit violated visa guidelines.
“Under the Visa Waiver Program, nonimmigrant foreign nationals visiting the United States as tourists (visitors for pleasure) are to engage in unauthorized employment,” the spokesperson told Insider. “For example, working as a house and pet sitter in exchange for room and board,” they said.
However, a spokesperson for Trusted Housesitters said they did not know why the Australian citizen had been deported because officials had not provided an explanation for their decision, adding that “petsitting with TrustedHousesitters is not against immigration policy.”