Home » Travel tips » Alternative travel | Housesitting: What is it and how does it work?

Alternative travel | Housesitting: What is it and how does it work?

Housesitting is a fun, inexpensive way to travel around the world. It's simple: You meet someone to look after their house and pets. This way you can reduce the costs of your trip and the owners are reassured. Win win!

I've always been looking for alternative ways to travel. Sleeping every night in a hotel, motel or Airbnb is unfortunately not in my budget. And what about long journeys, what if I want to stay longer in the same place without going bankrupt?

For this reason I looked for the cheapest places to sleep when traveling. Usually I opted for a pleasant mix: hostels, mountain huts, sleeping in the tent, in a car, Couchsurfing, staying with friends and acquaintances and so on.

Also read: Hitchhiking on a trip | 10 tips for hitchhiking abroad

A new beginning in the United States

Ilse during the Vanlife adventure in the United States | housesitting
Ilse during the Vanlife adventure in the United States | housesitting

April 2022 was a very exciting period. It was then that I left everything behind in Belgium and moved in with my boyfriend indefinitely. No, not in a house or apartment, but in his car. My boyfriend has been living off-grid for 10 years. off gridThe last 3 years we've lived in a Dodge Minivan together. I started to realise that van life goes well for me too. That's how it happened.

Our first experience with pet sitting

We've spent last spring in Nevada and Arizona. The desert is a special place to us and we love to camp and hike there. It was therefore in Nevada that we had gained our first experience with housesitting. Two small dogs, Maggie and Hazel, were part of our responsibility. Watering the plants was also a must, especially in the heat of the desert.

Our favorite twins, Maggie & Hazel | Housesitting and petsitting
Our favorite twins, Maggie & Hazel | Housesitting and petsitting

What is housesitting?

The word says it all: You look after someone else's house (and pets). The owners are going on a trip and looking for someone to look after their home and pets. It is a win win situation; the house & pets are well taken care of and the babysitters have a free house available!

Out with Maggie and Hazel.
Out and about with Maggie and Hazel

Do you get paid to housesit?

Where in the past you could easily earn money with housesitting, this is increasingly happening for free. Most platforms encourage their users to see it as a favor in return (a free stay & chance to babysit).

Cuddling on the couch with Millie-May | petsitting
Cuddling on the couch with Millie-May | petsitting

Although I understand this philosophy, housesitten should not be underestimated. It can be a lot of work, especially if you look after several pets. So keep this in mind. Would you still like to earn money with housesitting? Then have a chat with the owners and look for advertisements for paid housesits.

How do I find a housesit?

Would you like to experience how housesitting works? There are several platforms that you can discover. This is how we make the most use of Trusted Housesitters. This platform is easy to use and has by far the most users worldwide.

Unfortunately, they ask a rather large amount to sign up (base price: €119/year) and then you are not yet insured. But the offer is large and worldwide. You look for where you want to travel/stay in the world and then discover the rich offer. If the owner chooses you, you'll get all the information you need and you can text each other. On average there are about 3 to 4 other candidates: So write a nice message to the owners to introduce yourself. It sometimes looks a bit like a motivation letter!

pet sitting

Other well-known platforms, such as pawshake en nomador, work equivalent, only the number of users (and therefore the possibilities) is a lot lower. Unfortunately, you also have to pay an amount here to sign up. For example, the platforms want to avoid "false profiles" and of course also earn a penny ... Nevertheless, both platforms are worth trying if you Trusted Houseitters can't find any matches.

What are the expected tasks?

What exactly is expected of you during your stay? Taking care of the pets is of course the biggest responsibility. In 90% of the cases you take care of dogs and cats. The owners will inform you about the needs and requirements of their pets. How many times do I walk the dog? How much food do I give the cat? Where does the rabbit sleep?

pet sitting
Marnie, the cat from Arizona. Loves petting and wet kibble.

Sometimes these are unique houses, such as farms and houses in the countryside. Then there are sometimes chickens, donkeys, horses or other animals to take care of. A very cool experience!

You see: We take our job seriously.

Small, household chores can also be part of your stay. For example, people sometimes ask to collect the mail, put out the garbage bags or water the plants. And of course it is neat to leave the house clean in its original condition.

Also read: Selling used stuff for a trip around the world and preparing your home

How is the contact with the owners?

After half a year of housesitting here and there, we have almost only positive experiences. We still keep in touch with two of the five couples. People love their pets and are also very grateful that they are well cared for. For example, most invite us to dinner as a thank you. Or they provide a delicacy in the house. This is not guaranteed, but sometimes you get to know people you click with. And then you have good contacts all over the world: Pretty fun!

Our Canadian friends in the van

Advantages of housesitting

  • A free stay! You have all the luxury and privacy of a house, but no costs.
  • Sometimes you end up in the craziest places, or in a unique residence.
  • Animal Love!
  • By having your own kitchen, washing machine and free internet, you can reduce the costs of your trip very well.
Housesitting in Colorado, US (© Ryan Kodak Brown)
Housesitting in Colorado, US (© Ryan Kodak Brown)

Disadvantages of housitting

  • Looking after pets does come with some responsibility: You have to make enough time for their needs and requirements.
  • You sacrifice some “freedom”: You can't just leave the house and the animals behind for a long time.


Is housesitting for you? Or do you already have experience with housesitting? It's a fun and interesting way to travel, especially if you like animals. Feel free to leave a message in the comments if you have more questions about housesitting!

Avatar picture

Ilse Praet

10 years ago I experienced my first hiking trip in Sweden. Since then I have been addicted to walking. Camping under the stars, swimming in icy lakes and tasting pure mountain water! Recently I have been traveling full time across America with my friend Ryan in his Dodge minivan. Together we write and film our adventures and enjoy everything nature has to offer.

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

Translate »
Copy link