House Sitting for the Holidays

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I”ve read about quite a few of my travel blogging heroes, such as Talon from 1 Dad, 1 Kid, using housesitting as a way to see the world from a different perspective; so when Charli from Wanderlusters got in touch about guest blogging on the topic, I jumped on board. It’s certainly something I’d love to try somewhere down the line.

I’m trying desperately to type but a big wet nose is perched on the edge of my keyboard and is pressing down on the backspace key so my words are being erased as fast as I try to type.

Monty is looking at me with his droopy puppy dog eyes.

He picks up his stuffed polar bear and shoves it into my lap.

I’ve no choice.

If I don’t play polar bear wrestle I’m never going to get him to leave me in peace.

House Sitting For the Holidays

I’ve come to know Monty and his beloved polar bear well over the last 7 days and while I know our friendship is only temporary – and based on the fact that I am currently the only person who will play polar bear wrestle with him – I’m grateful to have the opportunity to spend some time with this fun loving fur ball.

Travelling perpetually for the last 3 years has offered me the chance to explore some fascinating landscapes and soak up different cultures all over the world, however I’m really a home body at heart and at times I’ve struggled with being on the road for so long.

Just before I packed my bags and left my life of normality I discovered the concept of house sitting and it changed my perspective of long term travel.

Where once I was a little concerned that my dream of long term travel would result in regular trips home and thousands of dollars in long haul air fares, house sitting has offered a little respite from the open road and a homely environment in which to recharge.

House Sitting FAQs

For those who are not familiar with this budget saving travel hack house sitting is essentially an exchange of services between a home owner and a house sitter.

Home owners in need of property and/or pet care utilise a house sitter to take their place during the period for which they are away.

In the last 3 years I’ve looked after 15 properties in 6 different countries.

Registering with the largest online house sitting service Trusted House Sitters just before leaving the UK, I’ve definitely had my money’s worth from their annual membership fee.

If you average $50/night on accommodation – it will likely be more if you want to stay in relative luxury – 3 years equates to $54,750. Of those 3 years I’ve spent 22 months house sitting which makes the $89 annual membership fee fade into insignificance.

I’ve broken up my travels with assignments and found that each one has enriched my experience to a far greater extent than had I simply travelled to that destination.

Take Monty for example.

Our wrestling sessions are the perfect antidote for writers block and his daily walks encourage me to keep up with my exercise and get out into the fresh air.

My assignment in Costa Rica offered me the opportunity to sample rural rainforest living and with no convenience foods on offer I found myself cooking meals from scratch – a practise I’ve continued thanks to the improvement I saw in my health and waistline after ditching the junk.

Relaxing in a hammock while on the job in Costa RIca.
Relaxing in a hammock while on the job in Costa RIca.

House Sitting & Travel

In my mind there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the locations you visit than to house sit.

Not only will you save yourself a nightly accommodation fee, you’ll find that no hotel or hostel could ever provide the kind of experience had when house sitting.

Each time I’ve started a new assignment I’ve been welcomed into a new family. Not once have I felt as though I am there to simply house sit, the warmth of each reception has made it feel as though I am simply visiting old friends.

The assignments themselves have provided me with the chance to learn new skills and try my hand at some more unusual lifestyles.

In the past 3 years I’ve learnt the basics of macadamia and cashew farming, alpaca herding and equine care. I’ve lived in capital cities, beach front bungalows and rural lifestyle blocks.

Alpaca herding - just one of many skills Charli has picked up while house-sitting.
Alpaca herding – just one of many skills Charli has picked up while house-sitting.

I’ve stepped into the shoes of locals all over the world and tried their lifestyle on for size.

I’ve started to collect bits and bobs from each experience and collate them to create a vision of how I would like to live, what I want from the location and the property I call home.

House Sitting For Christmas

House sitting at Christmas is the perfect alternative to returning home for the holidays.

Personally I don’t like the idea of spending December 25th in a hotel so over for the past 2 years I’ve secured festive house sitting assignments.

The first year I was away from home I flew to Canada and looked after a four storey town house on the outskirts of Vancouver. I spent my days exploring the citiy’s festive markets, museums and galleries as well as learning to snowboard on the slopes of neighbouring Mount Baker.

reasons-to-house-sit-christmas-4

Last year I had my first hot Christmas while looking after the world’s best four legged Frisbee player in a suburb of Auckland. I spent my days relaxing on the beach, tramping through the neighbouring National Park and immersing myself in the creative vibe of the neighbourhood which was home to a mix of colourful artists back in the 60s.

This year I’m house sitting in Melbourne. A vibrant city I’ve always wanted to visit but thanks to the exorbitant cost of living Melbournians endure  it’s always been out of reach of my meagre budget.

I arrived to meet Monty – polar bear in mouth – and his owners last week. The house was decked out in festive cheer and again I was welcomed with open arms.

While I know I will feel a little sad that I’m not close to my family when Christmas morning rolls around, I know that my day will be filled a new experience of Christmas, one that I’ll no doubt cherish for years to come.

Your Say

What have your experiences been with house-sitting?

Is it something you’d consider trying somewhere down the line?

 

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5 comments

  1. Recently I’ve heard a lot about house-sitting and house-swapping.We even accepted a guest post on how cheap your life can be when travelling. It really does sound tempting to me. I might do it next year somewhere in South America :).

  2. I think this is the perfect answer to having a nice Christmas any way you want, but in another place far from home. If you are in a Christian country that celebrates the holiday, then you can experience their customs with them, but if not, you can bring yours with you. Love this, and someday I will housesit!

    • I think it’s a wonderful way to enjoy Christmas in a different place. I’d certainly love to try it someday, Corinne 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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