“Did you win the lottery?”
It is a question I get asked often and the answer is no.
“You must be very rich,” is the follow-up statement or thought that people have about me.
I am not rich, I did not win the lottery, nor do I have someone paying for me to live and travel. I am single and I have a couple of jobs that offer me extreme flexibility and allow me to travel as much or as little as I want to.
I describe my life as a working vacation. I am always working, I spend more hours working than most people, and I’m always on vacation. How is the possible? Every time I go on a trip or vacation, I’m also working.
My 2019 “Homeless Year”
People are always fascinated in how this year alone I have been to 6 cities in 5 countries totaling 9 ‘assignment’ trips. This does not include all my additional personal and work trips which is a combined total of being in and out of 16 various countries 29 times by the end of this year. This is what I have called my “homeless year” or “of no fixed address year.”
Yes, travel can be extremely expensive. However, if you know about some options, travel can be very cheap. Combined I have spent 164 days in these countries on ‘assignment’, and I have not spent a single penny on accommodations. I could have had a lot more, but there were other things I wanted to do this year.
Here is a breakdown of my 2019 assignment trips.
Gothenburg Sweden (twice) 12 days
Basel Switzerland (twice), 28 days
Barcelona, Spain (twice) 37 days
Tenerife (Canary Islands) Spain 30 days
Chicago, USA 45 days
Sofia, Bulgaria 12 days
How can you travel without paying for accommodations?
So how do I do it and what are these “assignments”? I’m an international house and pet sitter. I travel to various countries, live in other people’s home, and take care of their pets while they are on vacation. House sitting assignments can range from a weekend to several months. You just need to connect with the right homeowner. There are over a thousand house and pet sits available at any time. You can travel locally or internationally. Go for a weekend, a couple of weeks, or be gone for several months.
I started house and pet sitting in October 2015. By the end of 2016 I had completed 11 house sits that totaled 118 days, most of which were in and around London, England. With another 5 in 2017, it brought the combined assignment days to 182. By 2018 I was a little tired of it and took the year off. With one more house sit scheduled in Bulgaria the beginning of December, it will bring my total house-sitting assignments to 25, totaling 345 days.
If I had to pay for accommodation for these days at a modest $150/night, it would have cost me $51,750 plus a lot more on food because I would have to eat out. That’s not the case with house and pet sitting. I have access to kitchens that everything in them I need. Of course, I buy my own food; however, most times I’m told to use whatever I want that is there. I do, of course, replace everything I use.
Who can be a house and pet sitter?
Anyone can become a house and pet sitter. House sitters are couples, single people, retired people, and young families. I have seen ads looking just for single people; ones for single females because the dog doesn’t like males. Some only want couples to apply. Others are in big homes and are willing to have families come take care of the home and pets while the entire family is gone. I also know of pet sitters that get a pet sitter for themselves so they can pet sit elsewhere. That means you can do this too. The only requirement is you must love animals.
There are several responsibilities that come with house and pet sitting. It is not a free vacation. You can not be gone all day and night. It needs to be thought of more like a hobby or business than just a vacation. You will be responsible for the following things at a minimal:
Feeding the pets – this may need to be done two or three times a day at specific times.
Walking the dogs – this need to be done at the same time they are currently used to, not when you want to.
Cleaning up after the pets – this many include litter boxes, while on walks, cages, pens, etc.
Giving medication – medications, drops, pills, injections. Whatever the animal needs you must give it to them at the time required. I had to give a cat an insulin injection twice a day, just before feeding it, at 6 am and 6 pm everyday.
Pet grooming – you may need to brush their hair and teeth daily or take them to the groomers if it is a long-term sit.
Yard maintenance and snow removal my need to be done.
Check mail – bring in all mail and delivered packages.
Clean the house top to bottom before the owners come home.
Wash and put away all linens (bedding, towels, etc.) that have been used.
Make sure all clean and fresh bedding is on all the beds.
Clean and put away all dishes.
And any other agreed tasks.
House and pet sitting destinations
There are several house and pet sitting opportunities in a lot of countries around the world. However, of course not in every country. I usually find the most in the UK and the USA. There are also several throughout Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The Asia market is slowly growing. I will see some occasionally in India, Thailand, China, and South Korea to name a few. The Africa market is rare. However, in the past year I have seen about 4 – 6 in places like South Africa, Nairobi, and Kenya. I think I also saw one a while ago in Mozambique.
Where are you going to house and pet sit?
Dreaming about going to London, England or Paris, France? How about two weeks in Costa Rica, Thailand, or South Korea? All of these and many more are available, and homeowners are consistently looking for sitters. There are about a thousand opportunities around the world everyday.
You could be enjoying Christmas and New Year’s in a different country this year. Perhaps you want to escape winter for some sun and sand in February. If you live somewhere warm, you could find something in wonderful ski destination. What are you waiting for? There is a whole world to discover.
For more information on getting started check out my website Jet Setter Pet Sitter.
by Sally Pederson
Traveling as a freelance writer and international house and pet sitter, Sally has the true “Wanderlust Gene”. Born and raised in Canada, she has lived in Costa Rica and now calls Barcelona, Spain ‘home-base’. She has been to over 30 countries and 145 cities. She believes adventure and excitement are found everywhere, a deserted beach, the base of a mountain, a new city, or a small village.
When she is not writing, she is either at the gym or out jogging, or most likely making her next travel plans. A few of her favorite things in life other than travel are pasta and seafood, cheese, chocolate, wine, and whiskey. Follow her on her blog The Jet Setter Pet Sitter.