Over our past decade on the road, housesitting has become an essential component in our travel lives, one in which we truly immerse ourselves in a region and live like a local—for less than $20 a day. Staying in someone’s home for a couple of weeks or months, not only saves on lodging, meals, and transportation, but it grants unparalleled access to a new place. Homeowners have welcomed us into their worlds—introducing us to their friends, lending us their favorite things, and sharing their secrets to the area. Taking our years of experience from 24 housesits across 7 countries, we’ve compiled our best housesitting tips in this article to help you experience one of our favorite ways to travel and get free lodging around the world.
Join the Top Housesitting Sites
To gauge the types of housesits that are available across the various membership-sites, start by checking HousesitSearch.com. This search engine lets you browse all the different sites without having to be a member. When you find a few housesitting sites you like, sign up for their newsletters—it’s a great way to get familiar with the community and keep up with the hundreds of opportunities released each day. To apply to a housesit you need to be a member of that community; we’d recommend getting memberships at one international and one country-specific site. World-Wide Sites:Find incredible opportunities around the globe on these key housesitting websites.
This is by far the most robust houessitting website, listing thousands of homes in over 100 countries. It’s also the most competitive and most expensive annual membership fee at $169 (though well worth it if you plan on sitting more than 2x a year). Pro Tip: Do a search for your preferred countries and dates, then set up alerts using their “Saved Search” feature to receive emails when options become available.
This is the OG housesitting site and is a great way to dabble in the international housesitting scene for just a $50 annual membership.
This France-based site is particularly good for European sits and embodies the spirit of the housesitting community. Sign up for their free newsletter to browse sits and if you see something you like, try their three-month membership for $42.
Country-Specific Sites:If you have a certain country in mind, check if there is a dedicated site, like the ones below, to increase your odds of finding a sit in that place. These smaller housesitting sites tend to be less competitive, even to the point that homeowners will reach out to sitters with a strong profile. Annual memberships range from $20-$99 and some opportunities even pay sitters.
Make a Compelling Housesitter Profile
Speak to your experience caring for homes and pets (even if they are your own), while showing you are a trustworthy, respectful, caring, and responsible individual. Including a video introduction (this will truly set you apart, trust us!), references, and a police check will make you a more desirable candidate.
When applying to a homeowner’s posting with a personalized note, prove why you would be the best possible candidate—find ways to relate to them and their pets. Show them you are trustworthy and will make this sit very easy on them. Close your message by saying you’d love to meet them over Zoom; a video call will be the easiest for everyone to make sure it’s a perfect fit (plus, you will get a better look at the space and pets.)
Check Regularly and Apply Often
Housesitting is a rapidly growing trend in travel, which means more competition. Stay up to date with new listings via the housesitting sites’ newsletters and alert systems, then apply quickly and thoughtfully.
Homeowners: Get Free Housesitters for Your Pets
If you’re a pet owner and love to travel, don’t put your animals in a kennel or pay a teenager to feed them. The housesitting community is full of true pet-lovers who will care for any animal (dogs, cats, horses, goats, llamas, turtles…whatever you got!) and home like their own. Trusted Housesitters has the most vetted community of free sitters. Don’t be surprised (or overwhelmed) if you get a dozen applications, just comb through for the most thoughtful notes and best references, then schedule a Zoom with your favorite three candidates to find the perfect fit.
HoneyTrek Housesitting Tips & Experiences
To see what housesitting is really like, read our blog about our experience in Mazatlan, Mexico, this challenging but rewarding beach housesit in Roatan, Honduras or see our Facebook albums from housesitting a villa in Croatia or our farmhouse in Portugal. for more housesitting tips.
More Travel Hacking Tips & Resources
Travel Skills 101 page for more tips on lodging, flights, and immersive travel experiences. And for all our best travel hacks, ways to get local, and our favorite destinations around the world check out our National Geographic couples travel book, Ultimate Journeys for Two.