What its like using Petsitting to Travel the World for Free

The only reason why I don’t travel as I much long term is because I wasn’t always able to find a long-term pet sitter for my cat in my close community. I also try to never leave her more than a month.

If you don’t have pets yourself, this may sound odd, but it’s actually pretty normal. Who among your acquaintances would be willing to live in your house for months so that your pets don’t feel lonely, and you can travel long term? And who would even do it for free? After all, normally people pay for a sitter when they’re on vacation.

Photo by Yerlin Matu on Unsplash

This explains why so many travelers are doing  house sitting and pet sitting jobs in exchange for free accommodation worldwide. Did you know about international house sitting or pet sitting? I discovered this incredible resource thanks to other travel bloggers.

I’m sure every traveler can get some inspiration from these house sitting and pet sitting testimonials. Long term house sitting, as well as volunteering, could also be the first step to moving abroad and getting used to a new country.

House sitting and pet sitting in Europe

We started housesitting 7 years ago when we decided to start an online business and become digital nomads. At first we saw it as a way to save on living expenses but very quickly we realized it was so much more than that. For us there are a myriad of reasons why we love it: a “home” to call our own for a while, pets to love and care for, getting a non-touristy experience of a destination and knowing you’re giving home and pet owners’ peace of mind to go away without worry.

There are several sites we use to find sits but our favorite house sit came through House Carers. It was a 5-week house-sitting opportunity in an old stone farmhouse in Southern France in the winter, caring for a lovely border collie named Jupiter and several chickens, geese, and ducks. It was freezing cold and the house was heated only by a wood fire.

Every morning we would light the fire, bundle up for a walk around the property with Jupiter, make breakfast and chop more firewood. Our weekdays were spent working online in the big, bright kitchen but on the weekend we went out to explore the beautiful countryside and charming towns in the area.

Thankfully the homeowners had left us a car to use. In the evenings we’d make dinner from locally bought farm-fresh food and sit by the fire with Jupiter.

It was truly an amazing experience as we’re both from cities and had very little knowledge of farm-life. It’s definitely something we will never forget but we’re excited for all the other awesome house sits to come!

By Sarah Hughes from Live Dream Discover

Pet… no… alpaca-sitting!

A few years ago, I stumbled across a unique house sitting opportunity among the hundreds available on the house sitting websites I trust. A couple in the South of France was going away and needed someone to come and stay and look after the eighteen alpacas and seven cats. The farm was located in the middle of the French countryside and, aside from a few small villages, there really wasn’t a lot nearby.

Honestly, this wasn’t the ideal house sit for me. I was working as a freelance marketing consultant at the time, which didn’t leave me with a lot of free time. My ideal house sit would have been looking after a cat or, ideally, a goldfish.

But how can you pass up an opportunity like this? Even though I knew it would involve a lot of work – and it did – I also knew it would be one of those experiences that I would look back on for years to come. And, there was a lot of work involved.

Alpacas typically cost several thousand Euros each, so the owners wanted to make sure that I knew what I was doing. That meant not only being able to feed them but also herd them, separate the males from the females, recognize medical issues, weigh them – just about everything that goes with running an alpaca farm.

I was also expected to be able to tell them apart: in case there was ever an issue with one of the alpacas, the owners wanted me to be able to phone them and tell them exactly which alpaca the issue was with. Alpacas definitely aren’t easy to tell apart, but after a few days, I started to recognize them.

In total, I was on the farm for about three weeks and the majority of that was spent learning the ropes from the owners. It was far from a typical house sit and much closer to a WWOOFing or Workaway experience and, even though it meant I was often working late into the night, it was definitely worth it. I’m glad I didn’t think too much about the practicalities and just found a way of making it work.

By James from This Travel Guide

Pet sitting in Munich

Photo by ian kelsall on Unsplash

When I tell people that I have no base, and I’m a full time house sitter who travels, works and volunteers around the world (Europe so far), I do get some looks of  how and why so let me share a little bit about the world of house and pet sitting.

Through verified websites like Trusted House Sitters I set up my sits with homeowners looking after pets which I do with my partner. We sustain our lifestyle through teaching and writing, with no rent or bills to pay we only pay for travel costs and food. In between sits we can travel or volunteer through Workaway or Angloville (English immersion camps across Europe)

Best of all, we dictate our own working hours. We just enjoyed a magical time in a small village just outside of Munich with a family of two Ragdoll cats, a Maine Coon cat and a small Spaniel called Rex! While we work online during the week with pet cuddles, we have weekends to travel around.

We could enjoy the amazingly beautiful German countryside for hikes and catch a short train ride to Munich for Christmas markets, beer halls and the wonderful English gardens.

Outside of pet cuddles and exploring it’s not an arduous task looking after someone’s house. My rules are not to touch any food or anything they haven’t specified, keep a clean house, and leave no trace when you leave and keep to specific pet feeding and walk routines.

In this sit the owner wanted lots of updates which I gave daily along with photos of their pets which is a nice thing to do. I’ve had sits where I’ve volunteered to do manual work like stacking logs and it’s always nice to cook a host dinner on their return if you can.

There’s no real set path in terms of where we go, since we take our work with us, we just apply for sits in places we want to visit. Munich at Christmas was a BIG bucket list thing for me, and this allowed us the opportunity to visit and drink traditional Glühwein and eating Bratwurst sausages. If I have a trusty internet hot-spot for times where I’m stuck with no internet to work and my life in my rucksack, I’m ready to go anywhere! I’m spending at least the next year traveling the rest of Europe before I move on to Canada and USA.

I mulled over whether to become a pet sitter for a long time, having previously been a teacher in Bratislava, but for me it fulfills a want for pets while I travel and I’m so happy waking up, taking a dog like Rex for a walk and sitting down to work for the day!

If you want a way to travel in a slow and meaningful way that allows you to be a part of lots of different communities, this is perfect. Get some guidance on how to start house and pet sitting.

By Jenni Flett from Hoopla Adventures

Pet sitting in Munich, Germany

House sitting in South America

One of the best housesits my partner and I secured so far was our 6-week sit in Quito, Ecuador. We applied for it because the description and location sounded perfect for us. A beautiful house in the outskirts of Quito with two lovely cats and surrounded by nature. The only things we had to do were to keep the house clean, feed the cats and clean the kitty litter.

And of course, cuddle and play with the cats, which obviously was just as nice for us as it was for them. In return, we could stay in this gorgeous house completely free of charge.

A massive plus for us was the avocado trees in the garden. For 6 weeks we had all the guacamole we could eat, what more could you possibly want? During our stay, we had loads of time to explore Quito and surroundings, which was wonderful. The house itself was so nice and peaceful though, that we spent most of our time there.

It was actually really hard to leave. Especially because after 6 weeks, it felt as though we left our own two kitties behind when leaving. We secured this and many other housesits around the world via Trusted Housesitters. I wrote a guide on how to start your own International Housesitting Adventure and I can recommend it to anyone to give it a try. It is 100% my favorite way of traveling as you get to know different cultures, areas and people as part of the community.

By Valerie H. from Valerie’s Adventure Time

House sitting in the USA

Though we’ve been house sitting through TrustedHousesitters for 4 years, our first house sitting experience remains one of our all-time favorites. For 3 months, we took care of one cat in a luxury downtown condo of Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States. Coming from New York City, we had no idea what to expect in Utah, we just knew that we needed a change from our heavy workload and high living costs. We wanted to test out house sitting to see if the arrangement would work for us, and it certainly did! We immediately fell in love with house sitting and have been house sitting ever since.

During this first house sit, we started to pursue passion projects, such as starting our blog. We were able to hit reset and take our lives in a completely different direction, filled with more freedom, travel, and rewarding projects. We also explored the beautiful state of Utah, including the mountains surrounding the city and the desert in the southern part of the state.

The cat’s owner insisted that we take with the cat on a road trip so that we could experience Utah’s five national parks, known as the Mighty Five. Taking a cat trip is definitely not the norm while house sitting, which is part of what made this experience so special. The pet owner was incredibly generous, so much so that we became friends and have returned to house sit for him again!

A good piece of advice for beginner pet sitters

For other travelers that want to pet sit, we always recommend joining a house sitting website and looking for house sits in lesser-known locations, or close by to where you already live. Less popular locations are much less competitive, which is important as a newbie house sitter. If you’re a flexible and responsible animal lover, pet sitting can be a fantastic way to see the world at an incredibly affordable cost.

Pet sitting in China

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

My husband and I were looking for an adventure over the summer and we found a pet sitting opportunity in China. We had been wanting to explore China and this sit was a great opportunity for us to do so. We liked that the sit was long enough for us to really get a feel for the city we were in and since we both work remote it made sense for us. So we spent 1 month in Beijing and another two weeks after traveling around China.

The gig was to take care of two Corgi puppies who were literally too cute to handle – this was a lot of the pull for taking the sit. They were only 2 months old and so small that they couldn’t even go outside. We loved having puppies to hang out with and it was so fun to have them fall asleep on the couch with us, and run around with endless energy in the house.

Living in China was a wild experience – sort of like landing on a different planet. We found that so many things were different like the preference people have not to get any sun, the cameras everywhere, the food choices, and the lack of communication possibilities. It was a definitely a challenge but one that we are happy we took.

Through this experience we had the opportunity to really get to know Beijing and explore many of the tourist experiences and beyond + our travels to more nature-focused areas (Yangshuo, Longsheng rice terraces, Guillin) were amazingly beautiful.

Photo by Denny Ryanto on Unsplash

Pros of pet sitting in China:

Puppies are cute and cuddly

Adventures, challenges, and new experiences

Learned a lot about Chinese history and culture


Puppies who can’t go outside poop and pee a lot

Beijing was not our favorite place in China

Communication barrier

A month can be a very long time in a place where you have little connections or where you don’t know the language.

By Sarah Klaben from Inspiring Flexible Lifestyles

Pet sitting in Australia

Over the Christmas season last year (end 2018), we were staying in Townsville, North Queensland. It’s a fairly tropical, coastal region and we were keen to explore the area. My husband had picked up a few months worth of work and we figured that doing some pet sitting would potentially save us on expensive Caravan Park fees and allow us to travel longer for cheaper. 

We jumped on to the Aussie House Sitters website and found that there were quite a few positions available in the area for that season. As Townsville is a major military base, there are lots of people who live and work there but want to go home and visit their families for Christmas.

We snagged a 6 week role house sit and pet sit with four dogs. It turned out to be a full-on experience. Looking after four dogs in a small yard is hard work, especially when the biggest one was more likely to walk me, than I was to walk him! Nevertheless, we fell in love with the fur babies and had a fantastic time with them.

Our main roles where to feed the dogs morning and night, play with them during the day and walk the bigger two as often as possible. Alongside those tasks, we also had to keep the house clean and mow the lawns. It was fairly simple work for free accommodation with air conditioning, Foxtel and Netflix.

While pet sitting we got to explore Townsville itself and particularly loved The Strand, which is the esplanade down by the beach. We also did a day trip to Magnetic Island.

ADVICE FOR TRAVELING AND PET SITTING: Four dogs, as it turned out, can be a lot of work! Make sure you meet and greet the owners and the pets beforehand and feel completely comfortable with them.

By My Rig Adventures

Photo by Richard Brutyo on Unsplash


I hope you enjoyed reading these pet sitting and house sitting testimonials. These are examples of all the amazing off the beaten path destinations you could visit saving money on accommodation and helping like-minded travelers.


For more ways to travel the world for free check out my post about using work abroad programs here. 

For learning more about how I’ve traveled with free accommodations you can also check out my post on using Couchsurfing. 

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