There’s a lot of hype about traveling like a local these days, and it’s understandable why. Seeing a new place through the eyes of the people who live there is such an amazing learning opportunity. While there are a lot of ways to immerse yourself in a new place, if you want my recommendation for the easiest way, one answer that always comes to mind is house-sitting.
Basically, house-sitting is an exchange. You’ll connect with people who need their home or pets taken care of on a house-sitting platform like Nomador, you’ll offer to take care of their house and/or pets, and voila! Your house-sitting adventure awaits, and it’s going to be awesome.
But don’t take it from me: here are 10 reasons why you should definitely try house-sitting during your next vacation (even if you’ve never done it before!).
1. Save a lot of money on accommodation
Let’s face it: accommodation can be one of the most expensive parts of a vacation. If you’re paying $100-150 a night for hotels on a vacation, that easily and quickly adds up to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
And, if you’re like me, you probably look at hostels as a last resort kind of thing, because the idea of sleeping in a room with a dozen other strangers just doesn’t sound appealing.
However, house-sitting is a fantastic alternative to hotels and hostels, and you don’t have to pay a thing. Instead, you’ll be asked to take care of the house, possibly watch some pets, and maybe water a plant or two. Otherwise, the experience is like getting an Airbnb – you’ll have the keys and the place to yourself. Not a bad deal for a savings of $100+ per day!
2. And save money on food, too!
Not only will you be able to save money on accommodation costs, but you can also save lots of money on food. Now, I know what you’re thinking: but Kay, I love food and trying local foods is 99% of the reason why I travel. And I’m certainly not trying to dissuade you from trying the local restaurants and cuisine!
However, by having access to a home with a kitchen, you can eat in when you want to and splurge on luxury restaurants or hole-in-the-wall dives other times. You have options, and that’s the beauty of staying in a home rather than a hotel, where you basically have to eat out for every meal, no matter what.
3. Stay in a place longer, for less
If finances are crunching the number of days you’re able to travel, house-sitting can help. When you have the ability to save money on accommodation and eating out, you’ll be able to stretch your hard-earned dollars for longer amounts of time.
By house-sitting or pet-sitting for a local, you can basically take over for them as long as they’ll be away, which often means there are many opportunities to house-sit for 1-2 weeks or more. Of course, this all works on a host-by-host basis, but if you have the opportunity to house-sit in France for 2 weeks without paying for accommodation…why not?
4. Cuddle with some adorable pets
Often, but not always, people want to find a house-sitter to take care of their pets. And this means you, my dear house-sitting friend, get to cuddle and play with said pets during the duration of your stay. Have you ever stayed at a hotel that offer furry friend cuddles? I think not!
Of course, there are lots of house-sitting opportunities to watch over cats and dogs, so it’s good to note if you have experience caring for animals or not (and be honest!). Some house-sits can have even more unique animals, like horses or aquariums.
On a more serious note, if you aren’t an animal person, then be sure to search for families or listings that only need house-sitting or garden care. You definitely don’t want to have the responsibility of caring for someone else’s pet if you don’t like being around them!
5. Return each night to the cozy amenities of a home
Traveling is exhausting, and if you’ve been traveling for a few days, you’re probably starting to feel it. However, I know that when I’m starting to feel the strain of travel, it’s because I crave the comforts of home. Although it’ll never be the same as being in your own home, it’s really nice to be able to come back to a home or a pet, rather than returning to an empty hotel room.
You’ll also usually be able to sit in a real living room on a cozy couch and read or watch TV in the evenings. You can hang out in a backyard or a patio. You can keep your favorite snacks in the fridge and get them whenever you want, instead of having to fight for space in a communal kitchen or shove things in the cracks of a mini-bar. You know, they’re those little “home” things you take for granted. House-sitting just makes travel feel a little more like home!
6. Receive insider tips on your destination
When you’re planning a house-sitting exchange, hosts are usually more than happy to provide you with all of the best-kept secrets about their city, from their favorite restaurants and neighborhoods to the best activities and local hangout spots. Sometimes, hosts will even pick you up from the airport and show you around a bit!
House-sitting is the best of both worlds between Couchsurfing and Workaway: you’ve got gracious hosts who want honest, reliable people to take care of their homes, pets, and gardens. In this way, house-sitting feels a lot more like an exchange and less like a simple “free stay.” Hosts know that you’re here to see and experience a new place, and they’ll usually do everything they can to introduce you to the best their city has to offer.
7. Embed yourself in a local neighborhood
It’s so easy, while traveling, to stay confined to the main tourist areas, lined with hotels and souvenir shops. And while this is an exciting way to travel, I often crave a more laid-back realistic view of what a city is actually like, outside of the tourist stretches.
However, when you choose to house-sit, you get to stay in a local area where residents of the city actually live. You’ll have the chance to frequent local coffee shops and bars, wander around local parks and promenades, and truly experience what life is like in that destination. There are few travel experiences in the world that give visitors an opportunity to truly experience the real-life version of a place, but house-sitting definitely does.
8. Match up with people who want to watch YOUR house for free
Until this point, I’ve neglected one of the most important benefits of house-sitting: finding someone to help YOU take care of your pets and home while you’re traveling. Because let’s be real, if you’re reading this, you probably travel at least a little, and you might have better peace of mind about going places more often if you could find a trustworthy person or couple to watch over your house in your absence.
Nomador has tons of resources for people who want to list their homes — you can easily set up a listing with the dates you’re planning on being away and the responsibilities you require of your house-sitter. Filling out a detailed listing will help your post get found by thousands of house-sitters who want to give you a hand.
9. Access unique, fascinating places to stay (that you can’t find on hotel websites!)
Want to stay in a French chalet, or a ranch in the countryside? How about an alpine cabin, or a historic city loft? Yup, you guessed it: you can house-sit at all of the above. House-sitting undoubtedly gives you access to some of the most wonderfully unique places to stay in any destination, because they’re shaped by the personalities and stories of real people.
Here are just some of the cool places that Nomador has on its listings: a gorgeous countryside home in Provence, a historic cottage in Tuscany, cabins in Colorado, and more. Can you imagine more picturesque destinations where you can stay for free?! House-sitting is an amazing opportunity to stay in some of the world’s most beautiful homes and locations.
10. Immerse yourself in a true local’s experience
You’ve probably gathered this from the 9 other reasons above, but personally, I think that living in a local home, even if just for a few days, gives you such a unique and wholesome perspective about a place. Not only will you get to do all of the main tourist things in your destination, but you can also experience what daily life is like for the people who live there.
House-sitting isn’t going to be like staying in a hotel. You won’t have daily cleaning services, a 24-hour concierge, or a stocked mini-bar. But what you trade in luxury and convenience at a hotel, you gain in comfort, new perspectives, and being part of a local community.
As someone who spends a lot of time in corporate offices and luxurious lobbies, the opportunity to stay in a home with a unique story in a cool local neighborhood when I travel makes my experience so much more special every time.
So…Are You Convinced to Try House-Sitting Yet?
If so, you can head to Nomador to set up a profile and look through their available listings. There are tons of different search functions on the platform, including what kind of vacation home you’re looking for (In the mountains? On the beach? In the countryside? They’ve got it all!).
You can also list your own home and pets if you have travels coming up and you’d like someone to take care of things while you’re away.
Hopefully, however you decide to use house-sitting, you’ll be able to find a host and a home to make your vacation absolutely epic. I’m excited to hear how your first house-sitting experiences go!
This post was sponsored by Nomador, but all cat cuddles, puppy playtime photos, and house-sitting tips and opinions are unabashedly my own.
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