How To Travel The World For Less As A House Sitter
Ryan Mattis / 500px/Getty Images

How can you travel the world and score free accommodations in the process? Budget travel is nothing new. Sure, you can scrimp and save for that incredible dream trip or try alternative lodging, but what happens if you want to stay longer? Changing your lifestyle by taking a sabbatical might be the answer for those wanting long-term travel. Is this sustainable? If you find yourself asking these questions, house sitting may be calling your name.

ESSENCE had the privilege of interviewing Stephanie Perry, an expert on taking career breaks to travel the world affordably through house sitting. The premise is quite simple — you get free accommodations in exchange for watching a house and oftentimes, a beloved pet.  There are several different house-sitting platforms. To name a few, there’s House Sitters America, Mindahome and more around the world. But perhaps the largest network is Trusted Housesitters. It’s a platform that gives you access to house sitting alongside furry friends worldwide.

Perry first thought about traveling this way during a trip abroad to Brazil during the World Cup in 2014. She only planned the trip for six days. Along her journey, she met many young millennials who asked her, “Why are you only in Brazil for six days? It’s a huge country and there’s so much to see.” This immediately got the wheels turning for Perry to explore her options. House sitting was one of them.

“House sitting back to back allowed me to not pay for my own place to stay and I did this for months,” she shares with ESSENCE. While house sitting during that time, she only had to pay for food outings, transportation, activities, and other necessities for the duration of her trip. In fact, being a sitter allowed Perry to have a different type of travel experience  — slow paced and more connected to the community and land.

“It helped me travel in a way where I am more engaged in the local community,” she says.

Her experience would encourage her to house sit more. Being a professional house sitter, and sharing what that entails online, has inspired countless other Black women to follow in her footsteps. “Now, I help Black women quit their jobs, take a sabbatical and move abroad on a budget,” she says. The pull of house sitting as an affordable avenue for travelers is both encouraging and captivating, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

Besides a love of travel, Perry says there are essential traits that make someone an excellent sitter. First, you need to be self-sufficient. Appliances may look different than they do at home and even coffee pots may not function the same way when you travel abroad for house sitting. Self-reliance will serve you well in new environments. Secondly, you need to love pets, not just tolerate them. “House sitting is a good antidote for loneliness,” she says of keeping watch of furry critters. You also need to be open to trusting strangers. This can often be a barrier for people because mistrust with strangers is real and understandable “People ask ‘are there cameras in the house? Are they watching my every move?’”

But Perry says her experiences have been positive house sitting abroad, even as a Black woman.

“I’ve had people go out of their way to extend kindness to me with no expectation of reciprocity. Long-term travel taught me that,” she says. “It’s hard for us some of us who live in the United States to understand until we experience it and that can be a barrier to trying house sitting.” Her advice is to give it a chance and see for yourself. Put trust in the people you will be sitting for and unlearn the idea that people you don’t know well are automatically a danger. “The other is not the enemy,” she says.

All and all, she says it’s an unforgettable adventure.

“House sitting is a wonderful way to see the world,” she says. “Once you do it, there’s no turning back.”

If you’re planning to move abroad or travel abroad for a while and want to house sit, check out Perry’s online house-sitting school to help you book your first stay with Trusted Housesitters.

TOPICS: