Game Plan for 2017 – Exploring House Sitting

(A preview of 2017 travel plans and a look into exploring house sitting!)

A dream without a plan is just a wish.” – Katherine Patterson

Inspired by my blogger-friend Jayne’s recent article on her 2017 travel plans (a really amazing plan!), I’ve decided to tweak my dreams into something more resembling an actual plan… kind of like Jayne’s. Well, not exactly like hers because my funds won’t allow epic adventures like Antarctica, Africa, or the Trans-Mongolian Express. (Someday!)

Mine is a realistic vision of how someone like me, with meager funds, can actually make a plan work.

Here’s the plan

My landlord has been kind enough to work with me on subletting my apartment in Taiwan for 4 months. With no monthly expenses to worry about at my home base, it will allow me to spend time house sitting in Europe. Fortunately, I am able to fly very cheaply (standby) on Delta Airlines (I’m really lucky) so getting to Europe won’t be a huge financial expense. Also, flights within Europe are affordable thanks to Ryan Air and other low-cost carriers.

House sitting is something I had never considered before and I’m just beginning to explore, inspired by some fellow bloggers who’ve been doing it for years. Most available house sitting jobs require pet care – cats, dogs, birds, and I’ve even seen an ad for alpacas – but pet care is a small price to pay in exchange for free housing.

Some of the most popular house sitting websites:

I joined Trusted Housesitters, the largest of the many sitting sites because their website is the best I’ve seen and is very user-friendly. With very little house sitting experience on my resume, I’m relying on reference letters to boost my reputation. I’ve also gotten a police check from my local police station to prove that I’m not some crazy lunatic criminal. The people looking for sitters are putting a lot of trust into the system, entrusting the care of their beloved pets and beautiful home, so a little reassurance is important. I also plan to add a personal video introduction to let them see the “real me”. (And then they’ll quickly hit the delete button…)

Every morning I receive an email from Trusted Housesitters showing the most recent listings and I’ve started to plot my possible route, trying to arrange sittings back-to-back with a few travel days in between.

Here is one possible itinerary, demonstrating how scheduling back-to-back sits is entirely possible.

Dates: Dec 15 – 30 (not sure that I want to spend Christmas alone with a Spanish-speaking dog)

Sa Cabantea, Spain (1 dog) – This one has the option of a beautiful country house or an apartment in town: “Our house is a four bedroom, four bathroom property with garden and swimming pool, satellite TV, air conditioning and central heating with covered terraces for sitting and dining, barbecue etc. Our old town Palma apartment has two bedrooms and open plan living room and two bathrooms.” 

Spanish villa
Spanish villa, but not the actual villa advertised.

Dates: Jan 3 – 18

Toulon, France (1 dog) – “We live in the south of France in a big house with a swimming pool and 10 minutes walk from the beach and the town center. You’ll have to feed the dog twice a day and if you want to take a walk with him he’ll like it very much. Anyway. there is a garden so it won’t be necessary to go for a walk every day.”

South of France
South of France – Photo credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Dates: Jan 20 – Feb 4

Frigiliana, Spain (1 dog) “We live very happily and contentedly in ‘el campo’, about ten minutes drive along a track from Frigiliana. My little cortijo is situated within an avocado and mango farm – which is looked after the owner of the land. The views are magnificent!” (Sounds magnificent!)

Dates: Feb 4 – March 4

London, UK (2 cats) – “Our house is a beautifully maintained 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom semi in the lovely leafy West London suburb of Hampton Hill. Local popular attractions include Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames, Teddington, Bushy Park (10 mins walk), Richmond Park, The River Thames.…” (I quickly jumped on this one but am not confident that I’ll be chosen.)

London Street Scene
London Street Scene – Photo credit: szeke via / CC BY-SA

Dates: March 4 and beyond

This remains a mystery since it’s still a little too early for a lot of listings for March.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that perfect villa in Italy. Hopefully, I’ll spend a few months writing and exploring the small Italian villages. (Maybe I’ll even hang out with George Clooney at his villa on Lake Como.)

Since this is my first house sitting adventure and the competition is sometimes stiff, I may have to settle. I likely won’t get a castle with a stunning view of George Clooney, but I’m flexible. And flexibility is the key to making a house sitting adventure work, but it’s such an affordable way to travel longer and connect with a place more deeply.

Lake Como villa
Lake Como Villa – Photo credit: Daniel Peckham via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Amanda, a travel blogger from Burger Abroad, spent a year house sitting her way through Europe and inspired me to seriously consider this European house sitting adventure!

Added bonuses?

According to Amanda, sometimes the homeowners will leave a “tip” at the end of the sit based on what they would have paid to hire a pet sitter. “Tipping practices vary greatly by country, and definitely never ever expect gratuity. However, most experienced pet owners are familiar with the value of a sitter. As a result, they may want to reimburse your travel expenses and/or gift you with a tip you for your service.”

She says another bonus is food! “Housesit hosts leave stocked pantries, tips, and gardens of fruits and vegetables. Often neighbors offer me home-cooked meals or produce from their own gardens.” (Sounds like an excellent arrangement!)

Jayne from Blue Planet Nomads is so much better at committing to epic future plans and I’m doing my best to follow in her footsteps. Unfortunately, I’ve still got some “commitment issues” that require I focus on 4-month plans rather than a whole year! I still need to write everything in pencil. Eventually, I hope to be like Jayne and be able to use a pen!

I still need to write everything in pencil. Eventually, I hope to be like Jayne and use a pen for my plans!

What’s your 2017 dream? Is it just a wish or is it turning into a plan?

 For more tips, advice, and stories on house sitting see:

House Sitting – Tips and Advice for Getting the Gig

House Sitting in Guatemala – Fears of a Single White Female

House Sitting Pros and Cons

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10 Replies to “Game Plan for 2017 – Exploring House Sitting”

  1. Thanks for including me in you post! Glad I an help you start your housesitting adventure!

    1. Your experience and advice are so valuable. Thanks for letting me share it! I look forward to the new adventure!

  2. That’s brilliant well done 🙂 we have our first house sit in December for 7 weeks. I can’t remember if I mentioned (probably not!) that we sold our house here in Melbourne but the new owners want to move in by Christmas. The timing was perfect as other friends of ours in Melbourne are going back to South Africa for 7 weeks over Christmas and January so we are housesitting their house for the interim before we head off to South America. I have thought about housitting while travelling but if we buy a campervan then we may not need to. It is a good way of saving money and living like a local for a while 🙂 Thanks for the mention too 🙂 Climate patterns is what helps me devise my plan! I like to follow the sun 🙂

    1. Following the sun is an excellent way to plan your route! January probably won’t be sunny in Europe but I think the total change of culture will be nice. Maybe we’ll bump into each other in a pub one day, while we’re both chasing the sun! 🙂

      1. Winter in Europe is beautiful and if you like to ski? Less crowded and snow on the mountains is very pretty.

        1. I’ve been to the French Alps during the winter and it was beautiful. I’m not really a “winter” person but I think living in a villa in the Alps would make it bearable! 🙂 🙂

  3. Wow!! Sounds like quite the plan!!! You always keep us guessing!!???? Hope all works out!!

    1. Keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll work out as it should. I’m flexible! Glad I can still keep you guessing after all these years! 🙂

  4. My wife and I have been house sitting for years! It is a good way to slow travel into places you might never see. Rather than living in a ‘transient’ community, it forces you to more understand what the ‘real life’ of locals entails.
    We have lived in multi-million dollar estates on the Caribbean, small well-loved cabins in the California redwoods, a French farmhouse, an Italian home from the 1400’s and a house in Santa Fe that I can only describe as an ‘art gallery’ (I was afraid to touch ANYTHING!)
    There are some pitfalls to house sitting, but overall we find it to be an amazing way to experience the world…
    In fact, we are back in Santa Fe right now… and headed to do a sit on a horse farm in Bordeaux, France in December and then on to Italy for January to March. From there, we are not sure.. that is WAAAAAY too far to plan!

    1. Thanks for the house sitting tips. I have a couple of gigs confirmed for January (UK) and then the rest is up in the air. It seems people don’t plan too far ahead! I’m really hoping for Italy or Spain for Feb/March but those seem very competitive – any helpful hints on those locations?

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