How to live for free (for a month!)

Deciding to travel for a year came with a range of budgeting concerns. How would we last a whole year? What type of sacrifices would we have to make in order to travel comfortably for twelve months? For us, the one thing we’d been looking forward to testing out was staying in one place. That way we’d get back into a routine and feel like we’d get to know a place intimately. Fortunately, we found a way to do that, without costing us a cent in accommodation, and so for the last month – we’ve been pet sitting!

It was my aunt who suggested we give the website Trusted Housesitters a try back in Sydney, when we often needed a cat sitter. It was so easy and thankfully for us, quick to find a last minute sitter. When we decided we wanted to travel for a year, we even gave pet sitting a try in Sydney after we’d moved out of our apartment three weeks early. Needless to say, it helped us save thousands of dollars in rent that we would add to our travel savings. Plus we got to hang out with Lulu, I mean would you just look at her!!

Trusted Housesitters

How does it work?

First of all, you need to register and pay for your annual membership. You can choose a pet sitter option, a homeowner option or opt for both, which we took up initially. Set up your profile and start applying.

Where can I pet sit?

All over the world. I’ve noticed the most popular regions are Australia, U.K and U.S.A but that’s not to say there’s also dream sits that pop up in the Caribbean, all over Europe and throughout Asia. Sit’s can be over a weekend, a month and I’ve even seen a sit available in Thailand for a year. They didn’t have pets, they were just hoping someone would water their plants. Unreal right?

So, where are we now? If you’ve been on instagram lately, you would have seen two very big, but very lovable dogs in a lot of my stories. No, we didn’t stalk them – we’ve been looking after them here in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa for a month. I mean, just look at them!!

The benefits of pet sitting:

  • As the title suggests, the biggest benefit is an obvious one: Free Accommodation we ended up saving $2,000 over the course of the month which will invariably help us to travel for longer. (Moo keeps our budget in tact and we were thrilled to see just how much we’d saved!)
  • If you’re an animal lover, the second biggest benefit is getting to hang with pets. I was never much of a dog person until we started pet sitting – fact. Now, I’m completely obsessed.
  • Getting exercise! For us, we’ve looked after both cats and dogs, but here in South Africa we were super excited to find two dogs who needed a lot of exercise. Travelling fast paced through Europe meant we were a little out of whack both mentally and physically and as a result of that, we put on a little weight. Other than walking the dogs, we each joined a gym in town. I’m happy to say we’re both a lot lighter than when we first arrived.
  • Finding a routine. Wanting to walk the dogs twice a day meant that, in between pilates classes, I could structure my day around when I would be home and what I’d hope to achieve in between. Whether it be writing, reading or simply taking a walk around the garden, there was a time and space for that. We also found ourselves going to bed at the same time each night (early!), prioritising plenty of sleep has benefited us in more ways than one.
  • Meeting and getting to know the locals. Here in Plett, it’s a small, tight knit community. Our neighbours are a stones throw away and we’ve relished in getting to know them, and learning more about their lives here. Most of all, it’s been fascinating to learn more about the complexities of the culture here in South Africa.
  • Eating well. Not only can we buy in bulk, we can buy an abundance of fresh produce and avoid the temptation of constantly eating out. Having a kitchen meant that we could buy full sized bottles of olive oil without the stress of wondering whether we’d finish it in time or feel like we’d be wasting food by not eating our leftovers. Here in Plett, we’ve been very fortunate to have access to our own organic veggie patch. We’ve been able to use it for all our fresh herbs, lettuce, spinach and rocket, root veggies like carrots, and an abundance of grapefruit and lemons.
  • Having time to ourselves, with time to relax, I totally get that I sound self indulgent when I say travel is stressful. What I mean is, the time we’ve had here not having to worry about booking the next hotel, the next activity and the next bus ticket has meant we’ve spent a whole month slowing down. I’ve been able to get a lot of work done, Moo has been setting up his own website and thankfully the wifi has been better than we’ve ever had on the road so far.
  • Location, location, location! As I mentioned previously, you can pet sit all over the world. We’ve been amazed at some of the locations on offer, and while some are just for a few days, some are up to a month and even a year long!

We have absolutely loved our stay here in Plettenberg Bay and can’t wait to do more pet sitting during the rest of our year abroad (spoiler alert: we already have our next one booked over X-mas/New year) I’ll share the location on the avaycay facebook feed! You will not believe where we’re headed for a month.

Trusted Housesitters
This is Rusty (we sat for him on the north coast of NSW last year)

If you’re a homeowner with pets (or plants, we don’t judge!) I highly recommend using the site to find the perfect pet sitter for while you’re away. If you’re a traveller (or freelancer who can work remote) who isn’t tied down by dates or location I can’t recommend the site more.

So what are you waiting for?

If you’re keen to register, but are little put off by the price, I am totally here to help (in a non-sleazy salesperson kind of way), I mean, in all honesty, I would get a kickback if you registered. If you register using the below code, we would receive two months of free membership, but YOU would receive a 25% discount off your membership, which is pretty darn great.

Use this link or this code: RAF145834 and welcome yourself to the wonderful world of pet sitting!

Join me next week when we travel along the Garden Route!

Until then xo


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