How I got 8 Weeks of Accommodation this Summer for $100 (and a bunch of furry friends along the way)

It’s the end of September and I know it’s clichè but WHERE THE EFF DID SUMMER GO? And really by “summer”,  I mean the last 5 months since the Wildman and I packed up my belongings and headed West. Here are a few photos from our trip from Ontario to British Columbia:

I packed in A LOT this summer:  running mountain trails, exploring new corners of Canada, driving (a lot),  kayaking, and taking time to just be. While the Wildman was away from May to July, I had 2+ months to fill in a brand new (to me) corner of the country.  A lot of you have been asking where I stayed, and how I ended up where I did, so I thought I’d let you in on my best discovery all year: TrustedHouseSitters.

TrustedHouseSitters 

I came across this service last year while dreaming of  quitting my job and leaving on a year long round the world trip. I knew if I did this, I would want to have a few spans of time where I stayed in one spot to regroup, recharge and have some downtime. The concept seemed  totally up my ally: free accommodation in exchange for looking after pets, plants and someone’s home. I bookmarked the page, and often found myself scanning the website for cool sits: Taking care of a horse farm in Sweden for 2 months? Dog sitting two Australian Shepherds IN Australia? Sign me up.

Well as luck would have it, I was let go from my job and my plan to travel was expedited. Although I didn’t take off on a RTW journey, I did head west and decided that while the Wildman was up in the Norwegian high arctic for work, I’d use the time to explore Western Canada. I signed up for a membership on TrustedHouseSitters, and started building my profile and furiously applying for housesits.

My Wish List

When applying for housesits, I was hoping for:

  • Access to mountains and beautiful trails
  • Towns with a running community (mountains + trails usually means bears, so I wanted friends to run with)
  • Longer than a weekend stay
  • Good internet access
  • Able to reach by car from Vancouver area
1st (+ 2nd) Time’s the Charm

Securing my first sit took a few tries. TrustedHouseSitters works on a rating system, so people are understandably apprehensive if you don’t have any gold stars. Lucky for me, I was able to connect with a really cool couple in Golden, BC who were going away for 2 weeks. They had recently rescued their dog, Briggs, and had just relocated from Squamish. I reached out, we chatted a bit about Briggs’ quirks, the golden town of Golden, our mutual love of trail running and boom, I had my first sit.

Coincidentally, another house sit came up in Canmore, AB (a beautiful 2 hour drive through the Rockies from Golden)  that started the day after my sit in Golden ended.  The house sitting gods were smiling on me. This process was a bit more ‘formal’ with a Skype interview, but after a long chat where we totally clicked and talked about everything other than Tex, the dog I was going to look after,  I had my 2nd one booked!

Once I had a couple of great reviews, getting housesits was MUCH easier. For the rest of the summer I ended up with over 8 weeks of housesitting gigs, in 4 different towns/cities with a menagerie of new animal friends. Not bad for a $100 membership fee.

Things to Consider 

Think this sounds awesome? It is! BUT there are a few things to consider before booking your first sit:

  • Housesitting is an awesome option if you are looking to explore a new area, but OK with routine and  responsibilities. Remember, you’re looking after someone’s pet(s) and home, and it really is important to make sure that their care is your priority. If you only have a short window for travel, and wants lots of flexibility, then more traditional accommodation might be a better option.
  • Have references available since you won’t have any until you’ve completed your first housesit. I had a few and this helped give me some street cred to land my 1st and 2nd sits. It might be helpful before a BIG trip, to see if any sits are available in your city for a weekend, as a quick way to get a few ratings and give housesitting a try. 
  • Transportation. I had a car, and one of my housesits left me the pickup truck OF. MY. DREAMS to transport their pups for walks etc., but don’t count on this. I found it was the exception, not the norm.  If you are staying somewhere more remote you will likely need to rent a car, which can add up quickly for extended stays (even though I think the value tradeoff is still great). Otherwise, there are plenty of housesits in cities across the world that are more accessible by transportation if you really want to stick to a budget.
  • Ask lots of questions about the pets. I appreciated that the homeowners I sat for gave me all the worst case scenarios and a list of quirky things to keep an eye out for. IE. how they interact with other dogs, people, shoes etc. If you aren’t comfortable with big dogs or animals that have special needs, honour that.
  • For longer stays, think of a few things that make you feel at home. My favourite thing to have was my Saje diffuser, so that at each housesit, I just plugged it in with a few drops of essential oil, and I was instantly settled and was part of my morning routine. I also never went anywhere without my Nutri-bullet, because, smoothies… 
  • Pack lightly. I didn’t do this and lugging bags of clothes, shoes, food is exhausting. Also, sometimes there is a little nook for your things at your house sit, sometimes there isn’t. I kept a rubbermaid for my food so I had all my essentials with me, making it easier when going between houses,  and also dog resistant. 
Would I recommend?

Heck yes. I had amazing experiences using TrustedHouseSitters this summer and absolutely recommend it as a way to explore new areas. Just remember, like anything, to be flexible and keep an open mind! The flip side is that it is also an amazing way for pet owners to get away, knowing that their pets are in good hands which (as an owner to two of the worlds fattest cats) can be a major barrier to travel. I would be 100% comfortable finding a house sitter through this website next time I need to leave my cats. It also would make me happy knowing someone else would be able to explore my little corner of the world, while I’m out there exploring too.

Ready to Find the Furry Friend and House Sit of your Dreams?

Interested? Use code RAF150181 at TrustedHouseSitters.com for 20% off your membership fee. In exchange, I might get some free months too and we can swap stories! If you have any other questions, let me know and I’d love to answer them for you!

Happy Traveling!

👋

3 Replies to “How I got 8 Weeks of Accommodation this Summer for $100 (and a bunch of furry friends along the way)”

  1. Cool story, love all the dog pics (even the cat one too) and the landscape shots are awesome -—as usual. Your writing is very good Jaime, I wish you’d do more. I think, if you haven’t as yet, that you should try turning (your) life into fiction. With all your amazing world travels you must have a shit ton of ideas for characters and story arcs by now!! Let me know if you’ve got other pieces to read. Best, EJ

    1. wildheartrunning says: Reply

      Thank you EJ! It’s funny, I did have lots of time to write this summer but somehow I just forget to do it, but then really love when I do! As I recall, you are quite the storyteller too! I am going to try and do more, so stay tuned 🙂

  2. I’m actually working on a historical fiction story that starts off just after WWI and ends just after WWII. I won’t tell you for how long cause it might scare you off starting, but you’ll appreciate the ending (I think!?) You’re in it! …so is Burnz, and a bunch of other people in Port I know. 🙂

    I haven’t been working on it lately, but I’ll get after it again this winter. Sue Nairn is also working on one, I’ve read her manuscript and it’s quite good! If you gave it some time I bet a great story might just come pouring out of you. You certainly have the writing skills – better than mine- to please an editor / agent.

    Think about it, in the meantime take care, and fucking have some fun will ya, your life looks so drab!! 😉

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