As much as we don’t like to map things too far in advance, we actually did plan on being back in the United States after exactly one year of travel. Instead, on Travel Day 366, we boarded a plane in Dublin, Ireland and headed east to London. Not necessarily the obvious choice for two budget travelers, we know. However, in London we are changing our M.O. and – right at the end of our year-long journey – we are starting a new adventure that we hope will allow us to continue traveling for at least another year at a lower cost: Housesitting.
In the past year, we have used Airbnb to find short-term, private, yet affordable, apartments all over the world. In Southeast Asia, we gave up the kitchen (and I got a break from cooking!) and rented ensuite rooms in guesthouses. For the past 365 days, we’ve had limited household responsibilities in spaces that we quickly adapted to and easily called home. But, that all comes at a high cost, accounting for more than half of our budget.
Enter Trusted Housesitters.
Many of the travel bloggers we follow consistently tout the advantages of housesitting. In exchange for taking care of someone’s home, garden and (usually) pets while they are on holiday, the sitters get to stay in the house for free. There are many sites that match homeowners to housesitters and we chose to join Trusted Housesitters. After applying for what seemed like hundreds of opportunities, many back-and-forth messages and a dozen Skype interviews, we were selected to take care of a home and dog in southwest London for two weeks.
Accepting the dog/housesitting opportunity left a six day gap in our travel itinerary. We decided to head to London early, but it presented one problem: London is unbelievably expensive. Finding affordable accommodations in the greater London area was proving to be more difficult than we imagined. Since we were already in the mode of trying new things, we forced ourselves out of our comfort zone and used Airbnb as we hadn’t before. Rather than only searching for Entire Home, we opted for a Private Room in someone’s house.
We have long been accustomed to having our own space – and it seems like eons since either of us have had roommates. But, despite the change of strategy, our good fortune with Airbnb continues. Our ensuite bedroom in a classic East London flat has proven to be an ideal choice as a base to explore the city before settling in for our housesit.