My housesitting experience

Perhaps like me you get as much from the planning of any trip as from the travelling experience itself. I like spending time researching just the right mix of new and old, adventure and meander. But debates with myself about the travel budget, generally go along these lines:

  • If we are driving all the way down to the South of France from England, can we afford not to stop in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Arles on our way down…?
  • But think of the additional costs of staying in each of those cities in peak season…it might restrict you to a bread and water diet for the whole month you are away!
  • OK, we’ll have to stay in one and take day trips to the rest – but it won’t be the same!

Making the budget stretch – housesitting!

My major frustration is always how to fit more into each trip, in order to see more sites and glimpse the country as a local might see it. I ask myself the same questions with every holiday – what can I do to make my budget stretch further…?

Then one day, a friend in Oz suggested I try housesitting! If I housesit I can save money on accommodation and learn about my new location from a local’s point of view. And, as a home owner myself I can appreciate another’s security concern about leaving their property standing empty when they go away.

 

I am more than happy to take care of their home in exchange for somewhere to sleep during my trip.

 

In London

Sicilian Avenue, Bloomsbury, London

Now, with every housesitting experience, I find I am more and more taken with the idea of touring a new country, and learning about it from a local’s perspective. When I housesat in London my friend recommended some off the beaten track things to do. I was staying in Bloomsbury, and she suggested that I take a peek at Sicilian Avenue, which has a unique eclectic mix of old style independent cafes, boutiques and restaurants, without the crowds of nearby Covent Garden.

We had breakfast there daily, in this quiet haven, so close to the hustle and bustle of the city. She also suggested that while we would certainly enjoy the theatre in London, we should also try the comedy clubs (over 70 in London alone!) for an evening’s entertainment at half the price!

In Paris

Paris by night, from a balcony in Neuilly-sur-Seine

We also house-sat in Paris, in August, for some other friends who like most Parisians had decamped to a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean. Thanks to them we discovered a beautiful small market in Rue Poncelet, which opened when many supermarkets were closed. We enjoyed a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower from their balcony, for which we could have paid dearly had we been in even the cheapest hotel. And we discovered an alternative Paris through the Hidden Paris Tours – they were a relatively new group and it was our friend’s local knowledge that enabled us to enjoy this fresh perspective on the city. Did you know that Bette Davis (American screen icon) lived and died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris..?

Even Down Under

New Year Celebrations, Sydney Bridge, Sydney

Today, my business partner is based in Perth, Western Australia and despite owning several properties around the world she housesits whenever she can in order to experience new locations, and learn about new cities.

Having housesat for friends in London, and in Paris I am now planning ‘the big one’, a trip to Sydney in December – I hear they do New Year really well in New South Wales! Saving money on accommodation means I could add more time to my holiday, maybe go to a show or two at the Opera House while I am there.

In fact, my partner and I have both grown to like the idea and the experience of housesitting so much that we decided to start a housesitting network operating across both the UK and Australia.

Useful links:

London – Time out –http://www.timeout.com/london

Paris – GO Paris – http://goparis.about.com/od/moneymatters/qt/Visiting-Paris-On-A-Budget.htm

Sydney – My 24/7 http://my247.com.au/Sydney

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