Episode 35: House Sitting to Travel

Today, I talk to Malina Padgett. After working several years with a yearning to travel, Malina got into house sitting, and now travels full-time. Imagine traveling to all your bucket list places without having to pay for accommodation.

This is truly a fascinating conversation, and I’m sure you’ll get some very valuable information.

Highlights from this episode:

[02:22] Malina’s travel history.

Travel was a big part of her life growing up. Her parents’ goal was to have her and her sister travel to all 50 states before graduating high school. They almost made it. With just Alaska on hold, they finally managed to cross it off their list recently.

[03:36] Travelling full-time.

After starting her own business working with clothing boutiques and brands, and then becoming a freelancer to free up time, she fell into housesitting as a way to travel around the world full-time.
This is a great way to make travel more affordable, and also to tick some places off of your bucket list.

[06:56] Getting into house sitting.

Malina started out doing a lot of research to find out about the different types of house sitting, and to test out the idea of house sitting to figure out if it’s something that would work out – the first thing many people think about house sitting is that it must be uncomfortable or strange going into someone else’s house, especially if it’s a stranger’s house.

She uses the Trusted House Sitters service to do house sitting.

[09:51] The first house.

The first time going into someone’s house is nerve-wracking. Malina was worried about doing something wrong, maybe accidentally burning the house down, what if their pet died, and other general concerns that people have when starting a new job as well.

Even though there was the expected level of anxiety, everything went well. “The only thing you can really do is prepare yourself the best you can to stay organized, and push yourself beyond that anxiety and fear.”

[11:37] Communicating with homeowners.

With Trusted House Sitters, the homeowners can have a job/sit posting where they outline what they look for in sitters. The rest is between the sitter and the owner.

Malina has done a few house sits without even meeting the owner beforehand. For owners who haven’t had a house sitter before, she tries to travel a few days early to get to know them and they can become more comfortable with the idea.

With experience, she’s also got a good idea of what to look for in a potential house sit. That way she can avoid uncomfortable situations as well.

[14:53] Vacation vs House sitting.

When house sitting, you have to have a clear understanding of hobbies and responsibilities. Some people may have pets, so you can’t decide to live your best vacation life at the beach all day every day.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have your vacation while house sitting. As long as you prioritize the responsibilities of the particular house that you’re sitting in, the rest of the time can be spent having some of that vacation time in Bali.
Like being a travel agent, the vacation part of the traveling is just an added bonus.

[17:38] House sitting responsibilities.

The types of responsibilities that people have for their houses vary.
Most house sits are ‘exchange-only’, meaning you don’t get paid for anything – you’re offering your time to watch their house and take care of their pet (if they have one) in exchange for free accommodation.

There are cases of homeowners expecting house sitters to do ‘job work’ like gardening, which is fine if you’re up for it, but don’t overcommit yourself or be taken advantage of. It should be an even trade.

To avoid any surprises, make sure the house sitting responsibilities are agreed upon beforehand.

[21:25] House sitting compensation.

Housesitting isn’t supposed to feel like a chore. It’s supposed to feel like a trade. You’re doing someone a favour by looking after their house, and they’re doing you a favour by letting you not pay for accommodation.

[24:28] Picking a location and time.

At first, Malina went from place to place frequently to tick places off her bucket list. Some places are more flexible because they have a larger house sitting market, so you don’t always have to plan it in advance, but in smaller markets, you can’t always rely on last-minute plans.

If you’re looking to do house sitting long-term, staying in one place for a longer time will save you money and you’ll make better connections locally.

It’s important to be flexible with your plans, because the homeowner’s plans can also change or the listings might not have what you’re looking for at the time that you want to travel.

[27:02] Unexpected events.

2020 was a unique situation for house sitting, with many homeowners returning early and sitters not being able to leave with the restrictions. In these cases, with Trusted House Sitters, the contract specifies that you’ll have a place to stay if there is a special circumstance.

During the interview, you should determine whether or not the homeowner is someone you would feel comfortable interacting with in these circumstances.

[31:17] House sitting with friends.

It’s common for solo house sitters to have a friend or family member join them for a short period of time during their stay. This is an arrangement that you can make with the homeowner up front if they’re comfortable allowing it.
Sometimes, especially with housesits that are a few months long, you might have someone who wants to visit you for a week. These are conversations that you should have with the homeowner, even if it doesn’t end up happening.

[34:27] Vacationing while house sitting.

If you’re looking to get some vacation time while you’re house sitting, you ant to make sure it’s a longer house sit. You’ll want to give yourself enough time to see everything you want to see while also keeping to the responsibilities of the house sit.

The second thing Malina does is research the digital nomad community in the area – how easy is it to meet people and do networking as a digital nomad?

[36:10] Transportation.

The first time you go somewhere, you’ll want to do the touristy things. It can happen that you stay in a house that isn’t close to those places.
While you might think that’s a disadvantage, Malina sees it as a more authentic experience of a destination when you’re staying in a more residential area ‘like the locals.’
Depending on the homeowner, you might be allowed to use their car, but you’ll have to consider costs like public transport.

[39:24] Authentic experiences.

People who travel often will start to realize that the touristy things are very similar, and more people are starting to travel to have authentic cultural experiences rather than having the same experience over and over.
If you’re traveling to see the “top things to do” in those cities, are you experiencing the things that are important to you?

This has been such an interesting episode, and I certainly learned a lot. Malina has been sharing her journey on social media, and she’s even starting a podcast to share tips and tricks for everyone looking to get into this amazing way of traveling.

If you want to check out Malina Padgett’s socials, visit the links below.

Website: https://www.malinapadgett.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/malinapadgett
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/malinapadgett
YouTube: https://youtube.com/channel/UCMEBd8lg9pI_YfOfaYXbILA

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