On my first visit to a country I like to get a quick once over of the key attractions, stay in some cities, get to know the culture and people a bit.
Next visit I like to head off the beaten track a bit more, and to stay somewhere for a week or two or three and become a local.
House Sitting is a great way to do this – you save on accommodation, and become a local for a time. It is not everyone’s thing, but those who can enter into the spirit of it – both as hosts and sitters there can be lots of benefits for both.
There are some great website around that make it easy for you to connect with home owners, and to build a reputation as a trusted house sitter. One of my favourites is The House Sitting Company who offer extra security to home owners by they doing police checks and providing extra insurance.
In New Zealand you could be enjoying Queenstown at New Years, staying near the Bay of Islands on 6 February and heading off to the Waitangi Treaty celebrations, walking a dog on a beach only the locals know about, or enjoying the rural life far from the nearest town.
Yes there is sometimes a little work involved – looking after the family pet, or keeping the garden watered, but in exchange you get a rare chance to dig deep into the real life of the country you are exploring.
If you are thinking of living permanently in a country, house sitting is a great way to get to know different areas, and try it out before you finally commit to signing up to a rental or buying a home.
Friends of mine decided to visit Europe and wanted to stay for a few years. They booked one house sit in Italy, and went from there to others via websites and referrals.
Remember: You could get someone to look after your house when you go away – New Zealand is a popular destination.
Another option for accommodation for women travelers – try our Women’s Accommodation Network