Recently, we had a chat with Cynthia from Journal of Nomads! She has been traveling the world for the past 10 years! She runs incredible tours across Kyrgyzstan and has even cared for a turkey in Turkey!
Let’s find out more about her adventures!
Tell us a little bit about yourselves– who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically
I’m Cynthia, 37 years old and originally from Belgium.
I’m a travel blogger, photographer and Panasonic Lumix Ambassador, tour leader, and web designer. I mainly work location independently.
I’ve been travelling and living nomadically full-time for 10 years now. I’m currently based in Zeeland, the Netherlands.
How many housesits have you done and where?
I’ve had about 6 housesits. My first housesitting experience was in Ireland. Then I did one in New Zealand, a couple in the United Kingdom, and a couple in Turkey.
Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?
I travel slowly so I often search for a home base in the countries I visit.
I love housesitting as it’s not only a great budget solution, but you also get to know the place well as you live there for a while.
I also miss having pets as I can’t take them on my travels. Thanks to housesitting, I can have a pet for a while as my housesitting jobs usually involve taking care of pets.
How did you find out about housesitting?
My first housesitting job happened spontaneously. I was volunteering as a landscaper on a private domain in Ireland in exchange for board and food.
Then the neighbor asked me if I could look after her house and cats for a couple of weeks while she went on a trip abroad. I didn’t know back then that housesitting was a thing.
During my travels in New Zealand, I met an elderly lady who had been housesitting for more than a decade. This was her way of travelling the world.
She told me about her adventures and how she found her housesitting jobs through certain websites so I got intrigued. I loved the concept!
Pros of House Sitting?
It’s a great budget solution – you save a lot of money on rent and accommodation, one of the biggest expenses while traveling. This is ideal, especially if you’re a digital nomad!
You get to know the daily life and the neighborhood very well of the place where you’re living and it’s a good way to meet new people and make new friends. If you’re an animal lover but you can’t have pets, you get to have a temporary pet!
Cons of House Sitting?
You’re taking care of the home and pet(s) of someone else so if something happens to the house or the pet, it’s your responsibility! You usually don’t really know the place or the people who you’re housesitting for. It could happen that you end up not liking the area but you can’t leave as you made an agreement.
It never happened to me but I’ve also heard stories of homeowners taking advantage of their housesitters or charging them afterward with bills that they didn’t agree upon. Housesitting is taking a leap of faith…
What’s been the biggest or best adventure so far?
I made a 3-year overland journey from Ireland all the way to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, solely by hitchhiking.
How do you decide on a destination?
I’m an outdoor person so I usually seek destinations that offer great outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, diving,… I also have a thing for places that aren’t on the radar yet of many people, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The climate is also important to me. I usually travel to sunny destinations where I can work and spend a lot of time outside.
How much luggage do you travel with?
I travel with 2 backpacks. I have a small one that weighs around 8kg and in which I carry my laptop and photography gear (I call this backpack my office). Then I have a big backpack with my camping and outdoor gear, my packraft, and spare clothes. I call this one my house and it weighs around 15kg.
Was it hard for you to secure your first house-sitting gig?
I got honestly very lucky with all my housesitting gigs. My first housesitting job found me as I got asked by someone to look after her house and cats for a couple of weeks.
The first time I applied for a housesitting job online was for a gig in a small village in Turkey. The homeowner accepted my application straight away.
My tip is you’re applying for your first housesitting gig and you don’t have previous housesitting references yet, is to ask references from your (previous) landlord, roommates, or any people who could give you some sort of reference that is related to housesitting.
Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?
I once had to take care of a pet turkey (in Turkey!) called Lurkey. The problem with Lurkey was that he’s very territorial and only liked his owner and a couple of people. It didn’t like me…
Every day, I had to let him out of his little shed in the morning and bring him back in in the evenings.
I had to weapon myself with a broomstick as Lurkey tried to kick and attack me every time… I called him Lurkey, the kickboxing turkey. We never became friends…
Where has been your favorite house sit?
My favourite housesitting experience was also in Turkey. It was a small villa in a resort that was next to the beach and had 3 swimming pools. After hitchhiking and camping for nearly 6 months straight, this felt as luxury!!
It was a very cozy house with an outdoor working space in a beautiful setting. I also had to take care of 2 cute cats. I was very comfortable there!
Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?
I once had a housesitting gig in a small village in Turkey. The homeowner was an English woman and she had 4 dogs and 3 cats. It’s very unusual in Turkey, or at least in the countryside, to have dogs as pets.
I made it a habit to daily make a big walk with the dogs in and around the village. Usually, 2 of the 3 cats came along as well. The villagers gave me very funny looks whenever I passed them with my furry companions
Tips for others wanting to get started?
I would start with a short housesit (one or two weeks) in a destination that isn’t too far from your home or comfort zone.
I would also suggest making clear agreements with the homeowners and ask questions whenever you have concerns (you never can ask too many questions if you want to prepare well).
Try to get some references from other people to show that you’re a trustworthy person. And last but not least, enjoy the experience!!
Where to next (when you can)
I’m currently based in Zeeland (not a housesitting job though) where I’ll be staying until the beginning of January. I would love to go deep-sea diving and hiking in a completely new destination but I haven’t decided which one yet. I’m currently looking into destinations in Central America.
Want to try House Sitting As Well?
There are thousands of opportunities to house sit around the world!
If you’re wondering how YOU TO-can travel for free, check out our resources on becoming a house sitter!
Are You Ready to Start House Sitting?