The couple who travel the world house sitting

Date Added: February 06, 2022 06:54:12 AM
Author: Sutra Web Directory
Category: Travel & Services
Traveling around the world while staying in other people's homes for free might sound too good to be true. But a semi-retired couple from Norfolk, England have managed to do just that.

Jonathan and Julie Ashworth, who are both in their 50s, sold their home back in 2017 and now spend their days globetrotting while looking after other people's houses, and pets, in exchange for free accommodation.

The couple's house sitting adventures have taken them to destinations such as France, Thailand, Australia, Spain and California, as well as around much of the UK.

They've stayed in an array of homes, including villas and country houses, and have cared for numerous cats and dogs, as well as horses, chickens, hamsters, rabbits, a kunekune pig and even a tortoise.

The Ashworths, who are currently house sitting in Australia, booked their first house sit back in 2018 while looking for ways they could travel more while on a budget, and say they've never looked back.

While they were initially skeptical about the idea of receiving free accommodation in exchange for looking after homes and pets, they decided to give it a try, and signed up to popular platform Trusted House Sitters, which connects owners with sitters.

The site works in a similar way to Airbnb, with both the owner and the house sitter leaving reviews for each other. All members are required to pay an annual fee to join.

As they were new to the practice, the couple opted to house sit locally in order to build up their profiles, and often went to visit owners in person before securing their stay.

"We didn't have the reviews to start with, so we wanted to have face to face contact with them [the owners] to reassure them that we were good sitters," explains Jonathan.

Both are huge animal lovers, which is an important factor, as the vast majority of house sits involve looking after a pet of some sort.

"There are a few houses that are pet-free," says Julie. "But most do come with pets. You have to be a pet loving traveler."

Once they'd clocked up a significant amount of positive reviews, they began to apply for house sits slightly further afield.

The couple then traveled to America, where they spent around three months house sitting California, and managed to squeeze in trips to Yosemite, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, before heading to Javea, Spain, for a seven-week house sit in a beautiful villa with a private pool while caring for two ridgeback dogs.

The owners gave them permission to use their Vespa during their stay, and they were able to spend time exploring the area while the dogs were resting.

While house sitting might sound like a breeze, it's rarely as simple as just turning up at someone's home, watering a few plants and walking the owner's dog every day.

The Ashworths are hugely committed to making the experience as positive as possible for both the owners and the pets, as well as themselves.

They see house sitting as an opportunity to travel and live like locals rather than as a holiday, and go all out to ensure that the pets they are looking after have a great time with them.

The couple regularly send videos and photos of their escapades to the owners in order to keep them updated and try to "give the pets a holiday" during their stay at a home.

"There's no better reply from an owner than to say that they're totally reassured by us being there," adds Jonathan."They love to see their pets having a great time. For us, the pets completely take over our lives when we're doing a sit."

In order to ensure they are well prepared for each house sit, the pair arrive a few hours before the owners leave, or sometimes the night before, so that they can meet face to face and have the opportunity to discuss any concerns.

"Sometimes you get like a lot of pets and you really have to be committed," says Julie. "You have to really make sure you are aware of the responsibilities and that you can do it all."

They were due to travel to Cape Town and London after finishing up at a Spanish villa in March 2020, but the global pandemic put paid to their plans.

Julie and Jonathan, who were booked up until the end of the year at that point, saw all of their upcoming house sits canceled due to border restrictions and were forced to return to the UK, where they stayed in a caravan until they were able to begin house sitting again.

Aside from the inevitable cancellations brought about by Covid, the Ashworths say it is rare for an owner to pull out of a house sit, particularly as they, along with sitters, are required to pay an annual fee to use the house-sitting platform.

"Obviously it's important that we don't get cancellations all the time, especially if we're traveling abroad," says Jonathan.

"If someone cancels, and we lose our flight money, that doesn't work very well for us."

While most of their house sits have been pretty smooth sailing, their toughest was at a home in Santa Monica, California, where they looked after a "ferocious" rescue dog who took a while to settle.

~ Via CNN