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A solo backpacker who has been to 40 countries says 3 things help her travel for free

Another way to get free accommodation is through pet-sitting and house-sitting, Sturzaker said.

A cat stretches on a white desk in front of a black computer

Sturzaker pet sits a cat during her travels.

Claire Sturzaker/Tales of a Backpacker

For those who prefer to have their own space rather than stay in a hostel, Sturzaker recommends house-sitting and pet-sitting.

“I’ve done pet-sitting a couple of times for some friends in Barcelona and in the US,” she said.

“You can get free accommodation, you just have to try to keep the cat alive,” she joked.

Sturzaker also recently joined Trusted Housesitters, which is a community where pet and homeowners can find sitters who will work in exchange for staying at their place. According to Sturzaker, pet-sitting gives her the opportunity to treat herself in ways she typically can’t.

“Getting to feel like I actually own my own house is quite nice,” she said, adding that she can cook nice dinners, have a guest over, or just watch a film on the couch.

“I don’t get to do that when I’m in hostels,” she said.

Sturzaker said she likes pet-sitting and work exchange programs because she feels like both sides get something out of it. 

“I’m not a begpacker. I’m not asking for money from people who can’t afford to spare anything,” she said. “But I feel like when either you’re working for free accommodation, or someone’s on holiday, so you get to stay in the house and look after their pet, it’s a fair exchange.”


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