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Looking for the most sustainable accommodation for when you travel? The benefits of housesitting sustainability are far and above other accommodation!
It may or may not come as a surprise to you that the travel industry is shifting towards a more sustainable and ethical way. In some ways, it’s shifting slowly and some ways, it’s shifting quickly.
Is there even such a thing as sustainable travel is a question some even pose. In many ways, I can understand why the answer would be no. However, I’m on the side of the fence that argues the value that we – both personally and globally – obtain from traveling.
With words like sustainable travel, eco-friendly, green, environmentally-friendly, you unfortunately also start seeing a lot of greenwashing. The hotel industry can be one of the worst culprits of greenwashing in the travel industry.
What is greenwashing? Greenwashing is the act of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. Nothing new really from regular marketing techniques except this one attacks people’s desire to do something good and make a difference. The average consumer, or traveler, isn’t aware of greenwashing most likely.
Common methods of this in accommodation include telling you to:
- Shut off the lights in your room.
- Reuse your towels.
- Refuse changing of sheets.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Nomador. All opinions, comments, and rants about the accommodation industry are completely my own. And, while I know housesitting on 100% of your travels isn’t always possible, I do believe it is the most sustainable form of accommodation.
However, this is about as far as most hotels go. So, is sustainable accommodation possible?
There are a few options – truly sustainable hotels [harder to come by], couch surfing [budget friendly, but not very private or comfortable], hostels [generally much more sustainable than hotels], or my favorite and arguably the best method of sustainable accommodation – house sitting.
Travel can benefit all involved if done in the right way. Travelers get the opportunity to explore a new place, learn a new culture, and eat new food, and locals get the opportunity to earn money and connect with others.
Tourism can not only benefit locals, but in some areas of the world, it is absolutely necessary to support the community.
House sitting is the perfect option to do all of this. The basic definition of house sitting? An exchange of accommodation for watching the house and typically their pets. The homeowners are going on vacation themselves [and very often this can be weeks to months long] and are looking for someone(s) to stay in their home and watch their pets. This saves the homeowner from having to pay a hefty sum for a pet sitter and it saves you from having to pay for accommodation which doesn’t usually help the locals out anyway.
House Sitting as the Most Sustainable Accommodation
House Sitting instead of Airbnb
Airbnb has been a popular choice for travelers for several years now. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of issues with Airbnb including displacing residents and increasing gentrification.
Hawaii, New Orleans, Barcelona, and Amsterdam are all locations that have a very real problem with the negative effects of Airbnb. Airbnb isn’t always bad. When renting from an actual local and not a company buying up properties or renting one room in a house, you’re actually contributing to the local economy. But, these are becoming increasingly less common and harder to distinguish.
House Sitting instead of Chain Hotels
A majority of hotels are part of large international chains. All-inclusive resorts are notoriously bad for sustainability.
Both of these siphon money away from the local community and into the bank accounts of rich CEOs.
Benefits of House Sitting for You
Traveling Like a Local
There has also been a huge increase in the usage of the phrase “like the locals.” I’m guilty of this as well and while it’s definitely not a bad thing to travel like locals, many have grown to resent the term. However, if you really want to travel like a local, the best way to start is to live like a local. What better way to do that than to literally live in their home.
By staying in a local’s home, you’re more than likely going to be staying in residential districts instead of tourist ones. This will give you a much different, much more focused perspective. You can meet the neighbors and make new friends, you can find your favorite walking route in the neighborhood, you can discover the cute little cafe down the street where you go to work and that park in the neighborhood? You never would have found that otherwise.
Naturally, house sitting is very budget-friendly. Aside from that, staying in someone’s home means you have access to a kitchen to cook meals. Most homeowners will tell you to feel free to help yourself to any food in their home even! But, please do confirm before you dig in.
You’ll save money on transportation most likely as well as many homeowners will give you access to their bike or their car.
Traveling to Unexpected Places
Most people travel to housesits rather than the other way around. Due to having to apply for housesits and making sure it’s a good fit for all, most travelers are going to apply and get a house sit before making travel arrangements. This means you may end up in destinations you never would have expected.
You’ll also likely be traveling to places for longer than you may have otherwise and slow travel is definitely a fantastic form of sustainable travel.
Furry [or not furry] Companions
Many travelers may not have animal companions of their own due to their lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t animal lovers. Many friends of mine have said how they really want a dog or a cat but it isn’t conducive to this life, or many that do settle down so they can have an animal companion.
House sitting is a great way to love on animals and give their humans peace of mind while they’re away.
Animals not your cup of tea? While many housesits do involve taking care of animals, some homeowners really just want someone to stay in their home so it’s not empty or perhaps some as a jungle that needs care while they’re gone for an extended period of time. So, don’t immediately write this off if you don’t love animals.
Benefits of House Sitting for the Community
Do you know how many homes sit vacant for the majority of the year? A lot.
Many towns are seasonal, college towns practically turn into ghost towns in the summer and so on. By having house sitters in homes that would otherwise be empty, the community benefits.
They increase the number of people contributing to local businesses. Many house sitters who are staying in a place for a longer period of time will possibly volunteer in the area, attend local meetups, and contribute to the community in a plethora of ways.
Benefits of House Sitting on the Environment
House sitting as an accommodation option reduces the need for new hotel construction which conserves natural resources, land, and more.
House sitters are also more likely to use public transportation or walk just as the homeowner would – meaning less strain on the environment.
Ready to Start Housesitting?
Nomador is a fantastic place to get started on your housesitting journey – as a homeowner or sitter. Nomador is a trust-based community platform that connects house sitters and homeowners. By providing a meeting place for the two, Nomador promotes house sitting all over the world while also fostering deeper relationships between humans and building community.
Additionally, Nomador provides excellent resources for all involved parties by offering advice on being a great host [homeowner], how to impress homeowners with your application, pet sitting tips, and even very specific topics like how to housesit in a vegan home as a non-vegan which as you. all know would be highly important to me and to many of you I’m sure.
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This Post Has 6 Comments
Everything you say here is sooo true! I’ve seen it in a few cities but especially in Seattle how Airbnb negatively impacts neighborhoods. We stayed in one of those sterile, corporate owned airbnbs operated by some real estate mogul living in San Fransisco. Not cool! You’re right that renting one room in a local’s home is much better for the local economy. I haven’t done any housesitting during travel before but I’d love to try it in the future.
Super points Ashley. We scored more than a few sits thru Nomador.
Great post! I have considered housesitting for years, but have yet to do all the prep and vetting necessary to present myself as a potential housesitter. I’ll check into Nomador. This is a travel-style I’d like to adopt. I do love staying in people’s houses when I travel so that I can get a sense for what it might feel like to live there. Animals would just be a plus! 🙂
This is such a GREAT way to see the world and to be thoughtful about doing it! My hubby and I do not have a pet of our own at the moment because of our lives, but we love animals so it is a great way to “borrow” one for a bit!
it’s this whole housesitting thing that is bad for the petcare business, people should trust their animals with a trusted professional not some amateur traveler who doesn’t know what there doing. taking care of pets is a service and if I was ever to housesit I would be charging a fee for petcare, I’ve been a professional pet sitter for 16 years.
I do and don’t agree with you. There are many house/pet sitters that do this full-time and are professional in every sense except money being exchanged. As a paid pet sitter myself, I do agree to not take money away from people who make a living that way. However, if someone is going away for an extended length of time for whatever the reason may be, it can be VERY costly to hire someone and this may be their only option. I think there is balance possible for everyone here.