How a freelancer uses an app to travel the world

STORY: Lilian Smith has spent eight of the last 12 months traveling around the world.

The 30-year-old freelance designer from Mississippi has been to France, Morocco, Japan, and is now in Thailand.

So how is she able to afford a jet-setting lifestyle like this?

Smith uses a website called TrustedHousesitters to find places to stay for free, in return she will look after the homeowners' pets, water their plants and carry out odd jobs.

“So it ranges, the houses range in location, in duration and also the responsibilities involved. So, I could be just caring for a house, or I could also be caring for a house and pets and plants or any variation in between.”

Smith is part of a wider trend of travel-hungry consumers looking for cheap ways to travel.

An annual subscription to the site she uses costs $169 which is small change considering how much Smith says she has saved on hotels.

"Yeah, I've saved over $11,000 in accommodation costs and that's a very low estimate. That's kind of based on roughly $130 a night in accommodations, but that obviously can range depending on where you're staying"

Economic activity may have slowed in recent months, but many, like Smith, still want to feed their wanderlust that grew out of sitting at home during the pandemic.

Trustedhousesitters said its membership figures increased 12% to 160,000 in the past quarter, led by growth in the United States.

Another house-sitting platform, Paris-based Nomador, saw a 60% increase in new sitters from the last quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2023.

“I love the freedom and the flexibility that it allows me. I especially love the extra money in my bank account and the need to maybe work a little bit less while I'm traveling so that I can actually go out and explore because I'm not spending so much money on accommodations.”