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31-year-old’s purr-fect hack to save $22,000 on holidays

·3-min read
Madolline Gourley in the snow with black hat on. Cat sitting beneath Christmas tree.
Here's how Madolline Gourley travels the world. (Images: Supplied).

Most people like animals and even more people like holidays. That’s a fact.

However, 31-year-old Madolline Gourley is one of the few to have put the two together to save thousands of dollars on years of holidays by pet sitting.

In fact, after three and a half years, the communications professional estimates she’s saved around $22,000 on money she would otherwise have spent on accommodation in cities including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Cincinnati, Sydney, Darwin and Tasmania.

Gourley began pet sitting in October 2017 when she was about to finish her job and realised she had some free time in the calendar.

She’d heard about pet sitting through work and decided to look into it.

Madolline Gourley smiling for the camera in a selfie with a cat.
Madolline and one of her charges. (Images: Supplied).

She hopped online and signed up for a platform. It charged a small membership fee, with the money ensuring that both sitters and hosts were thoroughly vetted, and she was off.

Today, Gourley uses several different websites. Some charge both the host and the sitter fees, with most fees averaging around $50 a year.

Gourley suggests sitters ensure their profiles highlight their skills and experience, and also include character references.

It’s an unusual way to see the world, but Gourley loves it. She’s made lifelong friends, learnt a lot about how different peoples’ habits can be, and travelled to places she wouldn’t normally have gone.

“I live in Brisbane, but what I do is contract work,” she told Yahoo Finance.

So if there’s a break between one contract picking up, or there’s no immediate urgency to get another job, I’ll just take off.”

Artfully decorated living room in New York.
One of the homes Madolline stayed at in New York. (Images: Getty).

She’ll pick the spot, find a host and pet that suits her desires and arrange for the sit to happen. Then, while the host is away, she looks after the pet and does any other duties outlined in the house sitting deal, while also enjoying free accommodation.

For Gourley, one of the best aspects of travelling in this manner is that it means she can really experience a new place in a different way.

“It’s not for everyone, but I have that option available to me and I just think it’s a different way to experience a new place… [Hosts] are able to give you local recommendations that you probably wouldn’t have heard about if you were staying at a hotel,” she said.

“There’s that whole community feel to it.”

However, she has two warnings for people considering pet sitting.

The first is obvious: you have to like animals and be prepared to take them to the vet if something goes wrong.

The second is to ensure that you’re being safe. While Gourley uses sites that vet the sitter and the host, she said there are cheaper platforms out there where the security may not be as firm. Her favourite platform is Trusted Housesitters.

You can follow Madolline’s adventures in cat sitting at OneCatAtATime.co.

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