House Sitting in Foreign Locales

House Sitting in Foreign Locales

If you are the adventurous type, house sitting provides a unique way to travel the world. It’s a great way to save money on accommodations, especially if you have extended travel plans. Here is everything you need to know before you consider house sitting in foreign locales.

What is House Sitting?

House sitting is precisely what it sounds like. A person who is looking for free accommodations can make arrangements with homeowners in need of a caretaker. In exchange for free room and board, the house sitter is responsible to look after the property and any pets on site. Sometimes the arrangement lasts a few weeks while others are more long-term.

This is usually facilitated though a house sitting website which requires a membership fee and background check. Once verified, you can peruse property listings around the world. If you are flexible with your schedule, house sitting provides an insider’s perspective of the life and culture of your destination.

Pet Sitting

Some housing assignments will also require pet care. If you have never taken care of animals before, don’t fret! You can volunteer at a local shelter or sign up for animal first aid course. This can boost your credentials and improve your chances of getting your preferred locations.

Mostly, the pet care involves your average household pets…cats, dogs, fish. Sometimes there are more exotic animals like reptiles or birds. Be certain to discuss the specific needs before agreeing to any assignments. The community is based on reviews, so one bad experience could make you a less desirable choice in the future.

Domestic and Foreign Locales

Most people who are interested in house sitting usually want international properties. It is a great way to cut the cost of your trip abroad or extend your travel. However, you don’t have to go halfway around the world to find a prime vacation destination. There are plenty of places closer to home. Often times these are second homes, vacation, or rental properties that need someone to be physically present. There are dozens of house sitting sites to search, so you are sure to find something that matches your skills.

Things to Consider Before House Sitting

Before you make any agreements, make sure that you read your contract thoroughly. Don’t accept any postings if you don’t believe you can fulfill the requirements. There are tons of different options out there, so consider the following things before you sign up for house sitting in foreign locales.

1. Time

House sitting is not a great option for a weekend getaway. Most homeowners are looking for someone to look after their property for a few weeks or even a few months. Some may even want seasonal caretakers or someone to live on site whenever they are out of the country.

2. Finances

Although your accommodations will be provided, you still need to cover the costs to get there. In addition to airfare, you will also need to find local transportation to get you to the property. Sometimes these are in very remote locations and require you to charter local services. Additionally, you should also budget for food and entertainment for the duration of your house sitting assignment.

3. Documents

If you choose an international property, there will be some paperwork involved. If you don’t have a passport, then that is the first document you will need to get. Furthermore, some countries have visa requirements for entry and limitations on tourists’ lengths of stay. Read up on what documentation you will need to avoid any complications with immigration officials.

4. Communication

Traveling abroad always comes with risks, so it is important to stay in contact with friends and family. Most homes provide WiFi, but you can also look into local data plans or SIM cards to keep you connected. This will also help if you need to contact the homeowner in case of an emergency at the property.

5. Research Your Destination

This last point is probably the most important. Many locations appear idyllic on paper, but sometimes appearances are deceiving. Do some research about the surrounding areas and see what local amenities you have. It is also smart to be aware of any safety concerns in the area. You want to be well-prepared for any situation.

House sitting can be a very rewarding experience, but unexpected surprises can turn the perfect vacation into the perfect nightmare. Do your research, weigh your options, and ask questions before signing anything. Before you know it, you could be planning that exotic vacation that never seemed possible.

 

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The Best Benefits of a Travel Credit Card

The Best Benefits of a Travel Credit Card

Credit cards can be a valuable tool towards building your personal credit. However, they can also be a severe temptation, especially if you carry many different cards. I learned this expensive lesson after signing up for several in-store offers and accruing late fees. In the end, I paid more for the penalties than the merchandise I bought. Since then, I have severely limited the number of cards in my wallet.

I now realize that credit cards are a necessary evil and carefully choose which ones I use. As a frequent traveler, I decided on an airline-sponsored credit card to maximize my rewards and cut travel expenses. There are several co-branded credit cards to choose from, each with their own perks. Here are some of the best benefits of a travel credit card to help make your next trip more affordable and enjoyable.

Introductory Travel Bonuses

I first joined my airline’s loyalty program when I moved abroad. It was a free and practical way to earn miles for award travel since I was flying internationally at least twice a year. However, I had no interest in applying for their co-branded credit card until I came across the introductory bonus offer. It was just too sweet to pass up. Not only would I earn enough miles for a free international flight, but they were also waiving the annual fee for the first year.

I literally had nothing to lose and everything to gain. The rewards vary slightly between competitors, but the package usually boils down to the same offer. If you charge enough money to the card in the first 90 days, you will earn enough points for a free flight or stay. I had planned to use the card to purchase airline tickets, so I simply charged them to my card. Within one billing cycle, the introductory bonus had been added to my account.

Redeeming Valuable Rewards

A free stay or flight is usually enough to get travelers to sign up. However, I quickly learned that there were additional rewards which proved to be even more valuable. I began earning miles faster than ever before, racking up double mileage when I booked directly through my airline or its partners. Just be aware that these rewards don’t apply when you book through third party websites. Most awards are also subject to availability, so make sure your dates are eligible before you make other hotel or transportation reservations.

Some companies even offer discounts or allow you to transfer your rewards to their partners, giving you greater flexibility. In addition to redeeming awards for free flights or stays, you can also use your miles or points for merchandise, gift cards, and cash back rewards.

Passenger Perks of a Travel Credit Card

While the bonuses and rewards were enough to convince me to sign up, it was the additional passenger perks that made me a loyal customer. As a preferred member, I am given priority boarding which ensures space in the overhead bins, complimentary upgrades when available, and a free checked bag for me and a traveling companion.

I also receive two complimentary lounge passes each year which can be used at any domestic airport. Lounge access provides me with free wifi, complimentary cocktails, delicious food, and comfortable seating where I can relax and watch the departure screens. Long-distance travel and layovers are unpleasant for everyone, but the lounge access makes it bearable. My complimentary passes are surely one of the best benefits of a travel credit card.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Foreign transaction fees are an unwelcome surprise for any traveler using their credit cards abroad. Most cards charge an additional 3% on purchases that pass through foreign banks or use foreign currency. These small charges can quickly build into a financial headache.

If you apply for a travel credit card, most companies waive this fee, saving you a ton in hidden fees. Additionally, you could save even more money if the exchange rates are in your favor. Since there are no foreign transaction fees with my travel credit card, I opt to charge my purchases in foreign currency and let my bank do the conversion for me. Since the US dollar is consistently strong, I often pay less than the exchange rate offered by vendors.

Comparing Benefits of a Travel Credit Card

If you are a frequent traveler, the benefits of a travel credit card are well worth the annual fees. Before choosing which card is right for you, compare the offers to determine which one best suits your spending habits and travel needs. Be sure to review the terms and conditions each year and pay off your balances to maximize your benefits. Otherwise, your finance charges may offset the advantages.

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How To Save Money on Transportation When Traveling Abroad

How to Save Money on Transportation When Traveling Abroad

Save Money on Transportation

Transportation and lodging account for the largest portions of a traveler’s budget. If you plan a vacation during peak travel seasons, you can count on spending even more money. However, there are several alternative options that you should consider before making reservations. Here are some of the best ways to save money on transportation when traveling abroad.

Trains

Trains are a great way to quickly zip across long distances. You can even save the cost of a hotel if you reserve a sleeper car. Rail passes give you the ease and convenience of traveling to multiple cities for a flat rate. There are variations of them across the world, but the European Rail Pass is probably the most famous. If you plan on visiting several countries, you should definitely look into buying one. Simply enter your destinations and dates, and the search engine will guide you through the itinerary, step by step. Check out their featured routes to save money on transportation when traveling abroad.

If you are more adventurous and prefer to navigate foreign cities on your own, most places have an all access transit card. This gives you an authentic flavor of life abroad since you are traveling alongside the locals. As an added bonus, most buses, subways, and light-rail trains also conveniently pass by the most popular sites. It’s an economical option which lets you  splurge a little on the travel experiences you enjoy most.

Planes

Most travel websites do a fair job of comparing flights among domestic carriers. They also allow you to set up email alerts when prices drop. However, I prefer Skyscanner or ITA Matrix since they include all major international competitors. They have easy-to-use tools that compare prices day by day. With a little flexibility in dates and destinations, you can save a lot of dough. It’s even possible to find flights for pennies on the dollar if you can leave within 24 hours.

You should also check out the TripAdvisor app on your phone since it offers one-stop shopping. It helps you find flights, hotels, restaurants, and things to do all in one search engine. The site is especially helpful on those day when you are looking for something more to do. With a few taps, you can locate the best restaurants and attractions near you. Best of all, it even allows you to customize your search within a set budget!

Automobiles

Renting a car on vacation can be a huge, unnecessary expense. Between the gas, parking fees, and insurance, a rental can eat up a good portion of your budget. However, paying for a seat in someone else’s car can save you hundreds of dollars. BlaBlaCar is a European-based ride sharing app that allows you to carpool with car owners seeking to save gas money. The website is easy to peruse and matches you with multiple drivers in your area. You can quickly compare prices and times of departure. If you are hesitant to jump in a stranger’s car, there are plenty of reviews from previous passengers to verify your driver’s credentials.

Charter buses and long-distance coaches are another great way to reserve your cash when traveling abroad. Coach travel has also changed a lot in recent years. Contrary to the associated stigma, most vehicles are clean, comfortable, and efficient. International service usually provides food, beverage, free wifi, and a restroom on board as well. Upgraded tickets can also get you reclining chairs and memory foam seats. Avoid the hustle of airports and train stations by reserving yourself a seat on board a coach and save money on transportation when traveling abroad.

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