Would you like to spend the summer on an Alaskan island with only orcas, sea otters and caribou for company? Or how about two weeks in Turkey where tree branches whisper your nightly lullaby? If you're the right person for those caretaking positions, either lodging could be yours for free!
Gary Dunn's Caretaker Gazette has been serving the public for 27 years by connecting caretakers with owners who need their help. The website states that positions are offered, “...on estates, mansions, farms, ranches, resort homes, retreat centers, camps, hunting and fishing lodges, vacation homes, private islands, and any other kind of property imaginable...” in the United States, Mexico, Canada and other countries. Tasks might be caring for a few livestock on a ranch in Arizona, performing light carpentry on a farm in California, or taking a dog for a walk twice a day in Pennsylvania. Typically there's no salary offered unless the position is long-term, but, because these situations provide free accommodations, they are an ideal opportunity for the tightwad traveler to fully experience life at a desirable location for a price that can't be beat.
While the Caretaker Gazette offers a variety of job possibilities, the British-based Mind My House site exists solely to connect pet/house sitters with potential clients. Since pet sitters cost anywhere from $50-75 a day, it is thriftier for owners to engage a sitter who trades pet care for accommodations in the owners' home. The owners are assured that their house and pet are well-cared for while they're on vacation, and the sitter has the chance to live like a native for a week or a month in a desirable location. Mind My House currently has 129 listings in 27 countries with the UK and the US having the greatest number of opportunities.
I'm a firm believer in renting a home or apartment for your vacation, but a situation that allows you to stay-for-free while performing minimal chores is an an even better option!
For more information about Gary Dunn and articles about the Caretaker Gazette, see his blog.