How 'professional traveller' saved a year's worth of rent
IN 2014, Carolin Pilligrath quit her job, left her flat, sold her belongings and became a "full-time traveller".
With around three months of savings in her bank account, the German-born woman, who previously worked in marketing, planned to generate extra income by working remotely on the road.
But during her trip, she also discovered another genius way to save money while travelling - by house-sitting for free.
Miss Pilligrath, who has now settled in Australia long-term and is based on the Gold Coast, signed up to TrustedHousesitters.com, a site that matches sitters with homeowners who need their properties and pets to be minded for a set period of time.
She said it has allowed her to travel across Australia, the US, Paris and Amsterdam on a shoestring budget - with the added bonus of meeting locals, discovering lesser-known destinations and caring for cute animals all at the same time.
She said she had managed to save "a year's worth of rent" by house-sitting in between side trips, as well as scoring other "little bonuses" such as using people's cars and other assets for free along the way.
"I've basically been travelling around the world since 2014. I'm originally from Germany, and I sold my stuff and took off on a plane to Thailand," she said.
"I've always loved travelling and I wanted to explore how I could make it work as a full-time gig."
Initially, Miss Pilligrath was journeying through South-East Asia but started looking into budget-friendly ways of travelling in Australia.
That's when she discovered house-sitting - and her first gig was looking after a home in "stinking hot" Darwin for a couple who were about to get married and go on their honeymoon.
"I knew Australia was going to be expensive compared to South-East Asia so I started looking at what I could do, and I was stoked when I stumbled across a house-sitting opportunity in Darwin," she said.
"It was a really cool house and I stayed there for four weeks.
"I was able to drive their car and I saved money - it was pretty amazing, and I looked after their doggies and cats too."
From that point on, Miss Pilligrath was sold.
"After that, I was hooked. I wanted to stick around in Australia and go to different places around the country," she said.
"It's obviously saved me a lot of money but I've also made lots of friendships as well.
"I'm still in touch with the first people I house-sat for which is really cool, and I've been able to see some areas I wouldn't have seen if I was just a regular tourist."
Miss Pilligrath, who has also built up her travel and lifestyle blog, Breathing Travel, over the years, said she planned to stay in Australia and keep travelling for the foreseeable future.
"Travel is ingrained in me. I love it over here and it's a great base for now," she said.
As an animal lover, Miss Pilligrath described house-sitting as a "dream job" - and she insisted almost anyone could do what she had done.
"Totally anyone can do it," she said.
"There are some challenges but now I've built a huge portfolio of contacts, and people tend to pass (your details) on to others when they have a good experience.
"Once you get started and you get some references, anyone can do it. You just have to be flexible."
TrustedHousesitters.com is available in more than 130 countries and costs $129 annually for members to list their homes or to register as sitters.