Aussie traveller's tip to save up to $12,000 on holiday

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Madoline Gourley saves up to $12,000 a trip by cat-sitting. Photo: Supplied

This traveller has combined her love of travel with her love of four-pawed friends, and she’s saving up to $12,000 per trip doing so.

Madolline Gourley has been a self-titled ‘cat-sitter’ for two years and says it has completely changed the way she travels, and how much she spends.

The 28-year first happened upon the budget travel option two years ago after an eye-opening conversation sparked an interest in the possibility of living – or travelling – rent free.

A new way to see the world

A chance conversation gave Madolline a life-changing idea. Photo: Supplied

“I was speaking to a friend at work, and she explained that she doesn’t own a house and she doesn’t pay rent in Brisbane,” Madolline told Yahoo Lifestyle. “She just does house sitting.”

Intrigued, the contract worker did some digging online, and instantly struck gold.

“I just googled ‘house sitting’ and the first website that came up was Trusted House Sitters,’ the 28-year-old explained.

Trusted House Sitters is one of many online services that connect potential sitters with households and vice versa.

A quick glance at the average pet-sitter home page, and opportunities from Sweden, to the US, to China are all just a click away.

Travelling at a fraction of the cost

Cat-sitting makes travel miles cheaper, and more accessible. Source: Supplied

For Madolline, the focus was always going to be facilitating her travel: once she signed up, she secured her first house sit in San Francisco within a matter of days.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Since the first sit, Madolline has travelled incessantly, visiting the United States three times last year.

How? House sitting allows her to slash the thousands most spend on accommodation.

On a Christmas stay in Boulder, the seasoned sitter explained her stay in a secluded mountain getaway would have set most travellers back $12,000.

Madolline didn’t cough up a dime.

“I’m saving probably half of what I would as a paying tourist,” she admits.

The savings mean she can travel far more than she ever dreamed possible; and she now documents her travels on her Facebook page, and hopes to turn her frequent trips into a full time gig in the future.

For the love of the felines

Some feline company at the end of a long day. Photo: Supplied

The fledgling blogger says that despite the incredible cost-cutting house sitting allows her, it’s about more than just saving dollars.

She’s a self-confessed ‘cat person’ who treasures the four-legged pals she meets along the way.

“After sight-seeing, the last thing I want to do is go out and socialise,” she says. “It’s nice to come home and watch TV and have the little cat with you as company.”

She says she sat over 20 cats last year alone, mostly rescue, and says she enjoys the solitude that comes with that.

“I’m an only child and I prefer my own company, but I can still go out to bars and do tourist activities if I want to meet people,” she says.

“I kind of like it being just myself.”

Opening new doors

Madolline has raised a glass with home owners and neighbours across the world.Photo: Supplied

But she doesn’t have a shortage of two-legged friends that she’s picked up along the way either.

Opening new doors in new cities has also opened up new friendships.

Last year while on a sit in Seattle, Madolline was invited to dinner by the home-owner’s friends, on a terrace with sweeping views of the city.

She says the moment gave her a chance to reflect on this new way of travelling.

“I would never have met these people otherwise, and I wouldn’t have had that great view.”

“You do kind of form friendships with the home owners and some of their friends as well.”

At the end of the day however, the solo-traveller says it all comes back to the cats.

“It’s a great way to travel, but if there weren’t pets I wouldn’t do it as often as I do.”

A furry face is the real benefit. Photo: Supplied

Got a story tip? Send it to

Want more lifestyle and celebrity news? Follow Yahoo Lifestyle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.