How woman’s love for cats helps her save money travelling the world

A Brisbane woman’s love of cats has helped her travel the world almost for free.

Madolline Gourley, 30, first applied to house and cat sit for strangers on the opposite side of the world in 2017 and has not looked back since.

After loving her first stay in San Francisco, she has since managed to travel to more than 20 places across the United States and Australia; not having to pay for accommodation by taking care of other people’s cats in exchange.

Madolline Gourley has been able to cut her travel costs by cat sitting around the world. Picture: Madolline GourleySource:Supplied

Ms Gourley has cat sat in more than 20 places across the US and Australia, including this home in Birmingham, Alabama. Picture: Madolline GourleySource:Supplied

Ms Gourley said she saved money on accommodation by cat sitting on holidays. Picture: Madolline GourleySource:Supplied

While she still had to pay for flights, she explained that house and cat sitting saved her lots of money.

“With the free accommodation, you might also get other stuff for free,” Ms Gourley told NCA NewsWire.

“Some places I’ve stayed, they told me I could help myself to their food, others have given me gift cards for groceries, people have offered to let me use their car.

“Sometimes people will drive you to and from the airport so it’s another saving.”

Ms Gourley said she planned her holidays and house sits between her contractual work in government communications.

The 30-year-old with a cat she was looking after in New York. Picture: Madolline GourleySource:Supplied

“When I first started cat sitting, earlier that same year I paid to go to America with a friend and there were parts of San Francisco I didn’t get to see, so when I saw there was a house sit in San Francisco I thought I’d go back.

“From there I learnt about other places and things and added them to a list and kept an eye out for house sits, and if one came up, I applied.

“I think the US is really diverse; there's the deserts, the woods, the beaches, then the snow, so it’s a really interesting landscape.”

Ms Gourley said she loved cats and had experience caring for them, which was why she chose houses with that type of pet. Picture: Madolline GourleySource:Supplied

Jasper (pictured) is one of the many cats she looked after while on holiday. Picture: Madolline GourleySource:Supplied

Ms Gourley was in the US in March last year and needed to come home early because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While travelling overseas is currently not an option, she has set her sights on travelling to Tasmania next.

Her most recent cat sit was in Darwin, and she said it wouldn’t have been a holiday destination she would have considered pre-COVID.

“The little Persian had the cutest face and I said to the owners, ‘If you didn’t have that cat I don’t think I would have applied for this sit’.

“Just looking at the little photo on the ad made me think ‘I have to look after this cat’.”

With international borders closed, her most recent cat sit was in Darwin, and she plans to travel to Tasmania in future. Picture: Madolline GourleySource:Supplied

During her travels, she stayed in a home in Boulder with this view from the dining room. Picture: Supplied / Madolline GourleySource:Supplied

But it’s not just cats that potential house sitters can look after.

There are options for taking care of other animals, like fish, dogs, snakes or even farm animals, if that is what the applicant is capable and willing to do.

Ms Gourley said she filtered her house-sit searches specifically for cats because she loved the animal and had experience caring for them.

“If I want to go on holidays, I’ll check Trusted House Sitters (online) once or twice a day three months before I go and go through what's available and see how many house and cat sits I can fit into one trip.

“You might have to give or take a few days in between when one sit starts and one ends … but half the trips have been back-to-back house sits.”

The only child said she was used to doing things solo, and since travelling alone, she said she couldn’t go back.

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