Holidays

Reporter: Rebecca Bergh

When you look at taking a holiday the cost of the accommodation is usually the most expensive part. It can take a hefty chunk of your holiday savings.

But Rebecca Bergh's been looking at ways you can dramatically reduce your accommodation costs or even stay in your chosen destination for free.

Cost for a months accommodation in central London? Nothing.

Gary and Angela Chard house sat for a month. Jim Chapman has been doing it, almost full time, for the last five years.

"Probably the best one would've been a probably house worth almost two million dollars in Sunshine Beach that had a little burmese cat which was nice and I sat out at Tewantin in one of those resort type things for 4 months."

Danny Raynel runs housesitworld.com, a website linking house sitters with homeowners.

"We had one sit, out in the bush up north Queensland for 3 years now that's unusual. The average sit would probably be a few weeks to a few months. But regularly get 6 to 9 months, homes, apartments, houses on acreage, farms, the full gammets out there.

His site helps house sitters like first timers Gary and Angela find free accommodation.

The lime farmers from Gympie wanted a UK holiday and hit the jackpot with a month long house sit in Putney.

"We were so lucky that we were staying in the middle of london and it didn't cost us anything" said Angela.

Danny says its a great way to live like a local and save thousands on a holiday.

"I've got several that have got repeat sits over the years they've now got their own database of owners they go to. Two young girls in Sydney sat for 3 years going from place to place to place saving up for an overseas trip, they're now sitting in London."

Jim Chapman is on permanent holiday, housesitting between Sydney and the Sunshine Coast.

It's his responsibility to look after the house and any animals. The returns, he says, are many.

"The principal one is spending nothing for rent the but I really enjoy the animals. I like the dogs and the cats and plus you end up in places like Mooloolaba" says Jim.

Meegan Clancy's off on holiday too. She's booked a villa in Bali using the new website myroombid.com

"From using myroombid.com I saved $700 on a 6 night holiday to Bali."

Website founder Andrew Veron says his is the first site that allows customers to deal directly with the hotel, nominating a rate they wish to pay.

He says customers are able to negotiate a much better deal than the advertised price.

"As a hotelier I do know that we value long term stays. Its worth money to us. We are giving you the opportunity to negotiate to get the best possible rate" says Andrew. "We expect the average person is going to save hundreds."

Meegan says you'll need to do some research so you know how much to bid and make sure your offer is reasonable.

"Its not like Ebay where you're bidding against other bidders, you're bidding and liaising direct with the hotel. So you put in an offer. They email you back with a counter offer and it can keep going for about 2 to 3 emails. Mine was actually accepted straight away" explains Meegan.

You can bid with up to three hotels at a time. But the bidding must start at no less than 20 per cent of the asking price.

"Take that as your benchmark and negotiate from that as a platform, you will save money" says Andrew.

But if you're to try the experience house sitting will save you a whole lot more.

In the last five years Jim has hardly spent a thing on accommodation.

"I've probably spent less than $2000 which means I've probably saved, 30, 40 thousand dollars" claims Jim.

Gary and Angela are sold. "We would love to do it again. Maybe Paris next time."

WEBSITES:

www.housesitworld.com.au

www.myroombid.com