This 17th-century home could be your pad for a blissful month this spring. Credit: Trusted Housesitters

This 17th-century home could be your pad for a blissful month this spring. Credit: Trusted Housesitters

How does a free month-long vacation home in the Hudson Valley sound for a spring break?

 

Trick question — of course you’d jump at the chance. Well, it’s totally real: This gorgeous Victorian home with a barn in the countryside just went up on TrustedHousesitters and could be yours from May 12-June 17 while the owner is traveling.

 

Built in the 17th century, this mill house sits on the banks of the Kinderhook Creek just a few minutes from the village of Old Chatham, about three hours north of New York City. Basically, a total fantasy compared to your cramped apartment, not to mention a huge opportunity for creative types — as anyone who’s been on a long vacation knows, there’s nothing better for creativity than getting out of your daily rut.

 

While nothing is actually free, the “catch” here is pretty sweet: you’d be looking after the owner’s pets. They have two “loving, friendly” mature cats Alfie and Olive, as well as a “super energetic” pointer-hound mix Bea, who likes lots of attention and will need to be exercised. But with all that amazing scenery, you were going to take yourself on some long hikes anyway!

 

Play your cards right, and it might turn into more than that as the owner says it’s going to be a “big year of travel for our family,” so they may need sitters again for various periods.

 

TrustedHousesitters lets pet owners travel while pet lovers take their own vacation and make some new furry friends. The idea is that sitters are getting a free travel experience — listings are worldwide, if you’re willing to hop on a plane! — while owners know their animals are in the hands of someone they can trust.

The process for getting approved as a TrustedHousesitter is obviously a little more strict than your average site like Airbnb, but it's not too crazy. You’ll need to submit a couple of personal references and documents to verify some personal details. Candidates also have to answer a questionnaire and write a profile about their experience with pets and why they were attracted to the program. And, of course, pictures are also highly encouraged. The whole thing only takes about a day or two to be approved. 

After that, sitters are free to browse the site and apply to locations they’d like to go. Then it’s up to the owner to pick a candidate, which usually involves a meeting before the stay is finalized.

And so you've got all the fine print, there is a $119 annual membership fee whether you're listing a home or volunteering to house sit.