Why house sitting could be the perfect way for pet lovers to travel
With house sitting, you could stay in a Scottish mansion one month, herd donkeys and geese on a remote farm the next, explain full-time house sitters Trevor Young and Els Mahieu of their current riverside home. beach in Portugal.
“House sitting is a great way of life. It restores your faith in humanity. Despite what is happening in the news, I can say that most people are actually nice,” says Belgian-born Els, a member of the international platform TrustedHousesitters.
You have You’ve probably heard of house sitting before but wonder what it actually entails? Arrangement means staying in someone’s home while tending to the home and its furry (or scaly or feathered!) residents. TrustedHousesitters connects owners and house sitters and is unique in that there is no payment between sitters and pet parents (owners) – it is a mutual win-win arrangement that is suitable for owners, guardians and pets.
Platforms like TrustedHousesitters have become more convenient and suitable for a growing number of pet parents and house sitters. This is due to the increase in the number of pet owners during pandemic shutdowns, coupled with the reopening of international travel and increased remote work opportunities.
Who is it for?
Accommodation Sitting is a two-way setup which means pet owners have their pets cared for while out of town, while sitters get free lodging – plus companionship and the joy that comes from caring for a pet.
While the love of animals goes without saying, these three types of house sitters are popular among the TrustedHousesitters community of 120,000 pet owners and house sitters:
- remote worker
- Savvy traveler
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House keepers tend to be one or the other of these types, and there are usually some crossovers.
Profiles of members of TrustedHousesitters is an amalgamation of people who keep their homes for all sorts of reasons and in all sorts of situations.
Some are remote workers who can’t commit to having their own pet, but love spending time with animals. Others are retired and looking for an affordable way to see the world.
The flexibility that comes with being retired or working remotely obviously facilitates the house sitter lifestyle. This means you can jump on those sit-at-home opportunities without needing to plan time off during school vacations or work commitments.
With all sorts of houses available around the world, those looking for affordable and authentic travel are also well suited to house sitting. Some housekeepers, like UK-born Nigel Lovell (a savvy traveler and animal lover), even use platforms like TrustedHousesitters to “travel” to their own towns.
Nigel has lived in Barcelona since 1998 but uses house sitting as a way to explore other parts of the city he now calls home. “So part of the benefit is that I get to know my own city in a different way.”
The other big reason? His love of animals. After the passing of his French Bulldog, Nigel now relishes the chance to spend time with other pets when he stays at home, without the full-time commitment of owning a pet.
This animal-loving personality is extremely important to all house sitters.
“It’s really all about the animals, they come first. We don’t consider this a vacation,” says Trevor, a semi-retired travel and animal-loving telecommuter who’s been keeping his house since 2014.
“We spend a lot of time with the animals, but we still experience the city, the locality. We want to experience a local community. We therefore work part-time online, which gives us the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the animals.
Discover the world of house sitting, where you can have authentic international travel experiences while keeping your pets.
Why you should try it and how
From mansions to beach huts, urban apartments to rural cabins, you could end up in all sorts of places (and take care of all sorts of animals).
An obvious benefit of being a babysitter is free housing whether you are working, retired or traveling. But the benefits go beyond just free digs, say the three TrustedHousesitters members we talk to.
Although the keepers reflect on the location, they always remember the animal, and ultimately their stories of memorable experiences come down to the animal. That adorable blind Labrador in Yorkshire, or the escape artist rabbit in the Spanish countryside.
Nigel, who has cared for adorable pets around the world 60 times over the past four and a half years, says home sitting can be a chance to experience your hometown or even a familiar place, under a new day.
“Maybe you have to work or study… I sometimes find that changing surroundings inspires me differently. So, you know, if I have something creative to do, maybe working in a different house in a different field can inspire.
The path TrustedHousesitters works is that pet owners and house sitters pay an annual subscription fee to the platform for unlimited house sitters or house sitter stays. Homeowners create profiles of themselves, including their home and pet details as well as the dates they need house sitters for. Potential house sitters browse the site and apply for the house sitter gigs they like. Owners then choose candidates based on their sitter profiles and feedback from other owners. Usually there is a video call and messages to make sure you are the right person for each other before final arrangements are made.
How it works from there is up to the owner and house keeper. Some people want daily updates and photos of their pets, for example, Trevor and Els explain, while others would rather only hear from you in an emergency.
What to expect: tips for beginners
No matter what type of caretaker you are, animal care is extremely important. Fantastic new locations and experiences aside, caring for the animal or pets is why you’re there in the first place!
“I think you have to love animals… as nice as that is – and it’s really nice, we love the lifestyle – you have responsibilities,” says Els, who along with partner Trevor has more of 40 five-star reviews. on TrustedHousesitters. The couple say it’s important to follow the routine of pets and they prioritize making them feel comfortable.
Other words of wisdom from Trevor, Els and Nigel are to start with a home that’s close to home. If you want to be chosen by an owner, you will need opinions. “When you see all these great ads on TrustedHousesitters, like a villa with a swimming pool in France, there are going to be plenty of applicants. It is therefore important that you have opinions to increase your chances of having the house sit.
“So start local. Wherever you live, there is bound to be something nearby. This way you will create reviews and you can use them for those dream seats.
Els also suggests downloading the TrustedHousesitters app so you can monitor the ads as they come up and apply immediately. You can even set an alert for the country and dates you are interested in. “You have to be very quick!” she says.
“It’s also good to be flexible,” say Trevor and Els. Sometimes the offer of a month-long session can extend to six weeks or more, for example. And that flexibility extends to how you interact with landlords. Open and flexible communication is essential. “You basically parachute into their lives,” says Trevor.
It is also important to determine if the house is right for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a video call house tour or more photos of the house. And if you’re a remote worker, for example, check that the internet is reliable.
Another important tip from the couple is to pay attention to your visa and work regulations. With international home looming on the horizon for them (including Thailand early next year), they are aware of the importance of knowing the restrictions and requirements of the countries you plan to visit.
Nigel works very hard to be a good responsible babysitter. He maintains an open dialogue with the owners so that they can feel reassured and enjoy their time away from their home and their pet. He even suggests taking pictures of the house when you arrive so you can leave everything as it is. To succeed in house sitting, he sums it up nicely with the advice to simply “be the kind of sitter you would like in your home”.
TrustedHousesitters connects verified and rated housekeepers with homeowners around the world. Find out how to become a sitter and enjoy 25% off with the code LOCAL25