The world is back traveling again post-pandemic. In addition to many being able to work remotely from anywhere in the world, people are ready to explore again. One way to do this on a budget is to consider house and pet sitting.
The concept is simple: house and pet sitting in exchange for accommodations, which most of the time includes the company of a pet or pets while you work (or just play) and explore a new place. It’s a nice deal for the homeowner too, as they get a reliable, trustworthy pet and house sitter while they are away from home.
The world of house sitting has grown; there are many websites and resources available which provide ideas on how to get started, tips on how to be successful, and sites which connect homeowners and house sitters—all over the world.
Finding Open Doors
One resource is House Sitting Magazine, which describes itself as a “free community resource for domestic and international house sitters and pet owners, leading the way in inspiration, tips, support, advice and the promotion of best practices. According to their website, the aim is to “help you create a fulfilling lifestyle built around trust, mutual respect, and lifestyle freedom with the bonus of daily pet cuddles.” Who can argue with a bonus of pet cuddles?
One highlight of the site list and review of the various pet sitting websites which connect homeowners and pet sitters. They even offer discounts on the membership fees of the sites. Along with the list, their House Sitting Services page features reviews and comparisons.
Alandria Saifer, Ph.D., San Diego, says “I chose the use of a house sitter because of the size of our furry farm—with 5 cats and 2 dogs it would be impossible to kennel them all for a quick getaway or even a longer-term vacation.” She describes the mutually beneficial situation for both sides. “I find that a house sitter gets the benefit of a nice place to stay and some furry friends to hang out with, while we have the security of knowing that our pets stay in a familiar setting, have someone to keep them company, and someone living in our home while we are gone.”
She’s been a member of Trusted Housesitters, one of the largest and most popular sites to connect homeowners with house-sitters for many years. In ten years, they say they have 60,000+ happy members. The reviews go both ways–homeowners rate the sitters and sitters rate their stay—so you can see what others have said about their stay.
Sitters are also verified, meaning they have been background-checked. Homeowners are required to post pictures of their home and their pets with their listings as a safety measure as well. The basic membership also allows you to save searches for future trips, apply filters to customize your sit—such as type of pet, dates, locations, and if it includes a car.
House Sitting Magazine's website has an entire section of the site devoted to a six-step process to becoming a house sitter.
Consider creating a house and pet sitting resume, including references—particularly if you have experience. Having experience isn’t mandatory, but would be helpful. Then decide whether to join any of the various membership sites, such as TrustedHousesitters, to help connect you with those looking for sitters. The membership costs vary, and members can join as both a house sitter and homeowner, having a sitter in their home and doing a sit on their trip as well. Membership costs across the matching sites range from $50 monthly to $129, depending on the location, as some sites are specific to one country, such as the U.K., or the United States.
“We’ve always been a budget-minded couple with a desire to travel. We jumped in and have been pet sitting our way around the world for four months with no intention of stopping anytime soon” says Jori Kerr and Austin Andrews who are also members of TrustedHousesitters. “We have met so many wonderful people and pets on our travels. We have traveled internationally and within the U.S. and have been exposed to an authentic way of traveling–unlike anything you could experience staying in a hotel or Airbnb.”
The experience of traveling like a local (and the pet cuddles) is a major reason sitters have signed up. Other perks include having your own four walls without the noise of a hotel, a full kitchen (to save on dining out costs), and laundry – no need for quarters or sitting in a laundromat. Owners most often create guides with their recommendations on restaurants, shopping, and attractions as well. If the sit includes the use of a car, that can negate needing a rental car or using public transportation.
For Sonia and Dorian Anderson of San Francisco, their house-sitting adventures began as a form of healing after the unexpected loss of their dog, who they had planned to take on their nomadic adventures. Wondering whether they should still begin the trip, they discovered a way to “borrow other people's pets” through TrustedHousesitters and a new mission began.
“Knowing he would want us to love other animals as we had him, we decided we’d pet sit our way across the continent as a way to remember him and care for whatever animals need affection and attention while their owners are away.” They’ve been on the road for three months so far and share their stories on their blog.
The connections you make—not just with the pets but also with the owners—can enhance your travel experience, leading to potential connections and repeat visits. If you’re willing to share some love with a furry one or two (or more), then consider house-sitting for your next trip.
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Kelley Dukat is a freelance writer, photographer, and event planner currently based in the United States. She has spent the last year as a nomad traveling and house-sitting. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and previously served as a trade magazine editor. Her favorites include dog-friendly travel, road trips, and nomad life. She is currently working on a memoir and a series of personal essays.