It’s safe to say that I love to travel! I spend much of my free time planning our next getaway. While planning my travels, I always seek new and different ways to save money and have unique experiences.
One of the BIGGEST expenses associated with traveling has been paying for accommodations. It is hard to justify the cost of an expensive hotel when all I need is a place to take a hot shower and a comfy bed for a good night’s sleep. Well, guess what? I have an alternative for you!
I AM GOING TO LET YOU IN ON A LITTLE SECRET!
Want to AVOID paying for accommodations altogether? …This is literally for ANYONE (except if you are under 21 or a convicted felon!)
This SAVED me about $2,000 in travel expenses on my 10-day travel vacation.
The best part of this travel hack is no matter where you stay, and it typically comes with way more AMENITIES than you would have been willing to pay for before!
Join me and become a TrustedHousesitter.
What is House Sitting?
House sitting is the act of watching over someone’s home while the owner is away. In most cases, the job entails taking care of a much-loved pet. Homeowners choose to trust you as a house sitter over boarding the animal at a vet or shelter while they are away.
What Does a House Sitter Do?
Most common responsibilities are feeding and watering the animal, walking the dog, cleaning the litter-box, and watching over the home. Sometimes house sitters are asked to water plants, mow the grass, or maintain a swimming pool. Each sit will have a specific tasks for the sitter to fulfill.
Ok, then how to become a House Sitter?
The #1 most trusted and used housing sitting website is called TrustedHousesitters.
TrustedHousesitters is an online community connecting pet owners from around the world with verified sitters. This program allows the pet owners to enjoy a vacation while knowing that someone is in their home taking care of their loving pets.
TrustedHousesitters has been around since 2010, connecting thousands of pet owners with sitters. They have facilitated more than FOUR million nights of pet sitting in over 130 different countries.
How Did I Discover TrustedHousesitters?
As I was planning our vacation to Europe, a friend that is a member of TrustedHousesitters, spoke to me about the program. She explained how the process works and spoke highly of her experience connecting with pet owners and making lasting friendships.
Becoming an international house sitter is one of the best ways to travel for so much less…..
How To Join Trusted House Sitters?
An annual membership fee of $129 a year will be required. This fee will take care of background checks and help you connect with pet owners all over the world. In addition, TrustedHousesitters will do all the vetting on the applicant (verify identity and background check) so that the pet owners can rest assured the applicants are trustworthy.
You might be saying, “wait a minute, this program has a fee? I thought it was free…” The question is to ask yourself, what would be my expense if I had to stay in a hotel (for the number of nights you plan to travel)? I am sure it is going to be much more than $129. You will get your money back on your first sit!
Once you click the Basic Sitter Membership, it will take you to the first page of building your profile. When writing your profile, make sure you put yourself in the homeowners’ shoes.
- TIP: Before building a profile, it is good to browse other sitter profiles on the website to get an idea of what is shared and examples of good things to mention.
BUILDING YOUR PROFILE
Here are some tips to make your profile stand out:
- Get Personal: Let them know who you are, including your experiences and qualities when taking care of pets. For example, share about your lifestyle, career, activities, or anything that tells the owner who you are so that they can feel more comfortable with you as a person. Also, please share if you have some unusual experience with various animals, such as taking care of farm chickens or playing with a python.
- References: Having references are vital to landing a sit. Make sure your references can share something about your character or your experience with animals. Then, as you become a sitter, ask pet owners to write you a review about you which then become part of your profile. Try to have at least four references on your profile.
- Photographs: If you plan to sit as a couple, upload your profile photo as a couple. This lets the homeowner see who will be applying for the sit. Also, include any photos of you with your own pets. If you have an interesting hobby or activity that you enjoy, it is good to share. This gives the homeowner a visual of who you are and insight into your personality.
- Video: Create a video that gives the pet owner a chance to know you better than in the pictures. You will discuss similar topics you shared in our profile. Your personality shines through a video, so make a good first impression!
- Background Verification: Not all sits will require a more in-depth background verification check, but I highly suggest you do it. It doesn’t cost you anything and reassures the homeowner of your clean record.
Once you have completed your profile, you will have access to view unlimited available sits all over the world!
Ready to House Sit?
Once you have registered as a sitter, you can scroll the website and look at available sits. The sitter’s page offer options to search a location, along with three tabs: dates, pets, and more filters to narrow your search. Also, on the page, will pop up images tagged as new sits or sits that match your desires. See below:
Here you will see a picture of the sitter’s home/animal, a small image of the pet owner, a description of the sit, dates, location, and types of animals you will be sitting. It is a quick glance of the sit.
If you see a sit that you are interested you, click the image, and their page will open for you to view more details.
READ their profile page about the pet and its needs. Then read the HOME & LOCATION to learn more about where the home is located and its amenities. The RESPONSIBILITIES section will give details of the requirements expected of you while pet sitting at their home. If the pet owner used TrustedHousesitters before, you could read SITTER FEEDBACK, as they will rate the sit and share details about their experience
If you find a sit you are interested in, click on Apply NOW. Here, in the box, you will introduce yourself to the pet owner, letting them know that you are interested and why you find their home as a perfect sit. Next, check the date box for dates you wish to sit. (Some pet owners will have more than one date listed for which they need a sitter).
SUBMIT! Know you wait until the pet owner responds. Sometimes they will want to interview before confirming a sit, or they may send you a message with questions.
Once you have connected and worked out the details with the pet owner, you will CONFIRM the sit.
After confirming a sit, the pet owner will send you a WELCOME GUIDE in your Inbox containing information about the pet, the home, and emergency contacts.
You are all set!
How to Decide What is a Good Sit for You?
- READ Responsibilities: After you have decided on the date and location of where you would like to sit, you will want to carefully read the “Responsibilities” tab. For example, pets might have special needs (medications, injections), so if you don’t feel comfortable with such special needs, then this sit isn’t for you. Also, sometimes, owners have a lot of expectations of you to spend a lot of time at home tending to pets and house chores, so if you plan to go out and do sightseeing, you may search for a different sit.
You must be honest with yourself. Know what you are prepared to do as a house sitter, and then see if these preferences match the homeowner’s requirements.
- READ Reviews: It is always good to read what other past sitter experiences were at the home and with the pet. However, if you see that a sit has been given “star” ratings without any written comments, then you should be skeptical. In the reviews, you will discover that maybe the home is more remote than described or the pet is requires a lot of attention. These reviews give a true sense of the homeowner and their pets.
- HOME and LOCATION: If you are a digital nomad and plan to work from home, rmake sure Wi-Fi is available and that it is at a speed that will work for you. This would be an essential question to ask the owner. If you have any allergies that could be a problem staying in someone’s home, ask the question. If you are a smoker, it is crucial to alert the homeowner. If you plan to have a car at the home, check for parking space. This can be difficult if they live in a big city like London or Paris.
- Interview the Homeowner: I highly recommend that you set up a time to meet the homeowner by video call to discuss the sit and to ask any questions you might have. If the homeowner did not leave many images on their home, then be sure to ask them to give you a virtual tour of it. Sometimes pictures can be deceiving! Here are things to consider asking:
- Access to a laundry facility
- Air conditioning or heating
- Any unusual habits the pet may have that you need to be made aware
- Extra bedding (just in case you need to change the sheets)
- Where is pet food stored, pet toys, leash, etc.?
- What is the pet allowed to have access to (some do not allow them on the couch)
- Understand the location of the home to the nearest supermarket or city center.
- Availability of Public Transportation.
- Any home security concerns that you need to know about
How to Be an Amazing House Sitter
- Meet the Homeowner in Advance: If possible, meet the owner a day in advance before you become their live-in house sitter. This may require booking at a nearby hotel, or the homeowner may offer you the spare bedroom. Also, by visiting a day before, you have a chance to run through important instructions and learn more about the home.
- House Rules: Find out if there are house rules that need to be followed, such as the dog is not allowed to sit on the couch, or the cats are not allowed on the bed. Discuss these rules with the owner before your sit.
- Communication: It is essential to have reliable and continuous contact with the pet owner. They are entrusting you with not only one of their family members (their pet) but also their home. Therefore, it is important to communicate with the owners frequently before, during, and after your stay. This will assure them that you are a considerate and caring person about their pet and give you a good rating and recommendation for future sits.
- Leave Notes: Homeowners like to know what happened while they are gone. Let them know when the trash was picked up or if someone rang the doorbell, or if a delivery was made to the home. Also, let them know anything that you think is relevant about the pet.
- Photographs: Throughout your stay, snap a few photos of the pet and text to the homeowner while they are away so that they can see their pet is happy and safe. When sitting with two labs, we took videos of them running in the park and shared them with the owners. This made the owners so happy!
- Laundry: Before your host returns, strip the bed and bathroom towels and put on fresh ones. If you are running short on time to wash linens, at least have new ones on the bed and bathroom for the homeowner to enjoy.
- Groceries: If the homeowner offered access to food in the home, please make sure you replenish those items. Get some coffee, milk, bread, and fresh fruit and have it there for them to enjoy!
- Organize the Home: Before the homeowner returns, clean and straighten up the home. I always like to clean the bathroom, vacuum the floors and fluff out the pillow on the couch. You want them to feel like they made a good choice in picking you to stay in their home.
- Thank You Card: It is always good to leave a thank you card and maybe some flowers on the table. Your host welcomed you into their home, gave you a free place to stay, and introduced you to their fur family member. Welcome them home and thank them for allowing you to stay in their home.
PROS and CONS
- Save Money: The biggest perk to being a member of TrustedHousesitters is the money you save while traveling!A yearly membership will cost you less than one night’s of accommodation at any hotel. In addition to saving you a nightly rate of hotel accommodation, you also get a more spacious space that typically comes with Wi-Fi, access to laundry facilities, and a full kitchen.
- Having access to a full kitchen allows you to wake up, prepare coffee in your pj’s and eat breakfast leisurely. If you want to save even more money, you can prepare a lunch to take with you while sightseeing.You have more money to explore or do more activities at your pet-sit location with these options.
- Friendships: Having a sweet puppy face look you in the eyes or a cat purring along your leg is the most friendly feeling! I can meet a cuddle, furry friend, get my puppy love fix, or enjoy a morning stroll walking the dogs.Since we have become house sitters, we have made lasting friendships with pets owners, receiving adorable Christmas cards or catching up on family events. In addition, it has been a great experience connecting with people and their pets across the globe.
- For the Love of Pets: Here with TrustedHousesitters, you’ll find homeowners seeking sitters for various animals; dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, fish, reptiles, and farm animals. If you love animals and find that they bring you joy, then house sitting is for you.
- Commitment: Once you commit to a sit, you must understand that you are committing to pet-sit pet and taking care of the home as requested by the homeowner.
- Misleading Photos: Sometimes pictures are not what they seem, so be aware! A photo of a clean house on their profile, but you discover that the home is a mess once you arrive! Sometimes the house amenities may not function and were not disclosed in the description. Obviously, this is something you must quickly make a decision to notify the owner of your concerns and be ready to move into a hotel. That is why a video call is so important!
- Location: Most homes are not located in the city center, so if you plan to go sightseeing, you will most likely need access to transportation. Some homes are in remote villages, making it very difficult to catch public transportation, which requires a car. Parking can be a concern as well. Some apartments/homes are in a popular tourist area and therefore parking is a challenge and extremely expensive when available.
Ready to Become a House Sitter?
Sign up for TrustedHousesitters HERE and get started. Do you have any questions about house sitting? Please let us know in the comments below.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.