This is a roundup post in which I ask four bloggers to share their knowledge about house and pet sitting gigs while traveling. Introducing Donna and Rick of Destinations Detours Dreams, Andrew and Emily of Along Dusty Roads, Terry and Maura McKenna of Travel Kiwis, and Nicola Rae of See Nic Wander.
Donna: My husband and I joined the program just under a year ago. Over the two or three years prior to that, we had read a number of accounts about other people's experiences. A few months before we joined, we had the opportunity to housesit for a friend of a friend and this way get a flavour of what it might be like.
Terry: It was three years ago. We joined so we could use house sitting as a travel option in Europe after travelling Asia for 4 months.
Andrew: We joined four years ago.
Nicola: About one year ago.
Donna: Our first house sit was over a five-week period in a rural village in England. The property was on the border of Hampshire and Surrey. It was great! We love England and have visited a number of times over the years. My husband lived in London for about six months as a young man, and the fellows he shared a flat with remain life-long friends. We enjoyed the village and experiencing the Christmas season in England. We had the opportunity to see nearby attractions and even visit with our friends.
We became quite attached to the two dogs in our care. Their personalities reminded us of the dogs we used to have. We did experience a temporary scare, though, when one of the dogs got loose and ran off outside. Fortunately a neighbour came over to help us, and we were able to track the dog down. The rest of the sit was splendid. The owners were happy with our care of the house and the dogs, but that one incident is a good reminder of the responsibility that comes with housesitting.
Nicola: My first house sit was in the UK. I enjoyed taking care of two beautiful dogs who definitely gave me my exercise! I also cared for two adorable rabbits and two sweet guinea pigs. It was a two-week assignment.
Andrew: Our first assignment was a six-week stay in Santiago de Chile, and it was a wonderful experience. We had been traveling non-stop for almost a year up to that point, so it was great to stay in one place for a while.
Donna: We also traveled to a San Diego suburb, in the state of California, where we looked after a home as well as an 11-year-old Samoyed. That sit was quite enjoyable, and the dog was a delight. He was so beautiful to look at; he always attracted attention during our twice-daily walks!
Andrew: We have been lucky enough to house sit in locations that were in the centers of both Paris and London.
Terry: By now we have completed more than 20 house sits in six countries including the UK, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany.
Nicola: I have stayed private homes in the UK, Belgium, and Germany.
Donna: I recommend that you spend time reading about other people’s experiences and looking through the types of sits available to decide if this is suitable for you. You should be open to a variety of locations and situations and also be patient and keep trying because you will likely apply for many sits before getting your first one.
The process is a bit like job-hunting. Be honest with yourself about the level of responsibilities you are able to take on. In our case, I am allergic to cats so we cannot apply for any sits with cats. In the application message highlight what you bring to the specific sit. Also be sure to mention any limitations. For example, my husband is a smoker. While he does not smoke indoors, I always ask the owners if they would be comfortable with him smoking in their yard. In some cases they say no, and the discussion ends there. If an owner responds positively to your application, be sure to ask anything about the sit and responsibilities that are not clear from the description.
Nicola: When applying for house sits, make good use of your introductory message. Make sure to introduce yourself and ask lots of questions about the home and pets. Homeowners see dozens of applications for every listing. It is a competitive process. You want your application to stand out from the beginning.
Donna: We look for sits that go for at least 10 days or two to three weeks. That makes the travel worthwhile and also gives us time to get to know the dogs and settle into a daily rhythm. With more days in one spot we can do a bit of sightseeing here and there too. We might consider a longer assignment but only in certain circumstances based on location.
People who are digital nomads, like some travel bloggers, may look for those longer sits, but we have a home in Canada and have other responsibilities as well.
Nicola: I prefer long assignments because you really get the feel for a place better than you do on shorter assignments. And you save money by not traveling around so much. I prefer sits that last one month or more.
Donna: Not at all. Housesitting is a great option for retirees and those with location-independent jobs who have flexibility with dates. It is open to anyone who is prepared to take on the responsibility of looking after someone’s home and their pets while experiencing life in another place.
Andrew: Absolutely not. I would say that only a small percentage of house sitters are bloggers.
Nicola: Anyone who loves animals and is responsible can become a house and pet sitter.
Donna and Rick
Donna and Rick are world travelers and experienced pet and house sitters. Donna is a member of several prestigious travel writer associations and blogs about the couple's travel adventures at Destinations Detours Dreams. When not on the road, they call Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada, home.
Andrew and Emily
These two Londoners describe themselves as "travelling storytellers." They were named as "Best UK Travel Blog" in 2018. Andrew and Emily can tell you a lot about Latin America having spent two years there. To read their useful guides and to see their wonderful photography, visit Along Dusty Roads.
Terry and Maura McKenna
These empty-nesters spent many years at home in Wellington, New Zealand, managing two careers and raising three sons. Now that their children are grown and live on their own, Terry and Maura are enjoying many travel adventures in both western and eastern Europe and share their stories and photos on their blog site Travel Kiwis.
If you ever wondered about teaching English in another country and housesitting combined, Nicola Rae of See Nic Wander is your friendly expert. From middle school teacher to travel blogger and online English teacher, Nic knows the real in's and out's of this life-changing opportunity. Use the contact form on her site to send Nic your questions.
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