House sitting & Pet sitting – 10 Lessons For Free Accommodation

house sitting cats bangkok 1

Travel the world without paying accommodation! Sounds like a good idea, actually it is an awesome idea and totally possible. Have you heard about house sitting and pet sitting? Those words can take you on a journey of free accommodation, great places and unforgettable experiences.

I have been thinking to write this post for almost 6 months, but I felt I wasn’t prepared enough to explain all the details about house sitting. Now, after Bubulina, Gina & Gizmo, Freya, Oshima & Chomsky, I´m sure I can convince you that house and pet sitting are not just  an awesome way to find “free accommodation”. House sitting is actually a unique opportunity to connect with the world and with people in a really deep level.

If you don’t know yet, house sitting and pet sitting is when you look after a house, pet and plants in exchange to free accommodation. During our house sitting jobs we learned a lot, and now it´s time to share some great lessons with you. I’m not saying we are the best house and pet sitters of the world, but definitely we love to do it. So here it  goes our 10 lessons to nail long-term house sitting.

house sitting cat la linea 2

1º Lesson: Be Trustworthy and Respectful. 

The first house sitting we never forget!

Meet Bubulina!! What a furry fat Queen! She show up in our lives while we were travelling through Morocco. After some Skype interviews with Giorgia, her owner, we changed our travel plans to go to La Linea de La Concepción in Spain to look after her.

For 2 weeks our mission was: feed Bubulina, clean the litter, lots of cuddle and keep the house clean. In exchange we got a nice apartment to stay for free. To help us even more, before traveling, Giorgia [Bubulina´s owner] introduced us to her friends, to the hot spots in the city and made ourselves feel like home.

house sitting la linea sport 3

We treated Bubulina like our priority, loving her as our own cat. We cleaned all the house and respect her space and belongings. By the end of the two weeks we learnt our first important lesson about house sitting:

 Lesson: Someone is trusting their house and lovely pets to you, be honoured about it!

house sitting dog play 4

 2º Lesson: It´s Not Just About Skills, Do It With Love

A precious house and pet sitting in North of Italy!

Italy was in our travel plans, but stay there for more than a week would be too expensive for our Love & Road Budget. So we decided to look for a long-term house sitting around the country. Searching for some free accommodation we found Gizmo & Gina, two adorable dogs that live in Reggio Emilia and needed some company for 20 days.

So we met Daniela a Marco, an amazing Italian couple. They were in doubt between us and another woman with vast experience in house and pet sitting. But after some emails, recommendation letters and talking, they finally choose us. I’m almost sure we got the gig because of our love for animals and how honest I was with them. Second lesson learned:

 Lesson:  You have to LOVE animals, don’t pretend it. The key for a successful pet sitter is to know how to take care of pets and enjoy be with them.

 

house sitting street market 5 b

 3º Lesson: The Opportunity to Meet Great People & Places is Priceless

The joy of  long-term house sitting in a small town!

We didn’t have a clue how wonderful our second house and pet sitting would be. We spent 20 days at Daniela & Marco´s house and discovered that free accommodation was just the door for a new way of travelling. The money we saved is nothing if we compare to the amount of friends we made, the things we learned and how deep we were involved in the local community.

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Our second international house sitting  showed us how to live like a local and how to enjoy places that are far from the touristic areas. We explored the food markets, talked with the neighbours, connected with Italian culture and cuisine, cycled around fields and mountains…  Experiences we never thought we would live, and I happily blame the pet sitting job for this . 

Lesson: Embrace the community, learn about the place you are, forget about tourist activities and start living like a local. This is a unique opportunity, especially if you are in a small town.

 

house sitting cats oshima 6

4º Lesson: Be Committed, People and Pets are Counting on You

 Pet sitting in Bangkok –  We were the lucky backup

We were the right people, in the right place, at the right moment… And we nailed our third house sitting!

Iris and Kenneth live in Bangkok, and before planning their trip to Japan, they searched for a good pet sitter for their three lovely cats. After some interviews they picked a couple that were travelling around Southeast Asia and were interest in do pet sitting and house sitting in Bangkok.

However, one week before head to Japan they got the bad news: the house sitters changed plans and would not come to Bangkok anymore. On the last minute Iris had to find new sitters to look after the cats, so she wrote to many people, and one of them was our friend Sabrina (the great blogger behind Just One Way Ticket). Sabrina put us in contact to them and the end of the story is: We were the happiest house sitter back up ever!

Chomsky + Oshima + Freya were our family during the Christmas and New Year celebration. We were in a comfy house, with cute and lovely cats, getting to know a different place and making new friends. Definitely the best way to spend our first Love & Road Xmas holidays far from home!

Lesson: Be committed, someone is counting on you. If you are not sure about the dates, the place or the responsibilities don´t accept the house sitting job. House sitting and pet sitting are a serious job.

 

house sitting cats graffitti 7

5º Lesson: Be Open Mind, People and Places are Different

House sitting for expats people

Before applying for a house sitting you can check the picture of the place, the videos of the pets and also ask one million questions to the house owner. But you never know exactly how it will be until the moment you arrive at the house. That´s why is so important to have an open mind and know how to respect different cultures and believes.

House sitting in Bangkok was a really nice surprise to us. The house owners are two expats living in Thailand. The mix of culture (Thai + Serbian + Syrian + British + Danish ) was printed in every corner of the house. Music, art, literature, delicious arabic dinner and lovely cats. We got in touch with a bunch of new stuff while staying there!

Lesson: People are different. Maybe they will be vegan, gays, religious, sport enthusiasts, messy, clean freak or just normal. If you want to be a house sitter you need to be open mind and know how to adapt yourself.

 

house sitting walking dogs trouble 8 b

Now that you already know what house sitting is, and what is behind of it, let´s go to the practical stuff. I´m sure you are already cursing me for only share experiences and not  say a word about how I get awesome opportunities of international house sitting. So here it goes, our final five lessons.

 

6º Lesson: How to find International House Sitting Jobs Online

A tiny investment can pay for months of free accommodation

There are many websites offering house sitting opportunities and spreading the idea of free accommodation around the world. All them will charge you a fee to have access to all the house owners and gigs. We are big fans of two companies that offer a worldwide range of house and pet sitting jobs. 

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Lesson: We strongly recommend you to open an account  on Trusted Housesitters (Get 20% off using our voucher LOVETHSRD) , Housecarers.com and Mind My House.  Sign up today and start planning your next trip with a free accommodation and unique experience!


You can search by country, cities or dates. On Trusted Housesitters you will find international house sitting jobs across the globe, even in Asia and Africa. Mindy My House is more focused in Europe, and most of the time they are offering long-term house sitting positions.

Before applying for any house sitting opportunity check first how are the Visa policies on the country you are planning to go, and the paperwork you will have to do. Also is always good, and smart, to think about transportation before send an email to house owner. A nice house sitting in Thailand can become a money nightmare if you have to travel from Portugal to there for only 5 days gig. 

house sitting profile 9

7º Lesson: Have a Great House Sitter Profile

Be honest and show off your home & living skills

House and pet owners want just one simple thing: “A trustworthy person that will be able to look after they a home and pets with love and responsibility.”

Said that, your profile needs to show what you are and what they can expect from you, but never write it in a robotic way. Open your heart to write your house sitter profile. Tell them why do you want to house sitting and why they should trust on you. Explain how awesome you are with animals and plants, and that you can be organised and tidy. And never forget to mention how honoured you will be if they choose you for the house and pet sitting job.

For example, mine and Rob´s advantages are: we were pet (cats and dogs) owner before traveling, we had a swimming pool at home and we know how to clean it, we do gardening, we can fix little things at home. Also we speak English, Portuguese, some Spanish and a little Italian. Easygoing people, and open-minded. 🙂

What are your best assets? Write them down and don´t lie!

Before our first house sitting in Spain, we had applied for a couple of opportunities but never received a positive feedback. Until one day that I decided to be myself, so I re-wrote our profile in a more personally and soulful way. Since that we got all the house sitting jobs we applied for. 🙂

Recommendation Daniela & Marco 2

 

8º Lesson: Let People Tell About You

Recommendations are the house sitter best friend

Ok, you already wrote a perfect house sitter profile. We know all that is true, but it has not much value if you can’t prove it! So now it´s time to call friends, employers, hosts and ask them to put on a piece of paper their opinion about you and your awesomeness. That´s what we call recommendation letter, and they can make you stand out from the crowd. 😉

house sitting working 11

9º Lesson: Follow the Rules and Recommendations

House sitting and pet sitting is a serious job

A big mistake that occur among the house sitter is to think that the gig is only about free accommodation. Actually the “free stay” is just the payment of your services. Sometimes you will be lucky as us and just need to take care of a cute and quiet cat as Bubulina. Others you will have to walk the dogs twice a day for at least 1 hours, as we had to do with the energetic Gizmo. Or you will have to wake up everyday at 7am to feed the cats, like we did in Bangkok with Chomsky, Freya and Oshima.

Our duties were priority and many times we change our schedule and routine do follow all the rules and recommendations of the house. It´s not just about the pets, the house itself need some attention too. It all  depends on what you agreed with the house owner, if your stay includes some specific tasks never neglect  them.

To avoid any type of misunderstanding and also to help you and the owner, here goes a list of what you should ask and know before the house owner leave.

 House sitting questionnaire:

  • Emergency contact.
  • How electricity and water works in the house. (location of water valves, the electricity switchboard, gas valves, etc…)
  • If they have plants, how often you should water them, if they need any extra care.
  • The mail need to be collected from the mailbox or any other specific place.
  • Which parts of the house you can use, which products for cleaning and cooking are available for you.
  • Is the house smoking free?
  • If you need to look after the garden, how and when you should do it.
  • If there is a gardener or a pool cleaner, which days they work, their names and how is their access to the house
  • The trash is separated by organic and recycle? Are there special days for collecting them?
  • When can you arrive in the place? (I always recommend to arrive at least one day before the owner´s departure, so you have times to learn about the house and pet)
  • Any trick about how to deal with kitchen or bathroom appliances?
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house sitting dogs in the park 12

Pet sitting questionnaire:

  • Ask for the vaccination records and check if it’s up to date
  • Emergency contact and vet number.
  • Food and feed routine.
  • How often you have to clean the litter.
  • How are the exercises and the play routine
  • Are they allowed is all the rooms of the house? Are there any restriction?
  • Is there any secret place the pet likes to sleep in?
  • About shower and cleaning.
  • Do they need any medicine or especial attention?
  • Do they have any healthy problem?

 

Living questionnaire:

  • Recommendation for markets, restaurants and good places for local food.
  • Are there are any unmissable event or attraction in the city?
  • How to get to the place and how to move around the city.
  • Dates you should arrive and leave the house.

 

house sitting dinner 13

10º Lesson: Time to Say Goodbye

House sitting connects you with people and it´s never easy to leave them

Congrats!! If you follow all the nine lessons above I´m sure you already had a house sitting experience or you are  just about to have one. I’m almost sure you thought the hardest part was to organize your profile, search the gigs and email the house owners. Congrats again, you are like us, a naive house sitter.

The most difficult part of the house sitting job, especially the ones you really connect with the house owners, pets and places, is to say goodbye. Believe me, it´s hard to leave great cities and nice people.

Pack and hit the road after a house and pet sitting is not easy for me, that´s because I deeply embraced the experience. I turned the “free accommodation” idea into a cultural lesson, an opportunity to make friends and see the world in a less touristy way.

house sitting street market 14

Now, after house sitting in Spain, Italy and Thailand, we are searching for more house sitting jobs to decide which country will be our new destination. However, before we get our next pet sitting job I want to say thanks to Giorgia, Daniela, Marco, Iris and Kenneth for choosing us as house sitters. We feel honoured for being accepted in your houses, loved by your pets and shared amazing time together!

For you that never thought about house sitting before, don’t miss the opportunity to travel the world, meet great people and also save some money. If you are a house sitter already, share your thoughts with us, and never forget that house and pet sitting are much more than a free accommodation. 🙂

 Ps: If you need any more info about house sitting check out Nora Dunn from The Professional Hobo, she wrote amazing articles about her experiences. Also Darlene & Pete Heck, from the Hecktic Travels, have lots of knowledge about house and pet sitting.

 Ps 2: After the house sitting jobs we already visited Chomsky, Freya and Oshima in Bangkok. Now we are planning a reunion with Gizmo and Gina in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Bubulina is a bit far from us, but our latest news was that she is still a fat and gorgeous baby living in a new apartment in South of Spain. 🙂

77 Comments

    1. Thanks Suki!!

      You should give a try to house and pet sitting, it´s an amazing way to travel and meet people. There are plenty of options for one week or few days job. A short term house sitting is the best way to start.

      All the best! 🙂
      Nat

    1. Hi Annie!!

      You and Ben should do a house and pet sitting. You both love dogs and are such an organised and committed couple. If you need any references let me know, it will a pleasure to recommend you to some house sitting gigs!

      Missing you a lot, can´t wait to see you guys at Kazantip! wooowwwww 😀

      Ks
      Nat

    1. Hey Marc!

      If you like dogs and don´t mind to stay in someone’s house go for a house sitting! We loved all the experiences we had, and it´s a different way to travel and connect with people. Totally recommend to you guys!

      If you decide to do a house and pet sitting let me know how it went. It’s always good to share experiences! 😉

      Safe and happy travels!
      Nat

  1. Great post with great tips!

    We have only just started our housesitting experience! We are currently doing our first house sit in the UK while we look for somewhere to live, but we are hoping to find some amazing housesits abroad for our next travelling adventure.

    We are loving our time with our amazing dog and cat! We leave on Sunday but hopefully we will be coming back soon. We don’t want to say goodbye!
    Karianne recently posted…Lanta Animal Welfare – Giving Hope to Strays in Koh LantaMy Profile

    1. Thanks Karianne!!

      So happy that you are having a great time pet sitting! Enjoy every minute of it! I and have to say that it is a addicting job, every time that you have a great experience it makes you want to find another house and pet to look after.

      And never say “goodbye”, I learned to say “see you soon”. The world is so small that we never know where we will be on next month or year… Friends can last forever! 🙂

      Nat

    1. Hey Chris!
      Nice experience with Workaway!
      The price for signing up to these websites vary a lot. Mind My House is 20 usd per year, Trusted HouseSitting is a little bit more expensive… Before you sign up do a research about the jobs they offer so you can check out which site suits you better. We have profile in both of them! 🙂
      Nat
      Natalie Deduck recently posted…Summer in Sydney – What to do?My Profile

  2. I’ve read about housesitting before, and even checked out the sites before, but it never seems to line up with when I’m free or where I can be. Do you know if there’s a reverse site somewhere, where I could, for example, post that I’ll be in such and such a place at a particular time, and does anyone there need a house/pet sitter?
    Rachel recently posted…My very first solo tripMy Profile

    1. Hey Rachel!
      At Mind My House and Trusted HouseSitter, the house owner can search for sitter by location and dates. But I think is more comom the other way around, as there are more people looking for gigs than place and pet to be looked after. Never heard about a site that works as you mentioned, I know some people advertise their skills as pet sitter on Craigslist too.
      🙂
      Nat
      Natalie Deduck recently posted…Summer in Sydney – What to do?My Profile

  3. What a great post. My husband, our 10 year old daughter and I are about to head off to our full – time, round the world adventures this July. We’ve been thinking of doing some house-sitting around the world especially because we love pets.

    We have a cat named Mina with her own instagram account and before leaving, she will be adopted by one of our best friends. As you can imagine, our daughter is devastated that we can’t travel with our Mina. We think the best way for her to still have pets while traveling is for us to housesit. She’d love to be around those cuties.

    Thanks for all the great tips!
    Brenda recently posted…Our Daily BreadMy Profile

    1. Ohhh Brenda, leaving a pet it is not a easy decision! 🙁
      We left our two cats in Brazil, and I miss them a lot!

      Definitely the pet sitting job is a way to fulfill the need and love for a pet. I´m sure your little girl would love it!
      Have a great trip! And if you need any more info about house and pet sitting just let me know!
      🙂
      Nat
      Natalie Deduck recently posted…Summer in Sydney – What to do?My Profile

  4. It’s really great article! I never thought seriously about house sitting, and even haven’t heard about pet sitting 🙂
    It’s a good way for slow traveling, the most valuable one.
    I’d try it someday, so thanks for providing the questionnaires at the end of the post. Very useful!!!

  5. I would add one thing to this (great) post. Ask for a copy of the pet’s vaccination records -you’ll need this if an emergency occurs and you need to bring them to doggy day care or the pet hotel. A vaccination record is also easy evidence that the owners themselves are responsible pet owners. It’s one thing to say your pet has a vet, it’s another if the vet knows the animal and owners!

    1. That´s so true Vanessa!!

      I was so worried about put together essential information and tips that I forget the most important one: the vaccination records. Just add it to the post now! 🙂
      One thing we noticed while searching for pet sitting job is that most of the owners are really loving and caring with their pets. Otherwise they wouldn’t bother to find a sitter. Most of the job listing comes already with all the vaccination records and vet contact.
      😀
      Nat
      Natalie Deduck recently posted…Summer in Sydney – What to do?My Profile

  6. Oi Sandonei!!
    Desculpa a demora para te responder, estavamos em viagem pelas ilhas da Filipinas e Tailândia, e a internet aqui não era das melhores… Então o trabalhoa acumulou 🙂

    Ficamos agradecidos demais com seu carinho e hospitalidade!! É fantástico encontrar conterrâneos espalhados pelo mundo e que também amam viajar!!! Ainda não temos planos para USA, mas sempre é bom ter contatos! Se precisar de algo sobre Europa e Ásia pode contar com a gente também!

    Abraços,
    Nat 😀
    Natalie Deduck recently posted…Boracay, Philippines – Rediscovering ParadiseMy Profile

    1. Hi Gloria,
      Give it a try, you will love it.
      The first one involved a lot of emails and Skype interviews until we got the gig.
      Suggest to get some recommendation letters with your former employers 😉
      Cheers!

  7. Hi Natalie! Thanks for sharing this!!!!! I sooooo love the idea! and not only for the free accommodation but because I can get a chance to play and take care of different pets as well!!!!!! I wonder if do you have any recommended site where can we look for these people who provide pet sitting experience?

    1. Hey!!
      So happy that you liked the post! House sitting is definetly a great way to travel and be in touch with animals. I do recommend you to look at TrustedHouseSitters.com for information about house siiting jobs. If you want to read about personal experiences during house sitting you can check these travelblogs: http://www.hecktictravels.com/ and http://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/ . They have many good blog posts.
      All the best and good luck!!
      Nat 😀

  8. Oh, I didn’t know you guys had done so much house sitting! Lucky you! It is on my list of things I want to try, but I feel like it’s more open to couples than singles or 2 friends… and well, just as for any other job, it’s hard landing the first gig when you don’t have references yet! Anyways, great tips, I’ll definitely refer to the post when I decide to start applying for housesits 🙂
    Camille recently posted…What To Do in Yangon, Myanmar: 8 Things Not To MissMy Profile

    1. Hey Camille!!!
      Thanks for stopping by and so sorry for such a late reply! We were super busy at TBEX in Spain and now travelling with family! Time is flying!
      House sitting is the best way to travel and cut the costs. We just booked our next gig in Bulgaria for the next two months 😉
      If you decide to do some pet sitting let me know, I can share more info and tips with you!
      Ks
      Nat
      Natalie Deduck recently posted…1 Year Travelling Around the World – Our Costs & SecretsMy Profile

  9. Awesome post! Housesitting is one of my most favourite ways to travel! We are currently doing a housesit in New Zealand and it’s absolutely fabulous. It’s good to take it a bit slower once in a while and just ‘unwind’ from travelling. Also a fantastic way to catch up on some much needed work LOL. And I agree totally about being true to oneself – if you don’t like animals…don’t even go there. For me, it’s simply amazing to be around animals – i’m so glad Housesitting exists.
    Serendipity Tess recently posted…Train travel in Europe – Win a 1st class Railpass from RailEurope!My Profile

  10. Hi

    Just like to know, in 2 months time in Bulgaria? How much time you use for travelling around?

    You buying your own air ticket to Bulgaria and taking care the pet, I THINK is not cheap, though!

  11. Hi Tan!

    As we are already travelling and we want to visit a country of our choice, the flight tickets are already part of our budget and costs of travelling. If it will be cheap or expensive, it all depends on where you are coming from, and where is your next destination. Bulgaria in the middle of our travel route, so suits perfectly for our travel plan.

    About the time we spend traveling around the country it always depend on what we a focusing, and if we just want to relax on the mountains and work on the blog, or if we want to explore the cities… There is no right or wrong, each country, each travellers and each experience is different.

    All the best, and thanks for stopping by!
    Nat
    Natalie Deduck recently posted…Why live in Chiang Mai? The home of Expats & Digital NomadsMy Profile

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  13. It seems like a brilliant idea to provide house sitting and pet sitting lessons for people. When I go out of town and leave my dog with people (usually teenagers) I want to make sure that my dog will be healthy when I return. As a pet owner, I’d almost like to require teens to attend a seminar like this, in order to care for my dog.

  14. I’ve house sat around town, and have wanted to take on international options. You’re definitely right that house-sitting is more than staying at someone’s house for free. It takes a lot of responsibility and is almost like being a roommate. These are great lessons and questions to ask that I’ll keep in mind as I look at international options!
    Brooke of Passport Couture recently posted…Indian Bijou: Traditional Craftsmanship and Modern JewelryMy Profile

    1. Hey Brooke!!
      International house sitting is even more challenging but is double of fun!! Sometimes you have to cross the language barrier, culture… but you learn a lot and have unique experiences. This week we finish our 5th pet sitting [we are in Bangkok for two months looking after a cute old dog] and I´m already sad because we need to leave!
      All the best, thanks for stopping by!
      Nat
      Natalie Deduck recently posted…Hostels no Camboja » Onde ficar, se divertir e ajudarMy Profile

  15. Thanks for sharing your experience, advice, and insights. I think this would suit me perfectly as I prefer nothing better than a vacation where I can fit in like a local, meeting the people and relaxing into its flow; I have been an animal lover all my life and have a lot of experience (My dog and cat are sleeping on the sofa next to me now). My concern would be in the home-care end, dealing with foreign systems and language barriers. Have you any additional advice for a single woman in her 50’s doing this? Recommendations or cautions? Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi Elcie!!
      Do you have a dog and a cat?? OMG!!! We miss our pets back home!!
      Answering your question, we noticed that most of the house owner that are looking for sitters they speak English, what helps. Before they leave the house we always make sure to ask all the details about the house and the maintenance of the place. The language barriers will exist if you travel to small community where English is not the first language. Like the time we were in Bulgaria and no one in the tiny village could understand us. All the communication was done by mimics, smiles and guessing… But that is the fun of travelling to an unusual place and leave the comfort zone. I would say go for it!! If you like travel and pets, house sitting is a great way to explore the world in a different perspective. And before accepting any opportunity talk a lot with the house owners, Skype calls are great to get to know more about the place and pets!
      Wish you all the best!!
      Rob
      Robson Cadore recently posted…How Much Does it Cost to Travel in ThailandMy Profile

  16. I think it’s great that you mention love when caring for a pet. Like you say, it’s not just about how skillful or knowledgeable you are. It’s about how much you care for the animals. I’m hoping to find someone who can meet that criteria.

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