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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 of 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.
Lesson: We strongly recommend you to open an account on Trusted Housesitters , Housecarers.com and Mind My House. Sign up today and start planning your next trip with free accommodation and a 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.
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. 🙂
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. 😉
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?
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?
- 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.
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.
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. 🙂