House and Pet Sitting

IMG_5621Erik and I have done a lot of travelling and now that we are retired and have more freedom, we are interested in doing some house and/or pet sitting, as well as our regular travelling.  We joined TrustedHousesitters.com in 2017 after coming across the site while looking for house exchanges. House and pet sitting was a perfect match for our style of travel.  We were tired of doing the touristy stuff and just want to stay in one place for a week or more and live like a local. We usually choose smaller villages in the UK or France, with pubs and bakeries within walking distance if we can, and we enjoy beautiful walks in the countryside every day. So far we have looked after dogs, cats, rabbits, sheep, chickens, and ducks – what a variety!

With Trusted Housesitters, no money changes hands – it’s sharing our house and pet sitting services in exchange for a place to stay while we’re travelling.  Members can be owners or sitters (or both) and pay a yearly fee to join (in our case, the cost on one night’s stay in a hotel0.  Owners post sits with information and photos of their home, the pets, the location, and the expectations.  Sitters set up profiles showing their experience and reviews and then apply for sits that interest them. Owners reach out to sitters that look like a good match and start a conversation, often phone call or video chat, where both sides answer all their questions.  If the owners are happy, they offer the sit and if the sitters approve of the plan, they accept it.

Once committed, neither side cancels unless they have a very compelling reasons (ie pandemic). The sitters and owners often touch base a few times before the sit starts.  Once the owners are on their way, we always send them updates, photos and videos so they know their pet is happy and well cared for.  At the end of the sit, we clean the house thoroughly, trying to leave it as it was when we arrived.  After the sit, homeowners leave us a review and we leave them feedback as well, both of which is posted on our own profiles.

You can check out our profile and thirteen 5 star reviews here.

House and pet sitting is not for everyone.  You are living in someone else’s home, not a hotel, with all the responsibilities that can and does entail.  You generally spend a lot more time there than if you were travelling and staying in paid accommodation.  You will have responsibilities for caring for pets of all shapes and sizes so you need to be very comfortable with that (you can filter search results for the kinds of pets or even farm animals that you are willing to care for.) You need to be flexible and resourceful and able to solve small household problems on your own.

Generally, you need to have your own transportation although some home owners offer their vehicle. And in general, you spend a lot of your time at home with the pet.  We tend to go out to go shopping a few times, and will leave the pet at home for maybe up to 4 hours once or twice during a week to go visit a stately home etc, but that’s about it. But we choose homes and villages that make us want to stay home anyway so it’s win-win for us.  We try to get involved in the local events and activities if we can.  It’s lovely to feel a part of a community and as a pet sitter, neighbours look upon us differently than if we’re just stayed in an airbnb in their area.

In 2017, we did our first three house sits in England from Aug 25-Oct 2, 2017, and in May 2018, we did a fourth in Canterbury, England. Here are blog posts about our experiences.

Our first sit was Aug 25 – Sep 2 caring for one dog and two rabbits in the Cotswolds – blog post here.

Our second sit was Sep 4 – 13 near Shaftesbury, in Dorset, for 2 rescue dogs – blog post here.

Our third sit was Sep 16 – Oct 2 in rural Lincolnshire with 4 dogs, 13 chickens, and a pond full of fish! Blog post here.

Our fourth sit was May 12 – June 5 near Bridge, Canterbury where we looked after a lovely pup.  Blog post here. 

In the fall of 2018, we flew back to England for three more sits. The first was a return sit to the lab and rabbits in Bretforton at the end of August, followed by 12 days with two labs near Bury St Edmunds, and 10 days with two cats near Wells, in Somerset.

We stayed home in the Spring of 2019 to spend time with our new grandson who was born in December, but we were off to Europe once again in mid August, for 3 more sits, including a 10 day sit near Stroud, UK, and two beautiful sits in France – 10 days in Champagne-Mouton, and 10 days near Lombez, France.

We are planning a lot of travel in 2020, and already have a sit booked in Arizona in February/March and three sits booked in Hampshire and Cumbria in the UK for May/June. We are also hope to return to France or Italy in the August/September.

2020/21 Update

We had a wonderful sit in Arizona in Feb-March of 2020 and arrived home the day our province was locked down. We ended up having to cancel our three amazing UK sits for May/June but the owners had had to cancel their trips anyway so at least we weren’t letting them down too much.  Obviously, we never made it to France or Italy in the fall of 2020.  Spring 2021 came and went with no real sign of things opening up for international travel so at that point, we were resigned to wait for 2022 with our fingers crossed.  If things improve in Canada this year, we might try to find a sit in the Maritimes for fall.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see. In the fall of 2021, we did a few nights sit on Saltspring Island, in BC Gulf Islands and that was really nice to be out again. I wouldn’t mind looking for some sits in the Victoria region again some time.

2022 Update

We have finally have a trip to the UK booked for 4 weeks in May/June.  We have three sits booked in the Cotswolds, more or less back to back –  in Chipping Campden, Leafield, and Cirencester.  We can’t wait to get back to travel!

Overall, we are absolutely loving our housesits and the homeowners seem to like us as well, as we’ve managed to get 5 star reviews and nice comments on them all so far.

If you have questions and/or want more information about housesitting, feel free to email me at kelownagurl at gmail dot com and I’m happy to help.

If you are interested in joining THS, you can get 25% off by clicking this link, which will also give us two free months of membership. Or use this discount code RAF143736 , which will do the same thing.

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Our pups, Gabe and Angel, and our cat, Zoe (RIP)
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Angel and I

barb and Angel

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Erik and Gabe
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A cat I met in the Cotswolds
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Erik and our Zoe
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Me and my first housesit pup

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