I’ve been using Trusted House Sitters for years in my travels, and some of my favorite memories have been from pet sitting my four-legged friends. If you want to spend less traveling the world, don’t mind settling a bit more in one spot, and love animals, house sitting is the perfect opportunity for you.
What is House Sitting
House sitting is the arrangement of looking after the home and (usually) pets of another when they go on vacation. The benefits to the host are possibly even greater than those of the petsitter. Taking your pet with you when you travel can be ridiculously expensive, but so can hiring a sitter or putting your pet in a kennel. It’s a lot better to leave the pet at home in familiar surroundings. Having a guest in the house will also help to deter thieves. I read that in Canada, some insurance companies won’t cover the house if it’s been vacant for more than 4 days!
For the house sitter, the main benefits are two-fold. First, they have a place to stay and, on rare occasions, food provided. Second, they get to have the company of animals!
The disadvantage is your freedom of movement can be a bit limited. You’ll need to be available usually at least two times a day to feed the animals, although sometimes you can make arrangements (with the approval or help of your host) to have a neighbor feed the animals, or you might be taking care of something that doesn’t need daily attention (like a reptile or a cat with an automatic feeding tray).
It might be something as simple as a single dog or cat. It might be a handful of either or a combination of both. You might be looking after chickens, geese or donkeys. Some have snakes, others have fish, and a lucky few have horses. There is even a small handful just looking for people to water the plants.
Joining Trusted House Sitters
Trusted House Sitters (or TrustedHouseSitters as the company spells it as one word) is a website you can join in order to housesit for people who have animals they plan to leave behind while they take a vacation. Membership is $119 for a year, which gives you unlimited applications for house sits.
Trusted House Sitters launched in 2010 in Brighton, England where the average pet sitter charges $60 a day for looking after just one dog. The site very quickly built up, and now there are usually about 2,000 house sits available worldwide, about a third of which are in the United Kingdom…except when international travel is shut down. Some countries only have one or two opportunities, which means they’re probably in high demand.
Along with Couchsurfing and Workaway or Worldpackers, Trusted House Sitters makes up the Holy Trinity for unique and wonderful websites that budget travelers can use to help with accommodations. Each has its benefits. As much as I love meeting locals on Couchsurfing, or volunteering for my bed and board on Workaway or Worldpackers, Trusted House Sitters just might be my favorite, and for a very simple reason. You get to pet sit! You have to love animals if you want to housesit; I know I sure do!
Finding a Good House Sit
House sits are posted several months in advance in some cases, but others are posted last-minute. Some get dozens of applications, while others might not have any. As with any application site, you just have to send your requests and hope for the best.
In my first three months using Trusted House Sitters, I sent out nine requests and had five responses, two of which accepted me and three who had just accepted someone else. That’s much better odds than I had on other sites.
There are a few tricks I’ve used to improve my chances of getting a host. Applying for a job several months away is a good idea if you plan that far out. Many backpackers, such as myself, prefer to stick to last-minute planning. The house sits that are months away tend to have fewer applicants, at least until you get closer to the dates. Hopefully, the host takes taken down the house sit when they find a sitter so you don’t apply for something that isn’t available.
Very last-minute hosts are the best, especially if you’re already in the area or can get there fast. Unless you’re in a big city like London or Paris, chances are they’ll have only 0-3 applicants (Trusted House Sitters shows the number in ranges like this). If there are more than about 10 applicants, I won’t usually bother applying unless I have particular skills needed for that house sit (working with horses, etc) and it’s in an area I really want to travel to.
The length of the house sit will also make a big difference in how many people have already applied. Shorter house sits generally have more applicants by backpackers who are just going to be in the area for a few days and are hoping to find accommodations through the site while having a pet to take care of. There are also a handful of travelers who use Trusted House Sitters almost year-round and try to find long-term sits for weeks or months at a time. There are fewer travelers in the latter category, so you have a better chance to find a host offering a place for a week or longer.
Lastly, the more remote the location, the fewer the applicants. I often find that house sits in the heart of Edinburgh have dozens of applicants. On the contrary, hosts in the Highlands or on the Scottish Islands will usually only have 0-3 applicants. If you’re able to get out to these locations, your chances of finding a house sit will improve greatly.
Some Tricks To Improving Your Chances of Getting a House Sit
Know How to Take Care of Animals
This one should be a no-brainer, but some people do try to use the platform only to get free accommodations, and taking care of the pet is almost an afterthought. Having extra experience with animals and how to deal with problems they can encounter will go a long way to improve your chances of getting a house sit. You can always specialize in a species, whether canine, feline, avian, etc. Most hosts will have a strict regiment to follow with their pets, but it’s good to know what to look out for with the animals so you can notify the host or vet of anything that needs attention.
If you really want to have some fun with house sitting, learn how to take care of horses, donkeys or other less common domestic animals. I’m eternally grateful for my five weeks on a horsemanship training farm in Sweden and all the other work I’ve done to take care of horses over the years.
Have a Vehicle
There are plenty of urban house sits which are well connected to public transportation. If the house sit is more rural, you’ll probably need a car. There’s a tiny chance your host will have a vehicle you can use, but that’s pretty rare. Just like with Workaway or Worldpackers, it’s always good to pay attention to the exact location of the house sit, what kind of publication transportation goes to it, and where nearby shops and other services are.
Have a Very Thorough Profile
As with other membership sites, the best way to improve your chances of landing a good house sit is to have a complete profile. Don’t just say how much you love animals (that should definitely be part of it), but also include all the experience you have housesitting, any training you have had with taking care of animals, pets you’ve had, etc. Also give details on any dietary restrictions, if you have a vehicle, what your travel plans are, etc. The more, the better.
After each house sit you complete, try to get a recommendation from your host. Some hosts don’t really care if you have recommendations or not, and they probably won’t bother to leave a recommendation themselves, but it helps to get more of them if you can.
Be Willing to Accept Full Responsibility for the Pets and Home
House sits are quite often more than just taking care of animals. You might get asked to water the plants, receive parcels, or do other weekly activities (I once had to report solar panel readings regularly to the city officials). It should be a given to keep the house immaculate. I try to leave the house better than I found it, although there have been a handful of times when arrived into a rather shoddy situation.
Some of My Experiences With House Sitting
Two-Week House Sit in Dundee
My first house sit was in the Scottish countryside outside Dundee for the first two weeks of August. My host was leaving down to London for volunteer work and needed someone to take care of her two old dogs. One was a Jack Russell and the other was a Bearded Collie. They were nearing the end of their lifespan, and my host even commented that it wouldn’t be unexpected if the Beardie wasn’t around when she got back. What was truly unexpected was the level of exchange I received from her. I don’t want to set any false standards here for house sitting, but suffice to say, some hosts really take care of you!
The dogs weren’t up to taking walks in the countryside, but I explored the many trails myself – although I had injured my feet just before arriving. I also got to go down to St. Andrews with the vehicle she left for me to see the oldest golf course in the world, and make a couple trips down to Dundee, where I was dealing with various medical problems. Mostly I just stayed at the house, which was absolutely gorgeous!
Three Days in Rural England
Then at the end of September, I was accepted at a house sit in central England less than an hour away from Luton airport, where I picked my dad up for the beginning of his own international adventures. We only stayed four days at this location, but watching the year-and-a-half-old Terrier was an absolute joy. The dog, Holly, had unlimited energy. She just couldn’t get enough of retrieving the tennis ball in the backyard or going for walks in the surrounding fields where Alpaca grazed.
By far the best part of that house sit was in the evening. Holly would wait outside my bedroom door until I was comfy in bed, and then quietly push it open. She’d come to the side of the bed, lightly jump up, crawl under the covers and snuggle on my arm!
Five Weeks in Brighton, England
After a couple more short house sits, I had my first long-term stay in Brighton, my favorite city in England. The only problem was that the house was five miles away from the city center and the beach. Well, another problem was that the kitchen and pantry were overstocked with food I was allowed to use, but most of it was several years out of date and my host had no intention of letting anything be thrown out, no matter how spoiled it was.
I was taking care of two Staffordshire Bull Terriers (known as Staffies). They were young, and absolutely determined to chew on everything in sight, usually to the point of complete destruction of the object. I had to ensure the door to my room was kept closed at all times. Despite a lot of rain, I was able to make a few trips out to the beach, although it was a hard choice between walking the 10-mile round-trip or spending several dollars on a day bus ticket.
Six Weeks on the Isle of Skye
I went directly from my long-term sit in Brighton to an even longer sit on the Isle of Skye – my favorite place in the world! For six weeks, I took care of a Springer Spaniel dog, two cats, four ducks and eight chickens. Aside from taking the dog on a walk each day (with one of the cats sometimes accompanying us), I also had to collect all the chicken and duck eggs, clean out their coop, and feed all the animals every day. It was a lot of work, but more than worth it.
The location was absolutely stunning, overlooking a bay with the most gorgeous sunsets. The house was a four-bedroom B&B with a massive kitchen and even bigger living room. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my own transportation for most of my stay, so I spent my days hitchhiking to my favorite spots around the island.
A Week at the Lanark Estate
A really interesting house sit was the week I spent on the Lanrick Estate in Scotland, not far from Doune Castle where they filmed Monty Python and Outlander. Lanrick Castle, as it was told to me, was built using the drug money that was acquired by the Scottish men who owned Hong Kong and used the territory to conduct opium runs from China to the West. The castle was torn down a few years ago after it went to ruin, but the Lanrick Estate is still gorgeous with the River Teith running through the center of the property.
Where the castle was is now just a flat field, but you can still explore the ruins of the stables, the laundry house, the chapel and many other buildings. Fishermen are invited to rent the two fishing huts and spend the weekend in the river. The estate is also the perfect location for filming, but that’s a story for another article.
Click to Pin It
I believe that giving back in your travels is a huge plus, and I’ll always spend a few months out of every year doing volunteer jobs. Here are some more articles that cover volunteering, the pros and cons, and some of the experiences I’ve had.
- 5 Reasons Why Workaway Reviews Are Inaccurate and Could Be Improved
- My Workaway Experience in Brussels
- My Original Workaway Story for France
- My Workaway in France – A Story of Worst Case Scenario
- My Adventure with Zanzibara Campground via Workaway
- My First 3 Weeks Back in Europe, Helping on a Farm in Sweden
- My Five Weeks in Sjuntorp Could Have Been Better
- Hostel Workaways in Scotland: Mostly Great Volunteer Jobs
- A Worldpackers Review and 5 Reasons It’s Better Than Workaway
- A Guide to Volunteering with Workaway or Worldpackers When You Travel
- My Crazy Adventure House Sitting in Appleby, England
- Journal Entry: Surviving a Weekend Dog Sitting in Romania
- Seeing Dundee’s Facelift at the V&A Dundee and Sleeperz Hotel
This post may contain affiliate links. These links help give me the wherewithal to continue traveling at no additional cost to you. For more information, click here.
1 Apr 2019 – I need a dog (joke)
What a great way to travel and save money. I’ve never tried anything like this, but I’ve heard to so much about it. In fact my friend is in Miami looking after someone’s pets right now, and she’s only a block from the beach. Thanks for giving me a tip on how to do it right.
Good luck finding some good sits. Some of them can be quite luxurious. I have a friend in Australia who house sits at huge villas on the beach, and some of them don’t even have pets.
I keep talking to my wife about signing up for Trusted House Sitters, but we never seem to get around to it. Good to hear that you have already had 2 stellar experiences! Thought I have to admit if I got a house sit and the owner told me their dog might die while I was taking care of it I would be incredibly nervous. Sounds like you handled it like a pro!
Well, she actually seemed surprised that the dog wasn’t dead when she got back. Even better, she called me up three months later because the dogs STILL weren’t dead and she wanted to take another vacation. Unfortunately I was already in Thailand by then.
I’ve heard about this and I think it a great option for digital nomads and those seeking to slow travel or stay someplace for a long time. However, I don’t its something for me for 2 reasons. 1. I’ve been to a lot of places but never stayed longer than a week. 2. I have issues taking care of plants I’m not sure I would want to take care of someone beloved pet…lol
A lot of the house sits are actually just for a couple days, especially the last-minute requests. But it does take a lot of responsibility. My last house sit was a dog, two cats, four ducks and eight chickens. It was a couple hours of work a day, including the dog walking. Still better than paying for accommodations though, especially on the Isle of Skye.
We travel in a mobile house, but sometimes we like to spread out a bit. We have occasionally rented short term apartments, but we are just getting interested in the idea of housesitting. Your post is very timely. Thanks.
I’m really jealous of that mobile home! That’s what I want. In the meantime, I’m not allowed to have animals at my flat in Edinburgh, so house sitting is also a way to satisfy my pet craving.
What beautiful dogs! I love housesitting, though haven’t done it internationally – mainly around my local area for friends and friends of friends when I was in university and still living at home. But I know so many people who house sit as they travel and it sounds like an incredible opportunity. Trusted housesitters is a name which pops up time and time again, so they’re the first place I would start if I had the chance to jump in 🙂
Yeah, I’ve now been able to get opportunities without the website just through friends, but Trusted House Sitters is great if you’re going to new countries…if they have house sits there. Some countries are still relatively new to house sitting. SE Asians in general don’t like anyone but family watching their homes.
I love pets but I am not really sure if i can do this. Housesitting is lesser of a responsibility for me as I at least don’t upset a living thing. I guess, maybe because I haven’t tried this out.
It really comes down to what animals you have to watch. Sometimes you can find cats that need almost no attention other than feeding twice a day. I’ve also seen house sits that only required someone to water the plants!
I didn’t realize that you had to pay to be a member on the site, but I understand that. This is especially great if you travel a ton. Such cute pups!
Thanks. I know there are a few sites, and some have cheaper membership fees, but fewer options as well. I think the problem with Trusted House Sitters is that both hosts and sitters have to pay.
My cat sleeps just the way that Holly does! I rely on neighbours and occasionally on the local cat sanctury who will cat sit for a donation when I travel. Those of my London friends who travel tend to use ‘borrow my doggie’ – but house sitting is both a way to see the world and a way to have some company while you do…great idea!
I’ll have to check out Borrow My Doggie. I know House Sitting UK, and there are a bunch of smaller ones. Yeah, I’m one of those really strange people who loves sleeping with pets…with reason. It’s nice when they just curl up at the foot of the bed. I was expected to have the dogs in my room at a recent house sit in Brighton, but I finally had to kick them out because they snored too loud! LOL
So Darcee & I have been exploring the House Sitting Pet Sitting gig cause we love travelling long periods and this would save us tons of $$ but we keep getting denied cause we dont have experience yet we cant get experience unless someone gives us a chance. It is very frustrating, like that resume job thing…but we keep trying cause I would love to work a farm or watch dogs in some awesome place in exchange for being close to the actions
Well, everyone has to start somewhere. There are a couple tricks to getting good sits without references. Choose places that are posting for last minute hosts, or are further outside of town. Basically, you are looking for hosts with 0-3 applicants. Good luck on finding one!
I need 2 hit up those last-minute ones for sure. I guess I’ll just keep trying and see what happens thanks for the tips
Good luck! SOme can be quite amazing. I just spent six weeks on the Isle of Skye, which I still need to write about.
Well to be honest I had never thought of pet sitting as a way to travel, it surely is an interesting idea! I love animals and I would for sure enjoy this. The sharing economy is getting more and more creative and it’s great because we get unique opportunities and experiences in return.
Exactly. I love animals, but it’s hard to have my own as a traveler. This is a great way to “get my fix” for a few days or weeks at a time.
This is absolutely the best of both worlds. Thanks for the tip!
You’re very welcome!