If you are prepared to open your mind to alternative ways of finding FREE accommodation and you love PETS and that means LOVING other peoples PETS than house/pet sitting could be for you!
We started house & pet sitting a year ago, we have stayed in some lovely houses and looked after some crazy and friendly pets. I still find it amazing how trustworthy people are, trusting their fur babies in the hands of strangers, its really refreshing and we have made some great friends. So far this year we have been been to Windsor, sat for pets in a 300 year old cottage and are off to Geneva in April and California for Christmas, the opportunities for travel in an inexpensive way is amazing. We have worked hard to build up references and through this we are now house & pet sitting for a week or two most months.
If you fancy yourself a pet/house sitter, it’s a great way to see the world, look after some lovely pets and make new friends – Here are our top 10 tips to get you started…
1. Pet sitting is a big responsibility so make sure you like pets – seems obvious but some pets can test your pet loving patience. Other peoples pets may not be trained as you would expect, they may need medication, have special leads so always be sure its the right thing for you.
2. Find a reputable site to join (we used trusted housesitters), you will pay a small yearly fee but its well managed and they have draft contracts/information if you need it. Start applying for local pet sits, this way you can meet the people/pets beforehand and feel comfortable. This was great for our first couple of pet sits
3. Be 100% sure you can commit to the dates and the pet sit, letting people down just before their time away is just wrong and could lead to bad references for you.
4. Prepare a form with basic questions to ask – when are the pets fed, where is the food kept, how many times a day do they walk, is there an alarm for the house, how does the heating work? All seems obvious but you’ll be amazed how quick you forget even when you have just been told! Most people will leave you notes but just in case.
5. Public liability insurance – May seem a bit heavy handed but for a small yearly fee its definitely worth getting insurance for peace of mind to cover you for incidentals. Just search online and compare sites for the best deal. We paid approx £60/year.
6. Buy/take your own food, washing tabs, drink etc. People are usually more than happy for you to clear our their leftovers in the fridge but do not take advantage….
7. Leave the house exactly as you left it and always be honest if you have an accident. I have burnt oven mitts on an AGA, accidentally stole a cereal bowl oh and burnt the oven mitts on the aga again the second time we sat for the same couple) but we were honest and people are usually great about accidents.
8. If you walk into a really clean and tidy house, take a few pictures so you can remember exactly how it was when you arrived. The really clean people are usually the people who like their cushions left a certain way and its kinda polite to remember that.
9. Leave some milk, bread and maybe some fruit when you leave, just a small thought can make a difference to a family who have been traveling for hours.
10. ENJOY your surroundings. As long as the pets are well looked after there is no reason you cannot escape for a few hours here and there. After all you are living like a local so why not pretend you are!