If you have pets, who looks after them when you travel? We’ve tried a few different options over the years, but for our last couple of family trips we’ve had house sitters looking after our home and pets, and it’s worked really well. I’ve found our house sitters through TrustedHousesitters, a network which links pet owners with people who will house sit for free. (This isn’t a sponsored post by the way, I’m just writing about them because I’ve found their service to be really useful – but I would get a small commission if you signed up with them).
Why we use house sitters
The first time that we used a house sitter was one summer when we went on our family holiday to Portugal. I was really worried about finding someone to care for our 20 year-old cat (who has since died) while we were away. We got him from a rescue centre when he was a few weeks old and he was just the friendliest and fluffiest of cats, and a great companion. By this point though he was at a very high-maintenance stage of life, needing daily tablets for a thyroid condition and daily grooming because he was no longer flexible enough to do it himself. We’d blocked up his catflap since he’d had an altercation with a fox the year before, and so he was using a litter tray, which needed cleaning frequently. I felt that it was too much to ask any of our friends or neighbours to look after him, and it was even too much to expect of our friendly local pet sitter who will pop in twice a day to look after pets while you’re away. I was concerned about leaving him. He needed someone to be at home to keep an eye on him, and I decided that a house sitter was the way to go, especially as we have a spare bedroom and so wouldn’t have to worry about where they would stay.
When I found the TrustedHousesitters website it seemed ideal. It’s very clear and easy to use. You can search for sitters and view their profiles, references and availability for free, but if you want to contact a potential sitter or list your home and pets in order to find a sitter, you need to pay to join the site, which I did (it costs £89 per year). TrustedHousesitters have a verification process to check potential sitters, from standard to enhanced level. It’s simple to list your home and pets – the site prompts you to add the relevant details and images to show to potential sitters. I duly did this last summer for our home, our cat and our dog, a gentle nine-year old whippet, then sat back and waited.
Our first house sitter
A couple of days later a woman contacted me to say that she was interested. My husband and I had a Skype chat with her to discuss what was involved, we checked her references and then agreed that we’d like to go ahead. She was on a year’s sabbatical from her job, studying for an MA, and was happy to stay in our peaceful village for a couple of weeks with our pets to keep her company. We contacted our insurance company to let them know that a sitter was looking after our house.
The house sit went well, apart from a couple of hitches. One evening our sitter phoned to say that water was dripping through our kitchen ceiling. We had to call on some kind friends who live nearby to go to our house and help her to find someone to fix the leak. It turned out to be a connection in a water pipe which had corroded. I was very grateful that the leak hadn’t happened while the house was empty for two weeks, and so was fixed with minimal damage. The other hitch was at the end of our trip, when the sitter had to leave a day earlier than expected, and so we had to ask another friend to go and stay for a night, until we returned, as our pets couldn’t be on their own for that long. This was a little stressful, but we managed to sort things out.
Our second house sitter
When we booked a New Year family trip to Italy I asked for a house sitter again. This time a married couple responded. Again, my husband and I chatted with them on Skype, checked out their references and accepted their request to sit for us. They live in a city, both work full time, have adult children living at home, and love animals but have no pets. They were delighted to have the chance to spend some time on their own and explore a part of the country which they don’t know. They were really happy to look after our pets – although they only looked after our dog in the end as our beloved cat died a couple of days before we went away. This house sit went really smoothly, with no issues at all. They had to set off just before we arrived home, but they left us a happy dog, a clean and tidy house and a bunch of flowers on the kitchen table.
I’d definitely recommend TrustedHousesitters as a great option for caring for your home and pets while you’re away – although obviously make sure that you check a potential sitter’s references etc and inform your insurance company of what’s happening. House sitting is also something which I’d like to do myself, as a sitter, once the kids have left home, as it seems like a great way to experience a different part of the world.
Over to you
Would you, or do you use house sitters? Is there anything that you’d like to ask me about our experience of house sitters?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click through from here and book, I may receive a small commission. All opinions, words and images are my own and independent, as ever.