Travel for Free: The Ultimate Guide to Pet Sitting

Pet sitting (or just house minding) is a wonderful service that allows the animal (or home) owner to go on vacation knowing that their pet and home is being looked after whilst also providing a free accommodation option for the savvy traveller. Here’s a guide on how to make pet sitting the best experience for both the pet owner and the sitter.

pexels-photo-406014For the Pet or Home Owner:

  1. Find a suitable, reliable and responsible sitter

This may seem pretty obvious but you must make sure that you are comfortable with leaving your pet and your home with the person who will be sitting them. It may be easiest to ask a trusted friend who lives nearby, whom you can ask them to cover small weekend trips first before leaving for longer vacations, to see how things go. However, if anything does go wrong would you want to lose that friendship? Plus, they may not be available for every time you want to go away, so make sure you ask in advance and have a back up plan.

Alternatively, you could go through a specific pet sitting service such as mindmyhouse.com, trustedhousesitters.com or catinaflat.com. With Mindmyhouse and Trustedhousesitters you pay a fee (usually for a year) and then post your pet sitting listing. Catinaflat is a pay per visit service, where you can also request overnighting.

Make sure to include details about the duration of the sit, location of your home and what you expect the sitter to do, as well as about your animals. This is incredibly important, if you want someone to be with your animals all day every day and to walk the dog for three hours each time, you must specify this. If, however, you want someone who can feed and water them, give them some loving but also enjoy the local area you are in then make sure you make that clear.

Check their references and either meet them in real life or have a Skype conversation with them prior to the sitting. You can normally get a good idea of the person by contacting their referees and having a set of questions to ask them during the interview – why do they want to pet sit, do they enjoy it, how many times have they pet sat before, for what kind of animals, are they prepared to do the tasks you want, what will they be doing on a day to day basis, was there any problems with previous pet sits, if there were what did they do? Their responses will help you decide.

2. Provide complete details

You should leave a reference checklist with the sitter so that they can refer to this on a daily or in an emergency situation. This should include feeding schedules, medicine administration details, exercise routines, waste disposal systems, play regime and any pet specific requirements for example if they are not allowed in certain rooms, have allergies etc.

Don’t forget to list emergency contact details for yourself (e.g. the hotel where you are staying), the vet where the pets are registered, a plumber/electrician/gas maintenance person, the emergency services (useful if the sitter is not from the country where you reside), where a spare set of keys might be or a locksmith and also someone close by that can be called on for any other crisis.

If you want the plants watered, the trash taken out, the lawn mowed or any other small household tasks you should include these too, as well as the alarm system codes, cleaner’s details and instructions for the washing machine, stove etc.

Like this post? Subscribe to the Soulful Travel newsletter for Annie’s packing checklist plus travel related advice, news, competitions and more. Sign up here.

If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

farm-animals-horses

3. Utilise technology and organise updates

There is pretty much WIFI in all corners of the world, plus the ability to go ‘roaming’ with your existing contract or to buy a local SIM and load up a cheap data package. You can use Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Facetime, emails, text message to communicate so make sure you organise for at least two of these to work whilst you are away. Your mobile phone company or accommodation hosts can help you or a quick search can reveal what would work out best where you are travelling to.

Ask the sitter to send photos on a regular basis or let them know that you will be messaging and expect a reply. Be aware of time differences and that your pet sitter might not be in the house 100% of the time – they do need food and exercise themselves!

4. Be prepared that things might go wrong

99% of the time everything will be fine, but sometimes not everything goes to plan. Whilst sitting I’ve experienced a dog getting a tick on their eyelid, an oven short-circuiting, a huge branch falling off the tree and crashing into the garden as well as an unexpected tortoise. All these things would have happened irrespective of it was me or the owner who was present. Therefore it’s a good idea to take out insurance and to be prepared that day-to-day minor mishaps might occur. If you have been thorough in choosing your sitter, provided complete details and established a communication system you should be confident that they are managing with the situations or can call on you for help if needed.

pexels-photo-1018305. Leave a small welcome gift or bring back a present

It’s always a good idea to thank the sitter by gifting them a bottle of wine, some candy or a useful travel essential either to welcome them to your home or when you return.

6. Give references

If the sitter has been amazing it’s polite to provide them with a reference so that they can continue to help other pet owners have stress-free holidays. It only takes five minutes to put a few words together about their demeanour and how the pets and house were cared for. Ask the sitter for references for you too, so that you also can attract good sitters in the future.

Like this post? Subscribe to the Soulful Travel newsletter for Annie’s packing checklist plus travel related advice, news, competitions and more. Sign up here.

If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

pexels-photo-288621As a Sitter:

  1. Decide whether pet sitting is right for you

It’s only fair to consider whether you are up for the responsibility and commitment of looking after other people’s pets and homes. It’s not quite just free accommodation, you will have to be there to dish out food, clean up poop and play with the animals. Some owners ask for daily communication, lawn mowing and other small tasks. If you don’t want to do these things, don’t be a pet sitter.

2. Get some basic experience

It’s a good idea to start off locally and offer to sit animals for a weekend before committing to a month on a farm in a remote location in a foreign country. Try asking friends or put up adverts on local notice boards. In this way, you can also build up a good set of references.

Once you have gained some experience then you can register with a pet sitting organisation. Create a post that gives details of what you can offer, including services and types of animal you have looked after. Inject a bit of your personality and examples of how you are reliable, trustworthy, and able to problem solve. Have a look at what other sitters are putting in their posts and use them as a basis for your own.

pexels-photo-104373

3. Find a suitable pet sitting opportunity

Search the pet sitting websites you have signed up for and when you have found an opportunity check that you can commit to what the pet owner requires. It’s not worth saying yes to something that you don’t feel comfortable or don’t want to do – it could jeopardise future pet sitting work or just be an unpleasant experience for you, the owner and the animals.

4. Be prepared for any eventuality

If the cat is run over or the dog eats chocolate you will have to take them to the vet. Similarly, if the boiler stops working you will have to wait in for the engineer. This will take priority over any sight-seeing or other plans you may have. Remember this is part of the ‘deal’ of the free accommodation and you must anticipate that not everything goes to plan.

Like this post? Subscribe to the Soulful Travel newsletter for Annie’s packing checklist plus travel related advice, news, competitions and more. Sign up here.

If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

pexels-photo-213399

5. Be communicative with the owners whilst they are away

The owners should leave a list of instructions and contact details for you but if they don’t then ask for one before they leave. It’s a good idea to send photos and short updates of the animals to the owners so that they know they are ok. If anything goes wrong with the home then you can let them know in advance and see if it can be fixed before they return.

6. Be clean and tidy

Unless the owners have a cleaner you should keep the home clean and tidy. Take the trash out before they return, wash the dishes and remove the bed sheets. These can leave a good impression and help you when you ask for references.

pexels-photo-762072

7. Give references

It’s great to give feedback to the owners so they know where they did well and also anything they could improve. This will help both future pet sitters and the owner’s animals have a great sitting experience.

Do you have any pet sitting tips? Let us know in the comments below 🙂

Like this post? Subscribe to the Soulful Travel newsletter for Annie’s packing checklist plus travel related advice, news, competitions and more. Sign up here.

If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

 [blog_subscribe_form]

8 thoughts on “Travel for Free: The Ultimate Guide to Pet Sitting

Add yours

  1. We’ve been housesitting for a couple of years now and find that it’s the perfect way to travel slowly. I don’t view it as free accommodation however, given that a lot of sits can be hard work! Some great tips here for homeowners and sitters alike.

    Like

  2. This is honestly such a great idea! Thanks for all these details and ideas! In the future, this will come in very handy to me if I have time to travel a little slower.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: