How to travel as a housesitter

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ANYONE who has been travelling for a long time will tell you that no matter how good your plans, they can go awry because of unexpected circumstances such as cancelled flights and trains or missed connections.

Travelling as a housesitter is a bit different to other types of travel because there’s someone else whose plans are dependent on yours. Our hosts visit sick relatives, take long-overdue holidays or attend once-in-a-lifetime celebrations. They rely on us to help make their absence worry-free.

Check and double check your arrangements. We learned this the hard way when we turned up two weeks  late for a flight — two weeks!  We had booked the wrong day and didn’t realise until we arrived at the airport and were informed that the flight had long gone. We were able to rebook and, eventually, made it to our destination just in time. But it was expensive and stressful.

Let your hosts know your plans and make sure they are happy with them. Give them plenty of notice. Believe it or not, sometimes hosts and sitters cancel sits late in the piece. This can be upsetting for both parties. If hosts know that you’ve made definite travel plans they can prepare for your arrival and feel greater confidence that you will fulfil your obligations. One of our hosts told us that they knew we were taking our housesitting “career” seriously when we let them know flight times and numbers. 

On the flip side, it’s a good idea to ask your hosts when they are returning and, if you won’t be there when they arrive home, make sure they are aware of that and that it’s OK to leave their pets for the time between your departure and their arrival. We keep a written record of our hosts’ travel plans so we can check and modify all sit details easily.

If our housesit is a long way off, we make sure we stay in touch with our hosts at regular intervals. This gives them confidence in our planning and intentions and an opportunity to let us know if anything has changed. We plan many of our sits one year in advance, so a lot can change.  Staying in touch helps everybody remain confident about the sit. 

We spend some time going over plans and familiarising ourselves with information about our hosts and their pets a couple of days before each sit starts. This includes any instructions and information that we’ve received from our hosts; travel plans to and from the sit;  and location of essential services such as transport and food shops. People who look for pet sitters want the very best for their pets, and knowing the names and needs of each pet in your care when you first meet your hosts demonstrates that their pets are important to you too.


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