collage our road trip2

50 days in California – Accommodation Free!

We have just returned from a 3 month trip exploring California and had the most amazing time and with 50 days ACCOMMODATION FREE! saving us $6,380 and allowed our travel budget to stretch much further.   We stayed in beautiful homes in locations we had always wanted to visit and with an added bonus that is positively PAWSOME!

For years we’d talked about exploring California. High on our list to visit were Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon and Death Valley in particular  as well as San Francisco. We never really thought that dream would ever happen.  

Being part of the TrustedHousesitters Community has given us that travel opportunity.

For the last 2 years we have been almost full time house sitting in the UK and in this time we saved £9,000 on rental accommodation to go towards our 5 year International house sitting travel fund.   By living free of charge in beautiful homes homes while the owners themselves travel, allows our own travel fund to stretch much further.  But the huge added bonus in this journey, for us as animal lovers, is that you get to have the company of the owners’ pets too.

With 5 great house sits booked on the Trustedhousesitters website, on the 31st October 2019 – feeling super excited –  we flew out to Los Angeles.  We had 24 nights in California before our first house sit began in San Francisco, so as soon as we arrived in LA airport, with our car rental booked, we set off up the iconic Pacific Highway Route 1 – the start of our leisurely 16 day road trip visiting all the iconic Tourist locations we had so wanted to see before any house sitting began.

At the end of our road trip we drove down to San Diego as we still had a week before our first house sit began  – read here about our week in  San Diego

Our first house/pet sit began 23rd November with adorable 18 month old Samoyed – Mookie in San Francisco. This house sit meant we had 10 nights accommodation free in San Francisco, living in a modern 4 bedroom house in a great location very close to Ocean beach and Golden Gate Park.  Mookie loved to travel with us as we explored the City, including Fisherman’s Wharf and PIER 39 with views of Alcatraz, Union Square, Mission District, Haight-Ashbury.

Our second house sit was 8 nights with sweet, very shy, Poodle Julian in San Rafael, just a little further North of San Fran.   He loved walking  into town with us and it was a lovely lazy week for us and great just living like a local. We had a drive to Stinson beach with him and a day out to the nearby beautiful bayside town of Sausalito that Julian’s owners had recommended to visit. We stayed with the owners the night before the sit, they cooked a lovely meal for us and left us their car to use. The have become great friends.

Our next house sit was  further North, in the ‘gold rush’ town of Placerville, caring for Suni the cat and 3 hens with big personalities. Most morning we had a visit from the Wild Black Turkey crew!

 It was during this sit that we were able to drive to Lake Tahoe.  We got up early and with the pets all fed and settled we had time enough to drive all around the lake, stopping to take in the beautiful snowy scenery of the Nevada mountains, the stunning views of Emerald Bay lake, walking around Incline village and sitting at Secret Cove Beach.   As we left in the evening we passed the South Tahoe ski resorts vibrant and colourful getting ready for the Après-ski mood. This was definitely a dream come true for us to visit Lake Tahoe.

After a leisurely 3 day coastal drive down to LA again, taking in Malibu as we went, where of course we had to stop and nose at the awesome beach front houses, we arrived at Venice beach for our Christmas and New Year house sit.  A lovely modern house just 5 minutes walk to the beach, with cats x 2, Cashmere and Smudge. With these two easy cats we were able to explore Venice and more of Los Angeles –  including Beverley Hills, Hollywood and Rodeo Drive.

We left our Venice Beach house/pet sit on the 4th January and then had another break in our house sitting calendar, so we took the opportunity to visit Death Valley. 

We collected our car rental and drove over to Ridgecrest for an overnight stay and then we headed on towards Death Valley.   As we drove closer to the California/Nevada border our views of the Shoshone mountains alongside the barren desert landscape were pretty spectacular.

We had booked a Motel at Pahrump, in the heart of the Mojave Dessert,  but as our route actually took us to Death Valley side first and arriving at mid-day,  we were able to spend a half day in the Valley getting a feel for where the main iconic sites were, chatting to the Wardens, collecting maps etc.  We then drove to our Pahrump Motel, great room with restaurant attached and friendly owners.   It was about an hour away from Death Valley, anything closer was double in price, this suited us great.

We stayed in Pahrump for 3 nights which gave us 2 further full days in Death Valley.  The weather was great for us, mostly blue sky days and what an amazing place Death Valley is.   It really is sheer beauty around every corner.  The colour palette of Death Valley is mind blowing.  From the entrance to exit there are picture perfect landscapes and just driving around there were so many breathtaking views.  Snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains, desert plains, massive craggy rocks and canyons, the colourful 8 mile loop of Artist’s Palette and Artist’s Drive, the massive Mesquite Sand dunes, Zabriskie Point for amazing views over the rocks and canyons and the best place to see the sunset.  The Badwater salt basin, 282 feet below sea level – it was like nothing we had ever seen before.  Dantés View was closed at the time of our visit.  We pinch ourselves that we have been able to visit this amazing place, for sure Death Valley will be high on our list of the most beautiful places we have ever seen.

After Death Valley we drove down to beautiful Palm Springs as we still had 7 nights before our next house/pet sit.  We got a real bargain with our Palm Springs Accommodation in a great location, really comfortable rooms and the same brilliant rates all year round. Palm Springs is in the Sonoran desert region of the Coachella Valley.  The City is surrounded by mountains and towering palm trees can be seen everywhere.  Palm Springs has an upmarket feel, the main central street is full of great little restaurants and cocktail bars and boutique shops and gift shops etc.  The coffee shops are a great place to sit in the sun and people watch. We loved the very popular Thursday evening VillageFest – stalls of arts, crafts, farmers market, hot and cold food vendors.  We had some great food.

Our next house sit was back to the coast of LA, in Santa Monica.  We were just 10 minutes walk to the beach, caring for Kai the German Shepherd/Pit bull cross.  This was one of our most challenging sits but in the end our most rewarding.

Santa Monica has a beautiful long sandy beach and here you get to see views of the glorious  sunsets over the Pacific. This is where you head to if you live in LA to get away from city life. We checked out the average nights cost to stay in Santa Monica if we weren’t house sitting with free rent and it was well over $120/night. The carnival atmosphere along the beach areas is vibrant especially on the central beach Pier – this is where iconic Route 66 finishes. The beach next to the Pier is where the original Muscle Beach was located and it’s still the venue for beach work outs and practicing acrobats – what a location for an outside gym!

Downtown Santa Monica has a classy feel with a large open air shopping Mall and a pedestrianised smart 3rd Street Promenade. At the weekends talented buskers/artists perform here, hoping to get spotted by the LA entertainment world. There’s a twice weekly Farmer’s Market, it’s very popular!

After Santa Monica we headed to the nearby quieter beach resort of Redondo, checking into Moonlite Inn for our final 3 nights before leaving the California on 28th January 2020.   Redondo has a beautiful long sandy beach and again you can see, as most of the California coast, amazing colourful sunsets over the sea.  Yep, we’ve had our fair share of superb California sunsets.

We had 3 lazy days walking the beach, watching the pelicans on the rocks, reminiscing about all our amazing times as we had travelled around California and pinching ourselves that we had made it all happen and it had been so much fun.  All the places we had seen, the adorable pets we had cared for and the lovely people we had met.  It was all so much more fun than we had ever dared to hope it would be. 

Spending all this time in California and visiting so many amazing locations would never have been possible without joinging Trustedhousesitters and having the opportunity to stay in owners homes exchanging our care of their home and pets for free accommodation. 

We are now house sitting in Spain – living in a beautiful villa with pool in Javea, caring for adorable Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Tully and Tizer.  We have sits lined up in London and in April we fly to Cape Town for 5 weeks to care for Charlie and Flo. Again we are taking the opportunity to explore as a tourist after the sit and we already have a road trip planned driving the scenic Garden Route and a Safari booked.  How exciting is that!….all thanks to our fantastic travelling house and pet sitting journey we are having with Trustedhousesitters.

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Pet Sitting Rescue Dogs

Pet Sitting Rescue Dogs

Pet Sitting Rescue Dogs

We have just completed our 43rd pet sit, caring for Kai a big strong 4 year old male  German Shepherd/Pit Bull Cross.  

This has been our most challenging pet sit yet and also our most rewarding one.  

So much so, that I felt compelled to share our experience with Kai and our other experiences so far with the different rescue dogs we have cared for, in the hope of highlighting some of our key observations we have made and strategies that have worked, that may help fellow sitters with rescue dog assignments and perhaps even owners of rescue dogs who are keen to hear about our experiences and results.

Meet Kai 4 year old German Shepherd/Pit Bull Mix

Kai is a rescue dog with more than a few anxiety issues, makes you wonder what the first part of his life was like.  Woe betide anyone that strokes him without him seeing your hand move first and takes him unawares, lots of defensive barking.  To add to that recently Kai had a traumatic event happen, his owner told us, when a previous pet sitter who got his prong chain collar stuck on him tightly and had to call in Animal Control to snip it off of him. Since then he has been understandably guarded about his collar. A next sitter left after just one day as Kai became aggressive towards her (all because of his anxieties with this collar).

He is a big strong dog and he gets over excited and hard to calm down.   But when he does we can tell he has a loving side to him and wants to be good. As Pet Sitters we do all we can for the pets in our care and call on all our experiences and kindness to keep them safe and happy and feeling loved, always being respectful of their characters and anxieties.   We’ll never be able to fix all the anxiety problems of a rescue dog that misses his mum and has had a recent trauma with a stranger.  What we do is to try to create our own little oasis of calm and love for the pets and we take it everywhere we go.

Kai loved evening time and laid on or very close to us on the sofa, it melts our hearts seeing this softer side of him. He actually sleeps on the bed, so he must want to feel close to us, we didn’t mind. He has a cuddly blanket that he holds and sucks on at night when he’s tired, he’s such a needy boy really, it pulls on our heart strings.

Our week was consumed with providing Kai with so much love, encouragement, praise and attention.  We told him ‘good boy’ continuously, unless it was not appropriate.

Meet Kai

Kai lives with his lady owner and she mentioned on our arrival that Kai is quite dominant. He pulls on the lead, can be very boisterous when playing and barks at dogs he doesn’t like.   He gets ‘spooked’ at loud sudden noises and if he is touched/stroked unexpectedly.  She told us that on occasions Kai will guard the door to stop her from leaving him when she goes to work. 

So with all of the above, we have set the scene for you about the type of pet with issues we have in our care for the week!

The prong collar Kai wears, his owner told us, is due to his pulling on walks.  However, he has big issues with this collar as we explained above. 

Now, I hear you shouting, why is the owner still making the dog wear the collar?  The answer is that the owner, who has no problem herself putting it on Kai, felt it stops him pulling on the lead.   She was very anxious about us using the collar with Kai,  but she wanted us to use it as she knew it was a collar strong enough to hold him.

In fact, Kai is a clever dog and we believe could quickly be trained to walk better on the lead without pulling and then eliminating the need for the prong type of collar.  We kept him close to us when walking and avoided other dogs when we could.  When we had to pass another dog, we would turn and distract Kai away, getting him to sit for treats and then lots of praise when he ignored the other dog. By the end of our week he was walking much better, sitting at pedestrian lights, we were so proud of him!

Before I continue, having read just this back, it must sound as if this dog is far too dangerous to be left with strangers. But, honestly, Kai is anything but dangerous as we grew to learn during our time with him. 

We’d love for you to continue reading this post and please do send your comments and experiences at the bottom of this blog post page. We ourselves learn something new about the pets in our care on every single sit and are still learning from others, it would be great to hear your experiences so we can all learn together.

Kai The Rescue
Kai Has A Lot Of Love To Give But Always Had An Ear Up Listening - Never Totally Relaxed!

Thanks for staying with us! I have become extremely interested in rescue dogs behaviour and recently taken a course in Canine Behaviour Training, purely to further my understanding of these beautiful animals.

Lets continue by telling you about the experience we had with Kai, what we learned and what we tried to provide him with the best pet sitting experience we possibly could.

Managing Aggressive Play with Kai

On arrival we were greeted with boisterous excitement from Kai and his immediate request for us to play tug the toy with him. The owner said he loved this type of play but can get a little aggressive and when this happens we should turn away and hide our hands and he then knows to stop.

Now we’ve sat for a number of dogs that love a game of tug of war, but Kai’s toy tugging play was true to the owners comment, meaning it quickly turned to aggressive behaviour towards myself including accidental biting, growling, and scratching. He really just didn’t know when and how to stop, the build up of excitement just got to a stage where he lost control.

From the moment we took charge of Kai, we toned down the tug playing game to a very gentle style, which meant that Kai would no longer be really pulling the toy away from us, each time he began to pull we just let go, as a result he just kept coming back to let us grab hold of the toy each time. If we felt he was starting to show any signs of aggression we would immediately let go of the toy.

With lots of praise and encouragement to be gentle and this very calm approach to his favoutie tug play, as soon as the second day we saw signs of a much gentler play from him and very little sign of the aggressive play we’d first experienced.   As with all dog training, repetition, routine and rewards are definitely key. We noticed through the week Kai was playing in a much gentler manner.

Thinking about it though, if a dog has aggressive issues, its perhaps not such a good idea to encourage games that encourage signs of aggression. Maybe using a Kong to entertain them and throwing a ball when on walks might be a more suitable way of entertaining them.

Managing Stress Related Aggression

Our dreaded collar issues comes under this section!   I have aleady told you about the awful experience Kai had with his collar just a few months before we sat for him, when his prong collar got tangled and had be cut off him.  Now I can’t begin to imagine what an awful experience this must have been for Kai and trying to imagine what a stressful experience it was for him helped immensely in how we would go about fastening and removing his collar before and after each walk.

He was understandably very wary of having his collar put on and in particular having it taken off, especially with us being total strangers, so we took a gentle approach which seemed to be working well for the first couple of days. However, on day three, as we were taking off the collar he got spooked by a loud outside noise and became very aggressive to tell us to stop. Now any one that has experienced first hand an aggressive dog will know what a scary experience it can be! A few minutes after the event it was so obvious that Kai was very sorry and that his intention was not to harm us but just to tell us he was frightened.

In order to ensure Kai didn’t have any undue stress we decided to leave the collar on while we came up with a plan that may help him become more trusting of having the collar removed and be more comfortable with what for most dogs is a regular part of daily life.

We are true believers that the best form of dog training is praise and rewards.   So using this Reward method, we would sit Kai down, 4 times a day, and show him a treat while we clipped his lead to the prong collar. Each time he let us do this we gave him the treat and plenty of praise. Kai was pretty intelligent and got the idea very quickly that the treat related directly to him letting us clip the lead to the collar.

We felt that we needed to gain Kai’s trust more before we attempted again to take his collar off. So coupled with the treats and praise when attaching and removing the lead, we spent a lot of time cuddling him, stroking him and pretending to accidentally touch the collar while giving him plenty of praise. We continued this for a full 3 days before we made the attempt to try and remove the collar. On day 6, on our return from the morning walk, Kai was already sitting waiting, his eyes fixed on his treat which was showed to him every time we removed the lead, but this time, very gently, we slid the collar off him …… and it worked!  He got lots of praise as you can imagine.

The combination of treats, praise, building trust and repetition turned Kai’s bad experience into one that he now associated as being a positive experience (even if he ultimately new he would receive a treat as a reward for being so good!) 

Managing Nervous Anxiety with Harry

August 2019 we sat for Harry – a very nervous and anxious but totally sweet rescue Saluki.   Harry’s parents were retired and spent all of the day with him, never leaving him for more than a couple of hours.  He was an extremely nervous dog, frightened of tall men in particular they said and they had never left him before with pet sitters. Bearing this in mind, when the owners got in touch we went out of our way to go and visit them prior to confirming the sit, so that they could meet us and hopefully be reassured that we would be suitable sitters for Harry but also for us to get a little idea of Harry’s anxieties.

Meet Harry The shy Saluki!

From the moment we arrived at the home and the owners left for their vacation, Harry spent the whole day laying upstairs on the bed clearly wanting to be away from us.  Julie went up regularly to check on him and chatted to him as she spent time in the room with him so that he could get to know her voice and presence.

Fully understanding Harry’s anxieties helped Julie coax him around to at least come down for his evening meal. It was clear that his anxiety was with me as the owners had made us aware of his nervousness of tall men. I gave him plenty of space and if close to Harry I made sure I spoke softly and made no sudden movements.

Julie was very quick to bond with Harry, she has a bit of a gift with anxious rescues and not only was she able to coax him to come down for his supper she  also got him to sleep in his basket next to her side of the bed that night. The key thing was that we respected his anxiety and accepted that I had to almost ignore Harry until he felt ready to express an interest in me, as difficult as that was for me.

On day 2 Harry began walking passed me without becoming nervous and dashing by me as quick as he could, as he had before.   On day 3 Harry ate his breakfast while I was in the kitchen – what dog doesn’t warm to the person that fills his food bowl up!  He then let me take him out for his first walk of the day on our own – huge progress and a turning point.   

Most dogs love to be groomed and Harry was no exception his owners had told us.  So here was another chance to bond with him, at grooming time. Must have felt nice, we caught him smiling!

On day 4 Harry slept on the bed with us and let me stroke him and from then on happily came to me to have his lead put on at walk times. He had at last bonded with me through our taking gentle steps with him and going at Harry’s pace!  A really rewarding experience!

Harry The Saluki

Managing Separation Anxiety with Monty

We saw signs of separation anxiety behaviour whilst caring for  Monty – a rescue Jack Russell Cross. This is quite a difficult anxiety to know how to manage but we found the best way to go about it was to keep Monty happy and entertained to take his mind off him missing his parents and being fretful.   Taking him on his favourite long walks and lots of playtime with treats during the day and most importantly, for the first few days, was not leaving him on his own. This was a little easier as we were a couple so if we needed provisions one of us could go out for them. 

Meet Monty The Jack Russell Cross

This approach worked really well, spending lots of fun time with Monty, and over these first few days we saw a real change in his emotions and growing in confidence and he began to enjoy cuddles from us instead of shying away.

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Emerald Bay View Point

Whistle Stop Tour Of Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Thinking of visiting Lake Tahoe, well don’t hesitate as its a stunning location! Here’s the results of our whistle stop tour around Lake Tahoe in a day.

Our start point was South Lake Tahoe, located on the southern edge of the Lake, a bustling town with all the amenities you could need for a great summer or winter holiday. Lots of accommodation, great shopping, ski resort and lots of options for water sports.

South Lake Tahoe Sign
Arriving in South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe Views
South Lake Tahoe Views

Driving along the lakeside scenic road going anti-clockwise our first stop we headed towards Emerald Bay View Point and State Park.

The scenic drive towards Emerald Bay
The Scenic Drive Towards Emerald Bay
Emerald Bay View Point
Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive
Lake Tahoe Route 89 is Definitely A Scenic Drive
Route 89 Towards Tahoe City
Route 89 Towards Tahoe City

Continue north on road 89 and you’ll reach Tahoe City, lined with shops and restaurants. Popular as a winter destination it has some lovely cross country ski tracks and popular ski resorts including the Sugar Bowl, while in summer the lake comes to life with sailing, canoeing and swimming.

Tahoe City
Arriving At Tahoe City
Heading Towards North Lake Tahoe and Incline Village

Continue north from Tahoe City and you’ll pass Kings Beach as you head towards very popular Incline Village really popular with skiers due to its proximity to Diamond Peak Ski Resort. It also looks out over Crystal Bay putting it right up there as an all year round holiday hotspot.

Towards Incline Village

As you reach Incline Village you start your journey down the other side of the lake. Popular scenic stops on route include Sand Harbor Beach, Bonsai Rock Trailhead and Secret Cove.

Secret Cove in The Late Afternoon Sun
Secret Cove in The Late Afternoon Sun
East Shore Views
East Shore Views

The road heads away from the lake for a while and passes Tahoe Nevada State Park, Spooner Lake, East Shore Forest. Before picking up Lincoln Highway taking you through Montreal Canyon back towards the lake.

Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
Lake Tahoe Beach Views

Continue along Lincoln Highway south along the lakeside and you’ll find yourself back in South Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe At Dusk
South Lake Tahoe At Dusk
South Lake Tahoe Views
South Lake Tahoe Views
South Lake Tahoe Lakeside

Allow a good 3 or 4 hours to drive round the lake. It took us 5 hours with 3 or 4 stops for photos, coffee and a half hour walk along the lakeside. Its a really lovely drive and we could have made more stops if we had more time, but we wanted to get back to South Lake Tahoe for sunset.

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Venice, California

Venice Beach So What’s It Really Like

Venice, California
Welcome to Venice, California!

We were excited to be spending Christmas and New Year in Venice Beach, we’d been pretty lucky to be chosen for the sit from quite a few applicants and would be caring for 2 easy cats for the owners. We headed straight down from our house sit in Placerville via Pacific Highway 1.

Tip: To give yourself the best chance of getting some amazing sits like this one in Venice Beach take a look at our post on Joining Trusted House Sitters, full of tips on how to stand out above the crowds!

We had the use of the owners lovely 3 bedroom home just a 20 minute walk from Venice Beach Boardwalk. A pretty good location to explore Venice and nearby Santa Monica.

Meet Smudge and Cashmere, our Venice Pet Sitting Buddies!

Venice Beach was not quite what we expected, or should we say not like the photos depicted. First impression of the boardwalk was of a mix of graffiti, an abundance of clothing stores, fast food outlets and we feel we have to mention it, the numerous homeless people encamped along the boardwalk. We only mention this as we want to portray and honest version of our stay in Venice. We also feel very sorry that our fellow humans have been put in a position that they have to live on the streets. We’d be very interested to here anyone else’s first impression of Venice Beach, please feel free to drop us a comment at the bottom of this blog.

Having given our first impression, we have to say that our impression did change the longer we stayed in Venice, so please read on!

Venice Beach Promenade
Venice Beach Promenade!

Second impression was a little different once we had googled a little more about Venice Beach. We found words like, “interesting”, “eclectic” and “crazy” and started build an idea of exactly what Venice Beach was all about. In summary it really is an unusual place and a really great place to people watch!

Graffiti Art Venice Beach
Just one of some of the amazing graffiti art around Venice Beach!

Venice does actually pay homage to its Italian name sake, as it has a section of canals at one end of the town, colourful buildings, lots of rather unique art and certainly a lot of unusual characters who you’ll regularly see on the boardwalk.

Venice Canals California
Venice Canals in California!

The beach is pretty amazing, stretching as far as the eye can see, its attached to Santa Monica at one end and encompasses Marina del Rey at the other. If you walk toward Marina del Rey along the boardwalk you’ll eventually hit one of the best parts of the beach in my opinion, just last the pier and away from the hustle and bustle of Venice you’ll find a beautiful stretch of sand fringed by some rather unique houses and apartment buildings. Head the other way towards Santa Monica, past Muscle Beach and the rather should we say unique part of Venice boardwalk, you’ll reach the first part of Santa Monica where you can almost feel the different vibe!

View of Venice Beach
Venice Beach and the Boardwalk!

So what about some brunch while in Venice? Well, like many travellers we headed to Egg Slut, which is located just by the Venice Sign. We grabbed a couple of Bacon, Egg and Cheese to go. For some reason they didn’t serve coffee after 11.30am, so we headed down the boardwalk to Starbucks!

Eggslut Venice Beach
Two of the biggest Eggsluts you've ever seen!

One more thing before you go. Be sure to head down to the beach at dusk, as Venice is known for having some pretty amazing sunsets!

Venice Beach Sunset
Beautiful sunset at Venice Beach!

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gully and icy2

Our 2019 House/Pet sits

Almost the end of 2019 and we are on our final house sit of the year. We love to keep a memory of all the pets we got to house sit for and loved as our own.   We will always remember 2019 for the year we began our International house sitting which had always been the plan for our house sitting journey, beginning in California.

We have been house/pet sitting full time with the odd hotel night in between sits.  Also, as this was our first time visiting California, of course there were more than a few ‘tourist’ destinations to see, when we were pet free. Visiting Yosemite Park, Grand Canyon, Vegas, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco were just a dream before our house/pet sitting travelling lifestyle.

January 2019 began with Blue in Wales

Lulu in Leiston

Tilly in Leiston

Bella and Bertie in Wymondham

Tan  in Aldeburgh

Dotty, Alan and Archie in Rollesby

The happy 7 hens in Rollesby

Buster and Indy in Lincoln

Tara in Lincoln

Gully and Icy in Attleborough

The 3 sweet Bantams in Attleborough

Hector in Berkhampsted

Little One in Norwich

Netty in Norwich

Harry in Syderstone

Doris and Frank in Old Buckenham

Mitzi in Old Buckenham

Rupert in Trimmingham

Kip in Redgrave

Tinker, Hi Five and the 4 Hens in Lincoln

Mookie in San Francisco

Julian in San Rafael

Suni in Placerville

Raven, Ruthie and Chewbacca in Placerville

Cashmere and Smudge in Venice Beach

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Placerville

Exploring Hangman Town Now Known As Placerville

Placerville
Placerville or as it was called in the old days Hangman Town

Our California house sitting journey has take us to Hangman Town known today as Placerville. An old gold mining town with a very interesting past, particularly for a number of criminals hanged from a tree for their crimes way back in the 1840’s and 50’s hence it used to be called Hangman Town.

Tip: To give yourself the best chance of getting some amazing sits like this one in Placerville take a look at our post on Joining Trusted House Sitters, full of tips on how to stand out above the crowds!

Our accommodation for the week was house sitting for a couple who had a property up in the hills with lots of land looking over the town and we had the pleasure of caring for their cat called Suni and three very characterful chickens.

Placerville Pet Sitting
Pet Sitting Our Three Feathered Friends

Placerville retains its old gold mining town charm and feels a bit like going back in time when you head down into the main street. With its bell tower in the square and reminder of its Hangtown past with the local ice cream parlour still having a noose hanging from its top floor. Couple this with main the street full of shops with old fashioned signs and four wheel drives signifying that you really are up in the hills, makes this a real experience of imagining how it was back in the gold rush era.

Hangman Tree now days an ice cream parlour!

Our favourite coffee stop was Placerville Coffee Depot located at the end of Main Street and Hog Wild BBQ provided us with a great meal, check them out if you like ribs, chicken or pulled pork.

We were visiting in December and amazed at the number of shops specialising in Christmas ornaments and decorations. It looked as if they sold them all year round, really pretty to look round but amazing to think that people are buying Christmas decorations all year round!

Placerville Town Centre
Placerville Town Centre

For food shopping you’ll need to head to the other end of town which felt like you were going to another town all together, its a good couple of miles along Placerville Drive to Raley’s Supermarket or take the main highway to Perks Corner and you’ll find a Safeway Store.

For the cheapest petrol in town head for Fuel 4 Less at the end of Main Street.

Parking in Placerville is pretty good too, roadside parking and a few car parks, all offer 2 hours free parking before they start charging. Plenty long enough to explore the town and grab a coffee.

Haircut in Placerville
Jonathan getting a trim at the one of a kind Barbers Shop in Placerville, best place to find out all the local gossip!

One of the main reasons for us taking the house sit out in Placerville was the opportunity to take a day trip to Lake Tahoe. Its a must go place for fabulous scenery, good skiing and water sports, really good hiking spots and great places to eat and drink.

Lake Tahoe
Beautiful Lake Tahoe

We took the stunning scenic route 50 through Eldorado Forest to South Lake Tahoe. Talk about a stroke of luck as we had heard about a winter storm a few days before we arrived in Placerville and half expected the road to be closed or snow chains needed. But we had blue sky, clear roads and snow on the trees. It was just like one of those scenic drives you only ever dream of doing. Simply beautiful!

Winter Drive to Lake Tahoe
The stunning drive to Lake Tahoe

After about an hours drive we reached South Lake Tahoe, a really popular town boasting ski resorts and a fabulous lakeside location, providing what can only be described as paradise for water sports and winter sports lovers!

Our plan was to drive the 72 miles around the lake, and we decided to go anti clockwise due to the position of the sun for photos. We set of on the 89 towards Tahoe City.

Winter in Lake Tahoe
Jonathan trying to capture the beauty of Lake Tahoe

First stop was the Emerald Bay View Point for what has to be one of the best views of Lake Tahoe. There are a few view points where you can capture panoramas of the mountains and lake. We hiked out through the snow to a cliff top overlooking the lake which took some doing, but we had it to ourselves and captured what we thought was the perfect selfie.  After a long hike back to the car, we set off heading further north, shortly arriving at the official Emerald Bay View point with a really easy walk to get the perfect selfie! We drove past it muttering!

Emerald Bay View Point
The most photographed point at Lake Tahoe - Emerald Bay View Point

Second stop was Tahoe City, a waterfront location and plenty of shops, but not a decent coffee shop in sight, so we headed further north!

Coffee Lake Tahoe
One of the most scenic coffee stops ever!

Third stop was incline village where we hunted down a Starbucks to takeaway. Incline village is pretty big actually and has some fabulous houses and a great place to pay a visit to Lake Tahoe State Park and San Harbour, which were our next stop, the perfect spot to sit on the rocks and drink takeaway coffee!  There is a really nice footpath walk by the side of the lake at Secret Harbor and some great photo opportunities at Secret Cove and Chimney Beach.

Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park!

Heading back down to the southern part of the lake taking the 28 and then on to the 50 we passed through Nevada State Park, East Shore Forest and Zephyr Cove Park as we return to our start point at South Lake Tahoe just as the sunset. From the lakeside we could watch the last few skiers taking their last run down the mountain at the Heavenly Ski Resort while watching the sun set over the lake and mountains in the other direction. A great finish to a fantastic day!

South Lake Tahoe - ski runs in the background taken from the lakeside!

We had a great week staying at Placerville, drinking coffee on the porch while feeding the chickens and caring for their sweet kitty. We even had a couple of visits from the local wild black turkeys that roam the area.

Placerville A Visit From Wild Turkeys
A visit from the wild turkeys in the back garden of the house!

In summary we found Placerville a beautiful place to spend a week. The highlight was definitely the day trip to Lake Tahoe, and we really recommend taking the time to try and get up to the lake if you are visiting California, its well worth the drive, so much so that we would love to return and stay down by the lake if ever a house sit came up down there, we are keeping our eye out for one!

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netty and tortoise

Start House Sitting

Want to know about a fantastic travel hack??  House and Pet Sitting is the latest trend of low cost travelling – whether you want a long term adventure or an affordable vacation staying ACCOMMODATION FREE!  read on! Do you enjoy the company of animals, meeting new people and want to extend your travel budgets …. if this sounds good – then continue reading because we want to tell you more about this fur-bulous way to travel and how it all works.   So many people say it must cost a fortune to fund all of our travels, it doesn’t, we have a very low travel budget, here’s how it works!

House sitting allows you to ‘live like locals’ instead of staying in bland hotels. You will meet the most wonderful and gracious people along the way. We hope this blog will help you start your own adventure travelling around the world!  

This concept of travelling to different destinations caring for owners homes and pets can work for any adult age group.  You just have to love animals and be aware of your responsibilities to the owner for their pets and their home and understand that house and pet sitting is a commitment and not a free holiday; keeping all the time to the owners’ wishes and instructions. Younger adults are embracing this way of travelling, often full-time.  But this way of travel isn’t just for younger long-term nomads, pet sitting is a great way to spend your retirement, it may only be for short breaks now and then, enabling you to enjoy a different location and a new environment. House and pet sitting can make life so interesting and varied and the house sits range from weekends to months in length.

Pet sitting is a win/win for both pet sitters and pet/home owners. The owners get to travel with peace of mind because their home and pet(s) are being exceptionally well cared for in their own home and with no costly boarding expenses. And travelling Pet sitters like us, get to enjoy time staying in beautiful cities around the world giving lots of love to pets and homes. Another great aspect to this adventure is that no money changes hands; it is all about trust, obligation, diligence, kindness and care.

SO THE FIRST THING TO DO IS JOIN AN ONLINE HOUSE SITTING AGENCY –   

There are now quite a few that bring together house/pet Owners and house/pet Sitters. The Owners advertise their ‘sitter’ requests and on the same website house/pet Sitters are able to promote themselves and their strengths and their availability to sit. Our favourite by far, is this House/Pet Sitting platform Trustedhousesitters  – it is the one that we use, it has the largest international house sitting community – covering over 70 countries – and we can fully recommend it because we are paying members ourselves.   It has been around since 2010.  They have the greatest number of world wide listings and the highest quality listings.    What would you say to this??? – Three months living in a Chattel house on a Caribbean island?  A month in a villa Southern France…..yes, for real!  

 

You can read here about ‘how to’ along with ‘tips on’  joining the online House sitting Community   and further below we have outlined further points think about. 

There is an annual fee to pay to sign up to the TrustedHousesitting online Agency – both for Owners and Sitters. The fee is £89.00 GBP ($119.00 USD).

Once you have signed up as a Sitter, you will be able to read the twice daily postings of the latest house sits that are emailed to you direct as placed on their website by home owners.  Then, when you see a sit that gets your attention ie. the pets, dates, location etc are of interest to you, then you can apply to do the sit via the secure website. 

Pet sitters of course fund their travel costs to arrive at the sit. And in exchange for the caring and loving of the pet(s) and the owners home, and garden if needed, swimming pool etc., the accommodation is free, therefore, keeping living costs extremely low for the sitter.  The majority of our last two years have been spent house-sitting, saving us well over £10,000 in accommodation costs, allowing us to spend that savings on an incredible set of travel experiences we might never have enjoyed otherwise.  For instance the saving helped us fund a 16 day road trip around California before the start of our international pet sitting adventure in the USA.

  as

Once you have joined an international pet/house sitting agency you need to think about the following:

1.  CREATE A GREAT PROFILE FOR YOURSELF………….You need to stand out from the competition!   Your Profile has to really impress the owners.  Head on over to our blog post ‘tips on creating your great Profile‘ for help on creating your great profile.

2.  RESPOND TO SITS QUICKLY…………………… When you see a sit that ‘grabs’ you apply as quickly as possible, you will be amazed at the amount of sitters that will also apply. If you are lucky enough to be selected by owners on to their shortlist – offer the opportunity to Skype/Facetime. We have Skyped prior to confirming all our sits, it’s a great way to ‘meet’ the homeowners and get to know them, both parties need to feel happy and relaxed that they’ve made a good choice.   In our opinion you can gauge very quickly in this type of ‘meet up’ if you’ve found a good match.

3.  READ THE HOUSE OWNER’S REQUIREMENTS ……………….  Observe these fully and make sure you are comfortable and able to carry out the requested tasks. It may be that the dog will need two hour-long daily walks, or the pet may be in need of daily injections, there may be specific house/pool maintenance tasks. Don’t commit unless you are happy to carry out all of the responsibilities. Of course do your own due diligence about the location of the sit, research the neighbourhood, you want to be sure you feel happy in that locality especially if the sit is for an extended period of time.

4.  TRAVEL VISA REQUIREMENTS………………. They differ sometimes from one country to another and you want to be sure that you comply with the Visa requirements fully. Before taking on a sit in another country make sure that you are able to stay in that country long enough or you are able to apply for any necessary visa in time for the sit.

5.  ARRIVE FULLY PREPARED ……………. Make sure you have received the Owner’s Welcome Pack at least a week before you arrive for the sit. It will contain all the relevant information about the house and the pet(s), more detailed information on the owners requirements, emergency contact information, location of the nearest clinic/hospital, watering of indoor and outdoor plants, dishes they prefer not to be used, how to operate the home alarm system if there is one, the vets details etc. Always make a note of the main specifics to take with you on arrival and a note of any questions to ask the homeowners. It’s your job to make sure you ask all the questions you need answers to.

6.  KEEP IN TOUCH……………. Not going overboard, but certainly letting the owners know how everything is going and how their pet(s) are doing. Of course some owners want frequent updates and some not so much. You can always ask the owner’s preference about this. We always send a photo or two showing the pet(s) happy and relaxed, to put the owners minds at rest while they are away from their home.

7. RESPONSILIBITY…………….. Whether you are staying in a villa in Italy or somewhere amazing you have never visited before, never lose sight of the responsibility of pet care.  Of course the owners will want you to enjoy their home area and explore a little, if we are sitting for say dogs and they are happy to explore with us we are always happy to take them with us, if not, we never leave the home/pets for long periods of time, never for more than 4-5 hours in a day, go by what the owners say too.  If the homeowner walks their dog an hour in the morning and an hour each evening; you need to commit to that schedule 100%. While you’re not getting paid, taking care of the pet is still ‘your job’ and that responsibility should be taken very seriously.

8.  RESPECT THE OWNER’S HOME…………….You will need to treat the owners home as you would your own, keeping it clean throughout, dusting and vacuuming, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and before the owner returns making sure all that you have used – fridge, microwave, oven, toaster etc are all thoroughly cleaned.

9.  ON THE OWNER’S RETURN……………… As well as having the owners house clean and ready for them along with having their pets relaxed and exercised, it’s a really nice idea to have a meal prepared for the owners on their homecoming, you can chat about their travels, tell them how the pet/house sit has gone all over a home cooked meal and a glass of wine. This obviously depends on the owners return time along with having an idea of what the owners like to eat!

10.  ASK FOR A REFERENCE …………….. If you have done a great job they will give you a great reference and that will go a long way towards your future sits. Informing prospective owners on your sitting performance. On TrustedHousesitters the pet/homeowners post their reference directly to the website.  No one can revise or edit the reference in anyway before it’s posted, so all references are genuine.

With home and pet sitting you get to live like a local. You get to know the locals and their lifestyle. As a tourist you often only see the tourist sights where you’re staying, but as a house Sitter you get to see the daily life of locals, visit the local market and chat to neighbours. The house Owners will give you great local knowledge on best sights to go to as well as best coffee shops and lunch spots.

House sitting, especially those for longer periods, allows the opportunity to travel at a much more relaxed pace.  Where possible we always take the pet(s) with us on journeys out, mixing visiting local sites and places of interest with their exercise requirements.  If they cannot or do not like to walk too far or journey in the car, we make sure they are well cared for/exercised etc before we pop out to the shops or for a visit and make sure we return within the acceptable time that the Owners have instructed us about.

Making worldwide friendships – you get to know the owners, initially through the correspondence you have together about the sit and then further when you have been accepted. You get to meet the owners at the beginning of the sit and then when they return from their vacation and the communication whilst they are away. We have made long-lasting friends around the globe. When you do a great job for the owners, they are so grateful to you for caring for their treasured pets and as sitters you are thankful to them for welcoming you into their home – they open up their homes to you, often introducing you to their families and neighbours and very often a strong and immediate bond is formed. Having the opportunity to meet new people all around the world is something we cherish and feel very grateful for.

Pet sitting can be truly life changing as it has been for us who have taken to pet sitting almost full time. Pet sitting can also open up opportunities to travel to countries you never thought you’d get to travel too – in our case California and Cape Town so far – where will our pet sitting journey take us to next?

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Aroma Cafe San Rafael

7 Days House Sitting in San Rafael, California

San Rafael Pet Sitting

Having read quite a bit about how lovely San Rafael was, we were pretty excited to be spending a week in town caring for 6 year old Julian the poodle. So we headed straight up from our house sit in San Francisco by taxi arriving at the owners home the night before they flew out for their holiday. Julian was a great pup and joined us for coffee downtown, took us on his favourite walks in the hills looking over San Rafael and had the most amazing trip to the beach were he just couldn’t contain his excitement.

Tip: To give yourself the best chance of getting some amazing sits like this one in San Rafael take a look at our post on Joining Trusted House Sitters, full of tips on how to stand out above the crowds!

We had the use of the owners lovely home in the hills overlooking San Rafael, just a 20 minute walk from the centre of town, supermarkets and cafes. The owners were kind enough to leave us their car so we could explore the area further and take Julian to the beach.

Our Beautiful Home For The Week

San Rafael is a bustling town and has a relaxing feel in the town centre with a great selection of boutique shops, coffee houses, restaurants, as well as Wholefoods, Safeway and Trader Joe’s Supermarkets. A popular commute to San Francisco and Oakland its roads can be really busy at rush hour times, but the town itself never felt crowded.

Our regular coffee house for the week was Aroma Cafe, where we could sit outside with Julian, people watching in the main street. Good food and coffee, it was always really busy which was a good sign that we picked one of the best day time eateries in town.

If you’re looking to dine out in the evening, check out Sol Food serving some really good Puerto Rican dishes and highly recommended by the home owners.

Aroma Cafe San Rafael
Aroma Cafe, San Rafael

We found a great place for dog walking was up in the hills at Mountain Park which had beautiful views over the town and out towards Richmond Bridge the gateway to Oakland. Boyd Memorial Park is also a nice place for a walk or just to relax if the sun is shining.

Julian Walk
Mountain Park, San Raphael

We had the opportunity to take Julian on a day trip to the beach. We headed up into the hills past Fairfax, Nicasio and through to Point Reyes Station, a lovely drive in itself with mountain, lake and forest views on route. From Point Reyes we took Highway 1 down to beautiful Stinson Beach where we took Julian for a long walk and he absolutely loved it. We then took a sunset drive further down Highway 1 past Muir Beach and back to 101 just above Marin City and headed back north to San Raphael.

Stinson Beach
Stinson Beach

If you have the opportunity to travel further afield than just San Raphael town, then we highly recommend a trip out to Sausalito. Head just 15 minutes south on Highway 101 to this beautiful coastal town, which has some lovely restaurants, good coffee and deli shops and a range of unique shops. A great place for a stroll along the waterfront. You can also catch a ferry to San Francisco from here too.

Sausalito, California
Sausalito, California

In summary we found San Raphael a nice place to spend a week. We recommend you have the opportunity to explore the surrounding area to really benefit from a stay in this location. The downside for us was the traffic, the 101 does get very congested and was a bit of a pain when we came back from the beach and when we visited Sausalito.

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Mookie in San Francisco

Pets Sitting in San Francisco With Mookie The Samoyed

Mookie in San Francisco
We have been lucky enough to have the chance to visit San Francisco all thanks to pet sitting. Our live in buddy for 10 days was Mookie the Samoyed. Just 1 and a half years old and full of energy, Mookie showed us the sights of Sunset District, his favourite Ocean Beach walk and all his mates down in the dog park at Stern Grove.
Tip: To give yourself the best chance of getting some amazing sits like this one in San Francisco take a look at our post on Joining Trusted House Sitters, full of tips on how to stand out above the crowds!
We had the use of the owners beautiful home in the heart of Sunset District, just a mile from the beach and a short walk to supermarkets and restaurants. The owners were kind enough to leave us their car so we could explore the area further and take Mookie to some of his favourite places.
Mookie in the Car
Mookie Seeing If His Mates Were At The Beach!

Ocean Beach

A beautiful long sandy beach that welcomes dogs, the beach stretches from past Golden Gate Park to the end of San Francisco Zoo. Its a popular beach for surfers and has plenty of roadside parking. Mookie loved it here, chasing sticks, digging in the sand and playing with passing dogs.
Tip: Make sure to head to the beach for Sunset, you can get some great photos and watch the sunset while sitting on the sand dunes.
Mookie at the Beach
Amazing Sunset With Mookie at The Beach!

Stern Grove

Spanning over 30 acres Stern Grove Recreational Park is a great place for dogs as it has a nice dog park popular with the locals. Located in Sunset District it was just a few minutes drive from the house and one of Mookie’s favourite places. We took him to the park in the mornings as this was when his best friends a lively Alsatian, a Springer Spaniel and a baby French Bulldog were at the park. He couldn’t resist a paddle in Pine Lake one of three lakes in the park.

Tip: Keep an eye out for the dates of Stern Grove Festival, a free event of weekly concerts and performances held at the outdoor amphitheatre.

On Our Way to Stern Grove Dog Park!

Downtown San Francisco

Unfortunately we were unable to take Mookie downtown as he wasn’t very keen on the crowds and traffic. The bus stop was conveniently located at the end of the road and the owners had said that the traffic and parking were both horrendous down town, so as we didn’t have Mookie with us we opted for the bus. We ordered a $5 all day ticket using the MuniMoblile App giving us access to all buses. A 50 minute bus journey from Sunset to Downtown, a quick change of bus and then down to Fisherman’s Wharf. 
 
The Wharf is lined with shops and restaurants, make sure you walk as far as Pier 39, bustling with great places to eat, a variety of shops and a great atmosphere. If you fancy a boat trip under Golden Gate Bridge or a excursion to Alcatraz, then you can book them down at the wharf or during the busy months probably a good idea to book online.
Tip: We had lunch at Chowders on Pier 39, a bustling little restaurant serving great Clam Chowder, Fish and Chips and really good prawn cocktail. We highly recommend the Chowder, they serve both red and white, we opted for the white!
After lunch we took a walk up the steep hill at Hyde Street to take a look at the famous crooked street features 8 hairpin turns. You can take the Tram up the street if hill walking isn’t your thing!
 
Before we headed home to Mookie we had time to take a bus up to China Town to pick up some cheap fruit and veg. From here we could walk to Union Square shopping district, home to stores including Macy’s, Bloomingdales and H&M. From here we picked up the No.7 bus back to Sunset District.
Fishermans Wharf San Francisco
Pier 39 at Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco!

Best Views Of Golden Gate Bridge

We just had to have a selfie at Golden Gate Bridge, so did a little research and found out that there are a few places you can get a good view from. We took the scenic drive from Sunset District around Sea Cliff. We stopped at Baker Beach to walk Mookie and had a picture with him on the beach and Golden Gate Bridge. We then drove on to Golden Gate Lookout for a selfie, but actually found that the photos on the beach had a better angle of the bridge.

Selfie Of Golden Gate Bridge
Selfie At Golden Gate Bridge

Funston Beach and Park

A little gem just south of San Francisco Zoo and opposite Lake Merced, Funston Park is a great place to take the dog, with lovely walking paths following Sunset, Chip or Horse Trail. Sheltered by pine trees and with beautiful ocean views from some areas of the walking trails it really is an idyllic area. A popular hand gliding site too.

Funston Beach Trail takes you down a steep path which accesses the beach. A beautiful stretch of beach, when we visited we had the whole beach to ourselves. There is a car park at the southern end of the park.

This was one of Mookie’s favourite places to go!

Funston Beach
Mookie Having A Great Time With New Friends At Funston Park And Beach

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is huge measuring 1,017 acres and is located at the north end of Sunset District and really popular it boast within the park a golf course, an angling club, a dog training area, polo field, pedal and rowing boat hire, botanical gardens, Japanese tea garden, a 10,000 seat sports stadium, lots of picnic areas, two dutch windmill, numerous lakes and footpaths, a herd of bison and we even came across a gaze of raccoons!

Free parking is available on Ocean Beach car park at the bottom end of the park (shuttle service operates between the free parking lot at Ocean Beach and major attractions within the park. The shuttle runs every 15 to 20 minutes from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays. Limited time parking can be found on many roadside locations in the park and on the outskirts. Underground paid parking is available at The Music Concourse on the north side of the park at 10th Avenue and Fulton Street. More paid parking is available at Kezar Stadium located near the Stanyan Street entrance to the park open all week and Millberry Union on Parnassus Street at weekends only.

Dutch Windmill Golden Gate Park
Dutch Windmill Golden Gate Park!
Lovely Footpath Walks in Golden Gate Park!

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san diego sign

7 Days in San Diego

San Diego is a major city in southern California and we were really excited to visit it as so many travellers had told us it was a great place to be in and we weren’t disappointed with our 7 days stay.  With its all year round mild climate, smart harbour, waterfront promenade, beach, great restaurants, green park areas, zoo and much more –  what’s not to love – and we found the San Diegans to be ultra friendly!  Our visit was mid November and we had super weather in the 70’s.

We stayed in the lively Gaslamp Quarter.  Mostly this area is known as a popular hub for great nightlife, restaurants and cocktail bars.  Walking among the colourful evening lights there is a real vibrant buzz of entertainment and at the same time a definite feel of a friendly community.  

One of our favourite walks was strolling down to Embarcadero (Spanish for wharf)  to the super smart Marina area and Seaport Village.  Looking back behind us is the San Diego skyline.  Below is the San Diego Bay, a natural Harbour and deep water Port.

Walking further along the waterfront we pass through Seaport Village with its chic stores, cafes, book stores,  pretty eateries and at the weekend there is free good live entertainment.  It’s lit up very prettily at night and an evening waterfront walk here really is a delight.   A great place to dine or sip a cocktail while watching the sun going down. The sunsets here are quite spectacular reflecting onto the waters. 

Also at the Seaport district is  ‘The Headquarters’  – a spacious, open air designed space- it is the  former headquarters to the San Diego Police Department and now an exciting new dining and retail destination.    You can find speciality shops and world class restaurants.  The buildings are a rich mix of  designs – Spanish Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Pueblo Revival and Classical Revival .

In Downtown we came across Little Italy (it seemed to us more laid back than the Gaslamp area).  Little Italy is a trendy, friendly neighbourhood, packed with restaurants – some high end gourmet, cocktail bars, gastropubs, and coffee shops and a great juice bar we found.  Every Saturday there is an excellent Farmers Market.  

On our last full day we walked to Bilbao Park.  This huge green park space is totally free to roam and explore, no entry fee.  The Park  has lots to offer and was much bigger than we imagined.  It is filled with museums – 15 in total we think, including the Museum of Man and The San Diego Museum of Art and the Fleece Science Centre. You can walk around the beautiful gardens, there are walking trails and 3 dog parks. The Botanical Garden building is beautiful and unusual, it’s located in the heart of the Park – it has a large lily pond in front of it. Apparently over 2,000 plants are housed here in the Botanical building.

You have to admire the gorgeous architecture in the Park  (unfortunately for us, visiting in the quieter season, many of the buildings at this time were having work carried out so scaffolding was up).  There are cafes and restaurants – we could see the Prado restaurant was popular.  Below is The Japanese Friendship Garden, it is beautiful to walk through and visit the Tea Pavilion.

Summary

Dates of stay: 15th to 23rd November 

Stayed at San Diego Downtown Lodge – priced at $632 USD for the week

Review: Comfortable accommodation, recently refurbished, coffee and ice in reception, good WIFI reception, daily housekeeping, microwave and fridge in room. Good location about 15 to 20 minute walk from Gaslamp District. A bit of road noise! We’d recommend it based on price and location.

Thank you for visiting our Blog, we would really appreciate your comments,  your thoughts on it,  or your experiences to share and if you have any questions.  There is a comment box at the end of this blog page and we will be so happy to get back to you, to answer and to give any help/advice we can.

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7 Days in San Diego
A Guide To Visiting San Diego

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California Road Trip

16 Day, 2629 Mile, Road Trip Through California, Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon

California Road Trip

We’ve just completed the most amazing 2,629 mile road trip through California including a hop into Nevada and Arizona. Taking in iconic sites as we drove along the scenic Pacific Highway 1 to Monterey and Carmel, Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Park, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon, before heading back to Los Angeles on Route 66.

We’d like to share the journey with you, including all the costs to complete the trip which we hope may inspire you to follow our route or some of it taking in some of the most outstanding natural beauty, iconic sites and scenery the USA has to offer.

Glacier Point Yosemite
Hiking at Glacier Point!

Summary of the all important total cost for the trip (We’ll break these costs down within the blog for each leg of the journey)

Return Flights:  £978
Car Hire:  £267
Accommodation:  £855
Petrol:  £310
Sightseeing Tickets:  £144
Food:  £520

Total Cost:  £3074

Please Note: We have not included travel insurance in the total cost (as we have a worldwide policy because we will be travelling to other countries). Quotes for travel insurance our individual, you can find many companies offering reasonable rates online.

Trip Dates: 31st October to 15th November 2019

A few general tips about our costs:

Flights: These were booked with Norwegian Air who in our view are the best budget long haul flight provider at the moment. We paid £488 Gatwick to Los Angeles and £490 Los Angeles to Gatwick. Latest price for return flights Gatwick/Los Angeles (with 20kg hold luggage) in February as low as £770 return total cost for 2 people. Bargain!

Car Hire: We booked this really early when Car Rentals were offering up to 50% discounts. Great thing we found is that insurance is fully comprehensive and extra driver is free. Worry free car hire as they call it. Keep your eye out for the bargains!

Accommodation: Book as early as possible and always on free cancellation. We couldn’t find better prices than Booking.com and nearly all rooms can be booked and cancelled for free, giving us the opportunity to swap accommodation if a better deal comes up nearer the time, which quite often did. Sign up with them and after booking with them for a while you will gain genius status with regular offers of up to 15% discounts, free breakfast, room upgrades and cool stuff like that!  We researched our motel rooms well,  wanting the best prices but with good reviews on cleanliness, comfort and good bath/shower room, and decided against shared hostels, although we have nothing against them!  All having a fridge, microwave and coffee maker, all had super huge comfy beds/pillows.

Petrol: We estimated we would spend £220 on fuel but ended up spending £310. We under estimated both the amount of miles we would do but more the cost per gallon in different locations (we assumed we would do 2500 miles but we in fact covered 2629) and the price of fuel ranged from $3.40 to $4.65 right up to $7.95 – we had to pay in the Mojave Dessert when we nearly ran out!

Sightseeing Tickets: One of the best purchases we made was the America The Beautiful Annual Pass. Costing $80 for the year it gives you access to all the National Parks in America including Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. Entry for many of the parks can be as much as $35 per car. We visited National Parks on 5 occasions each costing $35 dollars to enter (works out we would have spent $175 on entry fees – we saved $85 and have the pass for the rest of the year if we return). Obviously you’ll have to work out how many parks you are going to visit to see if its better value (Visit more than two and its a saving!).
Tip: Ask for the pass at the first National Park you visit (its not always visible on the charge board when you arrive at the park, so make sure you ask for it).
Our other sightseeing cost was a whale watching trip in Monterey. We paid full price as it was spur of the moment (as blue whales had been spotted earlier in the day) and we weren’t disappointed,we saw 4!  You can often find Whale Watching Tickets cheaper bookable in advance on Groupon which we often use for deals.

Food: This deserves a mention as everyone will have different ideas about a food budget. We can only tell you about our needs. Our total food budget for the trip was £1050 and you will see that we only spent £520. Here’s how and why we only spent this much.

How we spent this amount: We purchased a fold up cool bag, bought most of our food from Walmart or other Delis and supermarkets on route and kept food cold with ice readily available from the motels.  We also made sure we only booked a motel room that had a fridge and microwave. We only ate in restaurants 3 times, the rest of the time we made use of motel microwaves or made up our own picnic meals and ate overlooking beaches or canyons. This certainly isn’t for everyone, but we have travelled like this before, through Thailand, making our limited funds go further while always eating healthy (Julie saw to that). We can honestly say that we never felt hungry during the 16 days and we even managed to have at least 10 Starbucks coffees within our budget!  We did have quite a few rotisserie chickens, quite a few microwaved potatoes,  and along with tinned tuna and fish, bread, fruit, salad and yoghurt, we did ok.

Why we spent this amount: Simple really, to save money – which you get to spend on other things.   As a result of the saving, we were able to pay for a further 7 nights accommodation in San Diego! From where I am presently writing this blog.  It’s the only part of our budget where we could actually save money and our view is that if we have to go without a few treats of big meals in restaurants and breakfasts in Diners to allow us to see another city or location then its well worth it!
It won’t be everyone’s view and some people couldn’t manage it, but we are more than happy to give you advice or share our tips on this in greater detail. Just get in touch.

This is the route we took with accommodation at Camarillo, San Simeon, Monterey, Mariposa, Visalia, Ridgecrest, Las Vegas, Flagstaff and Barstow.

Route Map

On route visiting Santa Barbara, Solvang, Cayucos, Elephant Seal View Point, Big Sur, Carmel by the Sea, Monterey Fishermans Wharf and Cannery Row, Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Suquoia National Park, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, The Grand Canyon and Route 66. 

Day 1

We arrived at Los Angeles Airport at 4.30pm after a ten and a half hour flight from London with Norwegian Air costing £488 one way for 2 tickets.

Tip: We found seats 11E and 11F were good giving us more leg room at no extra cost!

Be prepared for 2 to 3 hours to get through security. We collected the hire car costing £267 for 15 days and headed off to our first nights accommodation at Camarillo, 55 minutes from Los Angeles Airport (Take the 405 North and 101 West).

1 night stay at Days Inn Camarillo priced at $58
Review: Comfortable Bed, Nice and Clean, Coffee in Reception, Free Parking, Free Good Wifi

Day 2

Left Days Inn Camarillo via Walmart Supermarket a couple of minutes way, stocked up with food provisions for next 2/3 days ($30). Continued our journey towards San Simeon on route 101 North. 1st stop Santa Barbara for a picnic lunch (nice beach, long walkways, free parking, picnic areas and BBQ’s). 2nd stop Solvang (pretty Danish village). At Los Alamos we took Route 135 and then shortly after Highway 1 North 3rd Stop Cayucos –  a pretty beach side village, nice shops, restaurants and cafes. Coffee from Cayucos Gas Mini Mart (2 coffees a bargain at $4) we watched the sunset on the pier Arrived San Simeon at 6.30pm 2 night stay at Courtesy Inn San Simeon priced at $101 Review: Comfortable Bed, Nice and Clean, Coffee in Reception, Free Parking, Free Good Wifi, Directly across the road from the beach, a Restaurant Next Door
Solvang Village, California
Solvang (A Little Danish Village in California)!

Day 3

Day exploring the San Simeon area on Highway 1.
1st stop Elephant Seal Beach view point.
2nd stop San Simeon William R. Hearst state beach for picnic lunch (nice beach and picnic area overlooking the ocean).
3rd stop spotted the elusive roaming Zebras grazing in a field close to San Simeon.
4th stop Cambria (Moonstone beach boardwalk) and then into town for good coffee at Cambria Coffee Roasting Company ($4) and food provisions at Cookie Crock Supermarket on the edge of town ($6)
Back to San Simeon to watch an awesome sunset.

Tip: Walk across Highway 1 from the motel and down to the beach to the left is a small park area with fire pits and seating in front of Cavalier Oceanfront Resort, the fire pits are all lit at night, a great place to sit and watch the sunset!

San Simeon Firepit
Watching The Sunset At San Simeon!

Day 4

Left Courtesy Inn San Simeon at 8.30am taking Highway 1 North. 

Lots of stunning scenery and view points all the way along the route (including Big Sur and Bixby Creek Bridge). Filled up with fuel on route at Gorda ($40).

Arrived Monterey at 2.30pm
2 hours free parking on some sidewalks Monday to Saturday. Free parking on most sidewalks all day Sunday!
Walked to Fishermans Wharf.

Tip: Make sure you take advantage of some of the endless little pots of Clam Chowder restaurants give away.

Took the boardwalk to Cannery Row for Starbucks Coffee ($8).
Drove to Wholefoods Supermarket at Del Monte Center for provisions ($8).
Checked in to motel.

2 night stay at Pelican Inn Monterey priced at $110
Review: Comfortable Bed, Nice and Clean, Coffee in Reception, Free Parking, Free Good Wifi, Good location for Highway 1 and downtown (1 mile from Fishermans Wharf and 500 metres from Wholefoods Supermarket

Highway 1 Big Sur Road Trip
Stunning Views - Big Sur, along Pacific Highway 1

Day 5

Day exploring the Monterey and Carmel area.
1st stop Carmel by the Sea (beautiful beach with views of Pebble Beach Golf Resort and the village centre is lined with boutique shops and cafes).
Back to Monterey and parked at Downtown East Parking Lot (Great price – $7 for the day)
2nd stop Fishermans Wharf – Whale watching trip with Monterey Whale Watching ($100 for two tickets + $2 coffee on board).
Review: Brilliant! Big Boats, Really Friendly Knowledgeable Staff, Snack Bar On Board, Free Trip if No Whale Sightings (We saw Blue Whales and Humpbacks!).

Tip: If you are travelling out of season as we were, consider booking on the day and doing the midday trip (if you head down to the Wharf an hour before around 11am you can check if they have seen whales in the morning) also be aware that out of season they sometimes don’t have a trip in the late afternoon due to lack of customers.

3rd stop Fishermans Wharf for lunch at Scales Takeaway – Clam Chowder and Burgers ($27), Good food, seating outside, great place to people watch too!
4th stop Along Sunset Drive – Take the beach front drive from the top of Cannery Row down to Asilomar State Beach (Great sunset!).

Tip: We considered doing 17 mile drive, but after researching it seemed like we’d just see views available on Sunset Drive and Highway 1. Saving us the $10 fee too which paid for our next Starbucks!

Clam Chowder Monterey Wharf
Famous Clam Chowder at Fishermans Wharf Monterey!

Day 6

Left Pelican Inn Monterey at 8.30am heading for Yosemite National Park taking Highway 1 to Watsonville, 129 to River Oaks, 101 to Gilroy, 152 towards Fairmead, 59 to Merced and the 140 to Mariposa. 

1st stop Gilroy to fill up with fuel ($37) and Walmart Superstore for provisions ($30).

2nd stop Yosemite National Park Entrance arrived at 2pm.
Purchased an America The Beautiful Pass ($80). Giving access to all National Parks in America for 12 months including Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Grand Canyon.

Took in the stunning scenery, lovely walks and watched the sunset before heading out of the park to our motel at Mariposa (1 hour drive from the park entrance).

2 night stay at Miners Inn Mariposa priced at $182
Review: Breakfast Included, Comfortable Bed, Nice and Clean, Free Parking, Free Good Wifi, Well Priced Accommodation For The Area

El Capitan Yosemite
Trying To Capture The Mighty El Capitan!

Day 7

A full day in Yosemite National Park (free entry due to purchasing the annual pass).

Walked the El Capitan trail and the hike up to Vernal and Nevada waterfalls at the other end of the park.
Picnic lunch at one of the most scenic part of the valley (along Ahwahnee Drive).
Left the valley at 2pm for the 1 hour drive up to Glacier Point to watch the sunset.
Stopped back down in the valley at El Capitan to watch the climbers on the wall at night (a very unusual experience).

Back to Mariposa and headed to the best Taco Truck in town for supper ($15)

Tip: If you like Mexican takeaway head to Taco Sonora for excellent Burritos located on Coakley Circle in Mariposa!

Yosemite Valley
The Perfect Spot in Yosemite Valley For A Picnic Lunch!

Day 8

Left Miners Inn Mariposa at 9am heading for Kings Canyon National Park taking the 49 South to Oakhurst, 41 South to Fresno and the 180 to Kings Canyon. 

1st stop Mariposa town to fill up with fuel ($45) and Pioneer supermarket for provisions ($11).

2nd stop Kings Canyon National Park (free entry due to purchasing the annual pass) arrived at 1pm.

Tip: Make sure you have plenty of fuel for the trips in to the National Parks as there are no fuel stations in the park and the roads are slow, long and elevated.

Took the 180 around to Junction View for great views down to the Canyon and then drove to the car park at Kings Canyon Visitor Centre and took the footpath walk to The General Grant Tree (3rd largest tree in the world). Coffee back at the visitor centre ($3).
Headed to our motel in Visalia (great sunset drive on the way out of the park).

2 night stay at Lamp Liter Inn Visalia priced at $172
Review: Comfortable Bed, Nice and Clean, Coffee in Reception, Free Parking, Free Good Wifi

Kings Canyon National Park
Entering Kings Canyon National Park!

Day 9

Took the 45 minute drive from Visalia taking the 198 West to Sequoia National Park (free entry due to purchasing the annual pass).

Visited the Giant Forest.
Walked the Congress Trail to see the largest tree in the world (General Sherman).
Walked the Moro Rock Trail.
Walked the Big Trees Trail.
Fantastic sunset views on the drive back down Highway 198.

Back to Visalia and headed to Walmart for provisions ($23)

General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park
General Sherman - The Biggest Tree in the World!

Day 10

Left Lamp Liter Inn Visalia at 10am heading for Ridgecrest taking the 99 South to Bakersfield, 58 to Mojave and the 14 North to Ridgecrest passing Red Rock Canyon State Park. 

1st stop Visalia town to fill up with fuel ($50).

2nd stop Red Rock Canyon State Park – location for many famous films including The Mummy, Planet of the Apes, Jurassic Park and many westerns including The Outlaw.

Continued on to Ridgecrest for Starbucks coffee ($8) and then to our motel.

1 night stay at Hotel Europa Ridgecrest priced at $48
Review: Please avoid this motel as it is very poorly maintained and we would NOT recommend it! Only good thing about it was that it had a washing machine and dryer – laundry done ($4)

Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Rock Canyon - Location For Many Famous Films!

Day 11

Left Hotel Europa Ridgecrest at 9.30am heading for Las Vegas taking the 395 South, 58 West to Barstow and the 15 to Las Vegas. 

1st stop Barstow to fill up with fuel ($25) and for Starbucks Coffee ($8).

2nd stop Las Vegas – arrived at 2.30pm – Took the iconic drive up and down the length of the strip and parked up for the all important photo at the “Welcome to Vegas” sign before checking in to our hotel. Walked from the hotel to the Bellagio Fountains and central strip area (just a 10/15 minute walk from the hotel).

Returned to the Ellis Hotel Casino and Bar for our complimentary beer, followed by fabulous steaks at the Ellis Island Restaurant ($47)

2 night stay at Ellis Island Hotel Las Vegas priced at $139
Review: Excellent hotel and highly recommended, great price, very central (less than 15 minutes walk to the Belagio Fountains), great restaurant serving really well priced and great food, really friendly little casino, free beer on arrival, free hot drinks in reception, really well maintained clean rooms, lots of free parking and free good wifi

Welcome to Las Vegas
We've Arrived in Las Vegas Baby!

Day 12

Spent the full day in Las Vegas. 

Walked to All The Main Themed Hotels including New York New York, The Bellagio, Caesars Palace, The Venetian and Paris.

Stopped for expensive Starbucks Coffee overlooking the Bellagio fountains ($11)

Watched the Volcano Erupting at The Mirage and the Fountains at the Bellagio after dark.

Walked back to Ellis Island Restaurant for fabulous salmon and burgers ($35)

Las Vegas at Night
Las Vegas - Most Impressive At Night!

Day 13

Left Ellis Island Hotel Las Vegas at 10.30am heading for Flagstaff taking the 93 South via the Hoover Dam, at Kingman taking Route 66 to Ash Fork and the 40 to Flagstaff. 

1st stop the Hoover Dam and Boulder Dam Bridge.

Tip: As you enter the Hoover Dam there is a multi story car park charging $10, if you don’t mind a few minutes walk continue driving across the dam and follow the road up the hill and you will find 3 or 4 FREE car parks.

At Kingman we had Starbucks Coffee ($8) before taking a slight detour off Route 40 on to Route 66.

Arriving at Flagstaff at 8.15pm. Filled up with petrol ($30) and provisions at Walmart ($34)

2 night stay at Budget Inn Flagstaff priced at $91
Review: Comfortable Bed, Clean, Coffee in Reception, Free Parking, Free Good Wifi

Hoover Dam
Quick Stop Off For Selfies at The Hoover Dam!

Day 14

Left Flagstaff at 8.45am for the Grand Canyon National Park taking the 180 North and the 64 North, beautiful drive! Arrived at the Grand Canyon Village at 10.30am. (free entry due to purchasing the annual pass).

Spent the full day at the Grand Canyon South Rim. Coffee ($9)
Walked the South Rim Trail and watched the sunset at the Canyon.

Back to Flagstaff and headed for Taco Bell takeaway which was an extremely poor meal ($10)

South Rim The Grand Canyon
South Rim The Grand Canyon!

Day 15

Left Flagstaff at 8.45am for Barstow taking Route 66 and Route 40 West (350 mile drive!)

Took the iconic drive along Route 66 for 100 miles (Ash Fork to Kingman). Stopped for Starbucks Coffee at Kingman ($9)

Tip: Make sure you have plenty of fuel when you leave Kingman. As the fuel stations from Kingman to Barstow are really expensive (double the price!) We found out the hard way! ($35) for less than half a tank.

Arrived at Barstow at 4pm. Checked in to our motel for the night.

1 night stay at Economy Inn Barstow priced at $45
Review: In Need Of Refurbishment, Comfortable Bed, Coffee in Reception, Free Parking, Free Wifi. Wouldn’t really recommend it unless it was much cheaper than anything else in Barstow.

Route 66
Gettin Our Kicks on Route 66!

Day 16

Left Barstow at 9am for the Los Angeles Observatory taking Route 15 South, Route 10 West and Route 5 North arriving at 11.30am.

As we were a little short of time as we had to get the hire car back to the airport we paid ($10) to park in the Observatory Car Park.

Tip: If you have time and don’t mind a 20 minute up hill walk you can park for free at the Greek Theatre car park, the car park will be closed though if there is a show on.

Left for the airport at 2pm taking Route 5 South, Route 10 West and the 405 South to the Airport, dropping the hire car off at 3.30pm.

Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles
The Iconic Hollywood Sign Photo!

Trip Summary

Total Miles Driven: 2629
Total Cost of Trip:  £3074 ($3843 USD)
Trip Highlights: Highway 1, Solvang, Elephant Seal Beach, Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel, Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Park, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Route 66
Trip Dates: 31st October to 15th November 2019

Thank you for visiting our Blog, we would really appreciate your comments,  your thoughts on it,  or your experiences to share and if you have any questions.  There is a comment box at the end of this blog page and we will be so happy to get back to you, to answer and to give any help/advice we can.

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Road Trip Through California, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon
California Road Trip

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DSC02265

A Great Idea For A 10 Day Itinerary in New York

Don’t miss a thing when you visit New York. We hope our guide to making the most of a trip to the “Big Apple” helps you see the best sites, landmarks and attractions of this amazing city.  We stayed in Lower Manhattan (China Town) as the hotel prices in the this part of the city are so much less than around Central Manhattan.

We stayed at Hotel 91 in China Town, a well priced hotel, clean, with comfortable bed, good wifi and ice machine on each floor. Some of the reviews mentioned noise from Brooklyn Bridge. We had a room with a window looking out towards the bridge and had no problems sleeping, you could just hear the trains but in no way did they disturb our sleep. We would recommend the hotel.

We found the location was perfect as we were a short walk from famous Brooklyn Bridge, China Town, Little Italy and walking distance to Battery Park and some of the best views of The Statue of Liberty. Great transport links also meant we could be in the hustle and bustle of Time Square, Rockafella Centre and the Empire State Building in just a few minutes.

The Statue of Liberty

With so much to see in New York, we would recommend a minimum of 7 days in the city, if you can manage it. Our itinerary took us 10 days of leisurely seeing all parts of the city and we hope you can pick out a few tips to help you with your planned visit weather it be a long weekend or an extended stay.

Day 1 and 2 – The Open Top Tour Bus

We booked the hop on hop off city bus from Citysightseeing which constantly drives a route covering all of the sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. We highly recommended this whether you are in the city for a long weekend or a longer stay, as it gives you a real snapshot of the whole city with stops at some of the most iconic spots including Battery Park, China Town, Empire State Building, Central Park, Yankee Stadium and Brooklyn. We also took the night time tour which was excellent with all the lights through Time Square and the drive across Brooklyn Bridge giving you a brilliant night view of the Manhattan skyline.

The Bright Lights of Time Square, New York

Day 3 – China Town, Little Italy and Brooklyn

Starting early gives you a real feel of local life in China Town, as the shop owners deliveries of exotic fruits and veg arrive along with the aroma of roast duck and sweet and sour greet you as you turn every corner. You can’t miss Little Italy, which is right next to China town which consists mainly of one street lined with Pasta and Pizza restaurants, but its worth a look while you are that way. The walk across Brooklyn Bridge was next on our list, close to China Town its an impressive walk with fabulous views down the Hudson.  When you reach the other side be sure to walk through Brooklyn Heights and down by the river at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you’ll get brilliant views of the New York Skyline.

New York Skyline Views From Brooklyn

Day 4 – Battery Park and Wall Street

We started our day down at Battery Park with a return trip on the Staten Island Ferry. This little 25 minute trip each way gives you some good views of the Statue of Liberty and part of the River Hudson. Best of all the ferry is free of charge!

Our final stop of the day was a very moving visit to Ground Zero Memorial and St Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church to pay our respects to all those that lost their lives in the 9/11 attack.

Wall Street, New York
Wall Street This Way!

Day 5 – Central Park and Time Square

We started our day taking the train (subway) to the stop close to south entrance of Central Park. A long walk through the park taking in the beautiful autumn colours and sound of music from the Chinese man playing his Erhu (a kind of violin). The Bethesda Fountain is a lovely spot to stop and relax and Bow Bridge is a pretty nice place to have a photo. We didn’t really have time but we saw quite a few people who had hired rowing boats and were spending an hour or two on the lake. Boat hire is available from The Loeb Boathouse

You can easily spend half a day in Central Park, which we did, spending a bit of time at Strawberry Fields, grabbing a fresh Pretzel from the street vendor on Central Park West and heading back through the park for a walk back down 5th Avenue towards Manhattan.

We spent the rest of the day around the Time Square area, partly because we wanted to see if we could get some cheap seats for a show that evening. We managed to get tickets for some really good seats at Phantom of The Opera (Majestic Theatre) at about 30% discount.

Tip: For great value last minute show tickets, queue up at the TKTS Time Square Booth for that evenings shows!

We found a lively sports bar to grab a bite to eat eat before the show “The Keg Room“, great atmosphere and well priced pub food. Phantom of the Opera was an excellent show.

Central Park New York
Central Park, New York

Day 6 – Rockafella and Empire State

We planned to take two high views in today. One daytime trip up to the top of the Empire State Building and a trip up the Top of The Rock at night.

We purchased tickets for both from Newyorksightseeing as they offered a deal for two at a 30% discount.

As we were visiting out of season we didn’t have much of a queue when waiting for the lifts, but if you are visiting at peak times expect delays and plan this into your day.

We highly recommend doing a day and a night trip as you get a totally different experience each time and great photo opportunities. Wrap up warm if you are going out of season as it can get pretty windy up top and pretty cold too.

Headed back to China Town for some fabulous Chinese food.

Top of The Empire State Building

Day 7 – Williamsburg Bridge, Williamsburg Neighbourhood and Soho

We spent the day exploring the Neighbourhood of Williamsburg starting with a walk across Williamsburg Bridge giving us great views down river towards Manhattan Bridge. Williamsburg has plenty of cool cafes and restaurants and a pretty relaxed feel.

We headed back over the bridge and made our way to trendy Soho for a bit of window shopping and a warm pretzel from one of the street vendors.

Williamsburg, New York
New York Skyline Views On The Way To Williamsburg

Day 8 – River Trip Up The Hudson

We researched good Hudson River Cruises and ended up settling on Circleline Sightseeing Cruises setting off from Pier 83. The cruise passed under 20 bridges and over 130 of the city’s most iconic landmarks including the full Manhattan skyline, One World Trade Centre, Brooklyn waterfront, Yankee Stadium, Gracie Mansion, George Washington Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Review: A great river cruise with really informative guide, comfortable boat with snack bar on board. Recommended.

Headed back to China Town for a really good supper at one of the local restaurants.

Statue of Liberty From The Hudson River Cruise
Statue of Liberty From The Hudson River Cruise

Day 9 – Hell’s Kitchen, Macy’s and Central Park

We had a fairly leisure day planned today with a walk up Hell’s Kitchen which has some really good restaurants, bars and pubs along 8th and 9th avenues. We ended up at Hudson River Park which has some lovely landscaped walkways offering lovely waterfront views.

We then headed to Macy’s for a bit of retail therapy. Managed to get a bargain on a lovely North Face Jacket!

Walked through Time Square again and a final evening walk in Central Park.

Bag A Bargain At Macy's
Jonathan Bags A Bargain At Macy's

Day 10 – Day At Leisure!

The beauty of a 10 day trip to New York is that it leaves you with a free day to catch anything than you didn’t get time to do or in our case a chance to spend a bit more time around Brooklyn. Followed by a Hunt for a really good New York Cheesecake Shop, research took us to Eileen’s who have been baking cheesecakes at the shop for over 40 years! We were not disappointing, it was the best cheescake we’ve ever tasted!

Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge
One More Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge!

Summary of our trip to New York:

If you are lucky enough to have 10 days to explore New York, you’ll have plenty to occupy your time and we hope our itinerary gives you a good idea of things to see and places to go. If you have a shorter period of time in the city we hope you can pick out some of the most iconic sights that we have listed and build them into your own itinerary.

Thank you for visiting our Blog, we would really appreciate your comments,  your thoughts on it,  or your experiences to share and if you have any questions.  There is a comment box at the end of this blog page and we will be so happy to get back to you, to answer and to give any help/advice we can.

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Travelling Thailand

How to Travel Thailand For 2 Months

On the 14th November 2017 we flew to Bangkok, the start of our 54 day tour of Thailand.

The 54 Day Itinary:

Bangkok – 14th November to 9th November
Pattaya – 19th November to 26th November
Bang Tao – 27th November to 3rd December
Phuket – 3rd December to 8th December
Kata – 8th December to 14th December
Phi Phi Islands – 14th December to 17th December
Krabi – 17th December to 24th December
Koh Samui – 24th December to 4th January
Surat Thani – 4th January to 5th January

Bangkok – 14th November to 9th November – (5 nights) Accommodation: MADERLA GUEST HOUSE – price 4000 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price) Things to See List: The Grand Palace, Floating Market, Wat Pho, Wat Traimit, Lumphini Park, China Town, Khao San.

Our location was perfect for Lumphini Park as Maderla Guest House was just a 10 minute walk away, the MRT station was also on the same road to the park, taking you into the heart of the city. Lumphini was a great place to chill and eat a bit of street food on the way back from a busy day site seeing, a quiet area of green space with a lake and home to a number of rather large Monitor Lizards. The sites of Patpong Night Market and the Skybar Bangkok were both within walking distance too!

Julie's selfie with a Monitor Lizard in Lumphini Park!

You can actually walk from Maderla, through China Town and down to the river, head along the riverside and you will eventually arrive at Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha, walk a little further and you will reach The Grand Palace. The sites of ‘Khao San Road’ are a little further on than that, so most of the attractions are pretty central and fairly close to each other. If we didn’t feel like the long walk down to the river we picked up the MRT blue line across the road from Lumphini Park and in two stops we were pretty near the river.

A visit to The Grand Palace, pretty amazing place!

This was quite a walk and we ended up getting a ‘Tuk Tuk’ back. However, from experience, we don’t recommend getting a Tuk Tuk, as the fumes and traffic make it a very unpleasant experience, we recommend taking the MRT instead!

Our ride through Bangkok on a Tuk Tuk, not for the faint hearted and a face mask for the car fumes highly recommended!

The final thing to see on our list was a floating market. There are a few dotted around the outskirts of Bangkok and we’d done a bit of research before hand. Many people had said how packed with tourists the most popular Damnoen Saduak floating market was and the fact that it was a 100 km bus journey put us off a little. We chose Taling Chan Floating Market as it was a smaller one, still had the stalls and enough boats for the photo opportunities, but had the added attraction of always being able to get good seats on the floating restaurants and it was just 14 km from the centre of Bangkok. We weren’t disappointed, really easy to get to with a trip on the sky train across Bangkok and a quick taxi ride, enough atmosphere and stalls so you felt like you were at a floating market, great food cooked straight off the boats and to top it all off a really good boat trip up the river and back. All in all a good day out and highly recommended.

Taling Chan floating market, a great day out and some of the best prawns ever!

Travelled Bangkok to Pattaya – Taxi with ‘Toms Taxi Pattaya’ – 1200 THB one way – very decent comfortable taxi with air-con, pick up on time and safe driver – recommended!

Pattaya – 19th November to 26th November – (7 nights) Accommodation: Z BY ZING – price 4086 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price) – GREAT VALUE! Things to See and Do List: Jomtien Beach, Thai Massage, Walking Street, Jomtien Night Market.

We headed down to Pattaya knowing that we didn’t have too much on our list of things to see and do, so were looking forward to a bit of a relaxing week. We opted for Z by Zing which turned out to be in a great and quiet location but just a 3 minute walk to Jomtien Beach.

Tip: Take advantage of the 10 Baht bus, they run up and down the promenade and take you round to Walking Street and Pattaya Central Beach. One trip costs 10 Baht how ever far you want to go!

Great food served at one of the roadside restaurants!
Rustling up Pad Thai at the Night Market!

Jomtien Beach is OK but not one of the best in Thailand. The promenade stretches the length of the beach and there are some pretty good and very well priced restaurants along the front. We even found a bar that had a ‘Happy Hour’! There are plenty of places to get a massage, we opted for a full Thai Massage, as it was on our to do list …… most painful hour of Jonathan’s life! Jomtien night market is good and has some really cheap clothing. Some great food stalls and and they even have seating overlooking the beach where you can take your freshly cooked Pad Thai, Grilled Prawns, Snapper or anything else that takes your fancy and eat it overlooking the ocean, pretty cool!

Always got time for a bit of deep fried chicken and prawns!

Travelled Pattaya to Bangkok – Taxi with ‘Toms Taxi Pattaya’ – 1600 THB one way – very decent comfortable taxi with air-con, pick up on time and safe driver – recommended!

Bangkok – 26th November to 27th November – (1 night) Accommodation: THIP MANSION DON MUENG AIRPORT – price 890 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price) Review: Nice modern room, good wifi, great bathroom. Walking distance to the airport and great little roadside restaurants. Recommended!

Travelled By Air – Flight from Don Mueang Airport (DMK) to Phuket (HKT) – total 1000 THB per person – Great little airline and bargain flight tickets – not sure how they do it so cheaply!

Phuket Airport to Bang Tao – Pre-booked Taxi with ‘Hopper Taxi’ – 880 THB one way – very decent comfortable taxi with air-con, pick up on time and safe driver – recommended!

Bang Tao – 27th November to 3rd December – (6 nights) Accommodation: BANGTAO GUEST HOUSE – price 5590 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price) Things to See and Do List: Bang Tao Beach, Chang Thale Beach, Banana Beach, Naithon Beach, Surin Beach, Wat Phra Nang Sang, Tonsai Waterfall, Bang Tao Night Market.

Our accommodation at Bangtao Guest House was in a great location for the price, we could walk to beautiful Bang Tao beach in 20 minutes and a 10 minute walk the other way took us to the main road lined with restaurants and shops. Bang Tao beach is great, a long white sand stretch with really clear water, great for swimming. There are a good selection of beach bars, restaurants and water sports.

Bangtao Beach
Beautiful Bangtao Beach

Tip: We found a great little bar on the way down from our accommodation just a few minutes walk from the beach (no sea view) but it had HAPPY HOUR drinks! It’s called “Tasty Bangtao” and in the same area is Rim Klong Cafe that does the most amazing Mango and Coconut rice. Keep your eye out for them if your in the neighbourhood!

Happy Hour Bang Tao
Best Happy Hour in Town - At Tasty Bangtao!

The accommodation had well priced mopeds for hire so we took advantage of this and rented one to explore the area further. We headed up the coast to Chang Thale Beach, a really lovely tree lined beach and then on to the secret cove “Banana Beach” which had a lovely little restaurant overlooking the ocean. We continued up to Naithon Beach. Its a really beautiful scenic ride along this part of the coast road.

Moped Hire in Bangtao
Our Sweet Sweet Ride!

At the end of Naithon we headed inland and rode through the countryside to our next stop which was Wat Phra Nang Sang and then to Tonsai Waterfall before taking the 4030 back to Bang Tao. We finished the day by riding the coast road along Bangtao. A really great day out!

Bangtao to Patong – local taxi – 420 THB one way

Patong – 3rd December to 8th December – (5 nights) Accommodation: ANGELINA GUEST HOUSE – price 3000 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price) Things to See and Do List: Patong Beach, Bangla Road, Phuket Simon Cabaret, Patong Night Market.

Our next few days were spent in the lively resort of Patong, Angelina Guest House was actually in a great location at the edge of town, in a relatively quiet location, yet an easy walk to the centre and the beach. On our must do list while in Thailand was to go to a lady-boy show. We researched the best shows in Thailand and Phuket Simon Cabaret was right up there, so we pre-booked tickets. It just happened that the theatre was only a 15 minute walk away too! It was a great show and you really couldn’t tell that these ladies were actually fellas! After the show we headed back to Patong Food Market for some BBQ mackerel, papaya salad, pad thai and green curry.

Patong Night Market
Great Food At Patong Night Market!

We had a very interesting evening visiting the very popular Bangla Road, full of restaurants, bars and clubs. We just couldn’t decide which ping pong show to go and see!

Choosing A Ping Pong Show in Thailand
Now What Exactly Is A Ping Pong Show!

Patong to Kata – local taxi – 250 THB one way

Kata – 8th December to 14th December – (6 nights) Accommodation: LE THALASSA KATA – price 6600 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price) Things to See and Do List: Big Buddha Phuket, Karon View Points, Kata Noi View Point, Kata Night Market.

We planned to have a couple of relaxing days by the beach in Kata. Its a great place to chill out for a few days and you can view the most amazing sunsets from Kata Beach. There are a couple of restaurants at one end serving some great food and cold beers. We just struck luck with an annual street fayre taking place along the path directly opposite the beach. Some great street food was on offer and we took advantage of a couple of evenings eating street food on the beach watching the sun go down. We felt like we were really living the dream!

Kata Food Fayre
Kata Street Fayre!
Sunset at Kata Beach
Kata Beach Sunset!

Just across the road from our guest house was a moped hire shop, so we took advantage of a couple of days hire. This enabled us to visit Big Buddha, high up in the hills of Phuket, a brilliant ride with stunning views. On the way back we stopped of at Kata Noi View Point, there are a couple of restaurants up the top where if you time it right you can get a front line table for magnificent sunset views while sipping a cold beer!

Big Buddha Phuket
Big Buddha Phuket!
Making Friends With The Locals
Making Friends With The Locals!
Sunset Views From Kata Noi View Point
Sunset Views From Kata Noi View Point
Beautiful Beaches in Phuket
Exploring Some Of Phuket's Hidden Beaches!

We had time while we had the scooter to also hunt out some of the areas more secluded beaches and some more amazing views including the Karon View Point. Our few days in Kata would not have been complete without a visit to Kata Night Market for some more brilliant street food!

Kata to Phi Phi Islands – we arranged our transfers to the Phi Phi Islands directly with Phuket Ferry, who provided a brilliant and smooth service. Picking us up at our accommodation in Kata, taking us straight to Rassada Pier in Phuket and a smooth crossing over to Tonsai Pier, Phi Phi Islands – Total cost 1200 THB for 2 people one way. Highly Recommended!

Phi Phi Islands – 14th December to 17th December – (3 nights) Accommodation: PHI PHI ANDAMAN LEGACY RESORT – price 6000 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price) Things to See and Do List: Boat Trip To Maya Bay, Snorkelling, Hike To View Point, Explore The Island, Enjoy The Nightlife.

We arrived at Phi Phi Island at 2pm and a member of Phi Phi Andaman Legacy Resort hotel staff was waiting for us to ferry our luggage to the hotel (great service). After checking in we had a wander through the narrow streets checking out restaurants for the evening. We found a great little place overlooking the sea, called Tonsai Seafood, which had a happy hour beers and a really well priced menu.

Andamaan Resort Phi Phi
Time For A Quick Cool Off At The Resort Pool!
Beachfront Breakfast Phi Phi
Beachfront Breakfast Included!

Our next day started really early, after a good breakfast at the hotel we headed down to the pier for our longtail boat trip around Maya Bay. We had researched a few trips before hand and read some really good reviews about Mr Chet’s trips, a little more expensive than some of the other longtail boat trip quotes we received but we went with him based on the reviews and correspondence we had with him prior to booking. We have to say he was absolutely brilliant and one of the highlights of our entire Thailand trip. The 5 hour trip with lunch cost us 3400 THB for 2 people. We headed out to Maya Bay for snorkelling before heading to the beach for lunch, more snorkelling at Shark Reef and then a stop off at Monkey Beach on the way back to Phi Phi. A really well organised trip with a really experienced guide, took us to uncrowded locations and took lots of photos above and underwater that we could access after the trip finished and was happy to take any photos for us with our camera during the trip too. Really highly recommended!

Longtail Boat Ride To Maya Bay
Longtail Boat Ride To Maya Bay!
Maya Bay Beach, Phi Phi
Maya Bay Beach, Phi Phi!

Arriving back to shore early afternoon gave us time to make the hike up to Phi Phi view point giving us fabulous views over the island and the ocean. You’ll find plenty of nightlife on the island, from fire shows on the beach to music clubs in the centre of town. Phi Phi really has got it all and the island really was one of the highlights of Thailand for us!

Phi Phi View Point
At The Top Of The View Point!

Phi Phi Islands to Krabi – again we arranged our transfers to Krabi directly with Phuket Ferry, who provided a brilliant and smooth service. Taking us by boat from Tonsai Pier to Klong Jilad Pier, Krabi and then a taxi on to our accommodation in Krabi Town – Total cost 1600 THB for 2 people one way. Highly Recommended!

Krabi – 17th December to 24th December – (7 nights) Accommodation: HOP INN KRABI – price 5600 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price) Things to See and Do List: River Trip, Khao Khanab Nam Caves, Thai Cooking Class, Krabi Night Market, Railay and Ao Nang Beach, Wat Tham Seua Krabi, Hot Springs.

Arriving at our accommodation Hop Inn Krabi around 7pm we took the 5 minute walked straight in to town to find somewhere to eat. We noticed a street vendor selling Chicken Noodle Soup and seemed really busy, so we decided to go for it. We are not sure of the name, as it wasn’t on his cart but he was on the same street corner every night, keep an eye out for him as the soup was excellent!

Krabi Soup Stall
Great Soup in Krabi!
Krabi Chicken Noodle Soup
Thai Chicken Noodle Soup, Krabi!

Having a week in Krabi gave us chance to hire a scooter for a couple of days. On the first day we headed out to explore Railay and Ao Nang beaches. With stunning scenery along the route we spent the day driving along the coast as far as Hat Noppharet Thara and Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park. A beautiful area of natural forest and un-spoilt beaches.

Krabi Beach, Thailand
One Of Krabi's Beautiful Beaches!

On the second day we took an inland route and headed to Wat Tham Seua Krabi (Tiger Cave Temple). We climbed the 1260 steps, passing the local monkeys on the way, to the top where the Golden Buddha has commanding views over the area. Before we left we visited the tiger cave temple. We then headed to Krabi Hot Springs and Emerald Pool. Well worth a visit the hot springs are great, especially after climbing 1260 steps earlier in the day!

Tiger Cave Temple, Krabi
Tiger Cave Temple!
Wat Tham Seua Krabi
1260 Steps To The Top Of Wat Tham Seua!

We took a river boat upstream to Khao Khanab Nam Caves, through the mangroves and on to fishing village, where the whole village live in houses in the middle of the river, making a living from catching fish for the local restaurants. In the evening we headed to Krabi Night Market for some more great Thai food.

Khao Khanab Nam Caves
Inside Khao Khanab Nam Caves!
Fishing Village, Krabi
Catch Of The Day At Fishing Village!

Before we left Krabi we had one more thing left on our list to do, a Thai Cooking Class! We did a bit of research before hand and found one that picked up from the hotel, had small group numbers and had some great reviews. We certainly struck lucky, we had a brilliant half day. We booked through Cookly and went for the Smart Cook Thai Cookery School. We had a really good experience with a great teacher! There are lots of other classes available on Cookly depending on how long a class you want, how much you want to spend and if you want to include a market visit to buy the produce.

Thai Cooking Class
Learning The Art Of Pad Thai!
Thai Cooking Class
The Results Of Our Cooking Class!

Krabi to Koh Samui – we arranged our transfers to the Koh Samui directly with Seatran Discovery, who provided a brilliant and smooth service. Picking us up at our accommodation in Krabi, taking us overland to Donsak Pier, Surat Thani and a smooth crossing over to Nathon Pier, Koh Samui – Total cost 1695 THB for 2 people one way. Highly Recommended! There are plenty of taxis waiting at Koh Samui Pier. We managed to share the cost of a taxi with two other couples going to Bophut who were on the same boat as us.

Koh Samui – 24th December to 4th January – (6 nights) Accommodation: RIVIERA BEACH BOPHUT – price 21150 THB for Room With Private Bathroom (total price). Things to See and Do List: Fisherman’s Beach Restaurants and Night Market, Big Buddha, Lad Koh View Point, Lipa Noi, Lamai and Chaweng Beaches.

We really pushed the boat out with our accommodation at Riviera Beach Bophut with it being our final part of the Thailand journey. We had 6 nights in a room overlooking the village and then upgraded to a sea view room for the remaining 5 nights. Highly recommend the sea view rooms, waterfront position with amazing views of the ocean and sunsets.

Riviera Beach Bophut
Ocean Views From Our Hotel Room - A Great Place To Work From!

Fisherman’s beach is a great location, with the main street being lined with some really good restaurants, coffee houses and boutique shops. The beach is a sandy strip and the beach side restaurants and bars have made the most of this by offering waterfront dining and tables chairs on the beach itself.

The Address Bophut
First Course Of A Great Seafood Platter At The Address Fisherman's Beach!

We recommend the happy hour cocktails at Copacabana, Some really good set menu seafood deals at The Address and a really cool vibe at Coco Tam’s. For coffee we really liked Tanpopo Cafe, beachfront on the edge of town and also Fisherman’s House Cafe for nice of coffee and good breakfasts too!

Coco Tams Bophut
Coco Tams Bophut, Koh Samui!

To explore the island you really need to hire a moped, we got a pretty decent one from Phusit Motorbike. You can ride round the island in a day, we had the bike a couple of days and visited Big Buddha, Lad Koh View Point, Lipa Noi, Lamai and Chaweng Beaches on the first day. We headed up in to the hills on the second day, where there was fantastic scenery and great coastal views. Its well worth getting out and exploring the island! Bophut Night Market is pretty good too, some really great food stalls. A few more Koh Samui highlights below.

Koh Samui Beach
Koh Samui Has Some Great Beaches!
Great Seafood
Some Great Seafood Too!
Fisherman Walking Street, Bophut
Fisherman Walking Street!
Ocean Views
Happy Hour And Ocean Views!
Island Exploring Koh Samui
Island Exploring!
Shopping Bophut
Mr Fashionista Shopping In The Rain!
Big Buddha Koh Samui
Big Buddha, Koh Samui!

Again for our return ferry from Koh Samui to Surat Thani – we arranged our transfers directly with Seatran Discovery – Total cost 1695 THB for 2 people one way. Highly Recommended!

From Surat Thani Airport, AirAsia who we used for our internal flights, offer cheap flights back to Bangkok International for a connecting flight to most places in the world, or as we did,  why not extend your stay in Asia by flying to Kuala Lumpur and then on to the beautiful city of Singapore.

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How The Travelling Pet Sitters Started

How The Travelling Pet Sitters Started

How The Travelling Pet Sitters Started

Have you heard about the latest trend – low cost travelling!!   As an international house/pet sitter you can seriously extend your travel budget. We explain how this concept of low cost travelling works and has enabled us to visit new locations whilst enjoying the company of pets, meeting new people and allowing us to live a low cost lifestyle.

In 2018 when planning our overseas travel project for 2019, we heard about this relatively new concept of worldwide house and pet sitting and wanted to know more.   Little did we know that this was to be such a huge part of our travelling future.   We love animals and missed having our own pets but we wanted to travel.  The obstacle was our small travel fund and very possibly it seemed we had just found a huge help with that.

We joined the largest International Pet/House sitting community  – and  began applying for our very first house sitting stay. This was to be the start of our plan to embark on a life of house and pet sitting around the World.  Read here about becoming a Sitter and tips on creating your great Sitter Profile.

The Travelling Pet Sitters

If you love to travel then house/pet sitting as you go is a great way to help your travel funds stretch further – it can save you loads on accommodation costs.  Not only that, it allows the opportunity to ‘live like locals’  avoiding impersonal and often costly hotels.  You get to meet new people and make friends along the way and best of all you get to have  the ‘furrbulous’ company of different pets.

We figured that starting our house sitting in the UK would allowed us to visit the home/pet  owners so that they could meet us, especially as initially we had no reviews and nothing but our Profile for the owners to go on.   We hoped that, in time, our Ratings and Reviews posted by owners that we had sat for, would help to support our international pet/house sit applications, where it would not be possible to meet the owners, with the only way of introduction being Skype or Facetime.

Building great reviews has certainly been key to us getting some of the best sits, after building a bank of reviews in the UK we set off to the USA and spent 3 months pet sitting our way around California, before heading to Southern Spain for 7 weeks caring for two dogs at a villa with pool. Our next assignment is a 5 week pet sit in Cape Town.

You too can copy this life style. Do what we’re doing!!!   If you love animals and want to travel then read more to find out how this all works!

Pet Sitting Around The World

Pet sitting is a win/win for both pet sitters and pet/home owners.   The owners get to travel with peace of mind because their home and pet(s) are being exceptionally well cared for in their own home and with no costly boarding expenses. And travelling House/Pet sitters like us, get to enjoy time staying in beautiful cities and countrysides around the world giving lots of love to pets and homes – you could be staying in a Caribbean waterfront villa with a cat and a dog for two months or 2 weeks in a Manhattan flat …. what’s not to like!  Another great aspect to this adventure is that no money changes hands, it is all about trust, obligation, diligence and kindness.

There are now more than a few online websites for home/pet owners to advertise their ‘sitter’ requests. Our favourite by far, is Trustedhousesitters, it is the one that we use. It has the largest international house sitting community – over 70 countries – and we can fully recommend it because we are paying members ourselves.     After joining you will receive the twice daily emails that list the latest sits and if one catches your eye, if the dates, location etc are of interest to you, then you can apply via the secure website direct to the owner to do the sit.    We really love seeing the emails in our Inbox and scrolling through the new adverts of the latest pets to sit for, places to travel to and  homes to live in.

Joining Trusted Housesitters

In our opinion Trustedhousesitters have the greatest number of listings and the highest quality listings.  What would you say to this?? …..Three months on the Caribbean island of Anguilla?  A month in Italy??…..yes, for real!!    Some of the many truly fabulous travel opportunities.

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Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links meaning that, with no extra cost to you, we earn a small commission if you make a purchase. We recommend only products and companies we use.

Review of Pet Sitting Platforms

A Review Of Pet Sitting Websites

Review of Pet Sitting Platforms

There has been a surge in online platforms connecting pet owners with sitters and having used many of them ourselves and spoken with sitters and owners who have used the platforms we hope you will benefit from our recommendations and reviews of the collection of pet and home sitting websites available at the moment.

Having a Pet sitter is becoming a popular alternative to the traditional kennel boarding of pets.  This is where owners choose a sitter to stay in their  home to care for their pets while the owners are away.  This allows the pets to stay in the comfort of their own home and provides security for the home owner having their home occupied for the duration of the owners absence. A brilliant idea!

Trusted House Sitters

5 star review Very Highly Recommended! In our view the best in the market for pet sitting opportunities all over the world. It has a really easy to use website dashboard for members. They send out two emails a day with the latest sits, if you download the App you can save search data and you will receive a message when a new sit is posted that fits your date criteria. A really handy tool for sitters on the go. By far the largest collection of sits available. We particularly like the reviews aspect where both owners and sitter can leave reviews for each other. In summary very impressive! Visit Trustedhousesitters Website Membership £89 per year

House Carers

4 star review

Recommended! This site has a fairly good selection of sits available, pretty easy to navigate around the website and search for sits. It has a bit of an old fashioned feel to the site, perhaps due to the photos being a little blurred on the search results page. I think it could be worth the money however if you’re travelling to an area where they have a few sits, they also add new listings regularly.

Visit House Carers Website

Membership $50 USD per year

Nomadors

3 star review

The website has a bit of an old fashioned feel to it and is a little confusing to navigate, I searched for listings in the UK and didn’t get a very big selection of current sits. Narrowing it down to the area of Norfolk and no sits are available. Compare that to Trustedhousesitters who presently have 31 sits available in the same county. At €65 a year for Nomadors I would have wanted a little more than this personally. I’m sorry but I’m not a big fan of this one!

Visit Nomadors Website

Membership €65 euros per year

Mind My House

2 star review

This site has a fairly good selection of listings, but it just doesn’t fill me with confidence. I viewed a few listings and none had any testimonials which makes me wonder if they have ever been successful in getting a sitter. The other thing I notice is that homeowners don’t have to pay an annual subscription, which to me feels as if owners can just advertise a sit but as they have not paid may not really be committed to having a sitter, I do wonder if there are many sitters that have been let down. I would like to see a subscription charged for homeowners to list. Its cheap for sitters however so might be worth a punt alongside one of the websites in the list.

Visit MindMyHouse Website

Membership $20 USD per year

House Sit Match

3 star review This site has an easy to navigate search area. Unfortunately the number of listings don’t live up to the modern look website, a bit disappointing. It does look as if you can get some discounts on memberships though, so could be worth joining if its cheap enough! Visit Housesitmatch Website Membership £49 per year standard and £79 per year premium

Website Specialising in Just One Country

There are a number of pet and home sitting websites that have set up concentrating on just one country. They have targeted pet sits in the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia. We give our summary and opinion of the best websites that have established themselves in these niche areas.

Mindahome (United Kingdom)

4 star review

Good selection of sits available across the UK and a cheap joining fee for sitters. Free to advertise for pet owners maximising the potential for sit available. Easy to navigate and clearly laid out site. The only thing I would like to see is a little more in the way of support for the pet sitters. I note in the FAQ’s section the following question.
Who pays for the utility costs (electricity, gas, etc)?
Answer: Usually the House sitter pays for what they use although sometimes special circumstances may apply where these expenses are met by the householder. Everything is negotiable. My personal view is that the the homeowner should pay the bills, as they are making a saving from not putting pets in kennels, while also having security for their home. Coupled with this that pet sitters pay a membership for the site and the homeowners pay nothing, seems to me a bit one sided towards the owners. This is my personal view as when I house and pet sit my number one priority is to provide 100% care for the owners home and pets, and I think the trade off should be that we do not charge but at the same time we shouldn’t fund the owners home costs.

Visit Mindahome (UK) Website

Membership £15 per year

House Sitters UK

5 star review One of a very few websites specialising in sits in the UK has an easy to navigate website and a good collection of listings available. I like the fact they have ID verification’s, reviews and membership badges for sitters. I’d certainly consider using it if I were looking for sits in UK. Visit HouseSittersUK Website Membership £29 per year

House Sitters America

5 star review I’m surprised to find this is the only website specialising in pet sits in America. But they do it pretty well. Again the price is pretty low to join and free for owners, but they do have a good selection of listings and its pretty easy to navigate around the site. I would certainly consider using them if I was travelling in the USA. Visit HouseSittersAmerica Website Membership $30 US Dollars per year

House Sitters Canada

5 star review One of a very few websites specialising in sits in Canada and an easy to navigate website. Quite a few listings available. I like the fact they have introduced ID verification’s, reviews and membership badges for sitters. I’d certainly consider using it if I were looking for sits in Canada. Visit HouseSittersCanada Website Membership $59 per year

Kiwi House Sitters

5 star review Specialising in sits in New Zealand, it has a well thought out layout and is an easy to navigate website. Averaging eight hundred plus pet sits across NZ available each month, its got plenty to offer sitters. They use ID verification’s, reviews and membership badges for sitters allowing them to build up trust and experience to add to the profile. I’d certainly consider using it if I were looking for sits in New Zealand. Visit KiwiHouseSitters Website Membership $84 per year

Aussie House Sitters

5 star review This multi award winning site specialising in sits in Australia and is one of the best in my opinion, with an average of over two and a half thousand pet sit listings across Australia each month, its got plenty to offer sitters travelling to the country. Along with ID verification’s, reviews and membership badges for sitters allowing them to build up trust and experience to add to the profile. This would be my go to website if I were looking for sits in Australia. Visit AussieHouseSitters Website Membership $84 per year (reduced fees for renewals)

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Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links meaning that, with no extra cost to you, we earn a small commission if you make a purchase. We recommend only products and companies we use.