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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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.

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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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How The Travelling Pet Sitters Started

How The Global 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.

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.

Trusted House Sitters

Joining TrustedHouseSitters And Begin House Sitting

Joining Trusted Housesitters

Joining the THS House/Pet sitting community is an easy process, but completing your profile on the site and applying for sits takes a bit more time and thought to give yourself the best chance of being selected by owners. We hope to help you with all that on this blog post. The first thing you need to do to get started is to head on over to Trustedhousesitters and complete the easy to do quick sign up information. Just click on the “JOIN NOW” button in the top right hand corner of their Page. Once you’ve joined read on for tips.

Top Tips To Being Chosen For Sits

IT’S IMPORTANT TO CREATE A GREAT PROFILE FOR YOURSELF make it detailed and show your strengths – you need to stand out from the competition!   Your Profile has to Wow the owners!

1.  HIGHLIGHT YOUR STRONG POINTS about your personality and what you would bring to the house/pet sit.

2.  INCLUDE ANY PAST EXPERIENCE of house and pet sitting, however small, maybe you looked after your friends tortoise one day, just make sure its all included.

3.  REFERENCES – See if you can get some really good references, perhaps a character reference from someone you know well, a reliability reference from a past employer or maybe you’ve looked after that friends tortoise and they’d give you a reference!

4.  PHOTOS SAY IT ALL – One of the best ways to show who you are and how you are around pets is with photos. With all pet sitters profiles you will get the opportunity to add photos. Great idea if you can get a shot of you cuddling a dog, or working with animals. Think hard about what you would like to see if you were a pet owner looking for a sitter.

5.  SKILLS – Have you got any skills that might be handy during the sit? Think about anything you may have done in the past, maybe you have some experience with larger animals perhaps horses, or have training in swimming pool maintenance, maybe you’re good at gardening or DIY, have cleaning or property management skills. Dig deep and build a list to add to your profile!

RESPOND QUICKLY WHEN YOU SEE A SIT THAT ‘GRABS’ YOU – you’ll be amazed at the amount of sitters that will also apply, it can get pretty competitive for those luxury sits!

COMMITMENT – Within the owner’s sit information will be the specific house/pet needs, so be aware of these and make sure you are comfortable and able to carry out those 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.   Do your own due diligence about the location of the sit, research the neighbourhood, you want to be sure you feel safe and happy especially if the sit is for an extended period of time.

VISAS – Check and re-check that you have all the correct Visa requirements. They differ from one country to another and you want to be sure that you comply with the Visa requirements.

IF YOU ARE 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.  You can very quickly gauge that you’ve found a good match with a face to face conversation!

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Top Tips During The Sit

  1. Arrive 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, etc. and perhaps info about the surrounding area.   We always make a note of the main specifics to take in with us 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 before the owners leave.
  2. Keeping in contact – We think it’s really important to keep in touch with the owners, not going overboard, but certainly to let 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 before they leave. 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.
  3. Never forget that taking care of the pet/s is your main priority. 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 you 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 routine 100%.   While you’re not getting paid, taking care of the pet is still ‘your job’ and you should take that responsibility very seriously.
  4. Caring for the owners home with respect – 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.
  5. The owners return – as well as having the owner’s house sparkling clean and ready for them and their pets relaxed, groomed and walked, it’s a really nice idea to think about having a meal prepared for the owners on their homecoming if time allows. You can chat about their travels, tell them how the pet/house sit has gone.  This is also a pretty handy little tip if you fancy doing the same pet sit another time, a little kindness goes a long way! 

Remember to ask the owners for a Review

If you have done a great job they will give you a great review and that will go a long way towards your future sits. Informing prospective owners on your sitting performance. On Trustedhousesitters the pet/home owners post their review directly on the website.  No one can revise or edit the review in anyway before it’s posted, making sure the reviews are all true and unfiltered.

Keep Your Profile Up To Date

Its a really good idea to keep updating your profile especially as you get a few sits under your belt. Add a few photos of your recent pet sits to your gallery and let owners know what kind of pets you’ve been caring for on previous sits.

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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Top Tips For Pet Sitters

House and Pet Sitting Tips

Top Tips For Pet Sitters

Once you’ve signed up to a Pet/House sitting website, the first thing to do is create a great Profile for yourself – you need to stand out from the competition!  Here are our top 5 tips for creating a top quality profile.

  1. Highlight your strong points about your personality and what you would bring to the house/pet sit.
  2. Include any past experience of house and pet sitting, however small, maybe you looked after your friends tortoise one day, just make sure its all included.
  3. See if you can get some really good references, perhaps a character reference from someone you know well, a reliability reference from a past employer or maybe you’ve looked after that friends tortoise and they’d give you a reference!
  4. One of the best ways to show who you are and how you are around pets is with photos. With all pet sitters profiles you will get the opportunity to add photos. Great idea if you can get a shot of you cuddling a dog, or working with animals. Think hard about what you would like to see if you were a pet owner looking for a sitter.
  5. Have you got any skills that might be handy during the sit? Think about anything you may have done in the past, maybe you have some experience with larger animals perhaps horses, or have training in swimming pool maintenance, maybe good at gardening or DIY, cleaning or property management skills. Dig deep and build a list to add to your profile!

Profile all set up, right that’s great, now for some tips on applying for those sits you’re interested in and what to think about when choosing a sit.  

  1. Make sure you research the sits that come up in the area you are interested in. Make sure you fully read the requirements of the pet sits you apply for and responsibilities that are being asked of you. Don’t apply unless you can 100% commit to the sit and what the sitter is requesting. You may be responsible for maintaining a salt water pool? Does the dog require daily injections?  Does the dog need two hour-long walks a day? Are you happy to complete all these tasks Thinking about applying for a sit abroad, something some people forget to check is to make sure that they’ve properly checked any visa requirements for the country they’ll be visiting, all countries have different visa rules for visitors, so make sure you’ve checked these out
    2.  As soon as you see a sit that ‘grabs’ you – respond quickly, you’ll be amazed at the amount of sitters that will also apply. Being the first to apply has often enabled us to secure a sit. As you can imagine pet owners want to get booked up quickly and will quite often pick the first sitter that fits all the criteria they are looking for, rather than wait for numerous applicants and then have to sift through them all.
    3. Your first chance to impress any potential home owners will be online when you contact them directly with your application to sit for them.  This will be the first impression the owners get of you.  We always make our application email personal too them, mentioning their pets by name and responding to any particular requirements the owners asked for. This shows you have read their advert thoroughly, after all they have probably spent quite a bit of time writing it! Let the owners know what makes you the sitter they should choose, mention your abilities and experience whilst also injecting your own personality into what you say. Sound as enthusiastic about the sit as possible and let them know what a great opportunity it would be for you as a sitter.
    4. If you are lucky enough to be selected by owners on to their shortlist, make sure you reply quickly, tell them your pleased to be considered and most importantly offer the opportunity to Skype/Facetime.  We have used Skype or Facetime prior to confirming all our sits, it’s a great way to “meet” the homeowners, get to know them and ask any questions about the pets, house and sit in general. Both parties need to feel happy and relaxed that they’ve made the right choice.

Applied and accepted for your first sit, here are some useful tips to make sure your first sit runs smoothly and is a great success for both you and the owners.  

  1. Read up on the sit well in advance, check that you have details of everything about the house, from the mains water tap and wifi codes to the security alarm code and bin collection days. The pets routines and feeding information, details and phone numbers of the vets and any emergency contact numbers.
  2. Always arrive well prepared for the sit. Make a list of all the main points from the owners information pack or notes they have provided for you.  Remember it’s really your job to ensure you ask all the questions you need answered before the owner leaves you in charge.
  3. Caring for the pets must be your prime concern. Whether you’re staying in a house in France or villa on a tropical island never lose sight of the responsibility of pet care.  Typically owners would not expect sitters to leave the pets for more than 4-5 hours in a day and if sitting dogs often they can tag along so be sure to take them. If the homeowner walks their dog an hour in the morning and an hour each evening, then that’s what you need to do for them, follow the pets routines to the letter.  Although, its not a paid job to sit, still view the care of the pet as “your job” and take that responsibility very seriously. If your looking to have a little more freedom to explore then look for a cat, rabbit or tortoise sit, which can be left a little longer through the day.
  4. Keep in touch with the owners while they are away. Its a great idea to ask how much communication they would like while they are away. Some owners love a daily picture and update of how their furry loved ones have been getting on to put their mind at rest.  Some owners prefer contact only if an emergency arises.  Ask what the homeowner prefers. We love to send photos of the pets showing they are happy and healthy, we think it puts the owners minds at rest while they are away from their home.
  5. Keep the owner’s home clean and tidy. We probably go a little overboard when cleaning up before the owners return but it all goes towards a good overall impression of how you have gone about completing the sit and the respect you have for the owners home. Recommendations often come from going a little above and beyond what most would consider normal!
  6. On the owners return, apart from ensuring their pets are happy and relaxed and coming home to a clean house, consider spending a little time with them when they return. We have cooked a meal for some of our owners and chatted about our time in their home with their pets and listened to stories about the owners time away. If you’re a little short of time, then even a baked cake and quick coffee goes down very well.
  7. If you are using a website that gives owners the opportunity to review you, be sure to give them hints before you leave or in a little message a few days after the sit. Often the owners can post their review directly on the website, meaning they are not revised or edited by anyone, so a genuine review that can be read by future owners that may be considering you.  A great review will be invaluable for your future sits!

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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