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Travel Tips Accommodation International house sitting: How to have the best accommodation for free

International house sitting: How to have the best accommodation for free

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This post is also available in: nlNederlands

For most people, the number one cost while traveling is accommodation. Especially for long term travelers, as they stay longer at certain places and spend less on transport.

How amazing would it be if you could eliminate your accommodation costs? You think it’s not possible? Let me tell you that it is! And I am going to explain to you how…

By international house sitting! It is not just you who likes to travel, there are many more travelers out there! Lots of them still own houses and pets and they want them to be looked after if they hit the road.

The perfect opportunity for you! Settle down in a house, get some love from a pet and give some love back, explore the area like a local and enjoy FREE accommodation!

International House Sitting

What is international house sitting?

House sitting means that you take care of someone’s house and pet(s), while the owner is away for a short or a long trip. The owner can keep the pets in their own environment and saves a lot of money for a kennel by letting you take care of them. International house sitting means that this can be literally anywhere in the world!

So, that is a good reason for the house owner to let you stay in his/her house! For you, as a traveler, it is an opportunity to explore a new area while having free accommodation.

There are all kinds of housesits available anywhere in the world. During winter in skiing destinations or during summer in luxury beach houses. Sometimes it is for a couple of days, sometimes it is for a couple of weeks or even months.

All the information about the house, pets and the length of the stay are available beforehand. So, you can choose yourself which one you would like to apply for. In this way, you decide where you go and for how long.

International House Sitting Norway

TrustedHousesitters Norway

Why would you become a house and pet sitter?

There are several reasons to become an international house sitter. Some people have multiple reasons, others might only have one.

Saving money

This is probably the main reason for people to become a house sitter. Most of the times you pay a subscription fee to one of the house sitting platform once and you can apply for as many house sits as you like. There are even people around that house sit 365 days a year. They literally travel around the world from house sit to house sit! That is amazing!

Having a pet

Being on the road for a longer time isn’t the best situation for having pets of your own. With house sitting you can take care of other’s pets and feel like they are yours for a little while. Give them lots of love and they will give you some love back. So, a good solution if you like pets, but can’t have them yourself!

Travel slow

While you would rush through a city or area to explore every corner of it when you stay in paid accommodation, you can explore on your own peace while house and pet sitting.

Explore areas off the beaten track

Lots of listed house sits will lead you to unexplored areas. Deep in a Costa Rican Jungle or to the heart of an Australian National Park. This way you get somewhere else than just the places from the travel guides.

Lots of fun

House and pet sitting is a lot of fun!

A beautiful morning at a n International House Sit

Cat International House Sit

How to become an international house sitter?

So, now you have some awesome reasons why you should become an international house sitter. If you like these reasons and you want to become one you are probably wondering how!? Keep on reading and you get the answer!

Sign up for a house sitting platform

Before you can apply to become a house sitter, you need to get access to listed house sits. There are several networks available, like Nomador, Mind my House and House carers. The one we like the most is TrustedHousesitters and we will tell you why:

  • They provide the biggest network worldwide. TrustedHousesitters has the most listed house sits which are spread all over the world, while other platforms only focus on one part of the world and don’t have as many opportunities
  • Easy to navigate website. TrustedHousesitters as a very friendly website, which makes it easy to find a house sit that suits your travel period and travel destination.
  • Long-term and short-term house sits. TrustedHousesitters considers every trip to house-sit worthy. No matter if it is for just one day, several months or anything in between.
  • You can search house and pet sits without paying. All the house sits are listed for anyone that visits their site. Have a look around and see the house sit opportunities before you decide to sign up.
  • TrustedHousesitters offers 24/7 Vet assistance. Within the TrustedHousesitters network, there is always a Vet available in every corner of the world that you can contact in case of an emergency.

TIP: Sign up here to TrustedHousesitters and get 20% discount on your membership! Or use the code: RAF110275

Create a perfect and trustworthy profile

A first impression can make it or break it. Your profile is the first impression a house and pet owner get from you. That for it is important to create a good profile, but how do you do that?

  • Good quality pictures. Before anyone reads anything about you, they will see your profile picture. Make sure the quality is good and it presents your real you. Besides a profile picture, you can upload more pictures to show what you like, who you are and what your interests are. Make sure these pictures are all good quality.

TIP: Add some pictures from you with animals. This shows the house and pet owner that you have experience with animals.

  • Represent yourself. Make sure that you add something about yourself in written text in your profile. What are your hobbies, what is your favorite animal, did you work with or take care of animals before? This will all help to build trust.
  • Why do you want to housesit? Tell the readers of your profile why you want to house sit. What makes an international house sitting a great experience in your opinion.
  • Special skills. Do you have special skills, like gardening, grooming or anything else? Don’t hesitate to name it! Don’t make anything up though! If you mention special skils, people will likely want to use them!
  • Become a verified member. With TrustedHousesitters you can become a verified member, which will give more trust to the house and pet owners. Simply verify your e-mail address and phone number and get an external reference.
  • (External) references. At least one external reference is needed to become a verified member, but the more references you have, the more likely house owners will trust you to take care of their house and pets. You can get an external reference from someone you helped out when he/she needed a house or pet sitter. It can be a friend, family member or an acquaintance. Ask them politely and tell them why you would like them to write a reference for you and what you like them to mention in the reference.
  • Enthusiasm! Last, but not least, make sure you sound super enthusiastic in your profile. Let them know that you are excited to go house sitting and that you are the right person they are looking for!

House Sitting in Brisbane

International House Sitting Finland

7 things you need to keep in mind before you apply for a house sit

International house sitting is amazing! I have mentioned several reasons before and the main thing I like about it is exploring areas that are off the beaten track. Actually, writing this article, I am sitting on a veranda that overlooks Mount Warning in the Wollumbin National Park, NSW, Australia. You might have never heard of it, but I can tell you it is worth a visit!

For two months we live in this huge house with a private swimming pool and kilometers of private land. We take care of two beautiful and obedient dogs, 7 chooks and 4 cows. It is quite remote, as the nearest supermarket, is a 30 minutes drive away, but the beach is only one hour away. I absolutely love it.

Anyway, the point that I want to tell you is that, no matter how much you would love to take care of a house or a pet in a certain region, you always have to keep some things in mind before you apply for a house sit:

1. Check if you need a Visa and/or insurance

International house sitting means going abroad. To another country than where you live and to a country where you might need a visa. For some countries you can only get a visa up to a certain amount of days or months, so always check if there is a Visa required. And if there is a visa required, if you can get one that will cover you for the full period a house sitter is needed.

Going abroad also means that you need travel insurance and health insurance that covers your trip abroad. Especially check your health insurance when you go to the United States, as many insurances don’t cover this part of the world, or only when you pay an additional fee.

2. Figure out if you can get there

Dog during International House Sitting

If you apply for a house sit in a big city, transportation will probably not be an issue. But if you apply for a house sit in a more remote area, always check if you can get there and how you can get there. House owners will often tell you if you need to have your own transportation, or if they leave a car for you behind.

Make sure you know that you can reach the location before you apply and that you can move around during the house sit.

3. Check the location

Always check out the location. Take a couple of minutes time to Google the location you want to apply for and figure out the following things:

  • How far away is the nearest shop and how can you reach it
  • Is the location safe? Check out local newspapers
  • For longer house sits you might want to check out if there is anything fun to do or interesting to explore in the area
  • What language is spoken and do you also speak that language?

4. Responsibility

Responsibility is probably the most important thing on this list. If you apply for a house sit you have to make sure that you are able to participate. Don’t randomly apply to a couple of house sits that might interest you, to later on, tell the house owner that you actually can’t make it on the date he/she was asking for.

This is really unprofessional and it damages your confidentiality. Besides, if you do this more often, it won’t stay unnoticed and your chances of getting an actual house sit will be smaller and smaller. Just saying!

Besides making sure you are available on the dates that are asked for, you also have to make sure that you are able of doing everything the house owner asks for. For example, I have absolutely no experience with horses. Although I would like to learn it, that is not enough if a horse owner is looking for someone that can take care of horses. So, I will not apply for such a house sit.

If you made an agreement for a house sit, make sure you’ll be there on time! And that you can stay for the full period.

International House Sitting

International House Sitting

5. Finance

Although you have free accommodation by doing international house sits, you still have to cover some costs, like:

  • Transport to the location of the house sit
  • Transport during the house sit
  • Transport back home, or anywhere else you are going after the house sit
  • Visa & insurance
  • Groceries and maintenance
  • Some extra savings for just in case

Make sure you have the financial needs to have a happy stay. This will make it so much easier for yourself and also for the house and pet owner. What if something happens with a pet and it needs to go to a Vet? It would be great if you could advance the costs. This way the pet owner won’t have stress and simply pay you back when he/she returns.

6. Understand the requirements

Make sure you understand everything that is asked for. If something is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask more information. It will only show trust. The house owner knows you take it seriously and you will feel more relaxed if you have it all clear.

7. Do not pay a house owner to secure the spot

It has never happened to us, but we’ve heard some stories around. If you are asked to pay a house owner in advance to secure your spot, it is not worth it.

I mean, if you love the place, have the money and are prepared to take a risk, yeah sure, go for it. But I just want you to know that this is not the normal way of doing business.

How to find and apply for the house sit you want?

You’ve created a killer profile, you know what to keep in mind and you are probably so ready to explore your options! Well, go for it!

Search for a house sit

TrustedHousesitters made it really easy for you! You can simply look for a location and see if you are available during any of the dates, but there are many more filters you can use!

  • Dates. Give a timeframe you are available for an international house sit and see on which locations people are looking for a house and pet sitter
  • Duration. If you prefer longer or shorter house sits, filter on duration. From one day up to several months. It is all available on TrustedHousesitters.
  • Pets. Do you want to take care of a certain type of animal? Filer on animal type.
  • Local attractions. Would you like to do an international house sit near the beach or the mountains? Of would you prefer the city or maybe the countryside? Just select one of these and your options will roll out.
  • And there’s more. Filters, like the type of accommodation, internet speed, disabled access, use of car included and family-friendly can also be applied.

You can also combine all these filters, to make it easier to find your perfect accommodation!

TIP: Be flexible with your dates. The more flexible you are, the more options you will have!

Walking with the dog in the forest during an international house sit

View your options

Once you’ve selected a couple of accommodations you would like to go house sitting, make sure you check them out.

  • See the house. Are there pictures available? Do you like what you see?
  • Check out the pets. What kind of animals are they, do they look nice? Are there no pets involved you have allergies for?
  • Read the story. Does it make you feel good or nervous? Is everything clear to you?
  • Check out the references. Are there any references, are they good? Is there anything in the references you don’t like?

How to get invited for the house sit?

Exciting! You found the accommodation you would like to go to for an international house and pet sit. Now it’s time to send a message and let the house and pet owner know that you are available. That first message will be the first impression they get from you together with your profile. So, it is important to write a good and clear message. Here are some tips for writing a good introduction message:

  • Introduce yourself. You’ve read their story, but they don’t know anything about you! Tell the house and pet owner something about yourself. Keep it personal, for example, tell them about your hobbies.
  • Let the house and pet owner know why you want to house and pet sit.
  • Let the owner know that you have read his/her story. Name names of the pets in your message or let them know that you are capable of doing a certain task they ask for.
  • Ask a question. Ask if something is unclear, or a personal question like where the house owner is going. Show interest in the house sit or in the owners.
  • Tell them that you are willing to do an introduction call via phone or skype. This way you can get to know each other and it is good for building trust.
  • A final and very important tip is to be fast. Some house and pet owners get a lot of messages to go through. If you are one of the first ones that apply, you’ve got the biggest chance that your message will be read. (Check available house sits every day. TrustedHousesitters is the biggest network and every day there will be new house sits listed).

Once you’ve sent the message, it is just waiting. With TrustedHousesitters you can see if your message is read and how many applicants a house sit has. This gives you a small indication of whether you can expect an answer soon or not.

For most sits we applied for we had an answer within a week or otherwise we didn’t hear anything back from them.

International House sitting. Kelly together with Tess, the dog, in the Norwegian fjords

TrustedHousesitters. Kell teaching Tess, the dog, how to swim in the sea between the Norwegian frjods

Prepare for an (online) meeting

If you received a message back that the owner likes to invite you for the house sit, it often happens that they would like to hear/see you first. You can also request a meeting if you like to.

If you are far away from each other you can set up a skype meeting or a phone call. And if you are already in the area, you can come by for a cup of coffee and a chat.

No matter how you plan on doing the meeting, make sure you are prepared. Read the information on the house and pet owner’s profile again and check if they sent any additional information in their e-mails. If you have questions, write them down and make sure to get an answer.

When you both feel good after the meeting, you can confirm the house sit. Make 100% sure you are available, as the house owner counts on you and expect you to take care of his/her house and pets.

On TrustedHousesitters you can request a welcome guide. This is a guide with all the information you need to know about the house sit. General information about the pets, what they eat, when they eat, if they need to go for a walk. And also general information about the house. Where you can find things, like food for the pets and also how things work, for example, the gas stove or the pump from the swimming pool.

Make sure you understand everything in the welcome guide, as that will be the source to fall back on when you are in their house by yourself. Make sure that all questions are answered before you start your house sit.

What to do when you arrive at an international house sit?

Finally! The time has come! You will start your international house sit!

Once you arrive, the owners will lead you around the house and introduce you to the pets. Make sure you respect the house rules right from the beginning (taking off shoes) and show interest in the pets. The house owners will probably tell you everything you already know from the welcome guide, but it is always good to see where things are and how they work.

Pay attention to what the house owner has to say and take responsibility. Ask if something is unclear or if you want to know more about something. Make sure you have all the information about the following inquiries:

  • Who can you contact in an emergency and how can you reach that person?
  • Do any of the pets have allergies or medicines that you need to be aware of?
  • What are the details of the Vet?
  • Can you reach the house and pet owners during their trip? Do they like to be updated? If so, make sure you send them an update every now and then.
  • Do you need to collect the mail?
  • Do you need to do a pool or garden maintenance? Do you know where everything is that you need for it?
  • Do the pets need to go out for a walk? If so, where can you walk with them and for how long?

If you feel comfortable and if you feel like you know everything you need to know, it’s time to actually do it by yourself! Sometimes the house owners leave quite soon, sometimes they leave the following day.

International House Sitting

How to be a good house and pet sitter?

The only thing left now is making it a success! Taking care of the pets and the house and let the owner come back with a good feeling. Here are some tips for being a good house and pet sitter, which will result in a positive reference on your international house sitting profile!

Stick to the guidelines.

Although you might feel like the animals you take care of are your pets for a little while, they aren’t. It is your responsibility to stick to their habits. Give them food on the time they are used to and walk with them as often and as long as they are used to.

Treat the house, neighbors, and pets with respect.

Treat the house like it is yours. Don’t make too much noise and show the pets some love. This way it is fun for everyone!

Always return the house tidy and clean to the owner. Make sure all your stuff is packed before they return, so you don’t have to gather all your belongings while they just returned and want to do their laundry.

Be prepared for a different situation.

If you have sketched the perfect picture in your mind, be prepared to erase a little corner of it. Something bad can always happen. A sick pet, a broken window, a flooded swimming pool. React on it. Inform the house owner and ask if he/she has a solution. Think together, if you know a possible solution, discuss it with him/her.

Stay calm and do whatever you can do. If it really ends bad, at least you did everything you could and no one will blame you. Be honest and never keep it a secret to the house and pet owners, always tell it immediately.

Enjoy!

I hope this blog post about international house sitting was useful and inspiring for you. We have been housesitting on and off for almost two years and absolutely love it. For us, it is a break from being on the road 24/7. We can settle down, unpack our bags and enjoy a fully equipped kitchen, a shower and a washing machine.

We highly recommend TrustedHousesitters as an international house sitting platform, because of the large offer in many, many destinations worldwide and the easy-to-navigate website.

TIP: Sign up here to TrustedHousesitters and get 20% discount on your membership! Or use the code: RAF110275

Enjoy your stay anywhere in the world! If you have experience with international house sitting or if you have a question, feel free to leave a comment below. You can also get in touch via our contact page.

Kelly Kap
Living the dream is my motto! I like outdoor adventure, volunteering, nature, exploring new cultures! I'm always seeking new challenges and new places to discover. Travelling was always my biggest passion since I was a kid! I like to inspire people to stop dreaming and start living their dreams!

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