*All animal photos in this post are courtesy of WordPress’s free photo library.

The husband had been certain that nothing could distract me from my six-month-old blogging obsession.  And for a while there, he was right.  But ironically, it was through my interactions with the bloggosphere that I became aware of the thing that would kick blogging down a notch to Obsession #2.  That thing is petsitting.

 

Yes, we’ve joined one of the many housesitting/petsitting companies, and there are many:

And others…

I can’t speak to all of them.  Heck, I can’t even speak to the one we joined, since we haven’t done a petsit yet.

But know this: just signing up has affected my life.  I am now an addict.  I get frequent emails listing the site’s newest sits, but several times a day I check on my own.  I drool over sits in places we can’t go because it doesn’t jive with our work schedule or our own pre-planned travels, or because flying to, say, Singapore for a 3-day sit would be ridiculous.  Some places are stunning mansions, others are humble apartments.  Some are in the center of a major city, others are well off the beaten path.  Some have a single, easy-to-care-for animal, while others have a veritable menagerie of critters from dogs and cats to chickens, horses, alpacas, and goats (who need milking!).  Some sits are posted well in advance, and others are panicky last-minuters.  A few are overnighters, and several are months long or more, but most fall into that standard vacation time frame: 1-3 weeks.

 

I hate employing this overused term, but this is going to be a game-changer.  Not for all our travels, of course, but for some of them.  Already I’m scheduled to jet off to Seattle for a long weekend to hang with an adorable therapy dog and his feline housemate.

 

The husband and I are not usually weekend city-break kind of travelers.  Both of us homebodies, we use the weekends to recharge from our taxing weeks in front of students, get stuff done around the house, and get together with friends.  Yet I’m now envisioning short-term/long weekend sits in all those cities we always say we’d like to get to (or get back to) someday, but never seem to: Vancouver, Quebec City, Montreal, San Francisco, Savannah, Charleston, Boston, Portland, Bend, Phoenix, New Orleans, Albuquerque, Miami, all over Hawaii, ANYWHERE in Colorado… I could go on and on.

And don’t even get me started on the international sits:  Switzerland, Thailand, Mauritius, Kenya, Cyprus, New Zealand, Malaysia, Finland, and on and on and on.  Visions keep dancing in my head of practicing my French with the local baker as I make my daily purchases at the boulangerie in a little country hamlet or in the heart of Paris.

Chinon (29)
I got some practice the last time we were in France.  We got four croissants because, uhh… they’re smaller than they appear on camera?? 😉

Looking ahead, the plan is to make a big departure from my usual travel planning routine, which is to plan WAY in advance, and instead let the petsitting chips fall where they may.  That is to say, we may start booking petsits abroad, and then build the rest of our travels around them.

Before I obsess myself into complete and utter uselessness around the house, though, I need to take some deep breaths, stop cursing the fact that we haven’t won the lottery (But then, would I really petsit as a way to see the world? Yes, I think I would.  I mean, PETS!!), and make arrangements to be reincarnated as an independently wealthy person with no need for a travel-hindering job. (And while I’m wishing, how ’bout a size 2, drop-dead gorgeous, and Ivy-League brains?)  Also, I need to view this as a marathon, not a sprint.  The goal is to do sits as a complement to our normal travel, and build up a résumé.

 

Because if when retirement ever comes, the Spots, Oreos, and Mr. Whiskerses of this world are going to have some very eager and experienced sitters in the husband and me, maybe even in Singapore, and maybe for just three days…

Your turn!  Have you done this kind of thing before?  Pros?  Cons?  Advice?  I’d love to hear it all.


Read about our adventures in travel-petsitting:

 

72 thoughts

  1. I can totally relate to the idea of the world that is now open to one with petsit travel. I mean, I LOVE animals AND travel, and am experienced with all including horses. I just feel guilty leaving my own pets to go petsit, although we sometimes leave them when we do travel. I’m interested to hear of your experiences!

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  2. Amazing!!! Sounds like this will be full of wonderful opportunities for you! I didn’t even know these services existed until I read your post. What a great idea! Hope this leads to some great adventures for you 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve never done this sort of thing before and considering how allergic I am to furry beasts I doubt that I’ll be doing this in the future. [I’m going to sound like Debbie Downer here, but you might want to find out what happens to you IF the homeowner accuses you of theft. Someone could make your lives a living legal hell if you’re accused of something and have to fight it out in court. Don’t know how that works, but something to be aware of.]

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve heard this thing mentioned before and only gave it a passing thought but this is such a good idea! I might look into it over here. I so badly want a dog but the timing isn’t right but this could fill the dog-shaped hole 🕳

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  5. I would love to do this! I’ve never got around to signing up and I worry that there’s so much competition from other travellers! I might have to give it a go though, as I loooove the idea. I met someone in Australia who was going to look after a house on one of the islands around the Whitsundays. How ridiculously awesome is that?!?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, there are some AMAZING properties out there, and the impression I get is that the competition is greatest for those (and for amazing locations like Hawaii), but they say that if you stick with it long enough eventually you’ll get a sit. Feels a bit like a boulder that starts rolling very slowly and then little by little gathers speed. You could also increase your chances of getting more sits by signing up with more companies, but of course they all have annual membership fees. This is what the full-timers do.

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    1. No. All of them are trust-based organizations in which no money changes hands. The only money going out of anyone’s pocket is for site’s membership fee. For some of them, only the sitter pays and the person looking for a sitter doesn’t need to pay. In other cases both parties pay for an annual membership. The idea is that sitting/watching the home is exchanged for a free place to stay. The sitter has to get themselves to the location. Incidentally, mom wondered why anyone would do this. I’ll be curious to hear your reaction. We think it’s FAB!

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  6. I’m completely with you on this one! When I retire and am more flexible I will absolutely look into this. I also love animals and traveling. On our last vacation to Hawaii we took a dog from a shelter out for the day for a walk by the beach and it was truly one of the best parts of our vacation.

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  7. Oh Travel Architect. Once again you have enlightened your rapidly expanding fan base with a great discovery. Travel is one of life’s great joys and animals are reminders that some of forms of life are actually achieving a positive purpose on this Earth. Putting the two together is beyond brilliant. A word of warning, however, from someone who vetted 13 out-of -sorts Chihuahuas from Texas just last night. Be sure you understand what you are in for before embarking for Nepal to babysit a “friendly” yak. Milking a yak is tough duty and they are notoriously fidgety around strangers, particularly those who do speak the native language. Hippos are also a challenging experience- with or without milking duty. Just use discretion so that your avid readers do not lose you in a bizarre gerbil stampede or other incident. Many thanks for your continuing service to the traveling public.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t it a good idea? I wish I’D had it. Then again, even if I did, my total aversion to technology and lack of even a single entrepreneurial bone in my body means it probably would have remained just an idea.

      I will definitely write about my Seattle experience!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh! I’d forgotten about petsitting! I should def look into it again, Thanks for the reminder! Gosh, I have so many things that need looking into before I leave Spain to travel in Asia for a year. p.s. Lack of time due to planing long term travel is my sorry excuse for being so absent from the blogsphere…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, just seeing this now. I think planning for long term travel is a great excuse for being absent from lots of things. I’ve read some posts about what it takes to get ready and it seems overwhelming. I admire you and I can’t wait until you get started and start blogging again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Thanks. Its been a challenge, from deciding wether traveling light is a solid excuse for getting a new ultra light towel to replace my regular old light travel towel to figuring out what to do bankwise while I’m away. The choices and decisions never end.

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    1. Lots of couples do it. Some sits specifically request just one person due to the size of their living space, or a solo female because their dog doesn’t react well to men, for example, or things like that, but usually there are no restrictions. Some sits allow children, and some are ok with sitters bringing along their own dog.

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    2. I forgot to mention that there are SO MANY petsits in Boulder. Obviously this wouldn’t scratch your travel itch, but it can be a way to build up positive reviews on your profile, making you more attractive for the competitive sits.

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  9. Hi,
    As I type Sam & I are sitting on a gorgeous beach in Hervey Bay, Queensland. We are currently sitting a very undemanding cat for 4 weeks just down the road in Maryborough. This is our fifth sit while traveling Australia. Next week we will be caring for a Great Dane & a parrot in Cairns as part of our trip to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a great way to travel: it indulges a love of animals; saves heaps of money – inc the savings that come with self catering rather than eating out; and you get to live like a local seeing neighbourhoods you might never otherwise discover. The only word of caution I would give is to look for sits where you want to go, rather than accept any sit for the sake of it. Be patient & the right ones will come. If traveling long term like us, don’t let sits dictate your route. At first we where accepting anything which nearly led to us spending 3 weeks in Canberra. Thankfully that sit fell thru! Finally, you are gonna hate us for this but we have 2 weeks in the south of France lined up in August looking after…..Shetland ponies! That will be awesome. Final final words of advice….go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Sam & John. Thanks for following! Your blog was not the first one I read that mentioned petsitting, but it did contribute to the growing idea in my head that “this is really a thing.” I’m less than a week back from my first sit and I definitely learned some things. I’m actually going to be composing my post over the next several days and publishing it next weekend, so I won’t say too much here, but sitting is definitely something I/we want to keep doing, and yeah, there is a learning curve! The company we’re with has SO MANY sits in Australia. You must be spoiled for choice! Thank you for your excellent advice. I don’t hate you, but I am envious of that France sit. But don’t worry, I’m growing accustomed to seeing amazing sits I can’t go for for logistical/time reasons. Just yesterday a sit was advertised in Carcassonne – Carcassonne! – where I’ve wanted to go for years. A shar pei and a ragdoll kitten. Ugh. It was torture to read that one. Looking forward to reading about all your future travels (and exotic animal adventures). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No money changes hands for most of these companies. That’s my understanding. The sitter is responsible for getting herself to the sit. Beyond that, sitting is exchanged for a free place to stay. Thanks for the compliment. We’re doing another sit in Colorado next month, as well as having our own sitters at our house. It’s all very new and exciting!

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  10. House/pet sitting is brilliant – we love it and combine our own independent travel with it for a spot of comfort/downtime/’normal’ living. (We don’t have a fixed address). It’s real local travel, and gives so many experiences – milking goats, keeping a water wheel turning, swimming pool maintenance…. the only downside is leaving all the critters behind every time.

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    1. Yeah, I recently wrote a post about my first petsit in Seattle, but what I didn’t mention in it was that for at least the first week back, I thought about those pets every single day. I miss them!! Doing another one next month in Colorado, but this time with the husband (I did Seattle on my own), so I’m really looking forward to that. You are so lucky you get to do so many sits. We’ve got a house, jobs, a pet. In other words, we are tied down (it’s ok, we like that, too) and when I look at all the petsits out there, I just drool. Sometimes I have to remind myself that just because they are listed doesn’t mean I would be chosen. It’s a good thing to remember to shake me out of my reverie. 🙂

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  11. What an awesome idea! I hope you have many pet sitting opportunities in far away wonderful places, with nice animals. I just retired this year from teaching art. I loved to teach and am I will miss my students. I will, however, not miss lesson plans and grading papers. Hope you and your husband have great schools years and that you recharged your batteries this summer!

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  12. I share your addiction. Just looking and dreaming about sits is one of my favorite pastimes. I’ve been petsitting for 2 winters now and absolutely love it. Thanks for the list of sites. I’ve been real happy with Trusted Housesitters but it might be fun to see what else is out there. Thanks!

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  13. This would also be really great if you were thinking about a specific animal (like a rabbit or reptile) that you have never had or a different size dog (people are often shocked that size can make such a difference). Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s wonderful that you can actually sort by animal. So, say you are allergic to cats, you can block that animal in your search. Or say you ONLY want to petsit cats. You can select that animal as your only animal. Currently you can’t choose a dog breed, though I’ve often thought that would be a good addition to the site, but you see lots of pictures and read a description of the animals before deciding you want to apply. So far I’ve done two sits and had three petsitters taking care of our bun, and it’s been great. Thanks for the compliment, by the way!

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