When we travel, our adorable kitty doesn’t go with us. Not that he wouldn’t like to! That leaves us with a decision about what to do with him when we’re gone. If we go for just a few nights, we usually have a teenager in the neighborhood come over to feed him and give him some loving.
If we’re leaving for more than a few nights, we opt for a different solution — and there are really only two to choose from: board him or get a housesitter. Boarding would put a dent in our travel budget, and it’s disruptive for our cat (who’s a little high maintenance to begin with!). Hiring a housesitter is a more budget-friendly option — and we know our cat will get some great attention right here at home!
All of our housesitters have been either people we know or friends-of-friends. There are other ways to find housesitters, but we’re most comfortable with this type of connection. Most of the people we’ve hired are pet-loving younger folks who don’t own their own place — and may look at the job as a chance to have a sort of mini-vacation of their own. It doesn’t hurt that we live in a hip part of town!
We always meet with our housesitters the week before we leave to introduce them to our cat, go over pet care, setting the house alarm, and basic tips and tricks for our house. If we’ll be gone over a long period in the summer, we also discuss yard care. We’ve found it’s also good to write out the important instructions, in case we forget to mention something or the housesitter can’t remember which night to put out the garbage.
Our housesitter notes have minor and major emergency contact phone numbers, our insurance agent’s info, and our vet’s phone numbers. Luckily, our housesitters have never had to contact anyone for a major problem, but it gives everyone a little peace of mind when those numbers are readily available. Other info includes the wi-fi guest network password, where to find cleaning supplies, garbage pick-up, reasons the cat might be crying (basically, he wants more treats), and the like. Along with our notes, we usually leave our housesitter about $20 in cash in case something has to be purchased for the house (like the time we forgot to stock up on TP — whoops, sorry, Lisa!).
When it comes to paying a housesitter, the amount can vary widely. Some people travel the world as full-time housesitters in exchange for free lodging. Other people housesit as an actual job and their rates can be fairly high. Since the work involved in taking care of our one cat is pretty minimal, and since we usually seek out young people who have other jobs, who don’t own their own homes, and for whom it’s generally kind of fun to stay somewhere else, we’ve always paid a fairly modest stipend to our housesitters. In the summer, if additional yard or garden responsibilities are included, we pay a little more than we do in winter. (If we had a dog who had to be walked, we’d pay more.) Payment really depends on your house’s and pet’s needs. In any case, it is important to agree on the price with your housesitter ahead of time.
We find housesitting to be an excellent option for us our pet while we travel, and we’d recommend thinking about it if you have pets. Perhaps you, too, can find someone for whom taking care of your pet is a win-win and have a little more cash to spend on your trip! Enjoy the peace of mind that a housesitter provides on your next trip, whether it’s for a week or a weekend!