Since beginning our full-time pet and house sitting journey about five months ago, we have gotten a lot of great and oddly blunt questions. Like any interesting or unheard of way of life, people are curious about how house sitting works and how we use it to travel full-time with no home base. From close friends to family, to complete strangers, we are constantly answering questions – and we love it! Finding house sitting has changed our life, and it is something almost anyone else could do. We are always chatting it up!
So, here are actual questions we’ve received and the real, uncensored answers, for all of you out there wondering what the hell we are doing. (Interested in more house sitting stories and insights? Check out Brooke’s book:, Home Flexible: Stories from Life as a Nomadic Traveling House Sitter. Available in print and ebook.)
(And if you need more of a background on why we chose this lifestyle, read this).
1. How do you find the house sits?
We use a great site called TrustedHousesitters. There is an annual membership of $119 to join, but then you can sign up and accept as many house sits as you’d like. There are other sites, but we decided to stick to one in order to have all of our reviews in one place and because we like how easy they make the process. We have done seven through this site now, and have never had any problem getting accepted for sits.
2. Do you get paid to house sit or do they cover any of your travel?
In short, no. There is no money exchanged and we pay our own way to get there. However, we feel like we get a huge benefit in getting to stay in a nice home in a place we wanted to visit for free. Sometimes, they will even let us use their car – saving us even more! And since the homeowners are getting their home and pets looked after for free, they usually show their appreciation. We are often treated to home cooked meals, dinners out, stocked fridges, bottles of wine, and we even got awesome event tickets once! Plus, some really great snuggle sessions. We love this win-win setup.
3. What’s your longest sit so far?
We stayed in Oahu, Hawaii, for a little over three weeks and it was glorious! With how busy this area was, we really enjoyed having plenty of time to relax between venturing out with the tourist crowd.
4. Do you ever miss any of the pets?
We know we are returning our fluffy pals to their loving parents, so although we do miss them, we usually aren’t too sad to leave since they will be in good hands. But, we also haven’t done too many really long sits. So, it will likely get more difficult to say goodbye the longer we stay.
However, we did have a perfect little pal in Fort Collins, CO, that I cried when we had to leave, even after a short sit. We just had a really special connection with her! And we will make it a point to go back and see her and her sweet parents any time we are within a few hours of them. She is even the wallpaper on my phone because her little face makes me so happy! Overall, we are just thankful for our time with these precious souls and excited to give little pieces of our hearts to the next ones.
5. How do you decide which house sits work for you?
At first, we weren’t very picky because we knew we needed reviews in order to get more sits in the future. But now that we have gotten a better feel for things (and a handful of five-star reviews), we do have some preferences. Our biggest preferences come down to location and length of sit.
We only do sits in places we want to go. And we don’t like to do short stays unless we are just filling a gap between sits, since we’ve realized it is a hassle to unpack for a week or less. Plus, if we are flying in or driving a long distance, even the coolest stay isn’t worth the trouble for one week. Ideally, we stay at least three weeks, but are flexible if a cool opportunity arises.
Before applying, we also read through the homeowner’s post carefully since they will often give clues as to what to expect. While the happiness and safety of the pets are our main concern, we don’t want to be their 24/7 nanny and have to watch them at all times. With so many options out there, we avoid the ones that sound like a major hassle or that would prevent us from enjoying the area at all.
6. Are you worried about owners being weirdos?
This question has taken many forms, from “Are you worried they will videotape you while you are there?” to “What if they are hoarders or something?” While we are yet to connect with anyone that gives us a weird vibe, we honestly don’t put much thought into this. We feel we have good intuition when it comes to reading people.
Plus, we have a very, “we’ll deal with whatever is thrown at us when that happens” outlook. And it doesn’t help us or the people we are house sitting for to show up with unfair, made-up ideas of how weird they might be. Plus, if they pull out a stuffed animal and start to explain how we will need to go about feeding it during our time there, we can just leave … quickly.
7. What if they cancel on you?
This is another one of those things we just can’t control, so we don’t worry about it. However, we do not travel anywhere that we wouldn’t be willing to go on a vacation. So, if something did fall through, we’d apply to other sits asap and make the best of it. We have savings and credit cards for such situations. But fingers crossed this never happens.
8. Is living in someone else’s house uncomfortable?
Surprisingly, not at all. We settle in really quickly, probably because we don’t have much stuff. After we find a place for our couple of bags and laptops, we are good! Sometimes it takes a little while to adjust to where they put things in their kitchen or the pet’s schedule, but after a few days, we’ve usually adapted.
The only part that can be uncomfortable is feeling a little like we are invading their space if we get to the sit early or stay late (at their request or invite) and are all there together. But, this has also led to a lot of fun and new friendships! We just don’t sprawl out and get totally comfortable like we do when we are alone.
9. What do you do between sits?
We are still figuring this out, but it has been a mix of crashing with friends and hotel or AirBnB hopping. Since the latter can get expensive, we try our best to minimize our time between sits. We like to have at least a day or two in addition to travel time, just in case, but not more than that if we can help it. In the future, we want to look into camping in order to stick to an even tighter budget.
10. What’s the craziest situation you’ve been in so far?
Buddy encountered a bear while out on a trail with a dog we were watching! They went for a hike on the owner’s property, so the dog was off-leash (per the owner’s request). When the dog saw it, she rushed at it and barked until Buddy had backed away enough (yelling at her to come the entire time, of course). Her owners were psyched to find out she was such a good protector, since they were yet to be in a similar situation.
11. Where’s all your stuff?
We have one small box with valuables and other keepsakes that stays safely with our family. Otherwise, all our clothes and other belongings either come with us on trips or stay in our trunk. Everything we own in the world can fit in our Subaru and we continue to downsize. It is kind of amazingly freeing and even addictive to live so minimally.
12. Will you sit for me?
A lot of friends and family have asked this since we started house sitting. Our honest answer is maybe, but probably not. We began this lifestyle as a way to travel to new places we want to see. And there are TONS of amazing international options on TrustedHousesitters. Likely, the people we know also live somewhere we’ve already lived or visited. It is also unlikely that we’d want to hang out in said place without them there since we probably only visit because of them.
However, if we have to be nearby for a family function or other reason, we always love a house sit over a hotel! And, we do genuinely appreciate the offer! We know it is a big deal to trust us with your pets and home. Also, if you have kittens to snuggle, like one of our Colorado friends did when we were recently back for a visit, we will bump you to the top of the list.
13. How long are you going to do this for?
First of all, why do people always ask this? All we hear is, “So … when are you coming back to reality and stopping this foolish ‘living your best life’ thing?” We have no plans to stop. Simple as that. Call us crazy if it makes you feel better … we kind of are.
14. Where to next?
We are SO glad you asked…
Read more about our five-month Europe trip here. And if you want to know more about how we travel, check out our guide to pet and house sitting!
Very helpful information. We want to travel to England, Scotland, Ireland and this is the route that appeals to us most for long term travel and really getting to know a place. Look forward to receiving your blog on a regular basis.
This one was a very fun read! I’d missed it since I’ve been going back through your Canada articles; glad I read it 🙂 Looking forward to all your Europe adventures!
Thanks a bunch! I’m trying to chip away at what we’ve done in Europe so far. So much to tell! 🙂 Hope you found some helpful tips in our Canada posts, your photos have been making us a bit nostalgic. We love that area of Canada you’ve been exploring! Hope we can cross paths next year. Would love to catch up in person!
DO YOU HAVE A CAR?
Hi Isabelle, Yes, we do have a car for when we are sitting in the mainland U.S., but are seeing more and more people offer up use of their car. For example, all four sits we’ve done in Hawaii included use of a car as well as many in Europe. We just posted another article with more details about the logistics of an international sit (including what we do with our car while we are away), it may be helpful to read as well: https://www.trailingaway.com/international-house-sitting-gig/
Thanks & best of luck, Brooke
Brooke & Buddy-
Congrats on laying out a great work/life balance, although hanging out with pets doesnt seem like work, at least to me and I’m guessing the same for you. Found you thru a USA Today article and reviewed your website following that. I’m signed up for your newsletters. The article caught my eye cuz I’m a former full-time rv’er (for 2 years) and now looking for my “next thing”. I love to travel (former flight attendant based in Honolulu, btw and cruise ship dj). I’ve considered house/pet sitting but never figured out how to do it & travel. Thanks to you sharing your story, I now know how.
I will continue to follow you guys!!
Thanks so much for your comment, Drew! Notes like this are really lovely to receive as content creators and encourage us to keep sharing. We appreciate you taking the time to write to us! Also, I have no idea what USA Today article you are talking about and can’t seem to track it down. haha But, very exciting that you found us out there on the internet and are following along now. 🙂 Glad our house sitting tips will help you continue your adventures – reach out any time with questions. Happy travels! Brooke
P.S. In case you didn’t see it, we have a TrustedHousesitters discount code for 15% off: TRAILING15 In case you decide to use them to find your house sitting gigs!