sábado, 23 de julio de 2022

My experience petsitting on Trusted house sitters

[English version of this post originally published on June 20th]

Hi guys! Hope you're having a great weekend! Today I'm going to translate to English a post I wrote a few weeks ago about my first experience petsitting last June. I'm going to tell you what petsitting is, how it works and how it worked for me in Amsterdam.




WHAT'S PET SITTING?

Pet sitting is staying at someone else's house to look after their pets while they're on vacation. It can also be referred to as house sitting, as we will also be looking after their house. On one side a person (or family) will be searching for another person (or couple) to stay at their place and take care of their pets. On the other side, we are looking for a place to stay rent-free, feeling like home and living like a local. There is not money involved in this exchange(that is to say, we don't get paid for looking after the house either), and for both roles we need a suscription. The web site I'm suscripted to is one of the most well-known, Trusted House Sitters (clicking on that link you get my 25% discount promotion).


HOW MUCH IS THE SUSCRIPTION?

It varies depending on the country you're from, if you're going to be the sitter or the house owner (or both combined) and the kind of suscription you opt for (basic, standard or premium). I paid US$122,85 for a year basic sitter suscription, with a 20% off discount code. US$122 seems like a lot of money for a web site suscription, but it lasts and entire year and we will save way more money than that in accomodations.


HOW DO I APPLY TO SITTINGS?

First you'll have to confirm your identity by verifying your email address and phone number and uploading an ID. Then you'll complete your profile with your description and one or more pictures (I only chose one picture of me with my best friend's cat). You can also ask friends and relatives for up to three external references to include in your profile, and link your Airbnb user there so people can read your Airbnb evaluations.

Once your profile is completed, and it shows you are a trustworthy responsible person (this is key to be picked) you can start applying to every sitting you feel interested in. Trusted house sitters has a bunch of filters that can help you search for your most convenient sitting, such as date, duration, pets, destinations and kind of accomodation. 



You'll find that the countries where most sittings are located are the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia, as these countries have a culture of house sitting already. Nonetheless, you'll find options in other countries too (mostly European), and there are plenty of interesting options, even more if you're being flexible on dates and destinations.

Each publication will specify the number and type of pets (generally dogs and/or cats, but there could also be more exotic animals), the house's location and ammenities, and what the owners are looking for (sometimes their pets need to take meds or they own plants that need to be watered during our stay, some houses are meat-free, as they're vegetarians, etc.). You can read their evaluations too, written by former sitters. 

In my case, I didn't have anything specific planned in my itinerary, and I was looking for a sitting in a European Capital that looked interesting and would be easy to get to on a lowcost flight; I also wanted to sit one or two cats and stay there for at least a week. I had been told that it was easier to be picked for our first sitting by applying to a short-term one, but I didn't really want to be relocating every three days (I had been travelling for 2 months by then) nor to be spending a lot in transportation (I had already gone overbudget and I still had 3 more week to go).


Once we find a sitting we're interested in, we click on the 'Apply now' button, we choose the dates (some people are looking for sitters for more than one time frame; we can also check here how many applicants there are for each one) and we send them a short presentation text, telling them why we'd like to stay at their house and why they should pick us. This is the part of the process in which we end up putting most of our time: I applied to seven sittings until I finally got picked to do the one in Amsterdam. To each of them I wrote a personalised letter, and only three texted me back. I chatted a lot with a Malta lady until she had to change her trip dates (and those weren't convenient for me anymore). Then I exchanged a few messages with a London house owner until he decided to go for someone else (probably someone with more evaluations). Finally I got picked for a 'last minute' sitting in Amsterdam. I was very interested in that one, as I had only been to that city for like 3 days many years ago during winter, there were plenty of low cost flights to that destination and the house (a big nice one), the area (a residential neighbourhood close to touristic atractions) and the two cats seemed lovely.

The sitting originally was from June the 3rd to the 13th., but when I told the host that I was leaving Budapest on the 1st she offered to leave on the 2nd, so I could stay at their house one day in advance if it was more convenient for me. I arrived to Amsterdam about 6 pm on the 1st, left my stuff at a hostel and went to meet her, the house and the cats. Nela had also offered me to sleep on the couch that night, but as I didn't know her nor her boyfriend, I preferred to stay at the hostel that first night. To be honest, I was a little bit nervous as it was mine and their's first sitting experience. When I met her I felt at ease: she was a very normal girl my age, and the cats were adorable and we connected instantly. She explained to me the cat's routine (they were fed with different food and one of them needed a daily inhalation, which was super easy to do), how some house appliances worked and on which specific days I had to take out the trash in this neighbourhood. The next day I went back there with my things and Nela and Rick left. During the following days I would whatsapp her with some pics of the cats so she'd know they were ok, and she would text me some recommendations on what to see in the city. The day before I left, I cleaned the house and pack my things. They didn't ask nor expect me to clean, but I thought it was fair to give the house back in the same condition I got it, as they had hired a cleaning lady for the day I arrived. When the sitting ended they came back to the house at the time they said they would, and I left for the airport.

It was a really nice experience, and I not only got to stay 11 nights in a beautiful house in a nice area accompanied by two adorable cats, but I also got the chance to live like a local (which was ideal for me, that I'm considering moving to Europe but I don't know to which city exactly). I also saved a lot of money on accomodation and got a great first review on Trusted house sitters, which will make it easier for me to find a next one.




Nela was the nicest person ever, and she gifted me a book and one of those big ducth cookies when I left. I'm looking forward to sitting again. If you'd like to try it too, you can suscribe with a 25% off.

If you have any questions about this topic, you can leave it in the comments and I'll reply as soon as possible.

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