One of the first questions I get asked on my road trip is “Where are you staying?” If you ask me this question, be prepared to grab a chair and hunker down for at least a good 5 minutes. I have now slept in 12 different locations this year. Each one has come about in a unique way and no stay has been anywhere close to the same. One of the ways I have avoided “bumming” my way around the country is through housesitting. Housesitting is as it sounds…you sit (stay) in someone’s house while they are away. The trade off is mutual for both parties. The sitter gets a free place to stay and the owner does not have to worry about their house, pets, plants, etc. being uncared for while they are gone. After I mention housesitting for “random” people around the country, the questions come flowing. Here are 12 things you should know about housesitting for someone you have never met…

12 Things You Should Know About Housesitting

  1. You find the house sits on the internet. I use one site for the most part (trustedhousesitters.com), but I have also found a housesit on mindmyhouse.com. You create a profile on the site and look for homeowners that have available opportunities.
  2. The application process is like landing a job. Each homeowner will be different, but for some you may have multiple Skype interviews and check-ins as the arrival day approaches. For the major cities and favorable dates, they get LOTS of applications. Some have replied back to my applications saying they received upwards of 30 applications!
  3. You WILL be anxious on arrival. The first housesit I did was outside of Nashville. I had never even talked to the individuals on the phone, the house was self-described as being out in the “sticks”, and I was arriving late at night. I wondered what I had got myself into as I drove up…

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    Dogs that walk themselves and on a lake…sign me up again
  4. They are just as nervous as you are… Granted there are some homeowners who have done this numerous times, but they are still letting a “random” person stay in their home and watch their most beloved possessions.
  5. It WILL be OK. After parking the car and walking up to each of the houses, my concerns evaporate away as I meet the owner(s) and meet the animal(s). As the site implies with its name, the trust that everything will work out pays off.
  6. You may be sleeping with the pets. 2 of the 4 houses I have housesat for I have ended up sleeping with the pets. For some owners this is the preference. Their pets sleep with them, so they sleep with you and never get out of their routine.

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    The whole crew (besides Marly) ready to catch some ZZZ’s after a long day
  7. You will worry about the animals just as much (or more) than you worry about your own animals. At all 4 of my house sits there have been pets. I don’t recall ever worrying about Stripey (my family’s 20+ year old cat) as much while away as I worry about these pets when I leave them for any extended period of time.
  8. The animals will run the show. Guessing you probably figured this out from the previous picture, but hey…it is their house after all! You just happen to be visiting for a few days. I have spent many a days spraying Stripey with a water bottle to get him off the kitchen table, but I am learning it is very common for the The cat’s food to be ON the kitchen table…
  9. Send them pictures of the animals while they are gone! They will miss their pets and will definitely appreciate you sending them a pic or two of their “kids”.
  10. You WILL pick favorites. I know most pet owners say they like all their pets the same…and don’t pick favorites. Personally, I think some of them really do have favorites…but when you are there for just a week or so you may develop some favorites. And that is ok…

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    Gaston was a favorite, even though because he was always up to something
  11. …because you will be sad to see ALL of them go. I didn’t think it would be hard to say goodbye to animals after just a week or so with them, but I certainly miss all of the animals I have pet sit for on my journey (even the non-favorites).
  12. You will be welcomed back at any time. I can’t guarantee this, but if you do a good job caring for their pets, they will be forever grateful. All of the owners I have housesat for have been incredible people and I hope to run into them again down the road.

At a time when people have a hard time trusting others, housesitting has provided a refreshing departure from the general narrative we hear. It requires a great deal of trust to show up at someone’s doorstep and expect a bed for a week or more. The same is true for the home owners as they must trust that this individual they have not met will show up on time, watch their house, and care for their animals just as they would care for them while they are gone. This blind trust in the faith of humanity reminds me why it is so important to give back not just on my trip around the country, but well in to the future.

P.S. If you are wondering why Clancy is in a cart in the first picture…here you go: