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House sitting UK: 6 lessons learnt (and ‘must dos’ for YOU)

House sitting UK: 6 lessons learnt (and ‘must dos’ for YOU)

It’s been over six months since we set off on our house sitting UK adventure. We’ve explored terrific destinations in the UK through house sitting, including London, Northampton, the Cotswolds, Bedfordshire and soon Devon and the Sussex coast.

We’ve loved house sitting in the UK, and we’ve also been to Malta, France and Ireland.

House sitting UK: 6 lessons learnt

Leave the toilet seat down!

You hear stories about dogs drinking out of the toilet, right? One night we were sound asleep but awoken at 1am.

“Can you hear a noise, is that an intruder?” I asked panicked (but still tucked into bed)

“I’m not sure… do you think I should check?” asks Cooper, as we hear again… what is that?

“Slurp, slurp, slurp…” 😆

Our beautiful shepherd, Luna, couldn’t be bothered going downstairs to her bowl. Our lesson? Close the toilet lid! It’s true – dogs DO drink from the toilet.

Luna in Northampton on our dog sit where we learnt a house and pet sitting lesson...

Never forget poo bags

We find poo bags in all or pockets now. It’s pretty funny. The bags always come in handy, of course. But what about the one occasion you forget to take them?

In Northampton we had simply popped out to the corner store. When I was inside gathering supplies, Cooper was walking Luna (pictured above) around the block and having a little play with her. You guessed it – she chose this very time to do her business.

And it was no small matter!

Cooper scrounged around to find cardboard and resources to clean up after Luna, but it wasn’t pretty, oh no.

Hence, poo bags in every pocket since that time.



 

Watch what your dog eats

I’m sorry, this seems to have turned into a post about toilets and dogs’ business. You see, we took care of another gorgeous pup, Teal. A Springer Spaniel – about the best behaved and most affectionate creature you’d ever meet. But Teal has a secret.

Teal eats poo. In the depths of fields around the Cotswolds, this innocent pooch will grab a ‘snack’ the second you turn away. At first I thought Cooper was exaggerating because he spotted this, er, behaviour first. I didn’t believe him. Not our lovely Teal.

However, when I turned around after being engaged in conversation with a fellow dog walker, I saw it. Oh Teal. Perhaps he needed some nutrients that are in there?

Whatever the case, we were reminded that dogs are like kids. Keep an eye on them at all times 🐶

 

👉Find out how we got started pet sitting in London



Be mindful of how you’re using treats

We took care of a precious little old man called Monty. He was such a beautiful old soul. A 15 year old Jack Russell, for the most part he was super easy to look after. Except he suffered major senior separation anxiety.

When we arrived he seemed ok, but once his parents left he wouldn’t leave his bed or hid under theirs. It broke our hearts. We kept an eye on him over the 12 hours to come, and we even called TrustedHousesitters pet line for guidance to make sure we were doing all the right things, which we were.

For anxiety, we’ve discovered we need to give dogs in this scenario their space. It’s beneficial for them to be in their own home. If they are not sleeping or eating, then you should contact a vet. One thing we had going for us was that Monty liked his food. We used this to try and coax him to love us 💖 We even got him downstairs by laying out a cheese trail – his favourite treat.

After a while though, we realised we were using treats in the wrong way – we were reinforcing his behaviour to stay in his bed or hide from us. We’d give him treats for it! Instead, we switched it around – gave him treats for coming to us and we got him outside on walks which cheered him right up. Our lesson: consider what kind of behaviour you’re rewarding with treats, or are you giving them to make you feel better?

We’ve shared more on this in our video guides 👇

 

Close doors and check where your pets can go

House sitting in the UK brought many lessons our way. When we took care of Blue, a senior Lurcher doggie in London, we’d been told where in the house he could go. It was pretty much everywhere except the bedrooms. What we didn’t realise is that’s exactly where he’d try to go. Some of the door handles weren’t shut properly and we discovered this after he went missing twice. Blue managed to break into the rooms, have a nap on his siblings’ beds but then got locked in, bless him!




Our Luna in Northampton was known to break into the fridge and eat all the meat, so we had to lock the door to the kitchen if we went out. Luna’s also actually unlocked the front door to go in search of her family 💕 So, we needed to deadbolt it for her own safety from the busy street outside.

A special mention must go to Harley in Dublin who knew how to follow you into the toilet, jump up on the sink and drink water while you wash your hands. His mum said that is entirely his father’s fault for teaching him 🤣

 

Learn to share your personal space

 

 

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Polly and Darcy ☝ haven’t been the only babies to want in on our private space. Pretty much all dogs and cats, once they get to know you, will want to be with you – or on top of you, in bed with you…

But you know what – that’s the bit we love the most. If you don’t, then this gig probably isn’t for you.

 

 

Find out more practical tips about house and pet sitting as you travel the world: subscribe to our newsletter for a FREE guide on how you can travel the world house and pet sitting. 

And of course – questions/comments are appreciated below 😸

 

 

House sitting Gold Coast – a surfers state of mind

House sitting Gold Coast – a surfers state of mind

House sitting on the Gold Coast is for many a total Aussie beach-side dream! The Gold Coast is a place Cooper and I consider home – let us show you how to experience it too.

The city is beautiful with many different waterfront suburbs you can explore. If you’re coming to Australia, don’t skip Queensland, how regrettable.

Here’s a quick guide to house sitting Gold Coast and why you might want to apply to come here now!

 

House sitting Gold Coast – where to start

We’ve been booking our house sits around the world with TrustedHousesitters and we’ve had a wonderful experience so far. It’s taken us to different parts of the UK and Europe.

And you can come to Australia too!

Find out how we got started with house sitting.

 

 

How to get house and pet sitting jobs

Scoring house and pet sitting jobs can be competitive. But with a little bit of strategy you’ll be on the right track and headed for your dream destination in no time.

Here’s our top tips to get you started:

 

We’ve also produced a guide to dog care if you’re keen to take care of fur babies, like we are. Have a read here

 

House sitting Gold Coast

 

About the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast offers you the best of beach side paradise and also Hinterland rainforest. There’s plenty to see and do on the Gold Coast. Learn to surf, go shopping, people-watch while enjoying a coffee. Gold Coasters enjoy an active lifestyle, so if you enjoy the outdoors, this might be the place for you. To find out more about what’s going on in Australia’s sixth largest (and one of its fastest growing) cities, have a read of local magazine, Get it

Capital city Brisbane is just up the road. Here’s a snap shot on how to house sit in Brissy too.

 

Where to stay on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is an aspirational destination and there’s no doubt you’ll love it. Sandy white beaches, cool restaurants and plenty to see and do – you’re spoilt for choice. Transport links have improved vastly over the past five years too, but some areas are still not that well connected.

If you do not have a car I’d suggest basing yourself somewhere along the new tram line that runs from Helensvale into Surfers Paradise. Or, along the train line that runs between Brisbane, Helensvale and Coolangatta.

Our favourite suburbs on the Gold Coast include Coolangatta, Burleigh, Varsity Lakes, Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise and Nobbys Beach.

Find out more about what to do on the Gold Coast.



 

Before committing to a sit, ask a few questions like:

a) Is the house sit in the city, or outside of the Gold Coast? What suburb are they in?

b) What are your nearest transport links, how long does it take to get to your nearest shopping centre, beach or central area with things to do; and how much does that cost?

c) If you don’t have a car, how easy is it to get groceries?

d) Where would you take your dogs to play (if you’re caring for dogs)?

e) What is there to do in the area if you want to go exploring?

f) If you need to work while you’re house sitting like we do, what’s the internet connection like?

If the answers to these questions satisfy your needs, you’re likely to be good to go. That said, any reservations (in particular if you’re without transport), be mindful about where you are signing up for. Don’t get stuck somewhere that’s difficult to get around.

You may like to walk places, but also remember Australia gets HOT, so an hour’s walk somewhere might not be viable.

 

Always check reviews on a house sit if there are any. And do please feel free to drop us a line in the comments if you would like any advice.

 

 

 

House sitting Brisbane – live in the Sunshine State!

House sitting Brisbane – live in the Sunshine State!

House sitting in Brisbane is a wonderful way to get acquainted with Queensland’s beautiful capital city. Cooper and I lived here a long time ago, and I went to Uni here. The city has really grown up since then. Don’t skip Queensland if you’re coming to Australia, whatever you do 🌞

Here’s a quick guide to house sitting Brisbane and how to make it work for you.

House sitting in Brisbane – where to start

We’ve been booking our house sits around the world with TrustedHousesitters and have had a wonderful experience so far. It’s taken us to different parts of the UK and Europe.

And you can come to Australia too!

Find out how we got started with house sitting.

 

 

How to get house and pet sitting jobs

This business is competitive, but if you are armed with a strategy, you’ll be booking house sits in no time.

A side note: most sits do not pay. This is an exchange for free accommodation in return for you looking after pets and homes as if they are your own.

Top tips to get you started:

 

👉Our guide to dog care might be of interest to you too. Have a read here

 

House sitting Brisbane - live in the Sunshine State!

About Brisbane

Brisbane doesn’t disappoint. It’s a contemporary city that sprawls along the beautiful Brisbane river.

The city is stylish and pretty. It’s brimming with great shopping, restaurants, theatre, shows, and fitness options too. We love walking all the way along the river – there are now dedicated pathways you can take around the city. It’s our favourite way to spend time.

Find out more about what’s on in Brisbane.

The nearest beaches are on the Gold Coast – you can also look for house sits there!

 

Where to stay in Brisbane

Brisbane is spread out. It’s a capital city though, and as such, the transport links are decent if you don’t have a car. The buses and trains aren’t as frequent as some places in the UK or Europe, but that’s to be expected.

Our favourite suburbs in Brisbane would be those in the inner city. If you’re lucky enough to find something within walking distance of the river, or Southbank, you’d be set. But, Brisbane is a lovely, interesting and multicultural city where you can make a home just about anywhere.

 

House and pet sits can be almost anywhere in a city. We’d suggest asking a few questions first:

a) Is the house sit in the city, or outside of Brisbane? What suburb are they in?

b) What are your nearest transport links, how long does it take to get to your nearest shopping centre or Brisbane city, and how much does it cost?

c) If you don’t have a car, how easy is it to get groceries?

d) Where would you take your dogs to play (if you’re caring for dogs)?

e) What is there to do in the area if you want to go exploring?

f) If you need to work while you’re house sitting like we do, what’s the internet connection like?

If the answers to these questions satisfy your needs, you’re likely to be good to go. That said, any reservations (in particular if you’re without transport), be mindful about where you are signing up for. Find yourself a house sit where it’s easy to get around both the area and city.

Always check reviews on a house sit if there are any. And do please feel free to drop us a line in the comments if you would like any advice.

 

 

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

‘Digital nomad lifestyle’, for most of us who resonate with the term, means travelling + working. It sounds fun, and yeah it is. But it’s easy to fall into ‘holiday mode’, which means no income! Cooper and I have discovered that routine is critical when trying to maintain a healthy nomad lifestyle. Falling out of a routine means you can quite easily become demotivated. Hence, ‘holiday mode’, which doesn’t pay for this way of life consistently.

A few weeks back we realised our routine (or lack thereof) was letting us down. Over the past few months we’ve been refining a digital nomad routine that fits with our lifestyle, so we re-implemented the plan.

👉🏻this content has been updated in 2022 and published on our podcast Freedom and Four Paws. Listen here

Maybe some of these tips will resonate with you too.

 

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

Plan daily, keep a diary

When you’re travelling and working on the road you need to be super organised. Use a diary! We plan our days in advance and share a Google calendar which tracks the work Cooper and I do together as well as individual workloads. We plan it all in, can see when it’s coming up, and try to stick to the times we’ve set. Quite often we will also plan time in for daily exercise or getting out and about.

Depending on where you are, your daily routines can fluctuate. A group of full time digital nomads have shared insight into how they manage their routine, on the Becoming a Digital Nomad blog.

Project plan within your week

We don’t just plan our days in advance, but our weeks too. Blocks of time are planned into our diary for project work. For example, we might have a three hour period marked as ‘website development’. We break that down into sections, so within that time frame we might want to achieve finding a new theme for the website and editing the copy on the home page. If we get those tasks completed in that time frame, we’ve achieved our goal for that day.

It’s very easy to plan a chunk of time for ‘a project’ but get distracted and overwhelmed on where to start, then not to anything of any real substance! But, if you plan smaller tasks into a larger section of time, you’re more likely to complete the priorities you’ve set for yourself.

Cooper and I catch up each morning to see where we’re up to and to reschedule anything that didn’t get done the day before. There’s obviously the need to be flexible if something more urgent needs to be prioritised.

 

Nomad lifestyle requires planning around disruption

Travelling between house sits or new locations means we lose work time. That’s totally fine, but we have come to accept that we need to give time to cleaning, packing, moving.

We used to plan work into our travel time (e.g. work on the train or plane), but it never gets done between being tired or having no space/internet/power. We now look ahead at what’s coming up and don’t schedule real chunks of work into that time.

Consequently, if Wednesday becomes our Saturday for the week, or we need to work on the weekend because we had some ‘days off’ during the week, so be it. But it’s in our diary. See points one and two.

Be accountable to someone else

We’ve made a deal to keep each other accountable. Diary alerts, alarms, nagging each other works. I’m pretty good at organising things, but Cooper’s better and making us stick to time. So, we work as a team to make our routine work to time.

If you don’t have a partner to do this, find other ways. You can appoint an accountability buddy who also runs their own business or freelances; connect on social media to prompt and encourage each other. Find meetups with other intrepid solo travellers, work at a coworking space or visit coworking cafes so there’s others with the same mindset around you.

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day

To stay out of holiday mode, stick to a sleep routine too. Science says that it’s far better for our health and wellbeing to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even if it’s your ‘day off’.

Find out more in this piece I wrote for Get it Magazine in October 2019.

Take breaks and make time for play

It’s important to step away from work. Maintain your work/life balance. We hear about this in the corporate world but it’s just as important when you’re working for yourself. And don’t mistake ‘travel’ for ‘holidays’.

There is a huge difference between being on a holiday, and travelling while we’re working.

Don’t get me wrong – we love that our office landscape changes frequently, and that we can explore new cultures and make new friends along the way. That’s fantastic! But we are trying to run a business and as anyone who works for themselves knows, that’s a seven days a week gig, and rarely 9am to 5pm.

It’s for this reason we do have to make sure we exercise, do Yoga, meditate. House and pet sitting keeps us in check though, because there’s always a dog who needs attention, walkies, ball time and love.

Keep in mind too, that if your body is telling you to take a break – re-prioritise – and do so! You’ve got the control over your time. The Morning Maryjolaine blog makes some nice points on this. See FOMO vs JOMO.

Switch off each night

For your mental health and wellbeing – switch your devices off at least an hour before bed. No social, no emails – step away from the machine, my digital nomad friends!

Got any other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.

 

In home pet boarding: sitter’s guide to dog care

In home pet boarding: sitter’s guide to dog care

Give your dog the best life when you go on a holiday – in home pet boarding is so easy! Following is a guide to how a sitter will take care of all of your dog’s needs, and how you can make this happen in time for your next travel trip.

In home pet boarding – what is it?

Cooper and I are currently on a ‘slow travel’ trip around the UK and Europe. We started house and dog sitting in London. Those city sits were short sits, and now we’re on a journey of a series of long sits that started in Northampton, have taken us to Ireland and soon France and Malta. You’ll see from our content that we are big dog people. The same goes for most of those signed up to a reputable in home pet boarding service like TrustedHousesitters.

If you can’t travel with your pooch to a pet hotel or utilise any other pet care travel options, a house sitting service may be for you.

In home pet boarding means that your pets can stay in their own environment while you’re away. Research shows this is far better for their wellbeing and state of mind. And, there’s no shortage of ‘animal people’ who are happy to visit your place, stay and take care of the fur babies.

It’s cheaper than you might think too. Most sites charge a fee per year which allows for background checks on home owners and sitters, and for the running of a site that helps us find good matches.

 

Special needs? No worries

Over the past few months we’ve learnt a LOT about different dogs and their needs. We’ll admit, we have been a bit surprised by the range of personalities we’ve met.

 

 

It’s been such a great experience to meet home owners and facilitate in home pet boarding for gorgeous dogs. We’ve got some insights to share, to show how seriously pet sitters take our jobs.

The range of needs taken care of by us as house and pet sit includes:

Anxiety

Many poor little dogs have anxiety. This may present through persistent barking (no, they’re not necessarily just being naughty!), fearful behaviours like retreating or tail between the legs.

We’ve experienced a range of dog anxiety, and it’s important that pet owners and sitters communicate any known needs or concerns. As our experience grows, we understand it’s really important to nurture dogs like kids. Reward them for good behaviour, and don’t write off defensive behaviour (like barking at another dog) automatically as a dog misbehaving. Sometimes it’s a protection mechanism. We take treats on walks with us and do whatever we can to ensure our dogs feel loved and safe.

 

Diets

Cooper and I understand it’s very important to respect the requests of pet owners, especially when it comes to their diet. Many pups are on a diet for their own health reasons. This may mean eating certain foods at a particular time of the day. We always abide by this, for the wellbeing of our fur babies.

Again, communication is critical. As a pet owner, write instructions down but discuss face to face if possible.

 

Medication

Another really important one. A fave pup of ours in the Cotswolds has been through a hip operation and has a heart murmur. He’s on specific medication three times a day. His mum was very helpful and thorough, sorting his medication into pill containers and also leaving us instructions and talking us through it.

As a sitter, we should be prepared to administer medication. We are experienced with dogs including our own, and know the drill, so we get on with it. You should be able to rely on your sitter to take good care of your pets, even if medication is required. We have a duty of care to them. (and it’s all totally fine by us)

 

Age (and associated abilities or health care requirements)

Cooper and I have had one instance where we looked after an old gentleman who suffered severe separation anxiety. This is normal for older dogs, although it was distressing to see him so upset.

Our strategy involved giving him ample time to himself, making sure he was eating and sleeping, and taking him out for walks when he got used to us. We did actually call the TrustedHousesitters advice line to ensure we were doing all the right things, which we were. Sometimes there’s no way around a dog being apprehensive. But, we know to give him/her space and still be around so they’re not alone. Of course, if sickness, trembling, no sleep or no eating kicks in, it’s time to contact the vet or emergency details left by the home owner.

In this instance, our little man’s parents were aware of his anxiety and had already taken him to the vet about it. They had also warned us he might struggle. We stayed in constant contact with them to keep them updated, and after a few days he did settle with us.

As far as other age-related issues go, always discuss how far a dog can or wants to walk each day, and what their overall abilities are like – how is their hearing or sight, for example?

 

 

Exercise and rehab

The same little man we took care of who needs his meds three times a day also needs rehab for his hip. This was a really rewarding experience for Cooper and I. The doggie’s mum went through five sets of exercises we needed to do with him, including a circuit in his back yard, leg lifts (like shaking his paw), and balancing activities.

This dog was so good and so diligent and we happily obliged.

 

Routine

They say routine is just as important for dogs as it is kids, and we’d agree (especially Cooper, a teacher by trade). Leave thorough instructions for your sitter as to what your pet’s routine is. If possible, chat through in person. Usually the dogs tell us when it’s time for their walk or dinner! But, it’s good to know what their usual day looks like, so it can be continued while their family is away.

 

Sight or hearing loss

Ok, so some pups have ‘selective’ hearing loss, we know that well! But others, particularly ageing dogs, start to lose some of their sight and hearing. This can lead to anxiety, or fright if they don’t know we’re around.

We have learnt to make sure we make noise or vibrations on the floor so as not to startle a pooch whose hearing is going. Similarly, we will ensure they see us properly. It can be hard enough with their parents gone – we make every effort to help them through and accommodate any special needs.

 

‘Personality differences’ between dogs

This is a classic that you’re likely to see on the street. Some dogs, like people, just don’t get along. Always make sure that any personality quirks are discussed between sitters and pet owners. One of our pup’s parent’s gave us a heads-up that their cute dog wouldn’t be behind the door at getting into a bit of an argument with others. They were right 😂 But we knew, and managed it. Again, communication and being up front about your dog’s personality is key, for their own wellbeing and bespoke care a sitter can offer.

 

As a home owner or pet sitter, do you have questions or tips to add? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

 

House sitting Ireland: 3 things you need to know

House sitting Ireland: 3 things you need to know

We’ve just come back to England after our house sitting Ireland assignment through TrustedHousesitters – what an experience! So far on this house sitting and pet sitting adventure we’ve met the loveliest people. From London to Northampton and then Balbriggan just outside of Dublin. It’s been refreshing, rediscovering the best in humanity.

Not to mention, we’re learning so much about places we’d never have even known to go to. Funnily enough, Northampton is known for its shoe industry. We then went to Balbriggan to house sit in Ireland, and this town’s famous for making hosiery! So famous, in fact, that this gorg seaside spot used to serve all the royals in Europe, including the Empress of Austria, the Czarina of Russia and Queen Victoria herself. A little on the history here.

house sitting in Ireland you can't miss Dublin

 

Out and about: house sitting Ireland

In Ireland we house sat for Harley the Tibetan terrier, and his parents. We crossed with Harley’s humans right before they went on a two week trip to France (the reason we were house sitting in Ireland) and for a night when they came back. We had such a great time with them, leaving as friends. When they came back, we had gone to some effort to ensure the house was sparkling clean and that we had a meal ready for them. Part of showing gratitude.

Find out more about those tips:

 

Harley himself was a super quirky, cool, unique dog. We’re discovering a whole new world of personalities doing this.

Our love of dogs and experience with different breeds has been coming in handy, we apply it to a new situation everywhere we land. New things we’re discovering, especially with older dogs, is separation anxiety and also a stubbornness when they’re independently minded. Me and them get along famously 😂 [jokes]

House sitting Ireland - Harley the dog

 

Get yourself to Ireland

Ireland is famous the world over for being beautiful and the people are well-known for being funny, hospitable and kind. We can absolutely vouch for all of this.

It’s pretty easy to get started – sign up for a site like TrustedHousesitters. Get your profile and reference checks sorted, and then the fun begins.

If you’re looking for house sitting Ireland opportunities, set up alerts for the country, and keep an eye out for new listings every day. We’ve found that the sites can be competitive, so you want to be within the first few people to apply.

 

House sitting Ireland: top tips

Getting around

Ireland is not a huge country, so it’s possible to be able to plan seeing a bit of it around your house sitting assignments. There’s internal flights to main cities, and trains too. But once you get into the heart of Ireland you’ll probably need a car.



That said, we’ve not hired one yet. In Dublin the transport is quite good and you can walk a lot of places. We caught local buses to our pet sit/ house sit in Balbriggan which is an hour outside of Dublin. Our sit home owners got all the details on this to us prior to us confirming the sit – important, to make sure you’re right to commit. We needed to make sure we wouldn’t be so remote so as not to be able to get groceries and living essentials.

 

Leave time to explore

There’s so many beautiful places to go in Ireland. We’ve been lucky enough to explore Dublin, and further south around Killarney. Have a read of our guides (linked) and watch our videos for more information.

Ireland is brimming with experiences though. You can drive along the coast and discover all the little towns and ports, and go inland to meet more of the country’s characters. It’s possible to do it within two or three weeks. But we love spending time somewhere if we’ve got it.

 

Double check:

It’s important to check the dates you’re due to arrive (does your house sit need you a day earlier than advertised?). And what’s your plan on the other side? How will you get to your next destination? Do you need an extra night’s accommodation?

We’ve found home owners to be so lovely and helpful, which we really appreciate. At the moment we’re travelling and transport-less. Keep the lines of communication open and make your plans ahead of time.

Enjoy house sitting in Ireland!

Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips or questions. We’ve also got a whole series of videos on YouTube with advice on house and pet sitting. Subscribe and find them here.