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TrustedHousesitters: helping pet lovers travel
I am a big time fan of the TrustedHousesitters‘ organization—I didn’t know they existed up until recently, my bad—but once they were discovered and with my drive to keep my one-way ticket budget in check, I signed up pronto and took advantage of their membership. Hello, one week stay in Amsterdam. Hello, mischievously adorable Arabian Mau’s!
For years I have been asked to sit for my friends’ pets, for pets of my friend’s family, for work colleagues’ pets. The list goes on. I have taken care of nearly a dozen animals and the homes they live in and it’s certainly not going to stop there. The last pet and home sit I did in Toronto was for a very energetic and playful Korat/Chartreux (the jury is still out on the breed) of a work friend. I joked to Irjada how I should cast a wider net and make this a more professional venture. Little did I know all this experience would lead me to and support my TrustedHousesitters discovery months later.
I heard about TrustedHousesitters on a short flight from Newcastle to London. Jane, sitting behind me hit me over the head with the in-flight magazine, its pages opened to an article detailing the TrustedHousesitters’ history. I snapped a photo of the article to save for later, knowing full well I would take advantage of the site.
Who they are
TrustedHousesitters is a company designed to match pet-loving travellers to pet and home owning vacationers. The exchange is simple: you as the traveller take care of the littles and home based on the owners’ needs in exchange for a free place to stay in a city of your choosing. What’s not to love?! As the home and pet owner, you leave your trust in the care of a well-referenced traveller knowing your loved ones are looked after. It’s a win-win, cost-saving venture with the bonus of having a little extra pet-love in your life or in the case of the pet-owner, a little peace of mind.
A little history
In 2010, adventurer and TrustedHousesitters founder Andy Peck sought a calm environment to recoup from a near-death experience and dog-sat for a couple in Spain in lieu of paying rent. It was here he realized he had discovered a niche need: match people who want to travel the world with homeowners who want their pets to be cared for while they’re away. A couple months later he launched TrustedHousesitters, persuaded his then girlfriend and now wife, Rachel, to enter into business and the couple set about to make the website what it is today.
TrustedHousesitters continues to grow, connecting thousands of home and pet owners with care-oriented sitters every day.
Three weeks into my Dutch stay and it was time to leave the comforts of Carina’s house. My home. I had a lovely time taking care of Charlie and Chaplin, two very sweet kitties who are missed. The uncertainty of where I will stay, when, and with whom, was I admit, anxiety-inducing. The last time I travelled so freely, without definite plans was a decade ago. The last time I travelled solo was even longer. I felt out of practice, to say the least, and a little unsure of myself.
Further still, I was not too keen on staying in hostels. I hoped to avoid them as much as possible while maintaining a tight budget I implemented for myself. Naturally trying out more unconventional methods of accommodation was a huge appeal. Queue the need for TrustedHousesitters and the anxiety was remarkably lessened when I knew I had a quiet place to rest my wandering head.
Signing up was a joy: I always love filling out a good profile. The site is friendly and intuitive and the hardest part was finding personality revealing pictures of myself with the animals I have cared for.
The second hardest part was parting with the €89.00 for a year membership—though TrustedHousesitters has paid for itself (because I’m pretty sure a week’s stay in Amsterdam would have cost a little more than €89.00). I quickly validated my profile (proving you are who you say you are) and began searching for an opportunity in the Netherlands.
I struck gold: I found Amsterdam resident Kathryn looking for someone to sit for a week. We set up a Skype date and besides immediately taking a liking to one another, she introduced me to her Mau’s: Ziggy and Mav through the laptop screen.
It was settled. I would meet and stay with Kathryn the night before she left for an early morning flight and learn about the cats’ needs and then I was on my own. I couldn’t have lucked out more. Besides having a great place to stay and being entertained by two Mau’s, I now also have a friend in Kathryn!
My plan to dip a toe in every Dutch province and meet as many relations as possible before being booted out of the 26-Schengen countries was a success. A success in large part of my being savvy with my budget and taking advantage of sites like TrustedHousesitters. And now that I am presently in London, England, I’m looking ahead to offer up my services once again and keep that budget under control.
I trusted in the uncertainty and guess what? It all worked out.