My list of places I wanted to visit in England was rather large, add Europe and it was obscene so I had not even attempted to include further afield. We bought a camper van two years ago with the idea of going round Europe. Being on a tight budget at the time meant we could only afford a 16-year-old LDV (not the best make and no longer being produced). The LDV was the only one out of many we had viewed to have everything we needed for the trip: cooker, 12v electric with leisure battery and a decent bed. Considering how it was completely ready for use and had 10 months MOT the £1900 price seemed quite good. Unfortunately, a week after getting it and the second time I drove the gearbox went and whilst we did replace it and head off to France the van proved way too large for me to drive. Other factors, such as the van having very poorly fitted doors meant we were awoken most nights by other campers. After a month we had to head home as I was exhausted and in danger of causing an accident. The European dream needed a re-think.
Last year we went to catsit for Zack’s brother in Cornwall. We love Cornwall and had been round quite a bit of it in the camper. Staying in a house and having a hot shower, comfy sofa and cute cats to look after made us consider house sitting as a means to travel. Seeing as travel by house-swapping, couchsurfing and airbnb are really popular these days I hoped there would be a site to facilitate our sitting for people we did not know. Of course there were actually quite a few and some had been going quite a few years. Most were US or Australia specific but I then came across Trustedhousesitters whom are UK-based and had a huge amount of UK listings – perfect.
Although we had enjoyed our house sitting in Cornwall and later for a friend in my old home county of Dorset we wanted to do a few UK ones, just to be sure it really was for us. I soon managed to obtain our first assignment – care of two cats in Devizes, Wiltshire. The entire two weeks there we kept looking at each and going ‘this is brilliant!’ We had lovely free accommodation which was only a year old so full of mod-cons, two very sweet cats and were able to visit Bath, the Cotswolds and the local canals.
We have been house sitting through the site since June last year and have been really lucky with the sits. They include a Oxfordshire thatched cottage with friendly chocolate labrador, cottage in small Brittany hamlet with tortoiseshell cat (who fell in love with Zack) and a Brighton townhouse with two very sociable cats.
It is now not a good idea for me to peruse the new listings on the site as I always see something tempting faraway. One day soon we intend to go to that Caribbean hideaway, the New Zealand beach-house and the wood house in Indonesia. Whilst the airfare is still quite a consideration it is far more doable to visit distant countries when your accommodation costs are zero.
This year we are branching out from the UK and have sits in France and the Netherlands. Next summer it seems we may be off to Italy, I have never been and it is top of my Europe list so am very excited.
Look out for a future post with tips on writing a profile, sending replies to listings and things to consider before joining a sitting site.