When my family travels, we leave a beloved member of our family at home. Though he originally traveled everywhere we went, after two continuous years on the road, our dog, Vincent was ready to settle down and enjoy life at home, in the country. Though he likes to go on short drives around town, he gets a bit nervous when he sees the suitcases come out of the closet.
Rather than find a kennel, we opt to find a house sitter which serves two purposes. One, it assures that Vincent is going to get attention from someone that we trust and two, it gives my husband and I peace of mind that our house is cared for and watched over while we’re away.
We’ve had a house sitter on several occasions and have learned several tips to ensure that our house sitter feels comfortable in our home and knows what we expect while we’re traveling.
Select a house sitter carefully.
I am careful to select someone that I believe is reliable, responsible and will abide by our house rules. I also establish clear ground rules up front and when discussing what I need the house sitter to do. While I prefer to have someone actually stay in our home the entire time we’re away, you may need someone just to check in from time to time. Before setting out on vacation, discuss what your exact needs are and what responsibilities you would like your house sitter to undertake.
Don’t expect them to remember everything- write it down!
Even if it seems like you don’t have a lot of requests, it’s still best to put them in writing so your house sitter can refer back to them while you’re away.
To keep things simple I leave a detailed list with house rules, passwords for the internet, TV and xBox. I also leave a sample itinerary with numbers where my family can be reached. This includes our cell phone numbers as well as the number for the hotel or resort where we will be staying. If I anticipate that we’ll be hard to reach, I also leave a local contact just in case of an emergency.
Leave detailed pet care instructions.
I also leave pet care instructions to ensure my pet doesn’t endure additional stress while I’m traveling. I include what time he eats, when he gets treats, any special care requirements and the number for the veterinarian just in case it’s needed.
Lock up your valuables.
While we trust our house sitter, we are still careful to lock up anything that we consider valuable or would be difficult to replace, bank info, car titles, guns, and jewelry are all stored away.
Remember, your house sitter is doing you a favor.
I’m always grateful to have a house sitter. Knowing that we have people that we can trust in our lives to look after our important possessions gives me peace of mind when my family is traveled. I express my appreciation by creating a welcome basket for my house sitter. I include their favorite drinks, snacks or fruit. You don’t need to limit this to food, you could include a DVD or book to help them pass the time. I also prepare a toiletry bag. This is a great use for the free samples or complimentary toiletries that I pick up while traveling. Fresh towels, clean blankets and a special thank you gift is welcoming to your house sitter who remember, is doing your family a huge favor!
We don’t normally pay our house sitter, but I do try to present them with a token of our appreciation. A tasteful souvenir from your trip or a gift card for a local restaurant that you are confident that they will enjoy will ensure that next time you plan to travel, your house sitter will be willing to lend a helping hand.
Have you ever had a house sitter? What tips would you add?
© 2013, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.