Why house sitting could be the perfect way for pet lovers to travel

With perks like free accommodation and new furry friends to make, house sitting could be the way to travel – or even live! – for you. The Local looks at the three types of house sitter and why you should try it out.

Why house sitting could be the perfect way for pet lovers to travel
Love pets, love travel? Maybe house sitting is for you. Photo: Getty Images

With house sitting you could be staying in a Scottish mansion one month, minding donkeys and geese on a remote farm the next, explain full-time house sitters Trevor Young and Els Mahieu from their current house sit by the beach in Portugal.

“House sitting is a great way of life. It restores your faith in humanity. Despite what’s in the news, I can say, well, most people are actually nice,” says Belgium-born Els, a member of international platform TrustedHousesitters.

You’ve probably already heard of house sitting but are you wondering what it actually involves? The arrangement means staying in someone’s home while looking after the house and its furry (or scaly or feathered!) residents. TrustedHousesitters connects home owners and house sitters and is unique in that there is no payment between sitters and pet parents (the homeowners) – it’s all about a win-win mutual arrangement that suits the owners, sitters and pets.

Platforms like TrustedHousesitters have become more convenient and suitable for increasing numbers of both pet parents and house sitters. This is because of the rise in pet ownership during pandemic lockdowns, coupled with the reopening of international travel and the increase in remote working opportunities.

Who is it for? 

House sitting is a two-way set-up that means pet owners have their animals cared for while they are out of town, while sitters get free accommodation – plus the companionship and joy that comes from caring for a pet.

While a love of animals goes without saying, these three types of house sitter are popular among TrustedHousesitters‘ community of 120,000 pet parents and house sitters:

  1. Retiree
  2. Remote worker
  3. Savvy traveller 

Love travel and pets? Look after homes and make new furry friends around the world – and get 25% off here using code LOCAL25

House sitters tend to be any or all of these types, and there is usually crossover. 

The member profiles of TrustedHousesitters is an amalgamation of people who are house sitting for all kinds of reasons and in all kinds of situations. 

Some are remote workers who can’t commit to having a pet of their own but absolutely love spending time with animals. Others are retired and looking for an affordable way to see the world. 

The flexibility that comes with being retired or a remote worker obviously makes the house sitting lifestyle an easier one. It means you can jump on those house sit opportunities without needing to schedule time off around school holidays or work commitments.

With all kinds of homes available across the globe, those looking for affordable and authentic travel are also well-suited to house sitting. Some sitters, like UK-native Nigel Lovell (a savvy traveller and animal lover), even use platforms like TrustedHousesitters to ‘travel’ in their own cities. 

Savvy traveller and animal lover Nigel.

Nigel has lived in Barcelona since 1998 but uses house sitting as a means to explore other neighbourhoods in the city he now calls home. “So part of the advantage is that I actually get to know my own city in a different way.”

The other big reason? His love of animals. After his French bulldog passed away, Nigel now relishes the chance to spend time with other pets when he house sits, without the full-time commitment of pet ownership. 

This animal-loving personality is extremely important for all house sitters. 

“It’s really all about the animals, they come first. We don’t look at it as being a holiday,” says Trevor, a semi-retired remote worker with a love for travel and animals who’s been house sitting since 2014. 

“We spend a lot of time with the animals, but yet we still experience the city, the locality. We want to experience a local community. So we work part-time online, which gives us the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the animals.”

Discover the world of house sitting, where you can have authentic international travel experiences while minding pets.

Couple Trevor and Els have travelled the world house sitting and making new animal friends.

Why you should try it, and how

From manors to beach shacks, city apartments to rural cottages, you could find yourself staying in all kinds of places (and looking after all kinds of animals). 

An obvious benefit to being a sitter is the free accommodation, whether you’re working, retired or travelling. But the perks stretch beyond simply free digs, say the three TrustedHousesitters members we speak to.

While the sitters will reflect on the location, they always remember the animal and ultimately their stories of memorable experiences come down to the pet. That loveable blind labrador in Yorkshire, or the escape artist rabbit in the Spanish countryside.

Nigel, who has looked after cute pets around the world 60 times in the past four and a half years, says house sitting can be a chance to experience your home city or even a familiar place, in a new light. 

“Maybe you’ve got to work or study… I find sometimes changing my environment inspires me differently. So you know, if I’ve got something creative that I need to do, maybe working in a different house in a different area, can give inspiration.”

The way TrustedHousesitters works is that pet owners and house sitters pay an annual subscription fee to the platform for unlimited house sitters or house sitting stays. Homeowners set up profiles of themselves, including details of their home and their pet as well as dates they need house sitters for. Potential house sitters peruse the site and apply for the house sitting gigs they like the look of. Homeowners then choose candidates based on their sitter profiles and reviews from other owners. Usually there is a video call and some messaging to make sure you are the right fit for each other before final arrangements are made. 

How it works from there is up to the homeowner and house sitter. Some people want daily updates and photos of their pets, for example, explain Trevor and Els, while others would prefer to only hear from you if there is an emergency. 

It’s not all cats and dogs. Trevor has had memorable experiences caring for all kinds of animals, in all kinds of locations.

What to expect: tips for first-timers

Regardless of what sitter type you are, the care for the animals is extremely important. Fantastic new places and experiences aside, looking after the pet or pets is the reason you are there in the first place! 

“I think you have to love animals … as enjoyable as it is – and it really is enjoyable, we love the lifestyle – you’ve got responsibilities,” says Els, who along with partner Trevor, has more than 40 five-star reviews on TrustedHousesitters. The pair say keeping up with the routine of the pets is important and something they prioritise, to ensure the pet feels comfortable. 

The other words of wisdom from Trevor, Els and Nigel are to start out with house sits close to home. If you want to get chosen by a homeowner, you’re going to need reviews. “When you see all these beautiful ads on TrustedHousesitters, like a villa with a swimming pool in France, there’s going be loads of applicants. So it’s important that you have reviews to increase your chances of getting the house sit. 

“So start local. Wherever you live there’s bound to be somewhere close-by. That way you will build up reviews and you can use them for those dream sits.”

Els also suggests downloading the TrustedHousesitters app so you can monitor ads as they go up and apply straight away. You can even set an alert for the country and dates you’re interested in. “You have to be really quick!” she says. 

“It’s also good to be flexible,” say Trevor and Els. Sometimes the offer of a month-long sit could extend to six weeks or more, for example. And that flexibility extends to how you interact with the homeowners. Open and flexible communication is key. “You are essentially parachuting into their lives,” says Trevor.

It’s also important to consider if the house sit is suitable for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a house tour via video call or for some more photos of the home. And if you’re a remote worker, for example, double check the internet is reliable. 

Another important tip from the couple is to be mindful of your visa and work regulations. With international house sits on the horizon for them (including Thailand early next year), they’re conscious it is important to be aware of restrictions and requirements in the countries you are planning to visit. 

Nigel works really hard to be a good, responsible sitter. He keeps an open dialogue with owners so they can feel reassured and enjoy their time away from their home and pet. He even suggests taking photos of the home when you arrive so you can leave everything as it was. To be successful at house sitting, he sums things up nicely with the tip to simply “be the kind of sitter that you would like in your home”.

TrustedHousesitters connects verified and reviewed sitters with homeowners around the world. Find out how to become a sitter and enjoy 25% off with code LOCAL25

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


What are France’s rules for bringing bikes on the train?

Travelling by bike and train are good ways to reduce your carbon footprint. But transporting you bike on a train can sometimes be a little complicated - especially in France where the rules vary from service to service.

What are France's rules for bringing bikes on the train?

The rules for carrying your bike onto a train in France depend on multiple factors, including the type of train you are using. 

Generally speaking, recumbent bikes, tricycles, tandems, cargo bikes, longtail bikes and trailers are not allowed on any train lines. 

The breakdown for regular bikes is as follows:

TGVs and Intercités

TGVs are high-speed trains that connect major cities and some large towns in France. The Intercités trains connect major towns not covered by the TGV network. 

If you want to bring your bike, fully assembled, on either of these train services you must reserve a space for your bike at the same time as you buy your ticket online or at the station. This will typically incur a €10 charge. You must then store your bike on the dedicated racks on board the train. 

If there is no option to reserve a bike space online, this means that either the train doesn’t provide a space for bikes or that all of the bike spaces have been reserved already. Some lines, such as Paris – Avignon TGV do not accept fully assembled bikes at all, which is why it is worth checking online first, via

One solution is to bag up (housse) or box your bike, or use a folding bike, which doesn’t require you to reserve a space for it. This must be packed into a cover and stored in the baggage area onboard the train. The dimensions must not exceed 130cmx90cm. No specific reservation is required and it is generally free to carry a bike on this way.

However, when booking a journey on a line operated by OUIGO, there is a €5 charge even for bagged or folding bikes and you must reserve online.  


The TER network consists of regional train lines where you can bring your bike for free, provided you hang it on a designated rack or place it in the bike storage area. No special reservations are required but spaces in the bike areas are often limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, meaning that it is worth arriving a little early. 

In most cases no reservation is required but it is worth checking the TER website first or asking at the station as there are notable exceptions, such as on the Paris-Dijon-Mâcon line for example. 

There also some TER lines on which you can only bring a bike at certain times of day. On the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur line for example, station controllers sometimes ban bikes at busy rush hour times such as 7am-9am and 16h30-18h30 Monday to Friday. 

A regional breakdown of other such exceptions to bike transport onboard TER services is available here

Rail transport in Paris

Bikes are banned on the Parisian metro service, as well as on bus and tramway services in the capital.

The notable exception is on line 1, where bikes can be transported on Sundays and bank holidays before 16h30. You should ask station staff to open the service gates for you to transport your bike through the station. 

The RER and Transilien trains which connect Paris to its suburbs do allow for the transport of bikes, but not between 6h30-9h and 16h30-19h Monday to Friday. When using these trains, you must keep your bike in the designated section of the train and are advised to stay with it throughout your journey.

No special reservations are needed. 


If you are travelling between London and Paris on the Eurostar, you can book a space for your bike by emailing [email protected]

This service is only available at between the following times:

  • London to Paris 08h01 – 15h31
  • Paris to London 11h13 – 18h13 

Availability is usually limited to it is best to email well in advance. Reservations made more than 48 hours in advance of departure cost £45 each way, while those made less than 48 hours before cost £60 each way. 

Any bikes you plan to transport this way must be disassembled and placed in a box or bag. They should be dropped off with Eurostar staff at the station in London or Paris and picked up on the other side. 

If you are travelling from London to Lille, or vice versa, it is not possible to carry a regular adult bike onboard. 

On any UK-France Eurostar service, you can carry a folding bike or a children’s bike for free – as long as it is no more than 85cm long and carried in a protective bag. These bikes will be considered as one item of luggage, when it comes to your luggage allowance.