Entry number 2 into the 2018 Housesitting Blog Competition, run annually by HouseSitMatch, comes from Kath Perreault who travels by house sitting around the world. Read on to discover how and why she extols the benefits of housesitting and how it creates authentic travel experiences. DON’T FORGET TO VOTE – FIND BUTTON AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST. Only one vote per email will be counted, so vote for your favourite. Last votes counted at midnight on 22 December (GMT).
How does house sitting enable authentic travel?
House sitting enables authentic travel in a range of ways, and for a number of reasons. Individuals choose to home sit with various end goals in mind. While some sit to travel, others travel to sit. Whether on familiar terrain or in distant, foreign regions of the world, sitters want to make a true connection — an authentic connection — both with home owners, who have placed their beloved homes and pets into their hands, and with the pets that sitters are trusted to love, care for and enjoy for a time. Herein lies the commonality among sitters — they are travellers at heart, who love to experience a true connection with people and their pets.
House sitting travellers
It is my experience that most home sits come about as a result of the home owner having beloved pets who need care while the owners are away, and who will likely be happiest and feel safest in their own home. As well, homeowners may consider that kennel care can cost a small fortune while they travel. When an owner reaches out for sitters for their pets, they will be looking for true animal lovers, willing and eager to offer personal, loving care to their pets. Meeting on the common ground of love and compassion for our four legged friends is a fabulous beginning to an authentic connection!
My own urge to travel, over many years, has definitely been driven by a thirst for authenticity. I have deep curiosity about the world, its people, its creatures, its customs, and its structures, over history and in modern day. It has always been about discovering authentic life in whatever country in which I am travelling, and encountering the people, and their way of life — first hand. And I suspect it is the same for many who travel and home sit along the way. Being a lover of life, people and animals — home and pet sitting provides real, face-to-face social, cultural and pet connection.
And so authenticity is a key factor in the travel/home sitting lifestyle and in the equation between sitters and homeowners. When sitters and home owners make a commitment to a care situation, what they are doing is — in a way — agreeing to exchange lives. The sitters and home owners meet, and a connection of rapport and trust must be established before an agreement can be settled upon. Once the sit begins, sitters have stepped into the life of the vacationing home owners, carrying out the functions of their daily life just as the home owners would. Whether the sit is in a familiar city or in a remote jungle — sitters will experience the lives of the people who live in that home, being responsible for the workings of that home, and the care of the pets who live there. Sitters will encounter the same neighbours, shop keepers and home maintenance employees with whom the home owners have daily, working relationships. Most home owners will have introduced the sitters to a few neighbours or family members who can assist if a need arises, or simply to let sitters know they are not alone and strange to the neighbourhood. Sitters will traverse the same paths, drive or bus the same roads, witnessing the landscape and life of the people who live there, constantly interacting in similar capacities. Whether facilitating routine vet care for one pampered dachshund in Canada or providing for treatment for multiples of tick ridden rescue pets living in a Costa Rican jungle, the experience will be — authentically — how the home owners and their pets live life. Whether handling a household water shortage in a remote location or luxuriating by the pool at a five star home in Cancun, while the pets lounge nearby, the sitter will experience the life that is authentic to the location.
Often sitters are asked to hold their posts for a more extended period of time than is financially possible for a traveller who is required to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants, so the lifestyle enables a longer, slower form of travel experience. In this way, individuals who sit can access opportunities to become truly involved in the communities in which they they sit.
Which leads us to another important benefit of home sitting: Have you ever felt the tug of two opposing urges? One half of you craves travel, exploration and adventure, while the other loves nothing more than a cozy tuck-in at home in front of the fire, snuggling into the nest. With the type of slow travel that is possible with home sitting — after all, sitters choose the length of sit that they will apply for — travelling sitters who step into the lives and homes of others, sometimes for months at a stretch, have found the perfect solution to this personal dilemma. They have discovered a way to have the best of both worlds — basically having found the key to life as a travelling homebody.
Lifelong friendships can be forged, and frequently are — with people and their pets. This quality of connection is a rare occurrence with the hotel or B&B experience. Sure, one is likely to be more pampered, one may enjoy more luxury, one may have more free time for sight seeing when staying in a hotel or B&B. But — no matter how friendly and personable the staff at the hotel or B&B hosts are, they are just that — individuals who are paid for pretty much every interaction one engages in with them. These relationships rarely extend into friendship and lengthy connection. Not so with home sitting. Home owners and sitters are both required to open up to strangers in ways that rarely occur in any other circumstance.The trust and generosity required of the home owner who opens their personal space to strangers, and the open-heartedness of sitters who offer loving care to pets and homes free of charge — this formula creates a unique condition, and creates fertile ground in which relationships can develop and grow. Often trusted sitters are invited to return to sit, time and again. The human and pet connection made possible by this unique and symbiotic exchange can become a tangible and authentic heart bond. I speak from experience when I say that nomadic sitters have left little pieces of their heart floating about in every home where a bond was forged with pets and their owners.
How better can individuals access an authentic travel experience, than living life in another’s shoes — first hand, in another culture, another landscape and climate, quite possibly in a foreign land or on the other side of one’s own land — than through the authentic heart-driven connection that home and pet sitting provides?
By Kath Perreault
To start your house sitting adventure or to find your house and pet sitting solution register now with HouseSitMatch.