So if you’ve been reading for a while here, or following us on Instagram or Facebook then you know that we travel full-time while developing software and that we use Trusted House Sitters to cut down on overhead costs. If you’re not familiar with Trusted House Sitters you can read more about it, and how it works in these other blog posts here, and here! Or on our friends “Hoopla Adventures” travel blog. They both use Trusted House Sitters to travel. Since our last posts about using house sitting to get free places to stay in Europe went over so well we thought we would share some tips about not just where to go to find house sits but how to get your first house to sit with an EPIC application letter! The first one is often the hardest but I’ve developed a strategy for snagging sits and it’s worked super well so far.
But before we dive into all of that here’s some things you should know about Trusted House Sitters. It’s a very different way of traveling. Think of it as something similar to a study abroad program. When you study abroad you’re there to go to school and experience a different culture as a benefit of your location. When you house sit, you’re there to care for someone’s pet/ home and you get the benefits of their location. We have done house sits in places like London and Paris and have seen Kensington Palace, The Eiffel Tower, the Louver and Burrow Market as a result of our house sits. We’ve saved an estimated $18,000 in lodging through house sitting since starting our journey 4 months ago. So if you don’t mind cleaning a litter box in the morning, or going on a leisurely stroll through the Scottish Countryside with a Scottie Dog then house Sitting is probably a great option for you! But if you want to sleep in every day, and stay out until 2 AM partying it may not be the right fit for you. There’s nothing wrong if you like to live spontaneously while traveling! But house sitting is a means to travel more affordably by doing a form of light work exchange. It’s not a “free vacation.”
OK so, if you’re part of the category that says “I would love to snuggle with some kitties and see the Eiffel tower in the afternoons and or eat Tapas in Barcelona and walk a Pug in the mornings” Then you’re gonna want to read this.
I have found the key to being a successful at booking house sits is this; create a killer profile, write a killer application letter and applying early and often.
If you look at the available sits on Trusted House Sitters you’ll notice that there is a little “New” tag on the newly posted sits. For your first sit, I recommend you focus on these!
Additionally when you open sits try to focus on house sits with 0-3 applications. Less competition is better. Some people on this site may have completed several sits and have many reviews. If you’re competing against a large number of sitters then you are less likely to be selected for a house sit as there is likely a larger pool of experienced sitters with existing reviews in the queue ahead of you. By applying to house sits with under 3 applicants you have higher chances of being seen and thus selected. The number of applicants is indicated under the sits listed dates as pictured below.
When you do apply for your sit you basically have two chances to “close the deal”. First with your application, and then with your profile (read more about that here). So that means you need to convince someone that you’re not a psycho and that you are capable of taking care of their home and pets.
Below I will walk you through the message I send most pet parents. Keep in mind it’s VERY important that you tailor each message to the sit you’re applying to, personalization is important in a presentation. But having a general template can save you time! You can feel free to take this one and tailor it to your needs/ story.
Hi (Insert name here),
I try to keep it friendly and casual in the greeting. People like hearing/ reading their name, and they prefer Hi/ Hey over Hello, Greetings etc.
My name is Sorcha and my husband Matthew and I would love to be considered as sitters for your December dates. A bit about us. We are software engineers/content creators from the San Francisco Bay area who decided to take our work and see the world. We’re on a year-ish long journey through Europe and Asia. We use Trusted House Sitters as a way to keep costs down while we travel. We love the unique travel opportunities it affords us as well as the ability to make furry friends along the way.
I very concisely tell them who we are, what we do for work, why we’re traveling and why we use Trusted House Sitters.
We are experienced house sitters and have a track record of trust and reliability amongst our furry charges and their humans (check out our reviews!).
You get to ask friends and family members to review you when you create your profile. I had two or three friends/ past house sitting/ babysitting customers review us when we launched our account. This encourages the reader to actually READ your profile where you’ve spent time telling your story more in-depth.
We have flexible schedules and are available for the entirety of your dates with no conflicts.
This is key, you may not have flexible schedules as we do, but letting the owner know you’re available for the whole time is important. As part of joining THS and applying to a sit you’re committing to being there for this person/family holiday, vacation, work trip, etc. You HAVE to make yourself available for the entire duration of the sit unless otherwise negotiated. Just as they have to make themselves scarce for the entire trip. You are entering a mutual agreement to go where you say you’ll go when you say you’ll go there. If you cancel for anything short of serious or extenuating circumstances you can be kicked off the site. Additionally by canceling you hurt other’s chances of sits. This system only works if we all make commitments and keep them… and we really like this site and house sitting so please don’t screw that up for us.
I am a photographer and would be glad to take photos of your pets for you should we be selected and my husband is a former builders apprentice (found he liked building software more) and would be happy to do any minor repairs or fixes around the house while we are sitting if selected.
Offer additional value. While oftentimes home/ pet owners don’t ask me to take professional photos of their pets or their home, and we have yet to have someone take us up on Matt’s offer to do maintenance work this little tidbit sets us apart. Maybe you’re a professional cleaner at home, or you’re a great organizer, or you can build birdhouses (I don’t know your life!) offer something a little extra! Show them you’re bringing more value to the table than others.
If we sound like a good fit for you please let me know and we can set up a time to video chat! (We try to do that with all house sits so you can get to know us a bit!) Regardless of your choice, we hope you have a great holiday and find the right sitters for your home and fur family.
Most people experienced with THS will want to video chat with you before committing. This is so they can get a feel for you and vice-versa. We also require anyone who wants us to sit for them to video chat. We do so so we can see their home, make sure they’re who they picture/ say they are, and ask more questions about the sit.
Finally, we let the reader know that we just want what’s best for them and their pets. Because at the end of the day, we all just want to have a nice vacation and make sure everyone stays alive.
Some other things to keep in mind are when applicable I try to address specifics about the sit between “We are experienced house sitters” section and “We have flexible schedules” section. So for example, if I am applying to house sit for someone with horses I will mention.
“I was a competitive horseback rider for 15 years and had 10 horses, so I am well versed in the necessities of their care and can recognize signs of colic and distress. I also know how to manage injuries and care for wounds in the event of an emergency.”
Or maybe you had a Husky growing up and could say.
“My childhood dog was a Husky so I am familiar with the breed and their need for exercise, their independent nature, and their prey drive.”
Anything that tells that pet parent that you know what you’re doing and can handle what comes your way.
Finally, end with a sincere greeting. I like to go with Sincerely, but “Best,” looking forward to hearing from you” etc. all work too.
The overarching key is to;
Let the pet owner know you’re a real human.
Let them know you’re safe and trustworthy by writing a great profile and sharing honest reviews.
Tell them about your real experience briefly and confidently.
Let them know you’re reliable.
Assure them that they can relax while away by giving examples or directing them to information in your profile that gives examples.
That’s basically it! Do you feel like you’ve been equipped for getting your first house sit? Does house sitting seem like it is something that could help you become more