Our three boys love pet sitting – meeting new dogs or cats, snuggling with pets at night, feeding farm animals, and even holding a type of lizard they haven’t held before.
The novelty doesn’t seem to wear off. How can anyone not love to be around big shaggy dogs that live on a farm or cute, little chihuahuas that live in apartments in huge cities? All of the different pets we have taken care of are written in our oldest sons’ petsitting journal he created on Minecraft, including fun stories, nicknames, and Minecraft reproductions of each animal.
We barely finish with one housesit when our boys ask us about where and when the next one will be.
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We used petsitting as a way to travel Europe in 2022 (11 housesits in 6 months!)
You probably hear of other digital nomads who use pet sitting as a money-saving way to travel, but we hadn’t made the connection that pet sitting could be an option for us as RVers.
We have been traveling full-time since 2018 in our RV, but had never added petsitting to our adventurous lifestyle until we started petsitting in England in 2022 and ended up completing 11 pet sits in 6 months while in Europe.
Initially, I thought that if we were visiting a city, we’d like to stay in the comfort of our tiny home – our RV. I didn’t think it would be the right choice to try to petsit while enjoying the local attractions. We usually visit a city to try out the local food, go to a specific event, or meet up with friends, and adding on the job of walking a dog twice a day might be an extra responsibility with no added benefit to us.
We’ve now found that petsitting can be a fun addition to our RV lifestyle.
We won’t necessarily be petsitting 11 times within 6 months like when we did while travelling Europe, but a petsit once or twice a month while RVing could possibly be a great rhythm for us.
We’ve found four functional ways (and a 5th bonus) why petsitting can be helpful in anyone’s travel toolbox while RVing.
Here’s why pet sitting and RVing go hand in hand
1) A Way To Visit A City Without A Campground Expense
We wanted to visit San Jose to spend a few days at California’s Great America theme park this past November. The park is only open on weekends in the fall, and we wanted to go the weekend before Thanksgiving to experience the park as it usually is, then go the weekend after Thanksgiving when they switch into their Christmas/Holiday theme called ‘WinterFest.’
Ideally, this meant we wanted to stay in San Jose for ten days.
The closest boondocking BLM land outside of San Jose is about 90 minutes from the park. The closest campground to the theme park was only 45 minutes away, but we’d have to pay $70/night.
There was also the option of staying in our RV at a nearby Harvest Host, but most of those locations are only available for 1 or 2 nights at a time, and the Boondockers Welcome location that was close by didn’t have space big enough for our 30-foot travel trailer.
We found an 8-day family-friendly housesitting listing where the owners would be traveling over Thanksgiving.
They were cat owners, which meant that we could be away at the park the whole time it was open (unlike the busier schedule we would have caring for a dog), and their driveway was long enough to accommodate our trailer – it really was perfect!
But, there was a catch – they only had two bedrooms available for us to use in their house. We had a solution for this. Some of us slept in the trailer in our own beds, and some slept in the guest room to keep their cats company at night.
During the week (between the adrenaline-filled weekends at California’s Great America), we did some sightseeing in San Francisco, visited Google and Apple’s head offices, went on a trip to the beach in Santa Cruz, and had a few days to relax on the backyard patio at our housesit.
While at the house petsitting, we caught up on some laundry, and we enjoyed Netflix binging and synced our Dropbox folders with a solid wifi connection.
Location is a significant factor for why pet sitting might be a nice break from your RV.
For us, it was important to be right in the city to explore a theme park. But for you, what’s important might be closer access to a National Park, close proximity to a specific event, or being in a specific area to visit friends and family on your RV trip.
2) A place to stay while our RV is in the repair shop
While visiting Phoenix, we needed to have some major repairs done to our travel trailer.
A situation like this would usually mean we’d be paying for a hotel or invading a friend’s guest room for weeks. Even though our friends were generous enough to offer their guest room to us for some of the time, we were also accepted for a housesit with some friendly animals to take care of while our trailer was being repaired.
In this case, we didn’t need to find a long enough driveway to park in since our trailer was being stored at the repair shop.
TrustedHousesitters.com came through for us again.
3) House sitting when we need a break from the weather while RVing
RVs are great for moderate weather, but when we start getting into sudden heat waves while boondocking in the desert, we’ve got a couple of options:
- Pay for a full-hookup campsite to run our A/C and cool off in the campground’s pool
- Find a housesit where we can stay enjoy the A/C (or heat) and bonus points when there’s also a pool
On the west coast, we’ve had to stop boondocking in the desert to stay at full hookup sites so that we could run our A/C. We’ve also saved up our credit cards’ travel points for a rainy day on the east coast so that we could book a night at a hotel – actually, there were three cool, cloudy, rainy days in a row where we ran our furnace and drained our batteries because we had no solar input.
We celebrated Zac’s birthday (our middle son) one year when we were RVing in winter in Canada and decided to book a hotel at a nearby hot springs in the Rockies to warm up from the cold, Canadian weather for a day or two.
A hotel is a great option and a nice break, but there’s a cost involved, and it’s still a small space for our family of 5, which brings us to…
4) When you need a bit of space to stretch out, away from the RV
Sometimes it’s helpful for each of us to have our own space for a few days.
I’m writing this blog post right now in about half the time it usually takes me, because we’re at a housesit, and I’m out on the patio without any interruptions.
Celine is currently walking the dogs with 2 of our boys, and our youngest is on the couch inside playing “20 questions” with Alexa (Alexa guessed he was thinking of ‘Harry Potter’ after 16 questions, and I know this because I just walked into the house to refill my coffee).
As I’ve been doing more writing on our blog (and Celine’s been doing the editing), we are learning that this takes more uninterrupted time than it would to edit a video or work on some graphics for a website client. So, more than ever, we value the uninterrupted time to focus.
At this house sit, we also have a pool in the backyard. And, with the homeowners’ permission, we have friends coming over for a bbq in the afternoon tomorrow.
Of course, we can always go to a library to get some focused, quiet time to get things done (they often have a study room available). And to get our laundry done, we can find a local laundromat. But, having a few days every now and then where we all get our own space, can have long hot showers, have access to free washing machines and dryers, and can spread out on big, comfy couches is a great way to switch up our RV lifestyle.
5) We get a local’s perspective on what to see and do
Sure, we can google “What to see and do in …”, but when we meet a homeowner, they are often happy to give us some local recommendations – such as a pizza shop tucked away in a neighbourhood, or a hike that the locals love because the tourists don’t know about it, or “the best coffee in town.”
Not only do we get to spend time with cuddly pets, but we also get the inside scoop on life in the area we’re visiting. Otherwise, we are left to figure out what’s best to see and do based off of a Google search or wandering around the city or town aimlessly, trying not to get caught in all of the tourist traps.
Tips for House Sitting and Pet Sitting as RVers
Ask if you can park your RV in the driveway or on the road
There are multiple reasons why you may not be able to park in someone’s driveway:
- Their driveway is too short
- A portion of their driveway is shared with a neighbor
- The city or HOA won’t allow RVs to be parked in the driveway
- They’re leaving their car behind when they go on their trip, and that will limit driveway space
- They live in an apartment with a parking garage or a gated parking lot
Don’t apply to be a pet sitter at a house if you don’t have a backup plan for where to park your RV. You might need to leave your RV at a storage facility for the weekend or pay for a campsite to park your trailer at (even if you’re not using it).
It’s a lot of work to pack luggage to leave your RV
I feel for people who just RV on weekends. When friends invite us to go camping, we show up with our travel trailer, and all our belongings are with us already. Then we listen to our friends tell us stories about the work they had with meal planning to fill their fridge, the chore of packing overnight bags, and the time they spent getting their trailer our of storage and filling their propane tanks for the weekend getaway.
If you’re leaving your RV in order to petsit, it’s a lot of work – you’ll need to empty the fridge of whatever food might go bad while you’re gone, pack clothing for everyone, bring your favorite family board games, and possibly winterize your trailer or motorhome if there’s a chance the weather will hit freezing before you’re back.
If you’re looking for the right luggage for the whole family, here’s the luggage we used to travel Europe for 7 months with kids.
Keep in mind the benefits vs. effort when searching for a house sit
We’ve found that weekend housesits are less enjoyable than week-long house sits. If the goal is to save money on campgrounds, then boondocking on BLM land might be a better option for a couple of nights than the responsibility of housesitting.
We also find the opposite is true; House sits that are more than a few weeks long will make us feel like we’re tied down and we feel more than ready to get back to traveling full-time.
You’ll find your rhythm, but keep in mind the amount of effort required to “move in” to a pet sit before applying for one.
In your introductory call, focus on the pet sitting, not the accommodation
Homeowners are not primarily looking for a house sitter. Their main and primary concern is for you to be their pet sitter, and that’s why they’re considering having a pet sitter in their home, instead of sending their pet to a kennel with other pets or leaving their dog in a crate all day waiting for the dog walking service person to show up.
Most homes can sit empty for a few days or a week without any concern of property damage. So, make the main topic of your conversation with the pet owner about pet-sitting. Your first impression is important when talking with the home owners so that what you say matches their primary focus: caring for their beloved pets.
Let them know how you’ll plan to spend time with their pet, ask them how well their dog does with other dogs, and ask if there are any cafes or coffee shops within walking distance that are pet friendly.
This will reassure the home owners and give them peace of mind that you’re at their house spending time with their pet, and not just using their house for free accommodation.
Booking Your First Time House Sitting through TrustedHousesitters
Here are a few tips we offer to get the attention of pet owners on TrustedHousesitters.com so they’ll schedule a video call with you and consider your pet-sitting service application.
- Have a complete pet sitting profile. Fill out all of the fields and upload as many pictures as are allowed. If you have kids, upload pictures of your kids playing with pets or dog-walking to show that your kids are animal lovers and not going to be nervous around pets.
- Find a local pet sit first. A local pet sitter with no reviews has a better chance of being approved by a first-time pet owner than someone from out of state with no reviews. You can visit the homeowner and their pet in person before your first petsit. This way, their first impression of you will reassure them that you are trustworthy, and this is helpful when you don’t yet have any reviews on your TrustedHousesitters.com listing.
- Write a custom message when you apply for the house sit. We always introduce ourselves and make sure to include that our boys would love to meet [insert pet names here]. This is similar to the importance of a cover letter for a job application – it doesn’t have to be long, but there is value in customizing it specifically to that application, instead of a generic copy-and-paste message (or even worse, no message at all).
We go more in-depth in this blog post about how to be successful with Tips For TrustedHousesitters.com.
Get our Trusted Housesitters 25% off promo code.
Other Pet Sitting Services besides Trusted Housesitters for RVers
There are multiple pet sitting services for both pet owners and pet sitters to use.
Some of them are for paid pet-sitting services (like Rover.com, where pet sitters get paid to house sit or offer dog walking and other drop-in services).
Other pet-sitting websites are location specific, like HousesitMexico.com
We’ve found that TrustedHousesitters is the best option for our family since we aren’t looking to get paid for petsitting – just free accommodation and cuddles from pets. Trusted House Sitters appears to have the most listings and pet sitting opportunities worldwide.
We have never tried any of the other services offered, but HousesittingMagazine.com created this list for comparison.
Here’s our review of Trusted Housesitters (and two things we wish they would change with their app).
Housesitting is great for full-time RVers
To summarize, we’ve added housesitting to our RVing and travel toolbox (along with these other 21 tips for RVing).
It gives us some variety in our travel styles, makes the most sense for RVing in specific locations, and wards off the “itch to get a dog or cat” for our boys.
We look back at the memories we’ve made in certain cities and areas, and it helps that our kids have “mile markers” in their memories of our travels because the specific dog walking route we had or that certain cat we took care of in a particular city, or the pets we took care of while visiting a country in Europe.
I’m sure for our boys, it’s “just another park” or “another old building” or “another famous street,” but tie that trip to an interactive experience they have with loving animals, and it helps separate one city, country, or area from another for young travellers.
Once you have local reviews in your profile, you can more easily explore housesits overseas. Here’s what we learned from petsitting in England for 6 weeks.