Accessibility Tools

Image of a selfie of a lady and a dog

Did you know there is a way to travel, enjoy new (or favourite)destinations, and not pay for accommodation? This article tells you all about house and pet sitting.

House-sitting, What is it?

House-sitting, where you stay, watch over and care for people’s houses, gardens and pets while they are away, in exchange for free accommodation, is a great way to travel and keep costs down. You can live like a local in any corner of the earth, as you while away your time with a few small errands each day.

Benefits for the homeowner

Pot plants are being watered, the house looks lived in and secure, mail/ papers are collected, bins are put out/in, pets are being fed, walked, cared for and loved.

For the house-sitter

Travel, new opportunities, not having to pack the kitchen sink and, free, or budget accommodation into the bargain.

Starting out

Begin the old fashioned way with people you know, or choose from websites that cater to matching house-sitters with homeowners. Some internet-based sites are free, while others have registration or membership fees, so do your research. We have selected a few well-known sites for you to look over below.

House sitting is ideal if:

  • You are retired
  • You are travelling
  • You are renovating
  • You are saving for a home 
  • You want to move and are testing the ideal location 
  • You love pets or animals
  • You need to keep rent or accommodation costs low

Tips for first-time house-sitters:

References are an advantage, if you can obtain them from people of standing in your community that have known you for a reasonable amount of time, and can vouch for your good character. These can be a bonus to add to your profile.  If you have ever rented a property, or looked after a friends property or pets and can gain a reference from the owner, these can also be used to your advantage. If you cannot obtain a written reference, permission for the enquirer to contact them for a verbal recommendation is a good idea.

Tips for building your profile:

  • State if you are a non-smoker
  • Take note of animals you are happy and experienced to care for
  • Use a clear, current photograph
  • Note any special skills you have
  • Pay attention to spelling and grammar

 Remember to check and double-check with any potential opportunities that they can fit your access needs.

On your stay:

  • Make a good first impression
  • Stick to the homeowners' guidelines and expectations
  • Ask for a list of emergency contacts including the vet and a trusted friend of the homeowners
  • Treat every house-sit like a new job and make an effort to get to know the needs of the homeowners and the pets
  • Keep in regular contact and show that everything is under control and cared for
  • Have a daily checklist so you don’t forget an important task
  • Respect privacy
  • Clean and change sheets and tidy before you leave.

Leave the home in better condition than when you found it, or even leave a parting and thoughtful gift.  Is there a little touch or simple necessity you can provide? (Not an excuse to be an interior decorator, leave the homeowners possessions as you found them.) 

It can be as easy as using your talents, skills or hobbies to do something unexpected: bake (even dog treats), arrange flowers, photograph pets, do a deep clean of something like an oven or windows, leave a lasting impression that will guarantee you future opportunities. Be thoughtful and considerate of what you do.

Matching Houses

Is a holiday house exchange, where people or families with disability swap houses for a holiday or a break, with other people who have the same accessibility needs. The service has been operating since 2004 and has listings in Europe, the US, and Canada, Australia and New Zealand among others.

Useful Links:

Matching Houses

Matching Houses

Pet Sitting, walking, hosting

Mad Paws
Paw Shake
Pet Cloud
House carers


Mind a Home
Happy Housesitters
Aussie House Sitters
Trusted House Sitters is a UK based site, Helping Pet Lovers travel. It has a surprising number of Australian users and destinations including regional towns.

Image of a sitting man, holding a cup and looking at a dog.

Further reading

Enjoy our Blog on The New Armchair Travellers about digital travel in the COVID-19 pandemic.

IDEAS does information so you can do holidays.