Tips for Sitters


When you’re planning and packing for a new house sit, particularly if you’re looking after a property and pets while owners are away for several months, it’s tempting to bring along everything you can possibly think of you could need.


From long experience, our insider advice is to resist the temptation and travel light! Will you really need all those different outfits you’ve packed, if you’re pet-minding and at home a lot? Will your things all fit in your car boot for security while you’re in transit?


You also don’t want to give the home owner a scare by arriving on their doorstep with all of your worldly goods, as if you were moving in forever.  If you’ve already go too much with you to drag to each new house sit, take a tip from experienced sitters, who often rent a mini-storage unit at affordable monthly rates for overflow bags and possessions.


For a local sit, you can zip back home if you need something and can just bring perishable food with you in the car.  Flying into a house sit in a different city or region where you’ll stay for some months with just the things you bring with you takes a little more advance planning, such as bringing clothes for two seasons.


So what’s your packing checklist?


There are already a few extra bags that you’ll probably take with you to a house sitting assignment, so try to streamline what you have to carry.  Firstly, you’ll have your ‘office in a bag’.  Extras that seasoned house and pet sitters travel with include laptops, tablets and other digital devices, whether for work or personal use and staying in touch while on a house sit.


And we’re not just talking about the digital generation, our active retired sitters are just as active online, keeping in touch with family, friends and often running part-time businesses via email, Skype, social media and other channels.  Many solo sitters or house sitting couples work digitally via the internet from wherever they are, simply logging onto WIFI (after always checking usage ceilings with the home owner) and minimising paper files or other work equipment while on assignment.


  • Staying connected - as there can so often be glitches with unfamiliar user names and passwords, we recommend that if possible, you take your laptop over in advance and get set up on WIFI with the home owner before they leave.  Think about whether you might also need a mobile broadband stick from your phone provider as a back-up connection, or learn to use the ‘portable hotspot’ connection option on your smartphone.


What’s the next extra bag to pack?  If it’s a local sit or you’re driving from another location, you’ll want to have an insulated cool bag or small chilly bin for food that needs to keep cold.  You’ll be bringing your own food to cook and eat.  So you’ll need even just the basics like milk, bread, breakfast items and something for dinner with you.


  • The owners might tell you to eat up any perishable food like vegetables and to use seasonings like salt n’ pepper and herbs as you cook, but otherwise sitters fend for themselves and raiding the cupboards is off limits.  You might also want to bring a mini-travel pack of cooking oils, dressings, herbs and spices or anything else you can’t cook or live without in your eating habits!


Some sitters take their own coffee mug, wine glass, or other items they use regularly like a coffee plunger.  Kitchen accidents do happen, such as a broken glass in a dishwasher, and although owners will tell you to use everything as usual, it’s less stressful and cheaper to break your own ‘travel glass’ than to break one from an owners’ nice set and perhaps have to replace them all at your expense.


Similarly although owners always make up the bed in your room and provide towels, sitters might choose to bring their own sheets, either to be polite or simply by personal preference.


Travel light and don’t bring the kitchen sink


Whatever else you bring is up to you.  A little exercise gear or equipment for your hobbies…but remember you’re fitting in temporarily into someone’s home as unobtrusively as possible and also won’t have unlimited wardrobe, shelf or storage space.


You’re there to look after their home and pets for just a few weeks or months.  Keep things light, be polite in what you bring with you and be ready to move out without a major moving exercise.  Then you can settle into enjoying the different home environment and new district, your temporary pets and the house sitting lifestyle!