It is renowned that, when working for an employer, one of the perks as part of your contract of employment may be for you to have sick periods paid for, or to be entitled to paid-for annual leave. When working on a self-employed basis, such as when you work from home, you cannot guarantee that your earnings will keep coming if you are unable to work for a period of time due to illness, or if you want to take a break of a few days.
Things are totally different when you earn with an online business. And I have found out a solution for you not only to go on holiday for free, but to earn money on holiday.
Name: Trusted House Sitters Limited
Price: Annual membership of £90 approximately
Owner: Andy Peck
Rank: 80 out of 100
How it works
You would like to travel, locally or abroad. Plane fares can be quite cheap, but it is the stay that can become rather expensive. So, how to afford it?
All you have to do is register, for free, as a house/pet sitter with Trusted House Sitter! And once you have registered your interests and your potential holiday destinations, a myriad of house/pet sitting opportunities will be presented to you, where the ball is in your court to apply for the ones that most take your fancy.
Naturally, by registering as a house sitter member, you are given the opportunity to describe yourself, your likes and dislikes and, of course, your love for pets. Potential home owners need to feel that they can entrust their home and their beloved pets to you. Therefore a match will only take place if the home owners feel there is a connection between them and you or, for lack of a better word, if they like you at first site.
Once you have applied for that specific ad and the family have accepted your expression of interest, Trusted House Sitters advises that a face to face communication starts taking place between the home owners and yourself, so that you get to know each other better.
A bit of history
This company was started in small scale in UK as a start-up business back in 2010, after the founder and co-owner Andy Peck found himself in the position of sitting for cats and dogs of the house he was staying in whilst on holiday. He spotted a gap in the market, and that is how Trusted House Sitters was born: from the realisation that the ideal surrounding for pets, when their owner want to go on holiday, is to be left in their own homes rather than kennels or catteries. With this ethos in mind, Trusted House Sitters has grown from then to connect a world wide community of potential home owners and potential sitters, with a mutual interest in preserving their homes and caring for the pets involved. In other words, it becomes a win-win situation for both parties, and it is now deemed to have home and sitting members in over 140 countries.
The idea is based on mutual respect and trust. For this reason, Trusted House Sitters has put together a pledge that encourages both home owners and sitters to reach that mutual agreement that will guarantee a free pet care in exchange for a free holiday retreat. The pledge encourages all parties involved to communicate extensively prior to the sitter arriving to the house, and also during their stay. For this reason, demand or offer of payment for sitting is highly discouraged by this company.
But Trusted House Sitter also has a vetting process for potential sitters, which will check references, ID, documents and their criminal records.
This scheme has become so popular in the space of 6-7 years, that it’s earned the company many accolades in the business industry, including Website of The Year 2015, nomination to the American Webby Award for Best Community Website 2016 and global media features by the BBC and The Sunday Telegraph, to name but few.
Who is Trusted House Sitters for
Trusted House Sitters is for single individuals, or couples, that want to have a holiday without having to pay for accommodation, and who love dogs, cats or any other pets specified by the household they apply for. Which means it is for, virtually, anyone who love pets.
You must demonstrate, when you are apply as a sitter, that you can meet the specific requirements of the home owners of course. So, if for argument sake, the home owners asks that you drive their dog to the groomer during your stay, you must demonstrate that you can drive.
Personally, I find this solution ideal for students, who through this settlement can afford free accommodation whilst being given the opportunity to explore all corners of the earth. And it is also very good if, as a young person, you want to improve your knowledge of a foreign language by immersing yourself in the local culture.
But it can equally be ideal for people that do not like to idea of hotels, but prefer the comfort of a home, where you can cook your own meals and have a whole house available to yourself.
The only cost involved is the annual fee of £89.04 (correct figure at the time of this post being published). Trusted House Sitters advertise the fee as being only £7.42 a month, but they demand an upfront payment for the whole 12 months at once.
Other than that, no other costs are involved – other than you taking yourself to your holiday destination, and the cost of living when you are on holiday. But for however short or long period of time you are sitting, the accommodation is totally free!!!
The website at one point suggests that you may want to contribute to running costs of using the house/flat if you are required to sit for more than a month, but they leave this arrangement between you and the home owners.
And even if the home owner made such a suggestion, it’s money you will not spend for your own home whilst you are away.
Where’s the earning
Hold on. So, this program asks for an upfront annual payment to become a member. So, how to earn money?
Well, here’s the catch. Not only you pay nothing for your stay, and whilst away you save on your home bills but not being around to use utilities, but if your business is based online, you can work whilst being away!!
So, the earning comes from:
- Saving on bills whilst being away (and if you budget your holiday carefully, all you will have to pay for may be food and some sightseeing fees)
- You can take your online business with you and carry on working whilst on holiday (but you are allowed to give yourself a break!)
Again, another win-win solution for you as a house/pet sitter!
What I think of it
Naturally, I would not propose this as an alternative way to keep your online income coming in, if I didn’t think it were a good idea.
In fairness, I haven’t tried Trusted House Sitter myself for my dog when we have been away, nor as a sitter myself. But that is purely because I only came across this idea recently, and I believe it would be a bit much to put on sitters’ shoulder to burden them with the responsibility of a 13 year old dog, who has had all sorts of ailments under the sun.
Leave it to me, I would try the sitting part of it any time. But I am a little more adventurous than my husband, who would find taking on board the responsibility for somebody else’s house and, more importantly, pet far too much to enjoy everything else about the holiday.
Nevertheless, I do believe the scheme to be an absolute brilliant idea, and one that would work as it matches together people who all have the same interest at heart: the welfare of the pets.
Positives to me are:
- the fact that primarily you do not have to pay a penny for your stay
- you can choose the location, family and length of your stay – you just bid for the holiday that suits your needs
- there are different options of house sitting to suit everyone’s needs, with home owners advertising from so many different countries, and for different lengths of time
- you have a house or flat all to yourself, as opposed to the restrictions of a B&B, a hotel or even renting rooms from a landlord
- by living in a local family’s home, you are given the opportunity to absorb the local culture.
But, like with all things, this idea is not flawless, and to me it has very few negatives:
- membership is required in a one-off upfront payment, rather than on monthly instalments – this can more so pose risks if you end up for whatever reason not going on holiday after all
- you must be an animal lover, as primarily this is an opportunity embraced by pet owners as as alternative solution to kennels and catteries for when they cannot take their beloved pets on holiday with the rest of the family.
For the above reasons, I can only rate Trusted House Sitters with a earthy 80 out of 100, and that is primarily due to the membership fees.
If I would try it? Definitely! But what I would do as a sitter, I would start in small doses, by trying out dog sitting for a long weekend and where owners decide to take their long weekend break not too far from home. And I would be keen on communication with the home owners extensively ahead of my stay at their home, to ensure all corners are covered, especially when it comes to emergency care for the pet. Trusted House Sitters does offer 24 hours a day access to veterinary advice, but I would want to make sure I follow the advice and the guidelines given by the pet owners, as ultimately I would want to respect their wishes.
With this in mind, you need to be in the right frame of mind to take on board the responsibility of looking after somebody’s house and pet. You must be able not to let the sense of responsibility overwhelm you, otherwise you will risk not being able to enjoy the holiday – which would defeat the object.
But as a dog owner and online marketer myself, I see no particular flaw to this idea, and would welcome the opportunity.
Name: Trusted House Sitters Limited
Price: Annual membership of £90
Owner: Andy Peck
Rank: 80 out of 100
Would you consider a free holiday which would include pet sitting, with the opportunity to keep an eye on your online business whilst sipping a cold glass of wine on a Mediterranean terrazza? Or have you already had such holiday experience? Let me know your views, leave a comment below.