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When I found out about house sitting, I couldn’t believe my luck. I felt like I had stumbled on the world’s best-kept travel secret.

House sitting gave me a way to see parts of the world that are off the tourist track while living like a local and traveling slowly, all for free. The animal lover in me was excited about meeting some new furry friends too.

Turns out, I’m not the only one who feels this way. House sitting is becoming a more popular way to travel, and for a good reason.

So what’s it really like to be a house sitter? In this post, three experienced house sitters share their favorite house sitting memories around the world.

They each have blogs too, so you should check those out for even more house sitting inspiration!

What's house sitting really like? How to start house sittingMemorable First House Sit in Portugal – Neil and Orla, all the ways you wander

Our most memorable experience has to be our first time on an international house sit. We applied for one in Portugal through Nomador and set up our profile, showing our experience house sitting at home in Ireland for years.

To our shock, we got accepted! We didn’t know what to expect and felt very nervous about taking responsibility for pets in another country.

However, our anxieties were swiftly diminished when we met the owners, Sara and Jon, who have since become friends.

They welcomed us into their home and ensured we had everything we needed to look after their lovely pets; Biscuit the cat and Angel the dog. What blew us away most of all, was the house itself, and the location.

what's it really like to be a house sitter
Overlooking the coast of Portugal, photo by Niel and Orla of all the ways you wander

One hour north of Lisbon, in a gorgeous little town called Atalaia de Cima, the house was perched up on a hill overlooking the sea and it had a pool! Even though it was November, we still got in for a dip and being 10 minutes from the beach, we even got into the Atlantic Ocean nearly every day.

The weather was unusually warm, lucky for us, and we spent our days bringing Angel for long walks on the beach and cozied up with the two pets on the couch in the evenings. We kept expecting there to be a catch, but no, everything went smoothly and the pets seemed to love us as much as we loved them.

With little or no Portuguese at all, we even got on great with the locals in the town through broken bits of English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and lots of charades! Everyone smiled and greeted us every day and we ended up feeling like it was a home away from home.

We had hired a car in the last couple of days as well and got to explore even further. We had only started our travel blog ( a couple of months before so it was a fantastic opportunity to tell our stories and create fresh content for it.

It’s still relatively small but we’ve loads more to add and look forward to sharing more house sitting experiences and adventures. We travel to inspire because we believe this world is for sharing. We want to share our experiences and encourage others to do likewise. 🙂

Neil & Orla are an Irish couple, passionate about travel and photography. They find joy in immersing themselves in new cultures and exploring the outdoors. They love to write about their adventures over on their blog Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

A Frightening French Roadtrip – Cath and Andy, Red Door Ponderings 

House sitting has taken us to so many places we would never have visited on our own – and there are a few more on the horizon.  We love it and have had great house sits and have met some wonderful, generous people through house sitting.

Most of our New Zealand house sits were through  a great site if you are looking to house sit in New Zealand.  All our other housesits have been through

Our generous homeowners from our French house sit loaned us their work van while we house sat for three weeks in the South of France.  So, for our first time driving in France on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, we had to contend with a very tall high sided van. 

Needless to say, we had some very hair-raising moments trying to navigate, using only side mirrors, a huge van through very narrow picturesque French towns and under very old bridges.  It was only some time after passing under one particularly low 2.7m bridge did we look at each and realise we had forgotten about the 2.5 metre high van we were in!

The Tale of the Thieving Animals – Cath and Andy, Red Door Ponderings 

We have had the joy of looking after a large variety of dogs and cats – weirdly a common theme running through our house sits has been of thieving animals. 

Unbeknownst to us, we have had a dog who loved tomatoes – and ate all the tomatoes out of the fruit bowl – leaving everything else behind.  A pilfering dog who pinched precious cheese toasties and had the cheek to be licking his chops when found!

Or the naughty cat who loved pom poms and pinched my loving winter hat – which now has more pom rather than pompom.  All were such characters they were instantly forgiven!

Cath and Andy of Red Door Ponderings have been housesitting since July and traveling since November 2017.  After spending years squeezing their holidays into their work schedules they flipped it on its head and took a year off (at least) to travel and discover new parts of the world. 

A Little Bit of Drama – Philippe Lalonde, The Amazing Stroll

Eighteen angry faces, staring back hard at me and I’ve never been happier!

I take a few seconds to scan the room, then take the sharpie pen and draw a happy face on the whiteboard.

Magically, everyone’s faces suddenly beam the biggest of smiles!

When my wife and I applied for a House Sitting assignment off of Nomador, I never could have guessed that I would end up in Torsaker, Sweden, teaching a drama class to a group six years olds. Who, I must point out, do not speak any English!

Almost an hour of Mr. Bean-like expressions and mannerisms delighted everyone, even the teachers, who were just as entertained as the children.

Having taught drama to children for a living many moons ago, I rejoiced at the opportunity to do it for half a day at the village’s local grade school.

We met three of the school teachers through the homeowners for whom we were house sitting, and I gracefully accepted their invitation to dust off my old drama teacher hat and interact with the children.

house sitting
House sitting can mean new four-legged friends as well! Illustration by Philippe and Sophie of The Amazing Stroll

This is why our website is called “The Amazing Stroll – Slow travels with purpose”. Yes, we can travel to look at bucket list-worthy, overcrowded, tourist sites or lay on a beach in an all-inclusive resort somewhere, but nothing is as rewarding as making real connections with the people of the community you’re visiting.

House Sitting assignments can provide such fulfilling experiences. An instant network of friends is what we always tout! To date, all of our House Sitting assignments have been blessed with new friendships, lasting memories and the sweetest of pets. What else could you ask for from your travels?

Philippe, alongside his wife Sophie, split their time between house sitting internationally and staying at home back in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Their slow travels through house sitting have allowed them to be of service to many wonderful people and pets and changed their entire perspective on traveling. You can follow their adventures abroad and learn about house sitting at as well as on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

Learn More About House Sitting!

Cover Photo by Fleur on Unsplash

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What's house sitting really like?

Hi there! I'm Nic and I write about teaching English online, house sitting, and ways to incorporate more travel into your life! Stick around and Wander with me!


  1. Fascinating! We haven’t tried housesitting yet, but sounds like a wonderful way to see a country. As an actor, it would be exhilarating to teach drama to Swedish children!

    • Nic Reply

      Yes! I love that story! So much of teaching a new language is body language so I bet you would be fantastic with a theater and acting background! 🙂 Let me know if you have any house sitting questions!

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