Booking flights for Sits abroad

I’m based in London in the UK, and I’m really excited as I’ve just had a sit confirmed for NY, starting in a couple of weeks.

I’m looking at flights, and as they’re expensive it’s crossing my mind that if something is to go wrong it’s a lot of money to lose. Like if the host has to cancel etc… has this happened to anyone when they’ve booked an expensive flight? (the refundable flight options are even more extortionate)

I’ve done many sits in the UK but never organised one from another country.

What tips do people have to ensure a smooth experience? And is there anything I should be aware of, or hiccups other sitters have experienced?

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Good travel insurance should cover trip cancellation. I have claimed on insurance multiple times, due to accidents happening while travelling.

Not sure if being a premium member of THS would help (I think it only covers accommodation). You would probably have to get a travel insurance and look at the fine print (?). We don’t fly for this reason, but you could still go ahead with the flight and look for last-minute sits (there might be a HO in the same situation as you).

@RR12345 Unrelated to your original question, but before you book your flights I suggest you ask the homeowner which airport you should fly into. Many people avoid JFK for multiple reasons and instead fly into Newark, NJ. The owner’s location may be the guiding factor though, hence the reason I suggest you ask them. Both airports are only ever a hub/transfer airport for me.

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@RR12345
I have flown many times but only from Dublin to mainland Europe and usually the flights are so cheap I can take the loss if I need to.
Not sure travel insurance would cover it if the host cancelled but it’s always worth asking.
From what I have read regarding THS cancellation insurance you would still have to fly to your destination and then they will try and find you another sit. If they don’t get you a sit you can get your accommodation refunded but you still have to pay out of your own pocket first.

Ah I have literally just booked! There were very limited options but thanks for the heads up :slight_smile: I will make sure I plan my route ahead from the airport.

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I think it is a risk we have to take - I would be surprised if any travel insurance would cover a non paid for sit cancellation. We have been thinking the same about a sit we have booked for New Zealand in December - Our solution is to book the flights late ( which you have done), before booking have a last check with the home hosts that all is ok, and if the worst happens and it does get cancelled at the last minute, go anyway and try to pick up another sit whilst we are there.

Our other, probably worse worry, is if our flight gets cancelled! - we would hate to cause disruption to the home hosts plans but I guess they also have considered that before booking international sitters

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You’ve had some sensible responses already but you should always have a back up plan. Should your sit be cancelled hopefully you’ll find another substitute. It might also be an idea to look, in addition to THS, at a US based housesitting agency should it be cancelled. Hopefully it will all go ahead though.
I was in New Zealand’s north island for 6 months prior to the pandemic and had 8 sits there, all booked via THS. None of those were cancelled and it was a great experience.
I’m flying to the South Island at the end of October and all those sits have been booked via a NZ agency as I had no luck via THS.

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We had booked a flight to do an international sit and the homeowner had an injury a few nights prior to the sit starting. She was unable to go on her vacation so had to cancel the sit. Our travel insurance covered our airline flights due to the homeowner having an accident. I highly doubt they would cover if the homeowner just decided to cancel though for no apparent reason.

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Smiley, could you let us know which New Zealand agency you used?
We are heading to New Zealand next year and I already notice several listings saying they will only accept applications from people already in the country.

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I’m American, planning six weeks in England this fall. I booked my flights first, before even signing up for THS. I booked with Iceland Air, because they have a mid-level pricing option that actually refunds your money if you cancel – anytime right up until the scheduled flight time. It’s obviously more expensive, but it’s better than travel insurance.

The only kind of travel insurance that would cover if your host cancelled would be the “CFAR” type (Cancel For Any Reason.) Those CFAR policies cost something like 40 to 60 percent more than ordinary travel insurance, and they only refund 75% of your travel costs. I just liked the Iceland Air option better.

When I apply for sits, I let potential hosts know that I already have my tickets in hand. I figured that otherwise, they might not trust that I’d get there. So far, so good: I have 4 weeks of my 6-week trip already covered by house-sits, and my trip is still two months away!

Any nights of my trip that aren’t covered by sits, I’ll probably book Airbnb or a hotel. Also I’ll do this for the first and last nights, so I can gather myself together without having to be responsible to anyone else.

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KiwiHouseSitters is the most widely used here, and our experience with it has been good.

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Thanks for the info about Iceland Air. I might look into that next trip.

This is a good question from the OP.
I often wondered when me and my family eventually go overseas how this would fare from Australia if something was to go wrong.
I like what Betsy wrote about potential hosts knowing that she already has her tickets in hand.
Colin’s idea of if a sit gets cancelled, go any way and try to pick up another house sit once there is a good idea.
I will have to explore the travel insurance I have used for international flights further; but if anyone here from Australia could give me some pointers, that would be appreciated. Me and hubby would love to return to NZ soon.

I can’t believe any insurer would cover such an instance but would like to be proved wrong (checks her travel insurance….)

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That’s really great advice! We’ll certainly look into that. We recently signed a contract for a paid house sit (on a different platform) that says that we need to cover all costs associated with us cancelling, but after checking how much the flights alone cost we feel a bit uncomfortable with that :smile: They also put in the contract that they will pay us in full if they should cancel but that amount is just peanuts. Maybe we’ll suggest the CFAR insurance for them next time, we would not charge them for a house sit that we didn’t do anyway. We have never cancelled a sit, but it just makes us feel anxious and emergencies can happen.

@RR12345 I would suggest looking at accommodation as plan B/C, get an idea of costs & locations. Then if it does get canx you have an idea of where you can stay without panicking. Applying for other sits is always an option, I had a sit recently canx on me in London 2 days before. There were 4 other sits in the area over the same dates with 0-3 applications. I applied as normal & also explained my situation, train booked & only 2 sightseeing tix so I was not going to be out all day etc. I only got 1 reply out of 4! I ended up booking a hotel, it was only for a long weekend. By no means did I expect a sympathy sit from the HO but they didn’t even give me the opportunity to converse. I guess what I am trying to say is don’t rely on another sit coming through, look at accommodation costs. You can always look @ Couchsurfing or Bewelcome, I have friends that have used this for travelling, its not my cup of tea but I thought I’d share it.

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There are policies that allow you to cancel for any reason, but they are more expensive that the more common policies.

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Find a local hostel that meets your needs,

Currently, I am booked for the next 9 weeks. While I will be in France at the end I am unsure if I want to hop over to the UK or stay in the region longer. Also keep in mind I was in Kenya for 4 weeks then 10 days in Egypt now I am in Dubai. Just realized I might need to slow my plans down or do I just keep taking new bookings?

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