Hello, Community - from Chicago

Hi, I my name is Thomas(Tom) and just joined this group. I live in a Western suburb of Chicago, IL, I am a retired engineer after many decades of working in the cellular telephone industry.
My passion has always been travel. I have traveled 64 countries and hopefully a lot more in the near future. I have walked Camino de Santiago six times before my annual walk was interrupted by the current pandemic.
I have had a few years of house/pet sitting and Help Exchange. I am a previously a dog owner, but I do not own any pets anymore because of my frequent travel, but I love animals.
One of the reasons I travel so often is looking for a “perfect” place to permanently retire, if there is such a place.

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Welcome, Tom - I lived for a few years in Chicago - Rogers Park and Evanston, but that was a long time ago. I started with TH in summer of 2019 and have about 40 sits since then, even with the covid interruptions.
Not sure there is a perfect place to retire, but TH has let me check out a lot of possibilities.
I’ve managed 3 international sits - 2 in the UK and 1 in Korea before covid essentially shut down international travel, but starting up again in mid-Feb with a string of 4 sits in the UK.

Hi Tom( and community),

I just came across this forum today as I am reading up about travel options etc. I’m also from Chicago( southside burbs).

I would love any insight on your experiences thus far. I’m heading back to Ireland and Scotland this year for a week. Figure this would be a nice, different option!

I own one dog and one cat, thank goodness my sister will watch them when I go haha.

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Hi @BethM and welcome. THS can be an excellent way to travel, but you do need to keep in mind that there is a great deal of responsibility that comes with committing to a house and pet sit. I would suggest you spend some time looking over the various posts, and it will give you an idea of the range of experiences and responsibilities you may encounter. Forum members have shared details of some wonderful experiences here. The options really can be endless.

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Hi Francine,

Thanks for your wise words. I’m thinking I might try to stay/sit with some local folks here in Chicago first. See how it all goes, before considering a non local experience.


Based on your suggestion, my guess is you have been reading some posts already, which is great. Yes, starting local, and in your comfort level for your choice of pet(s), is a good start. I used to be a regular visitor to the Chicago area, as a close friend of mine lived in McHenry. You may find there are lots of local places that will be surprisingly new to you. I did sits within a two-hour drive of my home this past fall - the first since the pandemic started - and I really enjoyed having that extra time to live like a local. As for the amazing bakery I discovered, well maybe it’s good that it’s not closer to home as I would be a regular visitor. :smiling_face: :yum:

Some newer members choose to embed their profile in their forum username. Forum members can then give you kind, constructive feedback. For example, I saw a suggestion recently from one member to move a certain photo to be the first one. Of course I was curious and had to check it out - it was adorable and certainly would have drawn me in, if I was looking for a sitter. Sometimes simple tweaks like that can make such a difference. Forum members will look forward to hearing about your first sit too, so feel free to share, with photos ideally.


Thank you for your welcome and comments. I am wondering if you have been able to cross the country borders (except within EU) without having an “essential” travel reason. From the states most countries in Europe are in Category 4 - only essential travel is allowed. I am fully vaccinated with the booster shot, and I am not sure if the airlines will refuse my boarding. Together with the thought of getting the virus in a foreign country where I won’t be welcomed even in hotels made me cancel two reservations. I would look very stupid if I get virus with all those warnings. How did you manage all those house/pet sitting during this pandemic?

It’s been an interesting few years. I was finishing a sit on Jeju Island, Korea on Sun, Feb 2, 2020 as flights from Asia were starting to shut down. I was scheduled to fly home by way of Shanghai on China Eastern and my flight was cancelled. It was a Delta award ticket and they took care of me getting me on a flight from Seoul keeping me in business.
Had a string of sits from late-March through mid-June scheduled that would have basically taken me around the world Hong Kong, Sweden, 4 in the UK, Seattle and then home and all were cancelled.
Started sitting again in the US summer 2020 and had maybe 6 sits through March 2021 - then people started traveling and I was doing back-to-back sits in the US.
And had hoped to begin international again with 4 UK sits in Dec 2021 but I tested + the day before I was scheduled to leave - everyone in the UK was understanding and were able to replace me with locals. Fortunately I was completely asymptomatic - no fever, normal pulse-ox for the whole 10 days I isolated. Have since tested - twice.
Now hoping to start a string of 4 UK sits in mid-Feb through mid-March.
Maybe I’m being ‘reckless’ to travel but at least I’ll be in an English-speaking country.
Take care.

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