How do you explain to family/friends that we sit for free

For the sitters out there. No matter how many different ways I can explain it, show all the benefits, all the upsides no one understands and always says to me …yea but you doing this and not getting paid. All my family and friends will say ask me how much are you making on all your sits? Nothing, I am sitting for free.
Seriously I cannot get one person to understand :sweat_smile:
Curious anyone else have this same issue.
I am a nomad sitter by the way.
I even said today. Okay most people work to pay their bills right? Well I have no housing bills so I don’t have to get paid. Nope still didn’t help.


Hi @NovaStar welcome and thank you for posting this really pertinent and insightful question, I cannot wait for other member’s feedback whether nomadic and full time sitters like you or those sitters who choose a more occasional pet sitting lifestyle. it will be very interesting.

Through experience I know that it’s not just your family and friends or those of other sitters who cannot grasp the why, it’s also not understood by many owners, owners who have yet to discover just HOW TrustedHousesitters works and more importantly WHY it works … It is after all a fair and mutual exchange with many benefits for all involved.

What works for me is when I tell MY story. My story of pets people and places and a lifestyle that is so uniquely special but one that can be embraced and enjoyed by pet loving travelers and I always get to that “light bulb moment” but I also accept that this lifestyle is not for everyone and that’s OK nothing ever is.

Why do you do it for free? (which is the perception) Because I can and because I get back far more than I give … and yes there are the cost savings but it’s far more than that, it is a win win win, especially for the pets.

It’s the ability to enjoy slow travel, living like a local and staying in a home away from home. Being part of a community having the trust and the opportunity to step into other people’s shoes and experience living their lives,. Connecting with like minded people and traveling with purpose.

And for me it’s all about the animals. I chose not to have another furry family member when my Holly passed away but life without pets is a life without joy for me … My TrustedHousesitters lifestyle and community gave me back the joy and there are some things that money just can’t buy … like Casey who I’m sharing my life with at the moment :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :dog: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


It isn’t “free” it is an exchange. Both parties get their needs met.


Yes, I totally get this … and also random friends and family members assuming I’d be thrilled to pet-sit for THEM. Lord. They don’t get it at all. Someone made the remark to me how “entitled” the homeowners must be to just want a sitter for free- I was like, Are you kidding?? Look at what I get: a great place to stay of my own choosing, time alone, sweet animals that don’t have to go to a kennel, grateful owners, a new place to explore, and quiet time. How fabulous for everyone involved: the homeowner, the housesitter and the pets! I feel like you either get it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you’re missing out.


I’m a full-time sitter too. I usually say: If I were to do this at home, yes, I’d charge cause there would be no real benefit for me.

Now, the benefit is that, in exchange for caring for the animals, I get to live in London, New York, … for free! No rent, no utility bills, no Internet costs,…


Nomads here too.

My Mom only really understood it, once we had her join us on one of our housesitting tours in Australia. We even lined up a few short, easy sits of her own, so that she could understand the responsibility and benefits. She is hooked! Coming from a country that charges for anything and everything, in the beginning she kept asking how much she’ll get…hmmm…Nothing, Mom!

And the rest of my family can’t understand how we can stay in other people’s homes, period. We just keep doing our thing. We love it. We don’t talk about it too much with those family members that don’t quite grasp it. We’ll just send an update now and then, saying “Hi from Bordeaux” or “Hi from Liverpool/Scotland/Ireland” whereever.

The fact that our savings account is growing, makes us very, very happy. And mainly, as @Angela said, we do it for this:


Interesting. I don’t think we’ve ever had a person say that to us. Everyone we’ve ever told has thought it was a great way to travel. It may not always be right for them, but they always seem to totally understand why it’s great for us and when they see the places we’ve travelled to, and homes and pets we’ve cared for, they think it’s an amazing exchange.


Slow travel isn’t a term I’ve heard before, but that is exactly what appeals to us about a sit away from our permanent home. To live and immerse, rather than be tourists! Perfectly described!!


We’ve decided to only tell a few friends, that would understand why we do it. My family wouldn’t, and that’s ok. I’m not interested in justifying my decisions to them. I learned long ago that no matter how carefully I craft an explanation, or how much I gear it towards their understanding, it still won’t sink in. And that’s fine. My Dad would never understand why we can’t just stay at a Hilton in the city center where there are “things”. My mom wouldn’t understand wanting to be around pets. So we’ve decided that everyone gets to live their lives as they wish, and we just limit them on details. It will just appear that we take a lot of trips.


We tell anyone who will listen about the benefits of this lifestyle. All the folks who take the time to understand it, totally get where we are coming from and always have positive feedback. Most times, they express their desire to live the exact same lifestyle. Perhaps it’s our enthusiasm that filters through the myriad of questions they ask…but all our conversations are met with positivity. Friends, family and strangers alike, welcome any information we provide on this adventurous journey.


It really depends on the culture I think. In Poland people are amazed that we can stay for “free”, while in other countries it seems odd not to pay a pet sitter (e.g. Switzerland).

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I’ve given up. None of my family understands the need to see the world, to travel, to be free. Why? Why? Why? They are very negative about it. I don’t make comments about their life choices so why should they make them about mine? Maybe it’s jealousy that I’ve taken the plunge and they haven’t the courage to do it. Yes, it takes courage. Stepping out into the unknown. I very rarely see them or have contact. What’s the old saying, you can chose friends but not family.
We have a lot of sailing friends that get it and have signed up toTHS. It seems to be a natural progression- sailing, selling the boat, pet sitting. They all love it
If I get into a conversation about what we do with a non believer, I usually just shrug my shoulders and let them think what they want. I know all the benefits of my life style and it’s not up to me to persuade others. It’s really non of their business whether I get paid or not.
As for the payment issue. It’s very simple to explain. It’s a mutual exchange. So far the only people who have I have had conversations with about this aspect is paid sitters on Facebook. I was accused of undermining the work they do by doing it for free. As it’s been said before pet owners seem to think that paid sitters are far more professional, reliable and they are getting a far better service for their animals. That what they think!


All of my family get it 100%, friends and neighbours generally understand the benefits from my sitting opportunities and are always curious about my travels.

However, some others can’t quite understand why other people willingly let strangers (me) in to their houses!.

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”


Most of the time, we are mocked, especially when we have HS more than 3 hours away or in Scotland (over 6 hours).
We can’t afford pets, so we don’t have any. Furthermore, we live in a rented property with strict rules, so HS fills our hearts. We love animals, and we met some wonderful people and visited some amazing places during the HS. We are no longer bothered by friends and family who do not understand that we are not paid for the time we spend with pets. Our reward is more valuable than money.


Hi, yes, we’ve had this reaction too. It’s sometimes awkward as my sister has a professional livery yard and makes her living looking after horses for others. My sister and brother-in-law understand why we house-sit however as they have visited us many times in our gorgeous temporary homes when we travel to the UK.
What is more difficult to deal with is neighbours who assume because we house-sit for free that we would be thrilled to look after their pet while they are away!? Short of telling them we are not related to St Francis, It’s got to the stage now that I tell my husband to temper his enthusiasm when telling neighbours/dog-owners about our house-sitting travelling style. We house-sit occasionally as preferred way of travelling BTW.


As ElsieDownie said, housesitting is a natural progression after fulltime boating. My family is used to me being unavailable and on the move all the time. The first sentence out of their mouths when I contact them is Where are You? The difference from cruising by sail is that our world has expanded to areas off the water. When we traveled Latin America by sail the usual comments we got were, “I want to do that” or “you’re living the dream”. The majority of comments we get are the same. I admit, there are a few folks who shake their heads and don’t get it, but they are in the minority. The question of money doesn’t seem to be a big issue for folks, but then they can see our gray heads and accept that we are retired.


I absolutely love everyone’s response and what you all said! I agree 100%! I have all my sits lined up from now to next spring. I was a full time Rv-er for 3 years had to give it up because of the expense. This has been the perfect next step for me and being an animal empath brings me the most joy that the HO share their pets with me. It’s a gift truly. It’s like this site is full of “Airbnb “ around the world but its free to stay there and the bonus you get to spend time with animals, I think we are all winning here.


On my side, it’s a bit different .
People around me think this is so interesting and understand what are the benefits.
BUT, they forget all the work needed to establish your reputation of a good sitter. As well as the gymnastic required to find airplane tickets deals, car rental etc. This is not magic.
Once I have been asked by a HO who couldnt understand how his wife was able to find sitters Time after time. He supposed we all came because they had a pool. Euhhh. Not really.


Im reading all the comments, but us, as the sitters, still habe to live and do have car payments, insurance, cell phone…
Does this imply that youre rich and dont need the income, just want to babysit other peoples animals while they are very expensive vacations…
Please dont take this comment rudely, is is so not meant to be…
I on the other hand am looking for pet/house sitting jobs that pay and the pets are still the #1 priority…

Im not evil, i promise, just not making sense to me…
Thank you

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Great question.
I travelled full time in my career for 19 years. At times I would be away from home for years only coming home to visit. When I retired I was expected to settle down, stay put, be Gma and G2Ma, yeah I have a few extended twigs and I tried… As best I could :slight_smile:
That model just doesn’t fit but I digress as I do in responding.

I don’t. Gave up trying to explain, gave up trying to get people to get me.
Realized I don’t need to be gotten, I’ve got me.

Now they think I am extraordinary, a bit weird but they can’t believe the life I live and experiences I am having.