How do you plan for multiple sits in a new country?

Hi Everyone,
I’m curious how do you plan your multiple sits when traveling in a new country or how did you do it the first time visiting somewhere new? Do you try to get end dates and next start dates as close together as possible, or maybe even overlap? Or do you take a couple of days before starting the next?

I’m planning on taking October to December off, I have seen a few sits in those months, but I was also thinking it would be so cool to do the back to back like those that live the lifestyle 24/7. (Plus this will give me even more pets to meet and love on :heart_eyes: ) I’m curious how you do it, and if you’re willing to share some insight into your planning phase? Also I’m curious how people get to their next sits when they might not have a car, and isn’t a major city?

We could even use the UK for example. Let’s say I start with a sit in the highlands of Scotland, I then was looking at England, maybe Wales, and hopping over to France. I don’t have anything set of course, but would love ideas, and see how people plan something like this. I have spent a little bit of time in the UK for a few different reasons over the years, however no idea how to travel different areas. I know using trains are a lot more common in the Europe then the US.

Thank you for any input you are willing to share :hearts:

6 Likes

Hi @BlueDiamondRose

We are full time sitters and try to follow a random route so that the journey from one sit to the next is never more than a couple of hours max ( unless changing countries ). If we were in the highlands of Scotland and wanted to get to Wales it would probably take us 5 or 6 sits to get there. If we really like a place we will book mutiple sits in one area. This year we have 3 back to back sits booked in Brighton with no more than 20 minutes travelling time needed between each sit.

We chose to sell our cars so rely now on public transport. Because of this sits that are not too far from a train station appeal to us the best. Most of our home hosts have kindly officered to collect us, and drop us back off at the station if it is not walking distance.

As a couple we often overlap dates in order to keep our accommodation costs low. Unfortunately this is not possible as a single sitter. For you, I would suggest trying to get sits with a day gap to take travel time into consideration - always ask your home hosts to be clear when then want you to arrive, and when they want you to leave as this sometimes is different than the dates they advertise - many want you to arrive a day early and/or leave a day late.

Check here to see if you are eligible for any discount train railcards - they are very cheap to buy and save you a third off all your fares so can pay for themselves on one train journey - https://www.thetrainline.com/trains/great-britain/railcards

Also, especially if you are travelling between cities or airports check out bus times - they will be longer timewise but are often cheaper than the train

Good Luck!

6 Likes

Hi @BlueDiamondRose
I love your enthusiasm and am smiling as I know so well your excitement.
Ditto everything @Colin shares.
I began sitting with a vehicle locally and then branched out to neighboring states here in the US and then I realized my “neighborhood” was really big. When I decided to go overseas to the UK, even though I had been before as a “tourist” with every detail planned out in advance, this time I had hardly anything done ahead of time other than a one way ticket and two sits booked.
I did not intend to be a full time sitter. It just happened and it was beautiful. With 6 months of sits in the US, once I was in the UK the sits just kept coming. I use local public transport (sold my vehicle as realized I did not need one) and make effort to line them up back to back allowing for travel time. Sometimes I will take an overnight trip if there is longer travel time and a gap between. Occasionally, a HO will invite me to stay an extra day or more especially if it’s a repeat sit, and you will have them. As a senior, I do take advantage of the passes offered by National Express and Trainline which is a significant savings.

Travel in the UK and Europe is super easy at surprising rates compared to those in the US. I would recommend you focus on one region at a time as you start out and then gradually increase your own “neighborhood”. Look at the sits that are currently available in the regions of interest and that will give a good idea of the probability of getting sits there. Be flexible, willing and able to change your plans if necessary. Oh and keep track of your tickets, dates etc. I have double booked train and bus to the same place :rofl:

Continue to ask here and dive into the Travel Talk section.

And lastly, this may be preaching to the choir, be spontaneous. Things have a way of working out in really nice unexpected ways.

have fun!

P.S. I didn’t come back for over 2 years.

4 Likes

We are busy organising our travel in the US at the moment and are pleasantly surprised how easy it is once you get your head around how vast the country is.
I agree with all that’s been said already. We like to take our time so are working our way very slowly north trying to get a week or two sits in anywhere we think will be interesting. Because of the vast distances, compared to the UK, we are using Airbnb and booking.com when we are travelling between sits.
I am checking on sits up north and am very surprised at the lack of home owners registered in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador etc. That might be a some weeks stay in an Airbnb as we are aiming to spend a couple of months up there.
Research is good. Find places that you think that might interest you then patiently wait for sits to come up. I find that’s half the fun. If it doesn’t work we always have an option B or C or ……
Good luck and it will work out for you, I promise. Welcome to this wonderful life.
Elsie

5 Likes

We are full-time sitters. This is an example of our ‘planning’:

  • We applied for & got a sit in Lisbon from 1st-16th of April
  • We applied for & got a sit in Madrid from 19th-31st of May.

We then focused on finding sits in between Lisbon & Madrid. We found one for 3 weeks in Extremadura, 23rd April - 16th of May. We now only have one week to fill in between Lisbon & Extremadura.

This obviously only works in countries with a decent amount of sits like Spain, Portugal, France, …

We don’t have a car & rely on public transport or only apply for sits where a car is included if it’s in the countryside.

We like to have at least one day in between sits to make a clear break or in case the home owners are delayed.
Enjoy planning!!!

3 Likes

That’s a really good idea, and I like the thought of this. It would also give me windows to pick up last minute sits too.

I was thinking of this too, however sometimes I see a place in the countryside. There are so many beautiful places in the countryside I would love to visit, but the last of public transportation makes it hard.

Good Idea, Thank you so much for sharing this with me. :heart:

2 Likes

So true, I didn’t realize how big this country was until I started traveling on my own. And what is even shocking in how big Alaska by itself is. I’m really surprised there aren’t more sits there. My friend and I were talking about it, and we wish there was more. As for the UK, and other countries, I figured that once I got over there, and did it once, I would feel better about it. I have yet to travel a country where I don’t speak the language, and a little nervous to do so, but I will do it for sure.

I sure there are people that would use this service in those locations if they were aware of it. Maybe with an office being built here in the US, marketing can look at advertising these places to get more people and homes.

Very good point, and something I will do. I have loved browsing and day dreaming, but I can’t wait to actually take the first leap. As for Plan b or c. That is something I have to work on. Been flying by the seat of my pants for most my life, and now just a hard habit to break.

Thank you so much for the info. :heart:

1 Like

I really almost can’t contain the level of excite I have for all of this. Maybe it’s because I’m a military brat, and have traveled most of my life, but the thought of all this, is truly amazing to me. I have been on the forums, and main website, almost nonstop when I’m awake. I even find I put off sleep to browse.

This, I have a feeling is going to happen to me. I do know, I do not have plans on leaving my job, as it itself is an amazing part of my life too. However I can take off months at a time, and as I progress in my license, or if changes take effect like they want. Sooner or later, I will be in a rotation, normally it’s 2 months on, 1 month off. I was scared before of the idea, as I had decided when or where I want to purchase a home, and the thought of return back to my father’s house on my time off was not appealing. I love visiting, but not living there again. So this gives me lot of other options.

That’s what I heard. Prior to my first vacation over there, I had never been on a train. I have priced several times, tickets cross country US, as I always thought that would be so cool to do. However Umf…The cost is quite painful if you look for any chance for a room on it.

Once I get over to a spot, that shouldn’t be an issue, however my last sit, would be the least flexible, as I’m planning to return back to Oregon, to begin our sailing season. I may even try to take sits, that end a couple days before I need to return, and then just stay at a hotel close to the airport before I leave just to make sure. Of course I would keep HO in the loop of all this.

Oh you bet, as you can see I have no problem asking. :rofl: Also I think my middle name may actually be spontaneous, and my parents lied to me. As I’ve leave most of my life like that. Actually when I first started in this field of work, I applied for a job in Alaska, while living in Virginia. Well They called, I did a phone interview, offered me a job and literally packed up my life and loved to Alaska with less than 2 weeks notice, and only a one night stay in an airbnb. :rofl: Well end in the end everything worked out. So I have faith if I did something like that, I could too.

Thank you again, for all the wonderful information. :heart:

3 Likes

Hi Colin,
Thank you for all that wondering information. You touched on may great points, and honestly I think stick near train stations is a wonderful idea, as I’m really not looking at the added cost of a rental car, because I do not have plans to be out and about all the time. A car would make me want to be gone from the house more exploring, and I really need to take some time to just relax.

This is good to know. I was thinking of something along those lines, that I would always try to arrive early when possible, and if need be, I could do some other type of lodging until the actual sit. But I didn’t think about staying longer.

This is awesome, thank you for that. I wouldn’t have even thought I try to look up discount cards.

You’re Awesome, truly thank you :heart:

My husband and I live in Australia, we retired in Nov 2019 with plans to house sit around the world and then COVID came :frowning: so we have only done sits in Australia. We are currently planning our first overseas house sitting grand adventure in the UK from Dec 2022 to April 2023. I’m so excited that I can’t sleep!

We have 3 confirmed sits in the south of England from 6 Dec 22 to 15 Jan 2023. We have a gap 12-17 Dec that we hope to fill plus we wantto find something for late Nov/early Dec. We are putting a lot of thought in to our route so we are not jumping all over the place so to minimise travel time and transport costs (we won’t have a car). Our plan is to start heading north or west in to Wales from mid Jan 2023 to end up in Scotland by late Feb/early March 2023 as we want to spend around 4 weeks there. We have to be in Amsterdam before 12 April 2023 for a river cruise.

Thank you @Colin for the links to Offers | National Express and https://www.thetrainline.com/trains/great-britain/railcards and your sage advice. Thankyou @Amparo for sharing your inspirational experience.

As we are retirees on fixed incomes I would be very grateful for more cost saving advice including websites. Particularly a good cost effective mobile (cell) phone carrier as we will likely get a new SIM card when we arrive in the UK as I expect Telstra who we use in Australia will have high data roaming & call charges.

I’m also very interested to learn more about where to buy a reliable but cheap car when we arrive at London Heathrow that we can sell a few months later as we have tossed around that idea. All our HO have said they will pick us up from the train or bus station but we have not been successful in some sit applications due to not having a car. Do you think it’s worth the hassle of buying & then selling a car?

I’ve noted AirBnB and Booking.com for paid accommodation if we need it. We also use these sites in Australia.

Our plan is to lock in as many sits as possible before leaving Australia so we have confidence that we won’t be homeless! Do you think we shoyld embrace spontaneity (a scary thought for me) and hold off and not apply for anymore sits until we arrive in the UK? At least then we can say we are in the UK giving HO a higher level of confidence that COVID won’t disrupt our travel plans to fly from Australia.

I’m forever grateful for all your wonderful advice and hope that I too will be able to give back in the not too distant future.

Regards, Jenny

4 Likes

Our normal routine is to fly to England or France for a trip lasting 4-8 weeks.

We normally first apply for what we call our “anchor sit” in a place that we definitely want to be, and then we start applying for other sits either before or after or both. We always try to keep at least one night free between sits so we have time to travel and don’t feel rushed, but that’s not carved in stone and sometimes we’ve gone directly from one sit to the next if things work out ok.

We’re quite content if we have 2- 3 nights between sits in which case we find an AirBnb some place between the two and relax for a few days.

Because neither of us handles the 8-9 hour time change very well, we usually book a really nice Airbnb someplace within an hour’s drive of the airport for the the first 2-3 nights after we arrive, so we can settle in to get over jet lag and visit that area in a relaxed way before we head off to our first sit. We almost always stay at a hotel or B&B near the airport the night before we fly home

Once we have our endpoints planned, we book our flights ASAP.

So for this upcoming trip - I think we are paying for accommodations for 6-7 nights of the 28 nights we are away.

We also carry a collapsible cooler in our suitcase and buy a couple of cheap ice packs as soon as we arrive. That way we can transfer any food we have left over from one sit to another. We normally stay in places with a kitchenette between sits as well.

3 Likes

:rofl::rofl::rofl: this applies to nearly everywhere in Europe compared to the US.
Ok, some rural areas are a few hours drive from international airports but a lot of interesting places are close by and to be reached by train and bus within short travel time.

As for booking sits, as a HO I don’t know how sitters are doing it, but I would like to give you some input from my point of view:

For example, we will be traveling to South Africa and Botswana in July. So far for entering SA a negative PCR Test result is required (Botswana thankfully gave up on this :pray:t3:) and as we will cross borders twice, there’s always the chance that one might turn out positive. In this case we would not be able to fly back home as planned and I always ask the potential sitters before confirming if they are flexible and might be able to stay longer.
I am aware that by this requirement we will probably not find full time sitters or only couples, who might be able to split up. I also know that this might cost the sitters more, because if everything goes as planned, they will have spare time between two sits and probably not the possibility to fill the gap on short notice.

I always want to be clear about this and the possible extra costs involved. If both parties are fine with it I would confirm the sit.

1 Like

Hi @Crookie - Your travel plans sound really exciting!

I would advise that you continue to apply for and lock in as many sits as possible before you leave Australia - you can always look for any spontaneous sits to fill in any gaps you may have once you arrive in the UK.

If you have odd days where you need to find accommodation yourself then a hotel room is fine - if it is 2 days or more always go for Airbnb. The use of your own kitchen will save you a fortune!

If you are looking for a hotel use google maps. Click on the ‘hotel’ icon then filter a low price - it will then show you the lowest priced hotels in the area for that particular day - always check reviews before booking, some of the really budget hotels can be a bit grim but there definitely are last minute bargains to be had .

If you are looking for an Airbnb, leave booking till last minute and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Tell the host your story and that you have to stick to your budget. Many hosts will be happy to oblige to fill last minute availability and, in our experience they particularly seem to be happy to help travellers.

For a sim card I would recommend Lebara - they use the Vodaphone network and always have great deals that do not tie you into a contract. 41 countries are included in their free call time minutes including Australia and all of Europe. I probably have a referral code somewhere that will get you a discount of some type- let me know if you want me to take a look.

3 Likes

Hi @Crookie, I looked at the idea of buying a car a couple of years ago but because I had no fixed address for insurance, it was a little difficult. So I’ve always hired a car for the 3-4 months I’m in the UK, and always from Kendall Cars, a family run business with its head branch at Guildford. I pay a little extra to be picked up/returned to Heathrow Airport and taken to the branch of my choice. They offer great service and very reasonably priced. Yes, it is costly for that amount of time but I look at the savings I am making with barely having to pay for accommodation for that duration.
Now that you have 3 sits booked, I would be inclined to hang fire now as you will have far greater choice from mid year onwards.
I use giffgaff sim card when in the UK. It is UK based and you need a UK person I think to refer you to it. I got mine through UK friends who are sitters. There could well be someone on the forum who uses giffgaff and can help you out with this. Giffgaff uses the O Network and I’ve never had any problems with it.
Don’t forget B & Bs as well for alternative accommodation as the money will go straight to the hosts and you meet lovely people who can give you ideas on places to visit, dine etc.
I’d be leaving at least a day or two between sits for a) travel to next sit and b) in case of last minute disruptions that may/may not be covid related. Weather conditions at that time of year could impact your travel arrangements, hence allowing extra time between sits would be advantageous, especially where you plan to head north to Scotland.
I know how much fun it is planning but bide your time now and enjoy the wider choice that will be on offer later in the year!

2 Likes

Two of my first sits were a pair in the UK - 3 weeks in a grade 2 listed castle in Somerset followed immediately by a week in Edinburgh. The first HOs were returning about noon on the day I left and allowed me to take a cab to the station in Taunton where I was able to get the train to Edinburgh where the HOs (and the dog) picked me up at Waverly station.
I’ve done a string on the west coast US - Long Beach, followed by 3 back-to-back in the East Bay. (Did have to spend 1 night in a hotel but had a Hyatt free night so had a break in downtown Oakland.
Currently on sit 5 of a 5 sit/6 week string in the UK. HOs have been great allowing me to come a day early/stay an extra day so will only use a hotel on my last 3 nights in London (which works out since I’ve had very little time in London this trip).
I work carefully to schedule, am open with the HOs about what I am doing and things have been fine.
Actually have 2 more 6 week strings in the UK scheduled - April/May and July/Sept.

7 Likes

How long are you planning to travel in the US? I think UK citizens can only stay for 90 days at a time, presumably you can pop into Canada and back into the US for a further 90 days?

We have B1/B2 visas for the USA which gives us six months at a time. They last for 10 years so well worth the money. It’s a must for sailors. We also can travel in Canada and Mexico for 6 months.
Our plan is to drive around these three countries for about three years. There’s lots we want to see and do. It should work!
Elsie

3 Likes

Hi @ElsieDownie I’ve given some thought to your observations about few sits in the Eastern provinces of Canada. I haven’t been to Nova Scotia, but have been to Newfoundland and Labrador, and I’m guessing Nova Scotia may be similar. There is an amazingly strong sense of community, with everyone helping everyone else, and most knowing their neighbours and most of their community. For that reason, most may find it easier to find someone they know to care for their home and pets. Once you enter these provinces, you’ll experience a warm welcome from the locals.

Things are changing somewhat as housing prices have escalated rapidly and many Canadians are looking to move to the Eastern provinces, where housing costs are much lower. It means that initially, those who move there may have more need of THS.

Regarding long-distance on Amtrak, it’s worth calling the customer service line --1800-USA-RAIL–to speak to an agent. They can navigate the reservations system better and can tell you what dates are the least expensive.

Just pre-covid, I did several long-distance trips on Amtrak, including two cross-country. I got roommettes for all but one leg/overnight (Chicago to DC). The meals are included, so take that into account cost-wise.

1 Like

Yes, that’s what we found when we visited Nova Scotia three years ago. A bit like North Scotland, there’s a community spirit. If I had been 30 years younger I would have immigrated. I just loved the people, community and the whole country.
We are quite prepared to stay in self catering accommodations if we don’t get sits. The eastern maritimes in Canada is first on our must see list.
Elsie

3 Likes