International vs US Sits

Hi All, Since joining this Forum, I have realized that sits overseas are different than in the US. I would like more insight into what things to consider before acceptance, although it is not an immediate issue, since all my applications have been declined. Some things I have noticed so far is that Europeans have more than 2-3 pets even though they say they live in the city. For example 6 dogs, 12 cats, 3 horses…The listing don’t even say how many chickens. Are sitters expected to pay the utilities? When someone says they live in the city and says sitter needs a car - does that imply for sight seeing the area or does it mean sitter needs a car to access the house? I still have a lot to learn or I am just not smart enough to figure it out.
I am based in the US, and would like some of the international members to enlighten me on what to expect if I actually get an international sit? Or the travel restrictions finally allow us to travel more freely. Thank you all for sharing.

Oops: forgot to ask about cell phone service, and wifi. What is a good service, how to manage roaming, data, etc. I have had my share of troubles with these.

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All your questions cannot be answered in general, because it depends on where exactly the sit is offered.
There is no distinction between towns and cities on the THS website so for example concerning my listing, I can choose between rural or city. I live in a town with 15.000 inhabitants, which is neither. As the house is in the middle of the town, I chose the option city, but it’s actually not. Nobody would think Dieburg to be a city.
Depending on the location, public transport can be challenging, because even if the area is quite populated, buses from one place to another may take unreasonably long. Funding of public transport has been cut so badly that you might need a car to get around. Where I live it’s not a problem but elsewhere it might be. So, yes, sometimes a car might be necessary. In Germany nobody would say a car is necessary if there were train and bus connections available…not like for example in Texas where people just don’t walk…
What I would recommend, if you don’t have any experience with traveling to Germany, is to start with sits in major cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne or Hamburg. The public transport system is good, and there are usually no chickens involved.
I don’t know about others, but I would never want any payment from the sitters, no matter if it’s for electricity use or heating or whatever.
I cannot speak for any other European countries but imagine Germany (concerning differences) as the US squeezed into a country the size of Montana with about 80 million inhabitants.

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Welcome, evag
I’ve had the good fortune to do 3 international sits - 3 weeks in a 19th C castle in Somerset in the UK followed by a week in Edinburgh. The castle sit was for 2 dogs and 2 cats and I was allowed use of a car to get to town and do some sightseeing. The HOs picked me up at the nearest train station and since I was leaving in the morning while they were driving back home from LHR I took a cab to the train to leave. I didn’t have to pay for utilities although I did have to fill the hopper for the woodchip boiler if I wanted heat and hot water while I stayed. The Edinburgh sit allowed me to use the car but I didn’t as public transportation was fine. They (and the solo dog) met me at the Edinburgh train station on arrival and I took the bus on departure as I was leaving in the morning while they were heading back to Edinburgh.
My other international sit was on Jeju Island, Korea. It also included use of their car to get about. And no, I didn’t pay for the utilities. The Korean sit was with 1 dog and 2 cats, all of whom were international as the HOs were teachers at an international school and had adopted the dog in Shanghai and the cats in Kyoto.
I’ve had a bunch more intl sits scheduled but unfortunately Covid got in the way. Have 4 UK sits scheduled in Feb-March that I hope will happen.
And as to phone - I very intentionally use T-mobile in the US because my plan (Magenta senior) includes international data (I’ve used it all over the world - didn’t work in Vietnam) and reasonably priced voice which I’ve seldom used.
tom

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I’m a sitter with THS and have done three international sits. I did two in Dublin and one in Australia. On both sits the homeowners had two pets. We weren’t offered the use of a car in Dublin but no car is needed to get around in the city. Our sit in Australia was in a small town on the Gold Coast and we definitely needed a car to get to the shops and the homeowners offered their car. I’ve only seen a couple of sits advertised where homeowners have asked the sitters to pay for utilities and these were longer sits. When I read “a car is required” I take it to mean there is no nearby public transit and a vehicle is needed to go for groceries, etc. I don’t purchase a phone card when I travel internationally. I make do with Wifi and use Facetime/What’s App to phone family and friends at home. On my last international holiday just last month I took the SIM card out of my phone. I had been charged roaming charges by my cell phone provider on a previous trip for calls that I didn’t make so that was my reason and I incurred no extra charges.

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As the others have said, there is no single solution. I’m from the US and I’ve pretty much only sat internationally. My sits have had anywhere from 1 - 30 creatures to care for. I’ve sat in city centers (Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh, Geneva, etc.) and small rural villages. I’ve sat in places where a car was needed and ones where a car would have been a huge pain. It all really just depends. At this point, until covid chills out, international sits will be complicated due to ever changing restrictions.

As for cell service, it depends a bit on your US phone plan, but almost certainly your best bet is to get a local SIM card to use when you arrive. Then there are no roaming issues and you can choose the data size that fits your need. For contact back to the US, you can get a free google voice number to use while you’re overseas so you can still call/text with people back home (assuming you don’t have a dual sim phone or one that does esims).

I’d suggest that if/when you get your first international sit in negotiations with the HO, you post here with the specific location and people can give you more targeted advice/recommendations.

Oh, and as for number of chickens, it really doesn’t matter much. You have to let them in/out daily so quantity really only impacts how much you feed them and how many eggs you’ll get. Only for long sits would it matter much as obviously cleaning coops for 5 chickens will be easier than cleanin coops for 50. lol

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We are in the opposite situation, trying to get international sits in US and Canada. We have sat in US pre COVID but they all had the “sailors link” as we call it. There was a sailors connection and we have stayed friends with most of them.
I asked the question why we needed a car in the middle of LA and got quite a comprehensive answer, because no one walks even though there is a subway station about half mile away. There are very few pavements or sidewalks. Someone posted a very comprehensive list of cities that are good to walk in which was excellent information. There are so many cultural differences between US and Europe.
In the UK we have good train and bus services, sometimes expensive but good. There are sites where tickets can be bought in advance which makes it much cheaper. Trainline, National Express and Megabus are the three that springs to mind. Most places you can get at least within 20 miles with public transport then it’s walk, cycle or hire a car. People are reluctant to lend out cars because of the insurance costs. But if you can prove yo7 have a clean licence, can drive a manual and maybe offer to pay the premium to put you on the insurance as a named driver you may get lucky.
There are huge swathes of the country where a car is a must and it’s usually the scenic bits that everyone wants to see. Yorkshire Dales and moors, Lake District, Cornwall, Devon, Norfolk Broads, some of Wales and the North of Scotland. Best way is to figure out where you want to go, do some research and ask on here. Loads of good answers and experience on this forum.
As for number of animals. We are known as animal lovers and yes it’s usually a couple of dogs or/and cats. Everyone has their limits so just choose listings that suit your experience. We usually look for an active dog when we are in th countryside as we like to walk but in the cities a cat is better for us as they can be left alone slightly longer and there is some more time for sight seeing. In large cities there is always a comprehensive bus, train or subway and I’m sure stops are shown on google map so you can figure out how far you are from your stop.
Last of all, keep going. It took us a while but we got accepted for a honeypot of a sit a couple of weeks ago in NYC right beside Central Park. Very excited. I don’t know how many we got rejected for but eventually it worked. You are correct, expectations, mind set and life is very different over the pond.

Good luck, hope we hear good news soon.
Elsie

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Most of my sits have been in SE Asia.
Never been asked to pay for utilities.

Sometimes, though, I have had to pay for utilities at the local store, on a monthly basis, but the owner has always left me money to cover this - sometimes it’s a pay in advance agreement, sometimes you pay for what you have used.

A lot of homes have been long term rentals, and in this region, cash is the way to pay, even now. Water is also sometimes an issue. In Singapore, you can drink from the tap, but in most countries, bottled water. Most homes have a “gallon” water bottle dispenser, the water costs just over $1 a gallon, but again owners cover this.

Over 40 sits and I have had a car twice, and even then not actually essential. Scooters in Bali and Thailand probably help, but in places like Ho chi min city it is probably advisable to avoid - grab/uber/gojek/goviet are so cheap.

As for the number of pets/animals, that should always be clearly listed, down to the last chicken…or sparrow (I looked after a sparrow in Thailand)

Some of the cities in SE Asia have great public transport links, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong.

So really it shouldn’t be any different.

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evag008 - What came to mind reading your OP was to ask if you are a seasoned traveler to Europe? We are and make note in our profile, as well as mentioning in our application if we are familiar with the country/area of the sit, customs, entry requirements, capable with the language, etc. This has resulted in numerous EU sits including our most recent in Spain which we just returned from.

If there are locations of interest, you may want to research that area to familiarize yourself prior to applying for a sit. There are some great travel forums with a wealth of information.

And don’t forget about the difference in electrical. Different countries in EU have different wattages/different plug types, and all US electrical items are not necessarily compatible.

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Most of my sits have been in the UK, England, Scotland Wales and a sprinkle in Spain.
I have only done sits in the US when I was getting my feet wet in the beginning and lately only because of the restrictions and my fav repeats.
For me, definitely more sits and variety of experiences culturally outside of the US.
I have travelled to other places like Greece, Italy and Bali on my own and in my opinion one begins to morph and acquire different tastes for experiences in all regards, geographically, culturally and even with animals. I would welcome opportunities to learn and care for a variety of species in different environments.

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Thanks for your insight list. I do like to learn new skills but when the listing states dogs, and after you open it, there are additional pets. As you know I am relatively new to this platform so I thought I might be missing something that is common knowledge for others. Thus my topic. Have gotten several responses already. I do research but I like to get first hand info from people who have more experience. Once I get there I may be able to pass on information for others.

Have a wonderful day.

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Knowledge by your own experience is worth a thousand times more than hearing from others.

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Yes sorry I was not more specific but as others have said the sits vary. Expectations as far as even the care can vary and in the UK you will see more farm animals in rural places.
Never have been asked to pay for anything other than my own food and transportation which sometimes even that is offered.
Sitter needs a car could mean different things to a HO. It may mean a car is not available or a car is necessary due to location so I will ask unless it is clearly indicated that their is no public transportation.
Apply if it interest you and ask questions. There is no commitment until sit is confirmed.
Best wishes

Thank you everyone for your valuable insights. I appreciate it and will keep trying. At this point I just have to wait to see if restrictions ease. When they do I will just have to go for it and book a flight. Thanks again all.

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Your question raised an interesting point – how Americans and Europeans view the definition of City vs Rural.
Thanks to Dusenzofe for mentioning where he lives. And mentioning “Nobody would think Dieburg to be a city”
I found it on Google Maps. Grocery stores, restaurants, doctors, a actual hospital 5 miles away in Umstadt. As an American, I would consider that a city, think all of us would.
Rural? Out in the country. Maybe you can see a neighbor, maybe not. No grocery. Surely no doctor or hospital. Might be a quick-mart gas station at the nearest major crossroad or a Dollar Store.
We are currently doing a sit in S.W. Houston TX. Dense residential subdivisions. Surely considered City. But the nearest actual hospital is 22 minutes drive time. Closest large grocery and restaurant cluster is 9 minutes drive time. And other homes are even farther away.
Europeans have a different view of this.
Google Maps is our go-to before we even apply for a sit. Gives a pretty good preview of what to expect.
April 6 we fly to Paris and start our 6 months in the EU and UK without a car. Hopefully we get some sits and will be figuring this out for ourselves.
Take care everyone.

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Google maps are our friend as well. The satellite option is great for figuring out what environment it is and what’s around.
If you are sitting in the UK and like to walk download ordinance survey (OS) maps App. Shows all the paths and right always. We also use Komoot for walking paths in Europe. Still to try it in the US.
It tickles me when pet owners say “need a car” and when some research is done there is public transport at the end of the road. You’ll find UK has public transport - buses and trains- in most areas. In the rural areas they will be maybe once or twice a day but in large towns and cities very good. Long distance travel is better booked in advance as it costs less. Use Trainline, National Express and Megabus. London and most major cities have good subways. If in doubt, ask here, there will be someone who has been in the area.
Good luck with your travels. We are doing the opposite, travelling from Panama to US on 31st January and already got our first sit lined up. Fingers crossed it all works.

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Elsie,
Thanks for the info on OS.
I love the fact that there are “paths” everywhere in the UK and public access is such a high priority.
You should do fine finding sits here.
Do you have general destinations figured out yet?

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We are heading for New York City then down south, probably sticking to the east side. Buying a small RV then heading for Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador with intermittent housesits when we get fed up with travelling. Hoping to be between the countries for two to three years.

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Dieburg actually is (per definition) a city. It’s certainly not rural but with 15.000 inhabitants I would rather call it a town. Isn’t a town between a village and a city concerning the size?

…psst Düsenzofe is a she :wink:
Have fun in Paris. I love that city.

also what one person might consider need a ride for another might find a walkable distance. We were just advised we would need a taxi to get to the bank,but when we googled it was only about 1 1/2K away -something we would happily walk

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I’m in rural Lincolnshire in the UK. I consider us to be rural as we only have a postbox on a stick in our village. The nearest other village a 2 mile walk away has a pub, post office and a Co-op (small food store) plus a fish and chip shop. The nearest town is about 3 miles away with supermarkets and most shops. For High St shopping Lincoln is about 20 miles away. I have had sitters from the US who loved just sitting in the back garden looking out over the fields admiring the exotic birds (pheasants). They rented a car and managed ok negotiating the lanes. There are a couple of buses here but nothing at weekends. I don’t let sitters use my car solely because of the insurance costs. I don’t expect sitters to pay for any utilities and they are welcome to use the phone. I provide most general supplies although our US visitors seem to love visiting shops for food that is different. Hope this helps!

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