UK sits: Do I really need a car?

Myself and my partner sit as much as we can when we’re in the UK.

We are interested in different locations and recently did a sit in remote West Wales. For that sit we hired a car because getting there from London or even Cardiff was almost impossible on public transport.

It’s not always possible or ideal for us to hire a car as it can become expensive and isn’t necessary if we are ‘working from home.’

Yet, the first thing I check on every listing now is whether the sitter ‘needs a car’ and it is ruling out SO many sits for us.

I just want to ask why people are putting that. Is it really and truly you need a car because the location is hard to get to? Is it because your dog needs to be walked in certain locations that are only accessible by car? Is it because you have a car?

The public transport and taxi systems in the UK are pretty good and I just wanted to raise awareness of this issue for us. Taking taxis for a big shop and walking dogs locally may be ideal for us instead of the cost of hiring a car. (This is often required for cats only sits too…)

If you think it may be possible without a car, maybe adding a note about that in your listing would be helpful. But I say that and I’m generally not reading any with this tag now.

Just something to consider. Does the platform provide home owners guidance for this tag?


@libbyexplores I can understand your concern but I believe many pet parents/owners state you need a car because they are not able to offer theirs for your use during the sit. Instead of passing the potential sit by, I would suggest just dropping them a message and asking them to clarify. Some sits are remote where a car might be necessary to get in/out of town but I really believe most is due to inability to offer up their own.


Check this thread for answers: UK Owners: reconsider 'Sitters need a car' - #36 by ahuifra

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Thanks Debbie, that’s an interesting perspective. I wouldn’t assume without this tag that there was a car on offer but I see what you mean. This does make me think slightly differently about it. Does everyone agree or have other thoughts on this tag?

Thanks Lassie. A good point from that thread:
For the UK, The tag ‘Sitters need a car’ limits the available pool of sitters. This tag does not mean the same as ‘I can’t provide a car’. It’s meant to be used when a car is essential. That’s a far narrower meaning.
I think I’ll just create a standard question to ask these sits from now on when I apply.

I agree. I think many HOs say “Sitters need a car” when they really mean that a car won’t be provided. Sometimes a car really is essential, but not often. HOs don’t realize how much it limits their pool of applicants.

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@libbyexplores; what are your backup plans when the dog/cat you’re looking after needs an emergency trip to the vet? My own dog ate a poisonous substance & he wouldn’t have survived if I’d needed a bus or taxi to get help for him.

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Sorry to hear about your dog Saltrams. I hope they’re ok now! This is a good point and I guess something the home owner would need to decide whether they were comfortable with a sitter without a car. I know that having a car wouldn’t always mean getting to a vet / any faster but it’s good to know that this may be the reason a car is requested. Thank you.


I’ve done about a dozen sits over 4 strings - both pre- and post-covid. My first pair in Fall 2019, both HOs put me on their auto insurance with no problems. A sit in the Quantocks did require a car just to get to the grocery and I was allowed to use it to explore a bit, too. The second was in Edinburgh and except for being picked up at Waverly station I never got in the car. It was nice to have it, but I was quite happy on the bus 2 blocks from the house.
Post-covid I’ve had several sits that required a car because of their location and because I really couldn’t get to them on public transportation. HOs offered use of the car but then found that because I didn’t have a UK license or because I am now 71 years old either their insurance company wouldn’t add me or wanted a whole lot of money. All of them offered to help out with the car rental and with some careful shopping I was able to find cars for less than UK 100/week - required some unusual pick up location around London. And I have a credit card that offers primary coverage on rentals so didn’t have to pay the excess cover that rental companies charge.
Here in the US and Canada, owners can allow use of their cars and I am in the middle of a string of 3 where I am using owners’ cars on all.
Just my experiences.


Toml - I have no idea how to do a direct message to you, but I would be very interested in getting more info on car rentals in the UK as I will face the same issues shortly due to age.

Everyone has a different take on how far they are okay to walk to shopping and transit. The homeowner’s listing for my first sit said both “Sitters need a car” and “Use of car included”. Because I like to walk, I never used their car, and at the end of the sit, I was fine to walk an hour to the train station. And an hour-long shopping trip - including a big hill - wasn’t a problem for me. But others will have diffent needs, and it’s not surprising that a homeowner might be a bit conservative about the need for a car.

I really appreciate it when listings indicate walking and driving time to shopping and transit. :star2: That information informs my decision to apply for a sit. And if I have to take a taxi at the beginning and end of a sit, that’s fine, because it’s likely to cost significantly less than a rental car for the whole period of the sit.


Hi @libbyexplores. I have done a couple of sits this year where the listing stated ‘need a car’ but after applying and discussing it with the HO a car was preferable but not necessary. My current sit for instance means a 25 minute walk to the nearest grocery store or a ride on a public bus that runs twice an hour. Works fine for me tbh but maybe not for all sitters.


Hi @libbyexplores you may find this conversation interesting it also discusses the question of cars in the UK …

Anyone looking for specific topics can search using the spyglass and entering key words, there are many helpful and informative conversations to read and contribute to.


Which car rental compagnies did you find in UK for less than 100 £ a week ? I paid much more…

@libbyexplores - Uber cover many areas in the UK now - If Uber does cover the area you are sitting in, they always offer cars that accept pets as an option and in our experience, they never take more than a few minutes to arrive so a great back up plan for every eventuality


I just spent 5 months traveling in UK and Spain. I walked most of the time. Used trains between cities. Less issues compared to flying. The ‘sitter needs a car’ is still unanswered. I avoid applying for those but I may just test the system by stating in my application that I do not plan to have a car. Maybe the HOs are meaning that if you want to explore the are you do need a car. I did ask THS to clarify that sentence. Just my two cents.


@libbyexplores - I agree with you. For us, we think nothing of walking 2 miles to get to a restaurant, but for many that is out of the question. I always look at the location and start searching for transport & nearby walks we can reach on foot or public transport, as we would rather not rent a car either; especially in the UK where public transport is great!

We are also a homeowner & I do have listed that the sitters needs a car, but really it is only to get here. Once here, the bus service is great during summer & still ok during the off season. I can do a pickup if they come via the local ferry, but to pickup elsewhere I am looking at a 3 hour round trip drive, whch on the day I am leaving might be difficult.


Whilst you are right about Ubers @colin, it’s a catch-22 isn’t it? Ubers are plentiful in urban areas where there is usually public transport but out of town you aren’t likely to find one :face_with_diagonal_mouth:

@Saltrams -To be honest I think the ‘what would you do if the pet needs rushing to the vets?’ question is unfair to ask a non-driving sitter as it is so extremely unlikely ever to happen. We can not prepare for every eventuality and millions of non-drivers are very happy and responsible pet owners.


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