Welcoming sitters nicely

Our house being big enough, our sitters are always invited one day minimum before our departure : they settle down on the ground floor, we "emigrate " to the first floor, much smaller and totally independent. We don’t share the bathroom, we can make our own coffee the following morning without bothering them and leave early.
We always have lunch or dinner with them, it’s nice to know them a little more than through whatsapp or skype. We share our experiences (bad or nice, as we are occasionnally sitters, they are less shy and tell the truth as we faced ourselves some problems…)
We introduce them to our next door neighbours in order none of them will be surprised to see unknown people opening the gate or walking the dog
My husband shows them the village where are chemist, grocery, post office, minimarket : shopping can be made on foot. We leave many infos on things to do around. Provence is a nice destination.
I show them the walks that can be made with the dog, short and long ones (sometimes I show them only the short one, use only on a map to show the longer ones as we may be in the rush)
I warned the vet and give him the names of the sitters, the dates of their stay and explain we shall pay on our return if any problem occurs (although my new vet, closer to our home, seems more reluctant to accept, than the prior one, I’ve been to for 15 years, who is 6km distant which implies to have a car)
I let them decide if they want our help to keep spare keys in order to come and clean not obliging them to stay. I pay her of course. She is in charge of the pool which is rather difficult and waters the garden
We are so experienced homes swappers (40 since 1988) we are used to empty wardrobes, bathroom products. Personal items are taken to the attic ! A hard job to tell the truth. Especially when it’s for a week only…
We made for swappers, it’s the same for sitters a thick home book (more detailed than THS one) with details on fuses, water taps etc., infos on all equipments from washing machine to pool, emergency phones) copies of maps, markets around, museums, good restaurants, cellars, places of interest etc.
I leave them leaflets in their language (often in english) on places of interests, published by the tourist office (300 meters distant)
www.provence-home.fr Lately I made also a web site + photos and videos, with links to tourist offices etc. : it’s in french, my way of checking the sitters understand my language when I pre-select applicants !
On that web site, they can read former sitters feed backs which have been published on Nomador and THS.
I’m not fishing for compliments, I would like sitters to understand welcoming them friendly is quite a hard job, what they may not realize. Like for people with whom we exchange homes, we want our home nice and tidy (which is sometimes quite hard when your pets live inside), we somehow represent our country.


You are very thorough!

We are sitters, we have hosted sitters, and we do home exchanges.

In most cases of the sits we have done, the houses have not been prepared to the standard of experienced home exchangers.

For example: sports socks left on the kitchen bench; drink bottles left on the bedside tables; toothbrushes left on the vanity; obituary speeches and photos on the fridge (a sitter/stranger really doesn’t need to see that - just put it away while you are away); no space in the fridge or cupboards for your own food; leftovers in the fridge; no space in the bathroom for your things; no space in the wardrobe for your things.

The standards of cleanliness are also not as high as most exchange places.

Inadequate instructions/ how the house works.
We once had to look up on the internet how to use a complicated microwave. Things that are obvious to the owner aren’t necessarily obvious to a sitter. We had not used an induction cooktop before, and had trouble working it out.

It sounds like you are on top of all these issues, I wish all hosts would follow your example.


Hello @Catslave, welcome. Through what organisations do you swap ? We are members of Homelink and Intervac

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Most of our sits are through Trusted House Sitters, and I also subscribe to MindAHome and AussieHouseSitters

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@catstaff, i was curious about your exchange homes organizations as you wrote you were swapping too

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HomeExchange and People Like Us.
We’ve done over 40 exchanges as guests and hosts since 2014.
One in England, one in Amsterdam, the rest in Australia


@CatStaff same experience since 1988. We’ve made 40 swaps too

Short ones like long week ends when we worked or only one week at Xmas (Amsterdam, Vienne, London, Rome ) we begun when we lived in the historical heart of Paris in a small flat. Américains suggested huge house swaps with spa when we had only 2rooms,

Overseas for longer stays such as a month (eastern and western Canada 4 times, Usa 4).

Almost all northern and southern Europe countries, even France

Simultaneous, non simultaneous swaps. Hospitality. We’ve tried all kind of experiences. Some exchangers kept our pets, not all accepted. So since 2018 we’ve traveled mostly finding a sit then a sitter for the same dates !!!

That’s why we do know how to prepare a home for sitters


I always require our sitters to stay at least 2 days before we go as we have reptiles and a pond, which requires some technical training and husbandry training.
Our house is immaculate and I’m shocked at the description of what CatSlave has encountered. We leave some basic food for our sitters - milk, bread, eggs. But never any dirty socks!
On the other hand, I wouldn’t dream of taking photos down as it’s our home and there has to be some give and take.
I also ask sitters to stay until the day after we get home so we can have a proper debrief and in case our flight is delayed.


I’m rather curious : do you receive many applications to look after reptiles ? i would be scared !! How many reptiles have you ? Are they snakes or crocodiles ???
:snake: :snake: :snake: :snake: :snake: :lizard: :lizard: :sauropod: :sauropod: :sauropod:

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Terrapins and tortoises - 9 in total. Some terrapins in tanks, some in ponds.

It’s not easy finding sitters - many people apply with no experience, or even an attempt at addressing my specific needs, despite me asking for sitters with reptile experience. I discount anyone who applies without addressing the issue of my type of pets. I’ve had successful sitters who’ve worked with reptiles in pet shops, owned their own in the past, or, more latterly, had good practical experience of flotation tank and swimming pool maintenance, which was halfway there!

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What is a terrapin @Lynda ? I don’t find it on Google translation !! Do tortoises need much care ?? Are they huge ones, tiny ? Please show us photos !! That is what the forum is made for.

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Hi Provence, I’m late to some of these conversations, as I’ve just joined. As a new owner, this post is really helpful in preparing for my upcoming sitters - thanks so much!


Provence certainly goes above and beyond to welcome folks in her home! For shorter sits,I am happy to have:
A clean and tidy home
A good welcome manual containing info on the home and pets
A walk through in person or video
Refrigerator and freezer space for my food
Closet and or draw space in the guest room.


@NCWep if you use the magnifyer to find a key word (such as “welcome” “details” , “information” or “forgotten”), you will see in different threads, what sitters expect from owners. Other things too of course. Mixed ( “pêle-mêle” as we say…)

i learnt myself a lot through the forum (I never thought about the noise a smoke detector, i probably forgot to check the fuses.) I did not pay attention that much to Covid and prefered to meet sitters and have dinner with them, keeping simply distances.

But as I’m the anxious type about my home (and my pets) I always think about the worst that can happen, that’s why I leave a lot of information (Swappers and sitters worry when they discover my thick home book . I’m not sure they read it all…)

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@NCWep welcome to our community forum, we are so glad you have joined and as a new active owner member … please feel free to share a picture of your pet or pets.

We have a wonderful mix of members from new to very experienced all willing to share, help and support and of course you have a direct line through the help category to our amazing HO team.

Our entire global community are yet to join the forum, at the moment we are just a small representation of our many members, you are here at the very beginning.

We can’t wait to get to know you better and share in your journey, enjoy the conversations and connecting with other members.

Thank you for being here.

Angela & The Team

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What is there to be afraid of if the pets are contained? Caring for a snake for 5 days was the easiest task I have ever completed. :slight_smile:


Chéri, i do prefer more communicative pets than reptiles… If i can understand and feel when a cat or a dog does not look well I would miss any illness of a reptile …

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