One of the big things that can bring a holiday budget up is the cost of pet care. You want to know that your beloved pets are in the best possible care, but on the other hand, you don't want to spend more on their holiday than on your own. A great alternative can be hiring a house sitter to stay in your home and take care of your animals. As a house sitter, I'm here to tell you that it's the perfect way to avoid those hefty pet boarding costs! It might seem scary, but there are some big sites that can definitely be trusted to find the right house sitter for you, and some of these sites will let you thoroughly check out a potential sitter before hiring them. Here’s how to save on that pesky pet care!

1. What you can save

Average costs for a basic pet care facility range from $12-$26 per day, while better quality facilities can stretch up to $100 a day. For two weeks in a mid-range kennel, you'd be looking at spending up to $700 for pet care, not to mention the added extras, many of which are things you'd consider standard. Here are a few:

  • Additional charges for animals over a certain size or weight
  • Second daily walk
  • Playtime with staff or other pets
  • Bathing
  • Administering medication

2. The pros of a house sitter

With a house sitter, your pets will receive one-on-one care from an experienced sitter who loves animals. Here are the many pros worth considering:

  • You don't always have to pay the sitter. Many sitters will work for free in exchange for free accommodation.
  • The sitter will follow your pet's usual schedule. Feeding, walking, medication and potty times stay the same.
  • House sitters can take care of all kinds of pets for you, not just dogs and cats but rabbits, rodents, reptiles, fish, poultry, goats, horses or whatever you have. You can still find a willing sitter out there with the right experience.
  • Sitters can also take care of other elements of your home such as watering plants, feeding fish, harvesting vegetables or mowing the lawn—just ask.
  • No extra charges for cuddles! In fact, caring for a pet is a bonus for most sitters. Most sitters tend to be animal lovers, so you can rest assured that your pet will have plenty of company.
  • A sitter can stay in touch by Skype, text, phone or email while you're away to give you regular updates and maybe some photos too!
  • You'll have the peace of mind that your pets are at home and happy, and that your home is in good hands while you're away.

3. The sites

With these sites you’ll be able to review hundreds of sitter profiles (and their references), and even meet potential sitters. You can speak on the phone or Skype before choosing a sitter. These options will help you choose someone you feel comfortable with. Unlike at a kennel, you'll know exactly who is caring for your pet while you're away.

Trustedhousesitters.com

  • Costs: 3 Months $59.97, 6 Months $77.94 or 12 Months $89.88.
  • Outline: The biggest housesitting website out there, and the one where you'll find yours truly!
  • Number of sitters: 8,465 sitters listed worldwide.
  • Selling points:
    • Thorough sitter profiles with lots of info.
    • Many sitters have background checks.
    • View ratings and references from previous housesitting assignments on the sitter's profile.
    • Highest number of sitters to choose from.
    • A worldwide brand name you can trust.

MindMyHouse.com

  • Costs: Free to join.
  • Outline: A US-based housesitting site which is free for homeowners.
  • Number of sitters: 5,941 sitters (with 3,379 sitter available listings)
  • Selling points:
    • Thorough sitter profiles with lots of info.
    • Many sitters have background checks.
    • Can request references from sitters (but can't view on site).
    • 24-Hour customer support.

HouseSitMatch.com

  • Costs: Value account free for six months, Choice account $88.59 per year, Premium account $120.76 per year.
  • Outline: A newer, UK-based site with fewer sitters, but with less competition for the best sitters from other homeowners.
  • Number of sitters: 158 sitters listed worldwide.
  • Selling points:
    • Friendly and fast service from the customer service team.
    • Provides a legally binding document which protects both the homeowner and the house sitter.
    • Can request references from sitters (but can't view on site).

This is a guest article by Emily from London.