Blog Post

Britain By House Sits – By Rob Shackleford

Britain by House Sits – By Rob Shackleford

We have discovered a terrific way to cut costs as we travel. You may have heard of it. It’s all about house-sitting.

Other of our Travelling with Traveller Inceptio Blogs

India by Royal Enfields 1 Britain by House Sits Scottish Food Scottish Culture Southern Scotland Northern Wales
Faces of Scotland House Sit Bath Faces of England House Sitting UK Faces of Wales Visit to London

What is this House Sit thing anyway?

It was all my partner, Deborah-Jane’s idea. Four years ago we made the choice to travel for an unplanned extended journey. A job contract had come to an end for me and, faced with the choice of donning a monkey-suit and getting a job simply to pay the mortgage, we instead sold my property and I moved in with Deb. The funds freed up the opportunity to pursue our dreams to travel while we are at the age to really enjoy it. Our kids are independent and have no children of their own, so timing has been perfect. In our travels, Deb found Trusted House Sitters, and for us the rest is history.

Shackleford and Mackay Trusted House Sitters
Trusted House Sitters

I suppose there are a few House Sit sites, but we use Trusted House Sitters. A home and pet owner can advertise for someone to come and look after their house and animal/s while they escape on holiday. It doesn’t cost the house sitter, nor the host, nor does it involve a house swap. This is where the ‘Trusted’ comes in. The home owner must trust that these strangers won’t kill their pet/s and sell their silver, while the House Sitter must trust the place which they are to care for is reasonably clean, or that the animal is not antisocial and savage. The web-site sorts out most of that. Naturally the host gets to chat with us and we each get a feeling of what the other party will be like.

For us, a House Sit allows us to stay and play as locals, to take time in a small area and really see it, or at least see it better than a casual tourist. Sometimes it means we can travel further afield and see the surrounding area. We essentially choose where we would like to stay, select animals that will be pleasant and not too much effort, choose the type of home that will suit our needs, and we have had many terrific experiences and made friends along the way. We also select the timing that suits us. This is where Deb comes in, for she is a legend at communicating with the potential hosts and linking the dates together to ensure we have to stay in paid accommodation as little as possible. This is important, especially in the UK, where accommodation costs can be a killer.

We have acted as house sitters for three families in England, one in Ireland, one in Wales, two in Scotland, three in the US, one in Mexico and one in Australia. Every place and experience is different,

Rob Shackleford and Deborah-Jane mackey in Inverness
Deb caring for Dexter and Boomer in Inverness

the owners pleasant and the pets great. We have been fortunate to have made friends with all of our hosts, and thoroughly loved our time with their pets, which have ranged from chickens and a 23 year old cat, to a bulldog who discovered how much it loved to wrestle. The best thing is that we have wonderful experiences, and can pretend to be locals for a while. In the process we have gained a blemish-less Home Carer score for future home owners and pets.

We only mention Trusted House Sitters as they offer a system that works for us. It costs a little bit each year, but the cost is well worth it. So, why do I mention this? Because we are in our 2019 – 2020 UK stay. We started with a house sit in Inverness, in the far north of Scotland. This was to care for two scraggy little Scottish Border Terriers named Dexter and Boomer.

Sit number 2 was in Dundee caring for a small miniature Beagle with the name of Mabel.

Sit number three in Wales was at a small town called Tyn-Y-Gongl on the island of Anglesey, with a gentle tabby cat named Smarty. She had diabetes.

Then a sit in England, in the stunningly pretty town of Bath where we are currently caring for two cats, Winston and Ellie.

It takes practice, patience, flexibility and a love of people and animals. It is as far as we can get from staying in hotels, in a good way.

So here are our experiences and thoughts on this stunning countryside in which we spent our time. We especially love the UK around the Christmas season. Compared to Australia, where Christmas is in the middle of our summer, the Brits do Christmas so very well!

Deboraj Jane Mackay with Mabel
Deb and Mabel near Dundee – freezing!


Rob and Deb live at Burleigh Heads, on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Rob is an author of Traveller Inceptio, published by Austin Macauley Publishers.

Deb is a yoga teacher and administrator par excellence.

If you have any questions regarding the contents of this blog, please email Rob via his email: [email protected] or Instagram @rob_shackleford_

Rob Shackleford and Deborah-Jane mackay in the Scottish Highlands
Rob and Deb in Scotland

Discover more from Rob Shackleford

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading