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Publié le by NmNomador

Ask the Experts: What To Do When Schedules Change

One feeling that tends to bind diverse travel lovers across the globe is the thrill that comes with embarking into the unknown -- introducing tastebuds to new flavors, eyes to architectural wonders, ears to local music. What travel lovers don’t tend to enjoy, however, is the stress that can come with an unexpected -- and especially unwanted -- change of plans. Homeowners depend on house-sitters to lodge at the home for the duration of the trip to ensure that the property, pets, and plants are cared for full time. In exchange, house-sitters expect their accommodations to be provided for the expected length of the trip.

Yet while it’s not often common for travel itineraries to dramatically change at the last minute, it’s possible for an unexpected circumstances like inclement weather or health and family emergencies to force a homeowner or house-sitter to cut a trip short. That’s why we’ve asked five of our favourite experienced homeowners and housesitters to weigh in on What to do when someone requires a last-minute schedule change.

Leigh McAdam, Homeowner

I once had an experience where I had been kayaking and the weather was awful. I wasn’t looking forward to spending many more days in the pouring rain. Fortunately I had a very understanding house-sitter, who also happened to live in the same city. I gave her 48-hours notice and asked if she’d be okay with me coming home early, and she was. I’d never put anyone out otherwise, but it did help that my house-sitter was on more of a “staycation” than a vacation where she would’ve had to change flights or find somewhere else to stay.

The reverse situation is when I had a miscommunication with a house-sitter where she thought she was only staying for one week, but I had asked her to stay for three weeks. I was in Vietnam at the time, and fortunately she was able to extend her trip. However, if she wasn’t, my back-up plan was for her to drop my dog off at a kennel I had previously picked. For this reason I always make sure my dog is up-to-date on required vaccinations.

Pete Heck, Housesitter

We were staying in Honduras, and the house we were watching was for sale! We were scheduled to be there for three months and asked the homeowner what would happen if the house sold before or during our stay, after we already booked our flights, and we all agreed that the owner would put us up with accommodations in Honduras. So it helped ease our minds to have that contingency plan in place. When the home didn’t end up selling during those three months, the owner asked if we’d be willing to extend our stay another three months and offered to pay for our new visa requirements.

Recently we had a medical emergency during a recent house-sit in the U.S. and had to fly back to Canada where we were better insured, putting the homeowner in a sticky situation. It’s another example of how communication is key. We immediately let the owner know what was happening, and he had emergency contacts in place so the neighbors were able to care for the pet until the owner was able to make a decision about returning early or relying on his emergency backups to care for his pet for the duration of his trip. Once everything calmed down we actually reached out to the homeowner and offered to pay for his early return flight. We knew that he wasn’t likely to take us up on it due to the nature of our emergency, but just making the kind gesture went a long way towards ensuring he wouldn’t rule out entrusting other house-sitters in the future.

Josie Schneider, Housesitter

We set an agreement with homeowners beforehand that we ask them to fill in, providing contact information for neighbors, family or friends in the area we can reach out to if there’s a problem on our end. However one time a homeowner cancelled on a six-week house-sit we had planned. Luckily we always book our house-sits quite far in advance, so we were able to fill in that time with something else. Of course things can happen at the last-minute, and we make sure we have the resources to find and pay for alternative accommodations if necessary. However, if you discuss what might happen with a last-minute cancellation with the homeowner prior to finalizing arrangements, many awkward situations can be avoided. As with all travel, it’s always good to have a back-up plan.

Another time we were at an eleven-month extended house-sit that ended up lasting two years! Since we didn’t own a home at the time, it ended up working out perfectly for everyone. At one point we had to leave for six weeks, and we were able to make arrangements with the homeowners for a solution during that time.

Dani Heinrich, Housesitter

I once had a situation where a housesit was cancelled after I’d flown into New York from Europe! The homeowner opened the door and told me they had decided not to leave. Fortunately they were very helpful and offered to let me stay for a few nights as well as purchase a return flight or help locate and pay for an alternative place to stay.

Recently I was the one who had to cancel, and luckily I was able to find the homeowners a replacement for me. As a sought-after sitter, it frustrates me to see when homeowners are sometimes left hanging once they’ve already made travel plans, so I think it’s very important to either cancel far in advance or find a suitable replacement, because it’s important to retain trust in these relationships if we want to continue promoting this mutually beneficial style of travel!

Mariannig Ferrari, Homeowner & Housesitter, Founder of Nomador

There is one question we always ask people who want to try house-sitting for the first time: Are you fully aware that house-sitters and homeowners are human beings? House-sitting is a marvelous solution under the condition that you realize that “zero risk” does not exist. We try to tell owners to think in advance about a solution that could be put in place in case of an emergency, because we have seen all kinds of situations similar to those addressed above. If no backup plan can be found, it’s possible that house-sitting is not the best option for them.

In the Nomador Home-Book, we also provide a form for house-sitters to keep with their IDs while they are away from the house. That way if they have a medical emergency, someone will find the notice that they are housesitting and that the homeowners or their emergency contacts can be contacted.

Additionally we encourage homeowners and house-sitters to come up with a contract that works for both of them should schedules change and plane tickets need to be purchased or reimbursed. We do not encourage advance deposits to prevent scams.

Finally, people must never forget to call for help at the platform they used to set up the house-sit. Nomador has the ability to send an alert to its inventory of potential house-sitters who live near the region. While we cannot promise a solution in such situations, it is amazing to see how many people in our community are often willing to help during an emergency.

This is Part 2 of a series in which we “ask the experts” about their experiences with some common -- and not-so-common -- housesitting issues. Many thanks to our house-sitters and homeowners for providing valuable insight!

Pete Heck, HeckticTravels.com
Josie Schneider, HouseSittingTravel.com
Leigh McAdam, HikeBikeTravel.com
Dani Heinrich, GlobeTrotterGirls.com
Mariannig Ferrari, Nomador.com

You may also enjoy: Part 1, “What to do When a Housesit is Not ‘As Advertised

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