PACKING for your assignment!
It’s a fact that very few holiday locations require exactly the same packing list and that’s also true for house sitting assignments. Therefore I’ve broken the list into 4 key sections which as a sitter, you can fill in for each of your future assignments.
Having looked after a number of homes all over the world I can safely say that the best mind set to have when house sitting is self-sufficiency.
Never assume that you will be able to use everything within the owner’s home during your stay unless you’ve discussed it prior to your arrival, and don’t assume the products and services you are familiar with at home have found their way over to “destination house sit”.
Footwear & Clothing
This is probably the section which will see the most variation between assignments. However, it’s a little more complex than your average vacation packing list. Remember that you won’t be staying in a hotel room with ample storage and a concierge.
While the owner will likely have designated space for you to store your belongings during your stay, packing light can save you having to live out of your suitcase for the duration of the assignment.
Consider the climate of the locale, the activities you are likely to take part in and the terrain you will be exploring.
As a rule of thumb I pack my Merrell Barefoot Lithe Trail Glove Running Shoes.
- Super light with a durable sole I use them for my daily 5k, hiking on any terrain and while completing any outdoor maintenance chores on the property I am looking after.
I generally only pack one other pair of shoes.
Hot Climate – Steve Madden Thong Sandals
- Again very light weight and requires minimal space in my backpack, I can hop between a casual daytime sun dress and more glitzy evening outfit if required.
Cold Climate – ECCO Women’s Aude Lace Boot
- In a cold climate it’s vital that you have a durable shoe or boot which will keep your feet warm and dry. Something like this ECCO boot with sturdy construction is a great choice.
Again the climate will dictate your choices here but I tend to follow a bare bones strategy and mix and match items to create different looks while reducing the amount of clothing I carry.
Note that fabrics which dry quickly are a real bonus if the property does not have a tumble dryer.
My standard packing list is:
- A breathable waterproof jacket – this one by Storm Creek is great as it doubles up as a smart day jacket.
- Chinos or lightweight jeans
- Combination of cotton sleeveless tops, skirts, shorts and summer dresses when in hot climates
- Combination of Merino wool long sleeve tops, short jackets, jumpers and cardigans when in cold climates
Take into consideration that you probably won’t be doing large loads of laundry as often as you would when at home due to reduced clothing options, so pack a good supply of clean underwear.
I tend to wash items by hand if needed as it takes me a while to collect enough washing to warrant putting the washing machine on.
Kitchen & Bedroom
Here is where you must tailor this list to your personal requirements.
During the preliminary stages of accepting the assignment it is a good idea to talk to the owner about utilising certain items within their home during your stay.
Make a list of the day to day items you will need but perhaps wouldn’t usually think to pack when going on vacation, or wouldn’t want to have to buy when you arrive.
For the kitchen you should consider:
- Basic Food Stuffs – If you can’t eat a meal without your favourite chilli sauce or loathe all but one brand of ketchup, you might want to bring a bottle along. Of course, if you are traveling abroad to house sit, you should check local customs regulations with regard to food stuffs.
- If you’ve secured a long term house sit, you may want to make sure the kitchen is equipped with all the appliances you regularly use. Shipping yours over or buying second hand is a great way to enable you to cook your favourite dishes during your stay.
For the bedroom you should consider:
- Sheets – It is likely the owner will provide you with bedding. However, if you are super sensitive or just plain fussy, you could bring your own. I travel with a contoured memory foam pillow – I just can’t sleep without it.
- Dressing Gown & Slippers – A little luxury when house sitting long term can make you feel at home.
Communication & Technology
- Local SIM – Everyone relies on their mobile phone for much more than just making calls so getting a local SIM is a must when house sitting abroad. Having internet capabilities on the move will allow you to quickly search for local services, navigate in unfamiliar places and get from A to B without too much hassle.
- Language Tutorials – If you’ll be living in an area where the locals speak a different language, investing in a CD or audio guide to brush up on your “please and thank you’s” is a great idea. If you have enough time beforehand, get a head start so you can practise your new skills during the assignment. Before my assignments in Costa Rica I plugged myself into the Rosetta Stone Latin American program and found I had a basic knowledge of the language on arrival in the country.
- Translation Apps – Again, another item for those who are house sitting abroad. Despite having listened to the first few chapters of your language tutorials you’ll find a translation app seriously helpful as you settle into life in a foreign land.
- Connectors & Adaptors – Whether house sitting abroad or close to home contemplate what leads, chargers and adaptors you’ll need during your assignment. Don’t forget to consider whether you’ll need a HDMI cable to connect your laptop or tablet up to a TV to watch movies or a compatible plug adaptor to charge your electronics.
- Kensington lock – All laptops are compatible with this lock system which allows you to secure your laptop to an immovable object. I am always cautious about leaving my belongings on show within the properties I look after. Not because I fear the owner will steal them but because I am not familiar with how secure their home is.
I also hide my passport and any important documents. I know I’m neurotic but one day my excessively cautious ways will save me. I just know it.
This section is open to negotiation like those above so tailor this to your needs:
- Medicines – If you are on prescribed medication it’s a good idea to stock up on a supply to last the duration of the assignment. There are no guarantees that you will be able to source them on location, so play it safe and bring them with you.
- International Driving Licence – If house sitting abroad, it’s a great idea to apply for an international driving licence and take along your local licence too. Whether renting a vehicle or utilising one left by the home owner, you never know when you might be asked for proof of your driving credentials.
- First Aid Kit – Most homes have a supply of various band aids and pain killers but I always pack myself a “go to kit” for minor emergencies. As a solo sitter, it’s a good idea to have emergency numbers at hand, too, should you find yourself in a sticky situation.
- Gifts – I always arrive with a small gift for the home owner. It varies depending on who I am house sitting for, but I have found it provides a great way to break the ice on arrival. If you’ve been traveling prior to your arrival you could pick something up en route or bring a small item endemic to the place you live.
- Pet Toys – If your temporary home comes with a few furry house mates, it is a great idea to bring a few little treats for them, too. Of course check with the owner’s before dishing them out but this can be a super way to get in their four legged good books before you are tasked with replacing their best buddy in a few days time.
Well there you have it. The “How to House Sit Around the World” series has taken you through the logistics of becoming a house sitter, creating a kick ass profile, securing the assignment of your dreams and packing for your low cost luxury holiday.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the concept of house sitting and of course tales from those of you who have utilised house sitting to see the world on a budget.
>> Become a house sitter at Trusted Housesitters.
Happy house sitting everyone. I’m off to search for my next assignment!