Like many young couples, Austin Andrews and Jori Kerr wanted to travel but couldn’t afford the sky-high expenses. Then Kerr stumbled upon a blog post touting the benefits of pet sitting.
“I discovered we could stay in amazing homes around the world for free, caring for great animals,” she recalls.
They paid an annual fee (around $130/year) to join a service called Trusted House Sitters and waited for a response. After a few months, the couple from Bend, Oregon, got an invitation to go down to Grenada in the Caribbean for 14 days to care for a few pets.
The trip was magical, with endless sunsets, long walks on the beach, and free lodging.
“That set our path. After that, we just knew that was what we wanted to do,” says Andrews.
Two years later, the couple has made their love of travel and caring for animals a full-time job. Their company Nomads and Pawpads is a content marketing business that chronicles their adventures pet sitting in 11 countries in 5 different contents. In addition to staying in luxurious homes around the world for free, they earn up to $22,000 a month.
Nomads and Pawpads
Starting as a side hustle
Before launching Nomads and Pawpads, Andrews and Kerr were content just traveling the world taking care of pets as a side hustle.
Kerr worked at a brewery in customer service, and Andrews was a landscaper. They traveled during the winter when Andrews wasn’t working, and Kerr could work remotely.
Although their rent was free, they weren’t getting paid to pet sit. Visa restrictions do not allow international house sitters to get paid for their work. House sitting is a free exchange. They occasionally received money to pet sit around the U.S., but international travel excited them. They needed to figure out a way to make it work.
The solution: Write about their travels using affiliate marketing and social media collaborations to monetize. The couple uses their website, Instagram, and TikTok to market their pet-sitting lifestyle, offering advice, resources, and paid links to house exchange platforms such as Trusted House Sitters.
Other popular pet-sitting sites include:
As content marketing revenue increased, they could quit their other jobs and take on full-time pet sitting. They now spend about 6 to 9 months out of the year abroad.
Some of their most memorable experiences include trips to the beaches of South Portugal and stays in Singapore and Hanoi.
Most of the requests are easy—walk and feed the dog and/or cat, change the litter, give them fresh water, and light grooming. They’re also asked to take out the garbage and collect the mail, simple requests that leave them plenty of free time to explore their location.
But sometimes, pet owners require something a little out of the ordinary. Recently, they were asked to walk a cat in a stroller. They also had to feed a bearded dragon named Athena.
“That was definitely one of our most exotic pets,” says Andrews. “But she was super easy.”
Is pet sitting right for you?
Pet sitting may sound like a fun and affordable way to see the world, but it’s not for everyone. Andrews and Kerr believe there are a few traits you need to possess to make it work.
You have to be an animal lover. Both Andrew and Kerr are big animal fans. Kerr grew up on a game bird farm with dreams of being a veterinarian. “But I couldn’t really handle the sad part of that,” she says. “Pet sitting is perfect because I still get to be around animals, and, you know, there are some stressful moments for sure.
You have to be flexible and creative. Travel schedules change, so you need to be willing to adapt. You also have to be creative about your going pay your way. Remember, international pet-sitting jobs only cover your housing costs. So you’ll need to figure out how to pay for the rest of the trip. One bonus about Europe, says Andrews. “It’s much cheaper once you get there. It’s like $60 to fly from Rome to Paris.”
You have to be a good communicator. Make sure you’re in good communication with the pet owners. Leaving your home and pets in the hands of strangers can be stressful. “You wanna make sure everyone’s comfortable and on the same page,” says Andrews.
Nomads and Pawpads