Angie Brocato has your dream job. She’s a pet sitter, but with a crazy twist. She travels around Europe, working from her computer, all the while watching pets in exchange for accommodation (yea I KNOW you’re interested now SUAG family, we’re always looking at those money-saving hacks).
Welcome to global pet sitting – aka free Airbnb… but. With. DOGS. Sign us up, please!!
After spending some time between sailing the Mediterranean’s turquoise water, and taking a bike tour around the Amalfi Coast – Angie, the Queen of living her best life (as I’ve dubbed her) answered some questions about how she does what she does.
Spoiler alert: Angie’s life reflects a modern-day and millennial, “Eat Pray Love” with a little more depth and a lot more spunk. So grab those tissues because she’s about to get real AF.
1. What exactly is global pet sitting?
One of my favorite modes of budget traveling is pet sitting. I think it is such a win-win scenario! Pets usually get very anxious away from their owners and boarding facilities can only add to that stress. At a high level, while the owners are on vacation, I come in and look after their furry family member in exchange for accommodation.
Their pet gets to stay at home, the owners save on boarding costs and I don’t pay for accommodation.
2. What / who encouraged or inspired you to go live your life abroad?
Ah so many things, but at the core, there were two seeds that took root.
The first was my upbringing.
My mom raised me to work, to be independent, and to save my money. It sounds opposite at first but bear with me. I am so grateful for those core values I have but traveling never fit into that. Travel = not saving money to me, so why? Learning about the small beautiful cross-cultural connection moments of travel were nowhere near my radar at the time. She was a single mom who worked so hard to provide for my sister and me, so I understand there is a different lens to life in that situation. After university, I worked and worked and saved and saved.
Then my mom passed away, and everything changed. I would sit at my desk and ask why? I lost the urge to chase the next promotion in that setting.
The second seed was two years ago.
I fell for someone and found out they were moving abroad shortly after. Did not work out, but it opened my eyes! To see him go through the steps of making that happen was another lightbulb moment for me. It was as simple as saying I want to do this, research, prepare, and then just do it. Something different was right at my fingertips, I just had to change my perspective and switch lanes. I am a strong believer that the people that pass through your life at different times are there for different reasons. It is a beautiful thing.
I am a strong believer that the people that pass through your life at different times are there for different reasons. It is a beautiful thing.
3. You said you work online – what’s your job?
Before I started this location-independent lifestyle, I thought only people with coding skills could get digital nomadic positions. (Which I do not have!) I researched all of the options available and decided a TEFL certificate was the best option for me. I now work with VIPKID as an online English teacher. It’s great, I choose my schedule and love my students.
I recently also began working as a remote virtual assistant. I found this job through a previous job connection, but recently, I learned there are a lot of these positions out there.
4. Best pet-sitting story so far?
I call this story sheep rescue; I’ll start from the BAAA-ginning. I was an au pair for two dogs in Naas, Ireland for six weeks. (Found this on Workaway).
It’s about 40 minutes out of Dublin in County Kildare. There are lots of country roads and sheep. During the end of my stay, there was some overlap with my replacement. We were walking the dogs out aways and heard an angry/sad/confused BAAAAAA out of nowhere. The sheep in the field seemed far away. We look behind some bushes, and a poor sheep got its head stuck in the wired fence. I handed the dogs over and went to investigate. I tried to pull apart the metal wire so he could escape.
Well, of course, Mr. Sheep was freaked out and kept running farther towards me vs. backing up. I’m learning Italian, but haven’t had success communicating and translating with sheep yet. Luckily there was a house around the corner that looked like the farm owners. We went over and let them know one of their sheep was stuck and needed rescuing.
The owner said in his perfect Irish accent, “oh yeah, no bother it happens at least once a week, thanks for letting us know.” Mission semi accomplished.
6. This seems to be a common concern – since you’re solo traveling how do you meet people?
I’m an introverted extrovert, so sometimes I want to socialize, and other times I’m perfectly content with my book. My resting reading face says I’m in another world don’t interrupt me ha.
Sometimes I’ll start chatting with someone on a flight or train. Other times I’ll use apps like Meet Up, dating apps and Couchsurfing hangouts to connect with others. My favorite thing has been Airbnb experiences. I’ve done cooking classes, walking tours, running groups, local language lessons, and biking tours. A lot of times traveling and being open to things is just random.
One day I’ll feel lonely, and the next day, I get invited to join a family for dinner. I’m learning just to ride it out, be open, and take life as it comes.
7. What are your current plans?
Right now, I’m in Italy for the summer. My Grandpa was born in Cefalù, and it was amazing to meet so many Brocato’s! Who knows if we are actually related, but it was fun to meet “cousins.” This past year I will be on the road for 3-4 months, stop back home for a couple of months, then take off again. I’m starting to research student visa options to really improve my language skills.
8. If someone wanted to become a global pet sitter like you, how would they get started?
The first step is deciding to do it. The rest falls into place with some research, and you don’t need to figure it all out at once. There are so many different ways to travel available, decide which one works best for you. Next, don’t compare what you decide to anyone else. If you are living, learning, being respectful of places you visit and have your health it is a privilege to do it. So be aware and just enjoy!
Next, don’t compare what you decide to anyone else. If you are living, learning, being respectful of places you visit and have your health it is a privilege to do it.
How to Start Globally Pet Sitting
Check out some different platforms. I use Trusted Housesitters and am happy to share my referral code so you get a discount off of the annual fee.
Create a profile with nice pics and a bio. If you have done sits for friends before, they can leave you a review to up your credibility. Get out those cute photos of you and those pets!
Get verified and complete a background check.
Browse the sits available in the area you want to travel to. Be aware that popular cities can get competitive. In major cities, I have better luck finding a sit 20 minutes out and commuting in.
Research flight and visa requirements for that country.
Write some nice application messages and connect with the owners if they select you.
Purchase your flight and 100% confirm with the owners. This is a big deal. Don’t apply and accept a sit if things are up in the air. It’s important both ends commit to each other.
Have you ever pet sit in another country? Got a good story from it?
Keep up with Angie’s life (and the pets, duh) on IG!