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Housesitting over Christmas is one of the best ways to spend the holidays! Since we started traveling full time in 2014, we have taken on the responsibilities of pet sitting over Christmas on 4 occasions – and we think it is an absolutely wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season!
Celebrating Christmas Abroad
In our first year as full-time travelers, we spent Christmas in Barcelona and New Year’s Eve in Madrid on a one-week Spain whirlwind in the company of a good friend. Between the vino and jamon y queso and festive markets, the holidays flew by. We were fascinated by the local traditions and enthralled by the merry celebrations.
Find out more about the Best Places to Spend Christmas in Europe!
Housesitting for the Holidays
Eager to celebrate another holiday season abroad, we warmed to the idea of pet sitting over Christmas. In fact, the more we mulled it over, the more it made sense to housesit at Christmas.
One of the many perks of housesitting is getting a free place to stay. During the holiday season, when accommodation costs skyrocket (especially in idyllic European cities!), we can save a bundle by housesitting.
Another reason housesitting for Christmas is appealing is that, rather than spending the holidays in a hotel room, we can spend it in a cozy home with a pet as company. We can cook a complete feast and watch some of our favorite holiday flicks from a comfortable sofa.
Yet, one more reason – and a really good one – to housesit over the holidays is that there are ample holiday housesitting opportunities, especially on housesitting websites, like Trusted Housesitters (which is what we use!).
More people travel at the holidays…and those people need housesitters. With so many options, we can usually find a housesit in our desired city. For example, in the past few years we have been fortunate enough to spend Christmas housesitting in London, Paris and Amsterdam.
Find out more about how we find International Housesitting gigs – Coming Soon!
Christmas House Sitting: Netherlands
Back in 2015, housesitting for the holidays was a new concept for us. Our first Christmas housesitting gig was in a small town outside Nijmegen, Netherlands – from mid-November until the end of January – with one dog. From the moment we agreed to dog sit over Christmas and New Year’s, we began pondering how we would celebrate.
What are the local traditions? Will we get a tree and decorations? Will there be Christmas markets? Do the Dutch celebrate with a feast? What is on the menu?
As a person who has a fondness for traditional celebrations, it can be a challenge to find balance while traveling during the holidays. On one hand, I feel the desire to honor my own traditions, while on the other hand, I eagerly participate in the local holiday traditions of wherever we happen to be.
Netherlands: Pet Sitting Holidays
It was during our housesit in Melbourne, Australia that we agreed to the 10-week housesit in the village of Beek outside of Nijmegen. The housesit, in a lovely and comfortable family home, also included caring for one pet, Berus, a 90-pound, playful (and protective) Hovawart.
Our days were spent walking Berus in the forest on chilly mornings and warming up by the fire stove in the afternoons. We witnessed the local holiday preparations firsthand. Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piet helpers arrived in the Netherlands in November and Christmas Markets near Nijmegen popped up shortly after that.
To enhance our Christmas spirit at the house, we bought a small, living Christmas tree and turned it into a merry decoration by adding a strand of white lights, an assortment of red jingle bell ornaments and a glittery gold star.
For our Christmas feast, we grazed on local fare (Hello, Cheese!) and made a traditional Dutch Christmas meal: Gourmetten. Of course, we complimented the meal with bisschopswijn, the Dutch version of mulled wine. Read more about the amazing Dutch Cuisine and Must-Try Foods!
Christmas Day was filled with comforts of ‘home.’ With Berus by our side and a fire in the wood-burning stove, we watched Love Actually and then spent the evening Skyping with family and friends in America, closing the gap of thousands of miles. And, at dusk, we could see snow falling through our bay window.
Become a member of Trusted Housesitters – and start searching for housesitting opportunities!
Christmas House Sitting Stories
Prior to our first Christmas dog sitting experience, we reached out to fellow travelers who also housesit during the holidays. They shared with us how they are celebrating (or have celebrated) while pet and housesitting for the holidays.
Dale and Franca – Angloitalian, Follow Us
This December we’ll be spending our second Christmas in someone else’s home as house sitters, and we’re super excited.
On Christmas Day we’ll wake up in the heart of London with two beautiful cats to keep us company as we celebrate the day together in a way that only housesitting allows us.
As travelers we don’t often have the comforts of home, so being able to wake up in a private home – instead of a noisy hostel or hotel – and be able to make ourselves a delicious and over-the-top vegan Christmas dinner is momentously joyous; and being able to enjoy the holidays where the chance of snow is high, what more could we ask for?
Find Angloitalian, Follow Us on Twitter at ai_followus
Rachel – Vagabond Baker
I spent last Christmas and New Year’s in Konstanz, Germany with my fella looking after an empty home in a beautiful location while the owners went away for the holidays.
Over the fortnight we experienced festive Konstanz in glorious winter sunshine. Lake Constance glittered with its spectacular backdrop of the Austrian Alps. On Christmas Day we took an afternoon walk into Switzerland, which was just a couple of hundred meters along the road from the apartment!
Just after Christmas the snow fell, transforming Konstanz to a winter wonderland. It was still piled up by New Year and the locals used it to prop their fireworks.
At midnight the starry night sky was obliterated by bright explosions. It was chaotic, wild and colorful: all along the river and over the bridges fireworks were let off by the merry revelers.
Rob and Nat – Love and Road
Last year we spent our first Christmas & New Year’s Eve far from our family and home. Actually, we spent the holidays with a new family in Bangkok, Thailand: Chomsky, Freya and Oshima, the three lovely cats that we looked after during the holiday season. We are cat lovers and those three rascals helped a lot to smooth the “homesickness.” They were with us all the time, following us all around the house.
Since it was our first time in Bangkok and we have no clue on how they celebrate holidays we decided to go out for a vegetarian dinner and later hit the infamous Khao San Road for some buckets (of booze). It was quite different from our celebration in Brazil where we would eat a lot of meat and drink a lot of booze. Well… the booze we had!
Kate and Maarten – Chopsticks and Trains
Last year we did a housesit in Hong Kong for the lovely sausage dog, Poppy. We were travelling in Asia at the time, where Christmas is not really celebrated. However, Hong Kong does have some Christmas spirit and it is a city where we feel at home, which was just what we needed during the holidays. At Christmas we cooked Belgian recipes with Chinese ingredients and for New Year’s Eve we were invited to a local wine shop.
This year we were traveling in South America and decided to fly to New York for a Christmas housesit with a cute little dog. New York has a famous Christmas spirit, and we are excited to be part of that. On Christmas day we will first call our families and then cook some Belgian dishes, because in Belgium we normally celebrate with our family and friends with lots of food! What will we do for New Year’s Eve? We have no clue yet, but we are pretty sure New York will come up with a few ideas!
We very much enjoy holiday housesits, since we can relax from traveling long term and can feel a bit ‘at home’ during these festive days, even while away from our families.
We want to know: What do you think about housesitting for the holidays? Would you want to dog sit at Christmas? Tell us why or why not in the comments!
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