Last December, having just taken over the reins at my 2018 Christmas housesitting assignment in Italy, I received an enquiry from a desperate homeowner in Cyprus looking for someone to care for his apartment and cats over Christmas.
Now before you experienced housesitters roll your eyes at yet another homeowner leaving things to the last minute, let me explain. This homeowner had done everything right. He’d advertised early. He’d found a sitter and everything had been confirmed for weeks.
The sitter had booked her flight, packed her bag and was at the airport – Gatwick Airport. And then the unimaginable happened. Some idiotic and/or nasty people decided to fly drones over the airport, bringing flights in and out of a major airport to a complete standstill.
So the housesitter was stuck, unable to get her flight from the UK to Cyprus – and the homeowner was in a complete panic as he and his family’s own holiday was also now in jeopardy. Hence me receiving a request for assistance.
Christmas is Cancelled
I did all I could to help. I replied quickly explaining that I wasn’t available so that he could approach other sitters. I shared his plight on social media and asked friends who lived in Cyprus if they could help with cat feeding or recommend a cattery in the area. I sent him all the contacts and recommendations I received. I followed up with him and never got a detailed end to the story, but from the short reply I did receive I think for him and his family – and their sitter – Christmas was cancelled. Such a shame and completely unavoidable.
The whole thing did get me thinking though about the huge responsibility that we sitters have on our shoulders that is above and beyond caring for a house and some pets. We are often the final piece in a jigsaw that enables homeowners to take that trip – whether it’s a mundane business trip or the holiday of a lifetime. So when we commit to an assignment, whether we sign a contract or not, we become involved in someone else’s life and dreams.
So is there anything we can do to minimise the impact that unexpected events like the Gatwick drone attack can have on us getting to our housesitting assignments?
When it comes to arranging travel, I’m a huge fan of Kiwi.com. It has one of the most flexible ways of searching for travel, and often lists routes and flight combinations that even the airlines themselves don’t offer you. They also have a special guarantee that if you make your travel plans through them and you miss a connecting flight that they’ve recommended, they will do whatever it takes to ensure you reach your destination.
But if you are on a direct flight and it’s delayed, is there anything you can do? Having travel insurance is a great idea but most mainstream travel insurers don’t understand or cover the kind of travel that nomads generally undertake. However, there is one company that do – WorldNomads.com is a travel insurance company set up by travellers.
Another angle, is seeking compensation after the delay. It won’t necessarily help you or your client immediately, but at least you can get some financial redress for the disruption caused. Airline compensation specialists AirHelp.com will claim on your behalf if your flight has been delayed, cancelled or overbooked. According to them, many affected passengers are unaware that they have a claim and are missing out on up to $700 compensation per incident. The company can claim for flights up to three years ago, so it’s well worth visiting their site to see if you have a claim.