Thank goodness that it is the summer, and people need all sorts of plants watered.
Housesitting is a little better than couchsurfing, because at least you’ve got some personal space. A lot of the same principles for being a great couch crasher apply here, of course, and it all mostly boils down to conscientiousness.
This is the yardstick that we measure all human beings against.
Follow the house rules.
This one is a basic one, but yeah, certain people like things being done certain ways. Not all people are created equal. And no one definitely makes scrambled eggs the same way.
But more importantly, Type A people will always remain Type A people. (Don’t crash with a Type A person if you don’t think you can handle it.)
Meaning, when I say no shoes in the room, I really mean no shoes in the room. Do you think I’m going to notice that extra dirt on the rug? Of course I am.
Clean up the house, take out the trash.
I mean, hello! Be an adult. I get that everyone has different standards of cleanliness, but it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile here and make sure that things are sparkling as much as possible before return. At the very least, the apartment should be returned in the same condition that it was left in.
Fortunately, Airbnb has helped a long way in making everyone socially conscious.
Replace any household items.
Coffee, toilet paper, toothpaste, I don’t know. Treat it like your own house, like when guests are about to come over (not like how you treat it when you haven't left the house in five years). It's the least that can be done after sucking up their space, resources and air conditioning.
Make sure the plants are watered.
Okay, first things first. If your green thumb is lacking sorely, being upfront with that is important. I have a tendency to kill plants, as my former roommate and a few other people can attest to. In fact, I have even killed succulents. But they're generally safe with me as long as you don't stick me with them for a month or two.
Good questions should pinpoint to location of said plants, as well as to the frequency of watering.
Here’s some good advice for people who suck at plants, from someone who is good at plants:
The easiest method is simply to put a finger in the soil. If it’s wet, it doesn’t need to be watered. If it’s bone-dry, it could use some.
Luckily, plants are generally very hard to kill, so unless you’re failing in your plant guardian duty over a long period of time, say like, three weeks, chances are you will have done a sufficient job.
Keep the fridge stocked.
Perhaps the best way to my heart is to make sure there is a stocked fridge by the time I return home from a trip. Most people appreciate a good meal.
If you’ve got some cooking skills in the arsenal, cooking a basic meal to keep in the fridge is often a quick and cheap way to say thanks. Recipes that require too many specialized spices aren’t a good bet since not all kitchens are stocked the same.
In the event that time is an issue, ducking into the nearest grocery store to stock up on the basics is not the worst idea in the world. Even if you have no idea about what they like to eat, filling the fridge with basics like milk, eggs, butter, salad, fruit, tomatoes and onions are usually a good bet. Throw in chips, cookies, and alcohol to round out the other basic food groups.