Once you feel that the prospective pet sitter is qualified for the job arrange an initial meeting. It is important that the sitter gets along with your pet. Also, make sure you are there for the first visit. When it is apparent that the meeting is a success than hire them for a short visit to ensure there are no problems. We hired the pet sitter to watch our dog while we were at work. Since, that went well we moved to a weekend and then to a week without us.
There are some things that you can do to ensure that your pet is happy in your absence. Leave your sitter with clear instructions of when to feed and where the food is located, vet's number, and how he/she can get into contact with you. Next to your instructions leave treats or favorite toys. If you have a security system or a door that sticks make sure that you explain this to the sitter before you leave. You don't want the sitter to have to deal with the police or the fact that he/she can't get into the house to feed the pet. Make sure that you make reservations ahead of time especially during holidays and busy vacation times. Also, make sure that your pet's vaccinations are up to date and identification properly attached.
Hopefully, you can find a sitter who gives you and your family piece of mind. You and your family can now go away knowing that your pet's routine will not be interrupted and still receive the same love and attention. The kennel or a neighbor might still be a better choice for you, but for those parents that might not have close neighbors or might have an unfriendly pet this might be a good alternative than never being able to leave the house.