I used to travel quite frequently, as my husband was stationed several states from where I worked at the time. What I did was this. I worked as a chemist, so most of my friends from work were people who were regularly trusted with dangerous chemicals and processes on a daily basis. This did not guarantee good pet sitters, but it indicated that they could accept a good amount of responsibility. Everyone has people like this in their lives.
I picked a couple people and introduced them to the chins. I gave them a check list (care, feeding, how to deal with seizures, general pet evacuation plan in the event of natural or man-made disaster, proper temperature range and how to read the digital thermometer history and adjust the thermostat), the name of my vet (regular and emergency), access to a certain amount of money, and emergency contact info. Then I had them come over and visit during a feeding. For a two day weekend, I only asked them to check that the water bottles weren't knocked over (my chins do this and so someone must check on them) and to freshen the water and give them raisins. My chins aren't pigs, so I can put 3-4 days of food in their bowl. For three days, I would ask them to also put in hay. For 4 days, they needed to know everything.
When I went to Korea for 3 weeks, I hired a pet sitter, but she herself owned a 16 year old chin, so that was her best reference. Instead of having her come out everyday, I crated the chins and brought the cage her house and they had her pool cabana to themselves.
Only a very select few sitters have I allowed to let the chins free run. My theory is a couple of days every month without a free run won't hurt. Actually, the sitter that let them out was one of my husband's army buddies. He always brought papers for the chins cage and sat with us several times when the chins were on free run. He learned how to get them into the cage (wait up to an hour) and had actually witnessed the only seizure that Maureen had in Fayetteville, so he was well qualified.
So to answer your question, for a couple of days, it is a good idea to have someone check on the chins, but they do not need to be experts. For long weekend, a more preparation is necessary. For long term, it pays to really plan ahead. I have never asked a friend to babysit for so long that they had to clean a cage or anything like that.
And I would not leave babies or a sick animal with anyone who is not either a chin owner, a vet tech, a biologist, or someone with special knowledge. (Max had an eye infection over Xmas last year and one of the biologists from my company was happy to take care of him and give him his medicine. Good for me, because she was able to give the medicine. Good for her, because her daughter really wanted a chinchilla and this was a valuable part of the research for her. Also, it meant that they had done some basic research on chins already.)
Have fun on you trip.
Back in NC again! (Army wife and proud!)
Chinnies: Maureen, Max, and Muad'Dib
Cats: Daphne (who says, I only play with mousie toys with a string tail and a bell.)
And introducing: Tasselhof and Kittira (Hubbie's childhood cats, who are 10 and 9 repectively)