(A preview of 2017 travel plans and a look into exploring house sitting!)
“A dream without a plan is just a wish.” – Katherine Patterson
Inspired by my blogger-friend Jayne’s recent article on her 2017 travel plans (a really amazing plan!), I’ve decided to tweak my dreams into something more resembling an actual plan… kind of like Jayne’s. Well, not exactly like hers because my funds won’t allow epic adventures like Antarctica, Africa, or the Trans-Mongolian Express. (Someday!)
Mine is a realistic vision of how someone like me, with meager funds, can actually make a plan work.
Here’s the plan
My landlord has been kind enough to work with me on subletting my apartment in Taiwan for 4 months. With no monthly expenses to worry about at my home base, it will allow me to spend time house sitting in Europe. Fortunately, I am able to fly very cheaply (standby) on Delta Airlines (I’m really lucky) so getting to Europe won’t be a huge financial expense. Also, flights within Europe are affordable thanks to Ryan Air and other low-cost carriers.
House sitting is something I had never considered before and I’m just beginning to explore, inspired by some fellow bloggers who’ve been doing it for years. Most available house sitting jobs require pet care – cats, dogs, birds, and I’ve even seen an ad for alpacas – but pet care is a small price to pay in exchange for free housing.
Some of the most popular house sitting websites:
TrustedHousesitters.com – HouseCarers.com – MindmyHouse.com
I joined Trusted Housesitters, the largest of the many sitting sites because their website is the best I’ve seen and is very user-friendly. With very little house sitting experience on my resume, I’m relying on reference letters to boost my reputation. I’ve also gotten a police check from my local police station to prove that I’m not some crazy lunatic criminal. The people looking for sitters are putting a lot of trust into the system, entrusting the care of their beloved pets and beautiful home, so a little reassurance is important. I also plan to add a personal video introduction to let them see the “real me”. (And then they’ll quickly hit the delete button…)
Every morning I receive an email from Trusted Housesitters showing the most recent listings and I’ve started to plot my possible route, trying to arrange sittings back-to-back with a few travel days in between.
Here is one possible itinerary, demonstrating how scheduling back-to-back sits is entirely possible.
Dates: Dec 15 – 30 (not sure that I want to spend Christmas alone with a Spanish-speaking dog)
Sa Cabantea, Spain (1 dog) – This one has the option of a beautiful country house or an apartment in town: “Our house is a four bedroom, four bathroom property with garden and swimming pool, satellite TV, air conditioning and central heating with covered terraces for sitting and dining, barbecue etc. Our old town Palma apartment has two bedrooms and open plan living room and two bathrooms.”
Dates: Jan 3 – 18
Toulon, France (1 dog) – “We live in the south of France in a big house with a swimming pool and 10 minutes walk from the beach and the town center. You’ll have to feed the dog twice a day and if you want to take a walk with him he’ll like it very much. Anyway. there is a garden so it won’t be necessary to go for a walk every day.”
Dates: Jan 20 – Feb 4
Frigiliana, Spain (1 dog) “We live very happily and contentedly in ‘el campo’, about ten minutes drive along a track from Frigiliana. My little cortijo is situated within an avocado and mango farm – which is looked after the owner of the land. The views are magnificent!” (Sounds magnificent!)
Dates: Feb 4 – March 4
London, UK (2 cats) – “Our house is a beautifully maintained 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom semi in the lovely leafy West London suburb of Hampton Hill. Local popular attractions include Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames, Teddington, Bushy Park (10 mins walk), Richmond Park, The River Thames.…” (I quickly jumped on this one but am not confident that I’ll be chosen.)
Dates: March 4 and beyond
This remains a mystery since it’s still a little too early for a lot of listings for March. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that perfect villa in Italy. Hopefully, I’ll spend a few months writing and exploring the small Italian villages. (Maybe I’ll even hang out with George Clooney at his villa on Lake Como.)
Since this is my first house sitting adventure and the competition is sometimes stiff, I may have to settle. I likely won’t get a castle with a stunning view of George Clooney, but I’m flexible. And flexibility is the key to making a house sitting adventure work, but it’s such an affordable way to travel longer and connect with a place more deeply.
Amanda, a travel blogger from Burger Abroad, spent a year house sitting her way through Europe and inspired me to seriously consider this European house sitting adventure!
According to Amanda, sometimes the homeowners will leave a “tip” at the end of the sit based on what they would have paid to hire a pet sitter. “Tipping practices vary greatly by country, and definitely never ever expect gratuity. However, most experienced pet owners are familiar with the value of a sitter. As a result, they may want to reimburse your travel expenses and/or gift you with a tip you for your service.”
She says another bonus is food! “Housesit hosts leave stocked pantries, tips, and gardens of fruits and vegetables. Often neighbors offer me home-cooked meals or produce from their own gardens.” (Sounds like an excellent arrangement!)
Jayne from Blue Planet Nomads is so much better at committing to epic future plans and I’m doing my best to follow in her footsteps. Unfortunately, I’ve still got some “commitment issues” that require I focus on 4-month plans rather than a whole year! I still need to write everything in pencil. Eventually, I hope to be like Jayne and be able to use a pen!
I still need to write everything in pencil. Eventually, I hope to be like Jayne and use a pen for my plans!
What’s your 2017 dream? Is it just a wish or is it turning into a plan?
For more tips, advice, and stories on house sitting see: