Who would have thought we would become Global Housesitters? We were homebodies, who were quite content in our own company in our own personal space, in either our home with wheels or the one without. We had extensively travelled around our beautiful country of origin, New Zealand. Then we discovered we loved exploring and going overseas even more.
We had experience housesitting for friends and family. So we thought…
Why not for other people around the world? Why not indeed.
In 2015, the squire and I spent 3 months travelling around Europe and the UK. When we arrived back home, we decided that we wanted to go back and base ourselves there. We discovered that slow travelling suits us for many reasons. The squire has a back disability and days of rest are needed plus we have always enjoyed a slower pace when it came to travelling. I recommend slow travelling even if you don’t have a disability of any sort! In this fast paced world, it is imperative to stop and smell the roses and make connections with people in real life. Especially when travelling and exploring new places.
Housesitting was the natural solution to fulfilling our goal of living in Europe full-time. We live rent-free in exchange for keeping someone’s home and pets safe, plus Housesitting allows us to have authentic travel experiences in ways that most traditional accommodations do not. It’s a win-win situation. As the homeowners do not have the expense of having to put pets into the kennels, the animals are much happier in their own environment, and a big bonus is the security for their home. Plus I love gardening, and the squire is excellent at making me cups of coffee afterwards!
Don’t you get sick of living out of a suitcase?
That is probably the most asked question when people discover that we travel full-time housesitting. After many years, we have become experts on how to pack and what we really need.
Tips for full-time travel packing:
- Good quality clothing. You will wear the same clothes over and over again. They must last.
- Easy to wash and dry. Fabrics that need special attention are a no-no. [we do use Kathmandu]
- Pack your suitcase in a way that accessing clothing is done fast and easy.
- Clothing must be multi-use. e.g. merino wool tops can be used in an English early summer as well as winter with more layers. I can not emphasize this enough!
- Be tidy and organized.
- Carry one suitcase each and a carry-on. [Believe me you don’t want to be carrying more!] We have never exceeded 21kgs in the years we have been travelling.
It’s hard to describe how free we feel not being tied down to a house and possessions. It’s just about us. Meeting new people, looking after various pets and seeing new places.
Don’t you get tired of each other?
Many men have looked at the squire in total disbelief and said, “I couldn’t do it. We would be divorced within a month!” And if he’s honest, he has his moments of frustration. As do I. Though the squire is far more patient than myself!
Honestly, we got used to each other’s company for long periods of togetherness when we sold our small orchard/farm and purchased our motorhome. We lived in just 24 square metres! During that time, we met up with friends and family on a regular basis, so it didn’t feel like we were all on our own. Though what is different to travelling full-time housesitting overseas is that going off to the usual club or visiting people isn’t as easy as doing it in our hometown. We naturally socialise while housesitting and travelling. It is just done as a couple more than individually.
How do you survive 24hrs together?
1. Laugh and I mean the right old belly sort of laugh!
Laugh at all the annoying things that require more patience! During travelling, things do go wrong. Such as arriving at a train station, and that cold feeling creeps over you when you both realise that you have the incorrect station and the train is due to depart in 20 minutes. I am too polite to say what was uttered by the two of us. We both laughed our heads off, more in relief, when we were safely in the train carriage heading to Valencia, Spain! The good news is we arrived in Valencia none the worse from our experience. Just a little more experienced in dealing with travel arrangements!
2. We are a team – the awesome twosome
When you’re thousands of kilometres away from your home, family and friends, you have to be able to rely on each other for support. As mentioned before we knew it would not be a problem for us as we have had years living and travelling in a motorhome. For many, I would suggest a trial period before embarking on this lifestyle full time.
As we all know, nothing tests your relationship more than moments of stress. One example of that is when I needed medical assistance for a tooth infection. Not being fluent speakers of French, we very quickly realised that we had to remain calm and try to relay to the doctor what was wrong. Thankfully, the situation was sorted very smoothly, without having to pay a cent!
A sideline to this is to have comprehensive insurance. This is a MUST. We have not had to use it as yet, and it is still one thing we would always have on our travels.
You also quickly work out which situations to avoid putting yourselves in, as it does nothing for marital harmony. The squire purchased a portable GPS unit for our travels. (Relationship savers those gadgets!)
3. Assign “jobs” / Share the workload
It quickly became apparent when we first started travelling that there are jobs each of us are good at and enjoy doing. If one of you particularly loves getting into writing and replying to hundreds of housesit positions, let them do it. Likewise, if one of you hates sorting out train or plane tickets, then let the other one do it. We also seemed to find a way of sharing the workload by accident. We hadn’t planned it that way, but instead, we just seemed to fall into owning specific tasks as a matter of course. And not always as we might have expected.
4. Find some “me time.”
We both relish time on our own. It is important. We are very self-contained and are quite happy to spend time by ourselves nearly as much as being together as a couple or socialising with other people. Going away for an hour walking while the other is catching up on computer work, or reading is something we do on a regular basis. Housesitting is brilliant in that it gives us space as we can be in separate rooms doing our own thing when we need more ‘me time’.
5. Open that purse and splurge.
Travelling on a budget does mean that we’ve learned to live fairly frugally. Of course, our budget is immensely helped by doing housesitting. We are exchanging caring for a home and animals for free accommodation.
Though, there’s nothing quite so cathartic as the occasional splurge on something that creates beautiful memories for the both of you.
For us, this is having time out from housesitting to explore areas we have not been to. Last year we travelled to Portugal, Spain, Scotland, America [NYC] and Ireland. Portugal, America and Ireland [Dublin] are countries we had not previously visited. This year, we are adding a few more countries to our list of explored countries. The countries we have housesat in so far are New Zealand, Australia, England, Scotland, France, Germany and Switzerland. By the end of the year, two more different countries will be included.
6. Selfies for the over 50’s, capture that moment
A long time ago I realized selfies and the over 50’s are not a combination made in heaven. But there is always an exception to every rule!. There are so many factors to take into consideration before the button is pressed. By the time all are in tune, the squire has lost all incentive to do it. Though we occasionally do the odd selfie! There is always the unsuspecting person walking towards you that can press the button which eliminates the hassle and the awful looking selfies that are never usually published.
Don’t hesitate to grab someone and ask them to take a photo or two for a more personal memory of how you felt about that moment of time in your travels.
7. Don’t underestimate the value of just ‘being.’
Travelling can be tiring. Both mentally and physically. Over the years we have travelled months at a time. This is why we have now chosen to do housesitting. It suits our desire to go slowly. We have been doing this since the beginning of 2016, and we have already obtained housesits for 2018. Doing housesits that are longer than a week, gives us that time just to do normal things. Things that most of us take for granted. We do enjoy just relaxing around the house and exploring the community where we are housesitting.
We have no hesitation in recommending housesitting, as a way to embrace travelling and to explore neighbourhoods, around the world in a slow and relaxing way. To experience all this with your best friend at your side, makes us feel very blessed.
About the author:
From teacher to orchard owner to full-time traveller, Suzanne has re-invented herself many times over. A self-professed late bloomer, her latest accomplishments include10 half marathons [competitive walker] and one triathlon in her fifties. With her partner in tow, Suzanne is now a blogger and full-time global housesitter.