For many, travelling can appear to be an impossible endeavour for a myriad of reasons. It is also something that can seem so thrilling and surreal that it can become intimidating. This is a problem for those wanting to break free from the clutches of everyday life and explore the world. Social media, for one, has made all aspects of travel so much more visible, like a carrot dangled in front of your face.
It adds to the excruciating dullness of “normal life”, something many people have assumed that they will never leave. Images floating around Instagram and Facebook on world traveller accounts are rife, and cause fits of wanderlust and heart-wrenching frustration. A double-tap or click and another strand of your soul evaporates into thin air as you desperately try to desensitize from those beautiful blues and greens of The Gram’s catalogue of paradise photos.
And then a question begs to be asked: How do these people afford to travel for long periods of time?
It’s easy to just assume, “Oh they must have rich parents”, or “They probably own a successful business”. Well, I promise you that is not always the case. Yes, people who are in a position to post amazing photos of beaches, sunsets and cute city streets on a weekly or daily basis, may have a decent travel gig on the side, or play the stock markets well. Indeed, they may actually have wealthy parents or own a successful business. Who knows? Who cares?
Let me tell you how I do things. I’ll explain how I am able to travel from place-to-place, and prove that ANYONE can do what I do. I don’t book up expensive hotels, or own overseas condos or villas. I only occasionally use booking.com or Airbnb. I do work online but at present only enough to support me for a month of food and transport, and the occasional shoe repair or garment update. How do I pay for accommodation?
Ever heard of house-sitting? Sure you have, it’s when you look after someone-you-know’s house whilst they go away for the weekend… right?
Ok, here we go: There’s a house-sitting website (a few, to be honest) and for a tiny annual fee of $20 you can sign up and make a profile of yourself. Then comes the fun bit…
There are houses that need minding in The French Pyrenees, the centre of Zurich, on the coastline of a Greek island, the list goes on endlessly. People advertise their homes to people like you and I, so that they can go away for however long (I saw one post recently advertising an 8-month stay). Personally, I have house-sat a cute Baroque-style apartment in Prague, a converted old mill in the northern Spanish hills near Figueres, a large summer house on the coast of the Mediterranean in southwest Spain, and a gorgeous retreat, again on the Med, but in southern Turkey’s Antalya province.
It’s not just about the house-sit itself, the owners of these houses also want to give you the opportunity to explore the surrounding areas in your free time. Treks, museums, restaurants, old ruins, the beach… there have been some amazing travel experiences that have come with house-sitting. And when you’re not out exploring or cuddling up with the resident cat, it is the perfect place to settle down and get some work done.
There are all kinds of properties that pop up. I saw a castle on one of the house-sitting websites only last week, in northern England. Yes, a castle. There was also a houseboat ready for immediate residency. A houseboat?? Amazing! This website literally covers the globe. Going to America or Australia? They have many house owners looking for a house-sitter.
Do you like animals? Many of the house owners are also pet owners, so will be using the website to find suitable house-sitters who also love looking after animals. My personal experiences have included feeding and combing horses, walking dogs, feeding cats, pigs and sheep.
So, what do you do?
It’s a truly great experience to have, house-sitting. It has helped keep me grounded in one place, reset, and get some work done. It has helped me concentrate on key elements like diet and fitness. It has provided me with free warmth through the winter months, and animals to love and think of. It has created opportunities to visit places I would otherwise not visit, and meet people I would otherwise never have met.
Don’t forget, there are other websites you can look at, for different sign-on fees, and more house-sit opportunities. Find which one is suitable for you.
So get on it, do some research and let me know how you get on.