I have always enjoyed travelling, most people I know do. Like many I love going to new and interesting places with different climates, foods, cultures and languages. And like most I enjoy meeting new friends and some time just chilling out and relaxing or sightseeing, or perhaps something more active.
For many years I only just managed to satisfy my love for travel with my allocated annual leave allowance. But, I love to travel. I mean I really love to travel. I love the dreaming of it, researching it, planning it, getting there, exploring, experiencing, and more recently capturing it and sharing. I really really love it.
I even get pleasure from the weird and wonderful commutes and convoluted transits. Sometimes I even wish the bus or train ride was longer so I can take in more of the wonderful and fascinating glimpses of what’s happening in the world I pass through as it flashes by. I always want to stay longer; not once have I ever uttered the words “It’s always nice to come home” or “It’s nice to be back in my own bed”. In fact it is usually only a matter of hours in a new city or town before I start to imagine what it might be like to live there or spend some time there as a local.
Well, that has all changed now, for now I have it all! I am a house sitter. It is a very simple and uncomplicated concept where I stay in other peoples homes while they are away and take care of things for them. Usually those things need to be watered and fed and a lot of them come with feeding times, fur and exercise commitments. This is all a part of the deal which also comes with a limitless number of travel destinations and experiences I can access as a house sitter.
One of the most significant parts of travelling while house sitting is spending extended periods in one destination. Hopping from city to city is not how it works. Most house sits start at around a week in duration. Along with this, often the house or apartment where I am based for the period of the sit is not amongst the hub of hotels catering for the travellers market in that particular place. When on a house sit I am living in a house or family home in a real neighbourhood and a part of a real community.
Again, this is where the difference comes in and with more time, comes more connection. I get a huge sense of satisfaction when I can say that I can navigate the public transport system of a city I am visiting and can get from bus, to metro, to tram and read to timetables with some sense of accuracy. I throw in some bonus points for myself if I need to navigate a foreign currency and extra points if everything is in a foreign language!
This extra time and new found ability to navigate previously unchartered lands literally opens up a whole new world. I love to get local; find a yoga or Pilates studio and join some classes and meet fellow students or discover a farmers market for fresh paddock to the plate eating. I usually clock up some serious miles pounding the pavement to uncover great local cafés, book stores or galleries. There is also a lot of time to get and be active in the outdoors, so I seek out places to hike for the best natural scenery there is around.
There is also scope while on a house sit to create, do or contribute something meaningful. It could be to work on some personal fitness goals with the aim to conquer a famous peak somewhere or maybe tap into an inner Shakespeare and starting working on that book that has been drafting out for years. It could be the time to launch an online start up, or donate some time to a charity and share a life time of skills and experience with a worthy cause.
I honestly don’t think there is another way I would rather travel, and with every sit I am making more friends for life. The owners of the homes and pets I care for, their neighbours and friends who I become acquainted with and the other locals in the towns and villages where I stay. I get loads of referrals while securing return dates for repeat sits and I continue to grow my own house sitting network with other house sitters. Not only is this the best way to travel authentically, I am now a part of and continue to contribute and connect with the house sitting community of like minded people that is growing every day.