First things first, to do this we knew that money would be of the highest importance, though we have done our fair share of YOLOing recently, neither one of us are huge risk takers so we wanted to come up with a concrete way that will allow us to spend 6 months to a year traveling without derailing or hindering any future plans we may want to pursue, be it career-wise or financially.
Obviously the most important part of the equation on any type of traveling is money. A large majority of the population do not have enough in savings to use if their cars break down, much less pay for plane tickets, other general travel methods, eating out frequently, and housing (which lucky for us we already had figured out, see below). We tend to be pretty decent with money so we did have some savings, but not enough for what we wanted to accomplish, we had to brainstorm other ideas.
First, a little background. Lauren and I each have full-time jobs at the same IT company that contracts out work in Columbus. Though not necessarily paths that we want to pursue forever, we have enough decency that we didn’t really want to leave our company high and dry without either of us. Luckily (?) for me, the week after I discussed the possibility of this trip, they decided that I needed to be laid-off from my position and placed elsewhere. The position in which I landed at may or may not have been devised as a social experiment to see how much people are willing to do until they quit or exploded. Yes, it was that bad.
Lauren on the other hand, being the all-star that she is, was the next up and comer at a remote position that allowed her to work from home pretty much just cuddling our dog, cleaning when necessary, and watching Friends re-runs all damn day. Sounds like the life, huh? Well I can’t deny that she deserves it. Obviously, her working from home would naturally translate to working abroad as a digital nomad. Luckily, with some cajoling and several close calls, she managed to convince management to allow her to work while traveling. Woot! Side note: If you would like to attempt to become a Digital Nomad and have the right job and skill set, I would highly recommend reading Tim Ferris’s 4-hour Workweek which details the best way to accomplish this and still stay highly productive.
Side note numero dos: I have gotten some crap before by people accusing me of essentially bumming off Lauren (I am), and that it isn’t fair to her (it isn’t), but we have an agreement that I am going to do the vast majority of pet-sitting (see below), grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning on this trip so at least I’m trying my best to do my part. Oh well, haters gon’ hate.
The pet-sitting part I mention in the last section is essential to our plan. During our initial research and decision phase, we learned about house sitting.
The premise of house sitting is simple. A person/family needs to go out of town for whatever reason and cannot bring their pet(s) along, you need a place to stay for the night/week/month, and voila, a mutually beneficial agreement is made. It’s not quite as simple as that, but also not as involved as you may think. You sign up for whatever website you choose to peruse, make a house sitter profile with a description of yourself, why you want to travel, pictures, etc. and you look on your chosen website for whatever dates and in whichever places you are available.
All house sits are unique though the majority of them are in rural or less-populated areas and 90% are for dogs or some combination of pets that include dog(s). We have seen some with as many as 6 dogs, some with horses, others with fish or even chicken (which are easy to take care of and supply you with free food, by the way). Sometimes you get lucky and get a cat only sit which often take less time of your day to care for than many other pets. Others have minor requirements involved such as watering the plants or giving the animals daily medications or walking Rocko for exactly 63.5 minutes a day. The possibilities are endless. Just remember, it’s their house you are living in so live by their rules!
There are tons of different sites you can use to find house sitting gigs. Most run on a yearly subscription basis somewhere between 20$ and 150$ a year. We wanted the opportunity to view the largest number of house sits as possible so we decided to go for 2, a smaller one called MindMyHouse (20$ a year) and a larger, more well-known and popular website, TrustedHouseSitters (120$ a year). While much more expensive, the existence of many different coupons allowed us to bring the price for TrustedHouseSitters down to around 100$. From the day we signed up, we checked both sites daily and got a few house sits along the way, some of which were dropped by the homeowners for various reasons. House sitting Pro Tip: earlier may sound better, but things change; the longer time between confirmation and actual sitting, the more likely something is to fall through.
One question I have been asked several times by people wanting to save money while traveling through house sitting is if we are worried about safety. Neither of these sites require any sort of background check, but either we or the house sitters on these sites are able to request them if they wish, as well as request an interview over Skype and/or ask for references. There is also no kind of legal obligation for either of us to stick with a gig if anybody feels uncomfortable in any way. On our side, we feel comfortable in the situation because we have these options at our disposal and because we are traveling as a couple.