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Title about house sitting centered among collage of dogs.

House Sitting Across the Globe

By on September 22, 2018

Title about house sitting centered among collage of dogs.
These are all of the loveable pets we’ve met on our house sitting adventures.

House Sitting Across the Globe

If you’re following our socials (and you should be), you’ve seen us gallivanting about with pets like it’s not weird. That’s because we’re subsidizing part of our Traveling Sabbatical by pet and house sitting across the globe. Thanks to the sharing economy, we can offer our pet and house sitting services through Trusted Housesitters in return for free accommodations, and temporary pet snuggles.

Why Would They Let You Stay In Their House?

You might be asking yourself, who would just let strangers stay in their house? Um, you’ve heard of AirBnB, right? Trusted Housesitters is that with pets.  

When our menagerie, two big dogs and a cat, hit their senior years, we started paying pet sitters to come by 3 times a day at $15 a pop instead of schlepping them in the car to be boarded every time we went out of town. Paying pet sitters was much cheaper than boarding, but still pricey. If we’d known about this then, we would have considered it.

Seriously, boarding isn’t just stressful on the animals. Molly frequently got carsick, Mariah shat in her box on every car trip, and in his later years Harley weighed 100 lbs and had trouble getting in and out of the car. After transporting them to the boarder all together, we’d need showers, cocktails, and INSERT GO TO PHARMACEUTICAL HERE. So, yeah, pet sitting.

One of the homeowners told us we’re their 8th sitters. Folks seem to be comfortable with it. Also, Europeans holiday – like.it’s.their.job.

What Do You Get Out Of House Sitting?

The most expensive part of long term traveling is accommodations, especially when you’re north of 40 and accustomed to a certain standard of living. We saw people getting month long sits at island villas, or chillin’ in Provence. Who doesn’t want a piece of that action? We also get the joy of having temporary pets without the long-term responsibility and anchor to a single location.

OK, How’d You Get Started?

We weren’t sure we’d get chosen for any good house sitting gigs. As we combed the interwebs for advice on how to get started, we could see there were people who’d applied to a million ads and didn’t get any. You have to pay to be on these sites. You know we can’t afford to waste money.

We put together a profile focusing on our love for our pets. I mean, our pets did have long lives and extensive medical records. Our profile talks about our fostering through Austin Pets Alive, about us being professionals, and highlights that we’re homeowners (when we built our profile). We’re not 20 somethings with no history. We’ve got LinkedIn profiles!

Did You Get Any House Sitting Gigs?

Of course we did (context clues, y’all). You read the title, didn’t you? Sits in prime locations like London and Paris will rack up 20-30 applications on the first day. We knew we couldn’t be competitive without a few sits under our belts, so our strategy was to look everywhere.

Mexico

We started our travels in Mexico, a huge country. You have to factor in travel costs when you choose far flung locations, but we knew getting that first sit under our belts wouldn’t be easy so we casted a wide net. We were lucky enough to get a hit in Mexico City in February. Our host stated that she was a bit skittish about leaving her home to strangers, especially strangers with no real history on the site. We skyped. She liked that we were already in Mexico and wondered if she could meet us before confirming. We could make that happen!

We also empathized with her being uneasy about unknown quantities getting free reign over her worldly possessions.We assured her we were fine upstanding professionals and sent her our LinkedIn profiles as proof. I knew that thing would come in handy!

We secured our first house sit. Hot damn!

Jolly Ole England

While Mexico and South America are active on the site we chose, it’s the Europeans making the most of their holidays. Again, with only one house sit booked, we still weren’t confident we could get another good one. We focused on longer sits outside of the Schengen. At the beginning of March, we booked a 17 day sit for the end of July in Bath. We didn’t know where Bath was in relation to London or anywhere else for that matter. We just knew we were going to Jolly Ole England.

Josh randomly bought tickets to see Black Star in London for his birthday at the end of August. So, at the beginning of July we built a customizable template and applied for 10 more sits. Within a week, we booked three of them for a total of 18 more days of free accommodations in and around London. One of them in NOTTING HILL. Score!

For those keeping count, that’s 35 days of free accommodations from the middle of July until the end of August in four sits. Not bad.

You guys, I think we’re good at this! We think we can be competitive for the longer sits in cooler cities.

Barcelona

Ha! We just booked a FULL month of house sitting in Barcelona for the holidays. They asked us to stay home with their two yorkies on New Years Eve. Hey, we get it. No problemo.  

So You Just Chill with Pets?

Essentially. They expect you to walk their dogs daily. It’s more convenient to do that in the Bath countryside than it is in urban London. There were times we couldn’t find grass. Some dogs are super strong pullers, some dogs are really skittish around people, but then you hit the jackpot and get a perfect easy dog.

Got Any Advice?

We got our first two sits because we were ready to commit several months in advance. You either need to know where you’re going to be or be open about where you might be headed. You also need to consider the cost of getting to some of the far flung places (rome2rio.com is great tool). We never would have thought to go to Bath, but it’s regarded as one of the most picturesque towns in England. Cheers to that! And without our Bath house sit, we never would have gone to Bristol, the childhood home of Banksy and a veritable street art mecca. Smashing!

All of Europe is trying to go on holiday in August, so it’s super busy. I would imagine the same is true for December. House sitting locations are also mostly in western Europe and Australia which works out because those are the most expensive places. If you don’t want to spin your wheels, I’d search for your first sits in August.

We really played up the fact that we’re professionals, homeowners and animal lovers in our bio. Personalize the applications by naming the pets, addressing them to the named requester, and responding directly to at least one point included in the ad. Be available to Skype and try to have some questions to fill that skype call.

I Want To Try!

If you want to pull the trigger, here’s a code for 20% off the Trusted Housesitters $119 annual membership – RAF97761- Just apply it before check out. I’m happy to send you our profile as an example as well as our customizable application. As with everything, there are tons of bloggers with how to books and whatnot.

 

 

See how we’re subsidizing part of our Traveling Sabbatical by pet and house sitting across the globe. Thanks to the sharing economy, we can offer our pet and house sitting services through Trusted Housesitters in return for free accommodations, and temporary pet snuggles.See how we’re subsidizing part of our Traveling Sabbatical by pet and house sitting across the globe. Thanks to the sharing economy, we can offer our pet and house sitting services through Trusted Housesitters in return for free accommodations, and temporary pet snuggles.

Close up of a table with water bottles, green agua fresca with ice, and a coffee cup and saucer.

How Not to Get Sick and Die from Waterborne Illnesses in Mexico

By on September 10, 2018

Close up of a table with water bottles, green agua fresca with ice, and a coffee cup and saucer.
We drank bottled water, aguas frescas to our hearts’ content.

How Not to Get Sick and Die from Waterborne Illnesses in Mexico

When we started our Traveling Sabbatical, one of the first things we had to figure out how to not get sick and die from waterborne illnesses in Mexico. We fretted quite a bit about the extent to which we wanted to risk using tap water. Obviously, we couldn’t drink it, but what about brushing our teeth and washing dishes? We perused the expat Facebook groups and saw all manner of debate.

Schools of Thought on Preventing Waterborne Illnesses in Mexico

  • Everyone agrees water is cheap and easy to come by so always buy and drink bottled/purified water to prevent waterborne illnesses in Mexico. That’s the end of agreement.
  • A subset of the above think it’s fine to cook with tap water since you’re heating it up. Others think it’s not such a great idea for your pasta to absorb what’s in the water.
  • Some insist it’s fine to wash your veggies and dishes in tap water. Others are giving them side eye.
  • And still another subset brush their teeth with the water. Man, oh man do I ever want to brush my teeth with the tap water. The other side thinks whatever’s in the water will be absorbed in your mouth. #logic
  • There’s small vocal group of people who claim the sooner you get sick the sooner you’ll develop the constitution to be able to drink the water and not get sick and die. Everyone else thinks this is bollocks and others think it’s big talk to get the gringos to get sick and die.

What Are We Doing to Prevent Waterborne Illnesses?

After much debate, we decided not to push it. It’s hard enough changing your whole life. We wanted to set ourselves up to like our new lives, so no flesh eating bacterial brain amoebas for us.

We initially decided to:

  • Drink bottled water,
  • Cook with bottled water,
  • Wash veggies and dishes in tap water and rinse them with a bleach solution (1tsp bleach : 1 gallon of water), and
  • Brush our teeth with bottled water.

It’s not so bad. We have the time to keep our bodies amoeba-free.

Update:

After the first of month, we abandoned brushing our teeth with bottled water and stopped rinsing dishes in bleach to prevent waterborne illnesses in Mexico. We had no problems. We also ate all of the water based fruits and vegetables, drank copious amounts of aguas frescas, and accepted ice from restaurants when it looked like the cubes were dispensed from a machine. We left drinks sweating on the table if the ice looked like it had been broken from a block.

A word on clay pot/ceramic filtration. We’ve come across these in a number of AirBnBs and we have to advise against using them. This is not to knock the science. But, unless you set it up and confirm it works, don’t take the risk. It doesn’t matter if other people use it and don’t get sick. Friends, invite us over we’ll tell you about that time Josh almost died.  

 

Two partial water bottles on blue background with title How not to get sick and die from waterborne illnesses in Mexico.
How Not to Get Sick and Die from Waterborne Illnesses in Mexico