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Sally is a freelance travel writer. She travels as a writer and spends her time travelling and house-sitting. She never stays in one place for too long. Some would say she is really living the dream. We talk to Sally about her lifestyle – solo travel, the ups and downs – living in Costa Rica – getting into house and pet sitting – pursuing a travel writing career and more.
The beautiful thing about Sally’s writing and blogging are the lessons you will learn. She does not simply list off a few top ten beaches and where to shop – no, she gets down in depths with what the places have to offer. You will learn about the place without going. Check out here website here – luxuriouslifestyles.co
Sally on Freelance writing
The travel writing industry is a tough one to get into and most people don’t make a lot of money in it. I always loved to travel and when my daughter left home, I felt like it was time to do more, but didn’t know of a way to make money while I was doing it. I happened to get an email about travel writing. From that email, I bought an online course and then I went to a weekend seminar. From there I learned several things and I continue to learn and buy various courses to try to keep up with the vastly changing environment of online work.
The highs and lows…. It is a tough industry and takes a lot of work. I am fortunate through both house and pet sitting and the travel writing that I am able to see a lot of cities around the world. However, living out of a carry-on suitcase (for up to three months at a time) and not seeing friends for long periods of time can get a little depressing at times. I also have personal items stored in three different countries on two continents.
My advice would be don’t quit your day job until you are making enough money to support yourself through your writing on a regular basis. Your monthly income can change dramatically and you don’t want to be financially stressed.
This year is a big travel year for me. We are in May and to date I have been in and out of 11 countries this year for both my house and pet sitting and travel writing. I will be in 3 more countries and at least 4 more cities before the end of August. I have not made any plans past that point right now. I’m currently working on several travel articles for my blog (www.luxuriouslifestyles.co) and a new website to include a course on how to get into house and pet sitting (www.jetsetterpetsitter.com).
What does house sitting and long term travel look like?
This year the longest I have been in one place was almost 4 weeks. The shortest was 4 days in Oslo, Norway (for travel writing articles), between two pet sitting assignments in Sweden. I am currently in Switzerland for three weeks house and pet sitting. I have 6 days off, which I will probably go back to Barcelona (my former home base for two years) before going to my next pet sitting in Tenerife (the Canary Islands) for three weeks. After that I have pet sitting in Barcelona for a month and then I will return to Canada for about three weeks.
I won’t do any house and pet sitting for less than a week, rarely less than two weeks now. I have only had a couple in the past that were for 4 and 5 weeks. One was Dublin, Ireland and the other was London, England.
A few things determine where and when I go. First, I like to go to countries and cities I have not been to before. I will go back to some countries and cities if I really like them, want to see more, and/or I have friends there. Sometimes I will go to nearby cities if the dates for the sitting are one right after each other and they are easy to get to. I don’t do any house and pet sitting in the country or rural areas anymore. Nor, will I house or pet sit if I have to rent a car.
I prefer cities because I like to get out to discover new things and meet people. I’m very social and don’t like to be isolated too much. Also with cities, I have substantially more things to write about for my blog and various travel publications.
Do you have any tips for house sitting? How best to get started, how to build your reviews and “housesitting resume”? The high and lows of housesitting?
People need to know that house and pet sitting is not like being on vacation. The sitter has several responsibilities. You are taking care of a person’s home – keeping it clean, watering plants, possible yard maintenance, collecting mail, and more. You are also taking care of the animals – feeding, brushing, possibly bathing, walking, giving medications, and anything else they require. You must keep the routine of the pets. So if they are used to being up at 6 am and fed, then go for a 45 minute was at 6:30 am then you must get up and do that. You need to be back at night to feed and walk them again. If you want to be doing touristy things, they must be done in between these times.
I’m just finishing a course on becoming a professional house and pet setter if your readers are interested. The best way to get started and build a resume would be to start with taking care of pets who belong to people to you know. If you have friends that are going away for a weekend, take care of their cat or dog for them. Animals are happier when they are around people and a lot of dogs don’t like going to kennels.
House and pet sitting does give you the opportunity to visit various places around the world. You do have to remember there are responsibilities and most times you may be traveling by yourself or with your partner. You can not just invite people to come with you. The homeowner is only expecting to have the agreed people in the house. You also have to be prepared to deal with unexpected events. I had homeowners come back a week early because of a death in the family. It has not happened to me, but I know of pet sitters that had to deal the the death of a pet while the owner was gone.
Sally on living in Costa Rica
Living in Costa Rica was great and hard at the same time. I was looking for a lifestyle change and Costa Rica definitely gave it to me. I moved there with my daughter who was 13 at the time. Not something I would recommend doing. Taking a 13 year old girl from a city and moving to a small town in a foreign country that spoke another language did not go over well. She hated it.
One thing I liked is that I didn’t get mail unless someone specifically sent me something. This was also a little frustrating at the beginning because it also meant that I did not get bills. I just had to know and remember when the phone, water, electricity bills were due and to go pay them without knowing how much money they were. Needless to say, during my first year there I had things cut-off because I forgot the due dates. As soon as I had no water, for example, I would drive to the place to pay for water (every bill needed to be paid at a different place on different dates) and by the time I got back home 5 minutes later I would have water again.
Some of my favorite places are Playa Conchal, Monteverde, and the Arenal area. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and in the beach areas it is always hot. I have also seen some of the most amazing thunder and lightning storms there. My favorite month was mid-November to mid-December. The rain has stopped by this time, everything is green, and it is before the winds start and tourists come.
One thing I really liked about there is the lifestyle is about enjoying life and not about buying materialistic things.
Sally on living in Barcelona, Spain
Life is Barcelona was good for the most part. I gave up my apartment in December as this year is a full travel year for me and then I will decide where I will have home-base again. It may be back in Barcelona, it may be somewhere else. I chose Barcelona because I had been traveling non-stop for a year and a half and I was tired of living out of a suitcase. I was there for my birthday in the middle of summer and after three days I decided I would make it home base for a while. I had 5 things on a checklist and Barcelona had them all.
- Warm seasonal weather (Although I do find winter cold)
- An international airport
- A walkable city with excellent transportation system
- Attractive single men (Unfortunately almost all of the attractive men are gay)
Barcelona is a city that almost never sleeps. There is always countless things to do day and night. I like that there are 10 beaches there, although they are not the nicest beaches. Some things to get used to is they eat dinner around 10:00 pm and if you want to go to a club, it will not be busy until 3:00 am, most don’t open until 12:00 am (midnight).
The biggest downfall to Barcelona is that it is the pickpocket capital of the world. Everyone I know has had their wallet, phone, or (like me) entire purse stolen. The police do nothing about it. The entire Catalan independence and regular protests in the city is more than just annoying. A lot of Catalan dislike tourists and foreigners and make it known. It is also a very transient city with people moving into and out of everyday, which can make it harder to make good friends, as we never know how long someone will be there (myself included).
One main tip I can give people is there are over 3000 restaurants in the city, don’t eat or drink anything within two blocks of any tourist attraction. These places are all over priced and the quality of the food is not very good.
Grand Advice from Sally
You are going to die. It could happen tomorrow, next month, next year, or 40 years from now. You don’t know when it is going to happen so you better enjoy life now, you may not get tomorrow, there is no guarantee it will come. When you are on your deathbed you will not think about all the meaningless materialistic things you bought. You will think a little about the wonderful things you did. However you think the most about the regrets you have for the thing you didn’t do, the things you didn’t experience, and the things you wish you weren’t too scared to try. You only have one life and it is short. You better enjoy it.
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