Not to put too fine a point on it, but if we didn’t house sit, we wouldn’t still be traveling the way we do. It’s allowed us so many things. It’s allowed us to feel normal, to have a home base, even if it’s only for a week or two.
House sitting gives us a sense of purpose and responsibility, and it gives us the satisfaction of helping people. it gets us to meet new people and new furry faces. It allows us to stay in areas we wouldn’t normally visit. It gives us access to true local people and community. House sitting has given us a lot. So with that in mind, we thought we would look back at our year in house sitting.
2018 started out with a long house sit in Portland, Oregon. We absolutely love this part of the US and adored the people and the cats we sat for. In fact, before we decided to travel full time, we contemplated a move to Oregon. I think the seeds of our current travel lifestyle were sown here! So it’s always great to go back. Not just for the cats, but for the volunteering we did and the mountains and the oceans and the food and the new friends we met while there.
Seoul, South Korea
We knew that when we left Portland we wanted to head back to Asia. We had already booked our house sit in Norway, so this seemed like a logical way to get there, right? So our first stop was a house sit in South Korea, and while we were there we applied for another sit in Seoul, which never happens. I mean, we are usually all the way around the world when we book our sits, so this was unique. It was an emergency last minute sit for a lovely kitten who only had a few teeth left. I had to brush them every day, which he didn’t like. Between these sits we did a little traveling around South Korea - heading to Busan for a few days. It truly is a wonderful city, despite the smog we encountered in Incheon. (Here is a more regal pic of the Russian Blue)
I think our house sit in Taiwan was another one that we booked on the fly - we were in Korea at the time, but knew we wanted to come to Taiwan on this leg visit to Asia. It did not disappoint in the least. I’ll spare you a picture of the cat, okay? He was cute of course. The apartment was teeny tiny, but a perfect base from which to explore Taipei. We adored our time in Taiwan and must return to explore more of this mountainous little island.
Again I’ll refrain from showing you a picture of the cat. Not that he wasn’t adorable. He was. He was black and white and super soft and sweet. He was also a ghost. He was gone quite literally 3/4 of the time we were there. But besides that, the chain of islands off the coast of Sweden were so much fun to explore by bike and by ferry. The sunsets on Hönö were just beyond amazing. And we could walk to views like this within about 10 minutes.
Every year of travel for us needs a big hallmark to work towards and around. It’s how we build our travel schedule for the year - by securing some destination for a chunk of time and then working our way towards it. Norway. Would it stand up to our previous visit there in 2014? That was an epic trip, and we were on vacation at the time so only had a few weeks. Saying that now sounds insane. We only had two weeks, maybe three, to explore whatever we could of Scandinavia. We did what most people do - we flew to Copenhagen to Bergen and wandered up the coast and into the parks before heading to Stockholm. We saw nothing of the interior. So the two trips weren’t comparable since this time we spent over two months in the interior near the largest freshwater lake in the country. We took day trips, we read, we wrote. We had guests. It was incredible. If you are looking for the cats, we featured them on our pet profiles page here and here.
Johannesburg, South Africa
When we started the year we had no idea that we would wind up in South Africa. Sure we’ve always wanted to go, but like Bali, it just kinda cropped up. All because of a house sit, actually. So after we spent 3 weeks in Johannesburg, we spent another 5 weeks touring around, ending up in Cape Town.
It was an incredible journey and we met so many people. This doesn’t happen often since leaving to travel full time, but while we were in Joburg, we started to look at houses.
We’ve spent a fair amount of time in England and it generally serves as a good base for exploring. I was excited to spend my time relaxing and hanging out with the beautiful Griffin. He’s proven to be a great companion and loves his lap time. I have pushed myself and have actually left the house and Griffin to go exploring. I do love the English countryside.
Los Angeles, California
We’ve been asked back to a handful of house sits, but I do think this is the first one that we’ve been able to make work. I have this thing about returning to a place - there is just too much world to see, so why ever go back? But I’m working on it. I logically see the value in returning to a place, especially to a house sit as fantastic as this one in Los Angeles. I mean look at that face.
Not to mention the homeowners have spectacular sense of style and all the movie screeners you could ever want. I’ve been watching about 2 movies every day. It’s been a great way to relax and get caught up with friends and to write and to hit museums.
Adventures with Workaway
We’ve not written anything about Workaway on this site before, which is a bit of an oversight on our part. We don’t do a lot of them because it seems built for a different…age demographic than ours. So what is Workaway you wonder? Well, it’s like house sitting, but it’s more of a project based work exchange. You come and get a place to stay and 2 or more meals a day in exchange for working for about 5 hours a day. The work can be quite physical, but if you have other skills (like we do with marketing and website design!) you can do that as well. It’s a great concept, and we managed do two workaways this year, one in Hokkaido, Japan and another in the wild Karoo, South Africa.
Workaway in Hokkaido, Japan
We spent about 10 days working on an old ski lodge two Americans purchased in a small town called Iwanai. There were nails in our shoes, petrol leaks and live wires all over the place. There was something living in the walls of the house. We think it was a snake. The work was very physical. We didn’t get to explore much of Hokkaido, but it’s nice to just stay in the same place and have an intense focus for a spell. When we were too sore from the demo, we added a scheduling feature on their website.
Our workaway in the Little Karoo was something to behold. Look at that view. That was from our room. Which was also the yoga room. It was dead simple off the grid living. Well, they had made their own grid complete with fresh fruit and veggies year round. The variety of food was amazing. It was a great community to be part of. Our work was farm work - shoveling cow shit and digging holes and removing fences. We brought some of our herb drying skills from Vermiglio and also did a complete redesign on their website. We were busy out here in the middle of nowhere. Pizza night, farm to table chef dinners, yoga. It was very special indeed.
What Else Did 2018 Hold For Us?
You might be wondering what we did when we weren’t house sitting. Well, those are moments we like to call “free travel”. In many ways they are just points of travel as we journey from one house sit to another, but we like to think of them as vacations. We wrote an entire blog post about where we were in 2018.