Well, I’m so glad I asked! I’ve been so busy gallivanting around the U.K. and Europe that I forgot all about you (not really!). I’ve also been spending less time sightseeing and more time travel planning and working – yes, working!
Despite setting aside somewhat of a budget for this adventure, it’s running a bit dry for my comfort level and I have another few months of traveling before I’ll be ready to come “home”. If you plan on doing a similar trip that involves quitting your job, it is wise to set aside at least six months’ salary to come home to as I did. That way, you are comfortable spending your budget and not all of your life savings.
Many bloggers and digital nomads boast about how they can successfully afford to work and travel, but I’m not really interested in becoming a digital nomad or starting my own online business…at least not yet. However, I figured maybe it’s about time I wrote something helpful for you along those lines rather than another blog about how much fun I’m having all the time (of course, I am still having lots of fun, especially now that my boyfriend is traveling with me!).
First, get yourself a credit card that awards you the most points from travel and has no foreign transaction fees (most banks charge at least 3%). I chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred (although, I didn’t know about the fancier version – the Reserve – and I might have to upgrade now!). While it does come with an annual fee of $195, the fee is waived the first year and you get 50,000 points just for signing up. Those points are worth $400 in travel, or $625 if you use them to book travel since one of the perks is 25% more in rewards dollars. You also get double points for all travel and dining purchases.
If you’re planning on traveling, I would highly recommend this card given the rewards, ease of redeeming points, and the expedited customer service. We have used our points for free flights and hotels already, which is a huge cost savings. Plan ahead and switch all your monthly autopay bills to your card and use it exclusively to rack up your points, but be sure to pay it off each month as there is a high APR.
Second, house and pet sitting are brilliant ways to travel and save you loads of money by not paying for hotels. It also offers you a chance to feel welcomed in someone’s home, look after their loved ones, explore a city you might not otherwise have heard of, and enjoy the comforts of your own space. For me, I especially enjoy having a kitchen to cook and a garden to lounge in.
After doing a bit of research, I landed on a house/pet sitting site called Trusted House Sitters and only have wonderful things to say about the service. Whether you’re looking for a house/pet sitter, or want to be one, the cost is the same at $119 per year (or you can pay monthly). If you’re interested in signing up, you can use my referral code at that link for 20% off, which, full-disclosure, gets me two free months!
After my boyfriend and I spent our first few nights together enjoying the London sights, we headed north to the countryside around Telford, England. We spent 10 lovely days house/pet sitting for a young black lab named Bones who is utterly obsessed with playing fetch, but one of the sweetest and most loving pups I’ve had the fortune of playing with.
Every day, she woke us up for her morning walk to a large green park where we let her off leash to play fetch for awhile. This same routine happened in the late afternoon before dinner time, which gave us all a nice three-mile daily walk. Apparently, we were there during a heat wave as it hadn’t been that hot on the English countryside in June (high 70s/low 80s) in over 20 years! Bones certainly felt the heat and often tried to escape our fetch time to jump in the nearby lake. She was successful at least a few times until we caught on to her scheme.
Bones’ parents, Lou and Lee, were so much fun as well. They invited us up a night early so we could do the afternoon routine with Bones, grab a pint, and get to know one another. We also stayed an extra night upon their return and spent the evening cooking, drinking wine and watching some of their favorite British shows.
We have another house/pet sit lined up at the end of the month in Edinburgh, Scotland for a 10-year-old lab/collie mix named Ralph. After Skyping with Ralph’s mom Rosie, she agreed that we would be a good fit and also invited us up a night early, and to stay a few days after their return if we’re so inclined. We are excited to go to Scotland and spend another week playing with a cool dog!
The key is finding the right match, and I honestly don’t know how it works on the other end. Obviously, I think we are good, dog-loving people who are very respectful of people’s homes and taking care of their pups, but often times I see these house/pet owners getting upwards of 30 applicants to choose from! Of course, that is more often in larger cities, but still.
For the past few weeks we’ve been house sitting in Hamburg, Germany for my LMU friend Vanessa who lives and works here now. We kept in touch on my plans to visit and when she mentioned they’d be going to visit her family in Aspen for a few weeks, I offered to house sit, giving us a free place to stay, and them someone to look after their plants and not leave their apartment empty for that long. Another win-win. I have been cooking up a storm! Of course, she warned me about the G20 Summit being here last weekend, so we planned a long weekend in Berlin to avoid all the craziness that transpired here.
Finally, if you’re interested in spending some of your travel time working in order to make a few extra bucks, I highly recommend FlexJobs. There are plenty of other freelance job opportunities, such as Upwork, but I honestly haven’t had any success and I find the postings to be a bit too simple, and therefore boring and low-paying. Example: grad student asking someone to edit their 50-page thesis for $15…no thanks!
FlexJobs on the other hand has a wide-range of opportunities that are not limited to telecommuting. It does cost $14.95/month, which is discounted if you pay the year in advance, but totally worth it. Also, there are frequent promos available and I was able to take advantage of 30% off when I signed up.
FlexJobs also allows you to take skills tests, create multiple job profiles depending on the type of work you’re interested in, and apply for unlimited positions across varying industries. Through this site, I have landed two freelance jobs, one editing journal articles and abstracts, and another writing resumes, which is actually quite fun and rewarding.
Now that I’ve taken such a long break from travel planning and working to give you some helpful tips, it’s time to start thinking about what I’ll be cooking for dinner tonight (grilled cod with a quinoa salad – already planned!).
We are off to Copenhagen soon for a few nights before Edinburgh, and will then be spending some time exploring the Irish countryside (Game of Thrones tour anyone?)!