Buddy the Traveling Monkey
Welcome to the third installment of Meet the Housesitters. Once a month (or so) we talk to different housesitters we have met through our travels in real life and on social media. We get to know what types of housesitters are out there and how the travel exchange concept works for them.
This week’s housesitters are Buddy the Traveling Monkey, his owner Vicky, and her partner Mark.
The photos in this post are courtesy of Buddy the Traveling Monkey.
Let’s Get to Know Buddy, Vicky, and Mark
We “met” Vicky on Twitter. I’m not sure exactly through which tweet we met, but it was probably somewhere in a Top4Theme, or Travel Chat. They have a fantastic travel blog with great informative posts. We love their Instagram account too!
Buddy the Traveling Monkey has been Vicky’s traveling companion for many years. Wait till you find out how Mark joined the party later on in the interview!
What special equipment do you think Vicky packs? Read on to find out!
I was thrilled when they agreed to answer our Meet the Housesitters questions. Here’s how it went:
Can you talk to me a little about how you came into house and petsitting? What prompted it and how long have you been doing it? Are you full-time or part-time?
“I found out about house sitting through travel blogging friends. Many were doing it as a way to travel and not pay for accommodation. At first, it sounded interesting but not like something I wanted to do. I liked my apartment and my things and couldn’t fathom the idea of being without them. However, my desire to travel was growing and my apartment lease was ending, so I took it as a sign. I got rid of most of my things and put the rest in a small storage unit. That was six years ago and I’ve been house sitting full-time since then.”
What types of sits do you typically look for? Do you look for any types of sits in particular? Or do you look for homeowners to come to you? Do you prefer hustle and bustle or sits out in the country?
“We typically look for house sits that are between 3 to 5 weeks. This gives us an opportunity to settle in and get into a routine. My partner Mark and I still work so we need to stick to a general work schedule. Also, because we’re working, we look for house sits that have good internet which typically means we are in cities and not isolated areas.”
How do you finance your travels? There are still food expenses, travel expenses, and leisure expenses that have to be covered, even though your accommodation is covered in exchange for house and pet care.
“We both work; I work part-time for an insurance company and Mark is a digital accessibility consultant. We do have a budget and we’re careful to stick to it. Although we get to stay in great locations for free through house sitting, sometimes we have to pay for hotels or Airbnbs in between house sits.”
Do you have any locations that are on your wishlist? Are there places you’d love to return to? Or places you’re still actively trying to find a sit for?
“Oh yes, we have a 5-year plan! This past winter we managed to get a house sit in Germany, which was a wishlist item for me because I wanted to see the Christmas Markets. The next area of the world we want to explore is South America, so we’re actively looking for house sits there. Eventually we’d like to get back to Europe and also house sit in Asia.”
When we first started housesitting, we were just thrilled to get a sit. Now we tend to prioritize the comfort of a home a little more than just leaping at a sit in a certain location.What do you prioritize when you consider applying for a sit? Feel free to list more than one thing.
“It was the same way for us! But now, we are definitely more selective. Like I mentioned earlier, good internet is a priority. We also look for house sits that are within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and public transportation. We also avoid house sits with more than two pets.”
Have you ever met up with other petsitters anywhere?
“This is actually how Mark and I met! Well, technically we met through Twitter during a travel chat. But we realized we were both house sitters and we had a lot in common. We met up a few times while we were house sitting in the same cities and after keeping in touch for a few years, we eventually started dating.
Other than that, we haven’t met up with other sitters, but we have met up with homeowners that we’ve become friends with.”
Today we Meet the Housesitters Vicky, Mark, and Buddy the Traveling Monkey. Here’s our next question:
What are unexpected benefits YOU have discovered?
“Definitely the homeowners. We’ve become friends with many of them and keep in touch regularly.”
Here’s a controversial one: Have you ever left feedback less than 5 stars on a housesitting platform?
“Sigh. This would have been an easy question to answer, but our last house sit was a difficult one. We didn’t leave a review for two reasons. One, we just wanted to put it past us. Two, we were worried that they would try and retaliate by leaving us a bad review.
Yes, part of us wanted to warn future sitters. But we also just didn’t want to jeopardize our streak of all 5-star reviews that we’ve worked so hard to build.
I do think reviews are effective, but the system is not perfect.”
A lot of non-housesitters often ask me what happens if there is a pet emergency. We haven’t REALLY had a pet emergency in over 40 sits. Have you ever had a pet emergency?
“Luckily, we haven’t had to take any pets to the vet so far *knocks on wood*. There have been a couple of cases where dogs have bitten each other, but after consulting with homeowners and sending photos, we were told to just clean the wound and watch for infections.”
Another thing everyone always asks us is how long we will keep it up? Do you have a timeline for when you’ll go “back to normal”? Do you miss a “normal” life?
“We get asked this question a lot as well. We currently don’t have a timeline. We would like to eventually get a home base to live in some months of the year. But most likely we would still keep house sitting for the other months of the year.
I find I start to miss a “normal” life when we’re staying in a house with an uncomfortable mattress LOL!”
Other sitters we have interviewed suggested we add some questions about how friends and family react to your lifestyle.
Do your family and friends understand the concept of pet sitting? Do they get why you are choosing to do this?
“When I first announced that I was going to become a nomadic house sitter, I definitely got a few crazy looks. It wasn’t something any of my friends or family had heard of. Once they started seeing the photos I was posting on social media and the amazing experiences I was having, they seemed to slowly understand more of why I was choosing to live the lifestyle.
One thing that I have to constantly remind people of, however, is that I don’t get paid. That’s when they really give me the crazy eyes! I have to remind them that I might not get paid, but I’m living somewhere for free. When I ask how much their monthly mortgage or rent payment is, they calm down a bit.”
Why do you think so many people are choosing this lifestyle?
“I think people are realizing that the old conventional ways of living just aren’t working anymore. People can work remotely and not wait until their 60s and 70s to travel; they can travel now. Plus, house sitting allows for a lot of flexibility, so it can be tailored to fit any person, couple, or family.”
Do you miss your social life?
“I do love the energy of being around people, so oftentimes, people watching in a town square or walking along a crowded boardwalk is enough for me. I am also a part of some nomad groups on Facebook, so we’ve been able to meet up with quite a few other nomads during our travels. As far as my family and close friends are concerned, we are in constant contact through texts, WhatsApp, and scheduled video calls.”
Our Twitter followers often want to know how we live with so few belongings.
Do you miss belongings? How much do YOU travel with?
“Sometimes I’d like to have more options for date night, other than my one “fancy” shirt. But other than that, I’ve gotten used to the idea of traveling with less. I currently travel with a mini backpack (that’s where I keep Buddy, my stuffed monkey), a medium-sized backpack, and a small suitcase. Mark travels with a medium and large backpack.
Funnily enough, most of what we have in our backpacks and luggage isn’t clothes. Instead, it’s kitchen items or tech gear. For example, we travel with our own set of spices and even a pizza cutter!”
Find out more about Buddy the Traveling Monkey (and his humans):
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our Meet the Housesitters questions! Readers should definitely visit:
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