Brad & Amber of FoleyExploring
Welcome to the fourth 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.
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In this installment we meet Brad and Amber of Foley Exploring. The photos in this post are all courtesy of them.
Let’s Meet the Housesitters Brad and Amber
I have been following FoleyExploring on Instagram for a while now. Their Instagram stories are so real and honest. I really enjoy them. I couldn’t wait to read their replies to my interview questions. Here we go:
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?
“Traveling full-time was a dream we nurtured for years, especially after realizing how draining the typical 9-5 office life could be. So, we set out to explore all the possibilities to make our dream a reality.
About 6 months ago, a stroke of luck led us to @nomadsandpawpads on Instagram, and it was a game-changer! House sitting was an option we had never considered before, but it seemed tailor-made for us. At that time, we were getting our house ready for rental, and the idea just clicked – “Why not give house sitting a try?” So, we dug into Trusted House Sitters, which, to be honest, sounded too good to be true, but we thought, “What’s there to lose?” Lo and behold, we secured our first house sit 4 months in advance, eagerly awaiting May 1st to kickstart our adventure.”
You can read our interview with Nomads & Pawpads in Meet the Housesitters 2
“As of now, we’re still newbies in the house sitting world, but we’re off to a flying start, having already completed 8 sits in just 2 months! It’s been nothing short of amazing.
Our lifestyle can be labeled as semi-full time, I guess. International travel comes with its visa intricacies, like the Schengen restrictions, which determine where we can be at specific times of the year. So, whenever possible, we jump on house sitting opportunities to keep traveling while soaking in local experiences. Of course, not all places offer equal house sitting options, so when timing and location don’t align, we happily resort to Airbnbs or hotels – especially when we want that laid-back, “holiday” vibe.
In a nutshell, this seemingly last-minute decision has been the best leap of faith, weaving together our love for travel, escape from the 9-5 grind, and bonding with adorable furry companions. It’s an adventure we wouldn’t trade for anything!”
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?
“When it comes to finding house sits, we’ve developed a bit of a last-minute approach. We look for sits that align with our general travel direction and, of course, involve our favorite companions – cats! While we filter Trusted House Sitters listings to show only cat-related sits, it’s not a strict requirement. But let’s be honest, cats are awesome! They’re usually independent enough to handle being alone for 6 to 8 hours, which works perfectly for explorers like us who love to immerse ourselves in new experiences.
Though homeowners don’t typically come to us, we make sure to stay in touch with all the houses we’ve previously sat for, and if the stars align with timing and location, we’d be more than thrilled to return.
Location plays a significant role in our choices. We have a soft spot for places with good public transport connections, and we always have that filter on when browsing THS listings. Our preferences tend to oscillate between city and country sits. After an action-packed week of exploring a city and taking in its sights, it’s quite refreshing to slow down and spend a few days in the countryside.
To make getting to our sits super convenient and explore the surroundings, we’ve been making the most of the unlimited Eurail Pass. This pass allows us to travel to our house sits with ease and also take advantage of the opportunity to discover cities and towns within a 2-hour radius from where we’re staying.
We full-time travel around the world through travel exchange using platforms like TrustedHousesitters. This lets us arrange accommodation in exchange for pet and home care. You do not have to commit to full-time to enjoy this way of travel. Many sitters use the platform to arrange for their yearly vacation.
How do you finance your travels? The answers to this is very popular on the Meet the Housesitters series
“That’s a fantastic question! Amber and I both come from engineering backgrounds, but we took slightly different paths in our careers. I ventured into the business side of engineering and eventually became a manager, while Amber followed a more technical route. In 2020, she started a real estate side business, and together, we grew our portfolio to 14 units, renovating 6 of them ourselves. The rental income from these properties covers the management costs, which is a big win for us.
To make our travel dreams a reality, we get creative with our finances. One clever strategy is leveraging credit cards to earn points that we can use for travel expenses. While the rental income primarily sustains our portfolio, it also leaves a little extra for our adventures, but we try to allocate most of it back into the business to keep it thriving.
Amber took the initiative to find remote contract work in the Architectural Engineering field, which gives our income a boost. On my end, I focus on maximizing our savings/travel fund and develop our online presence, which has become an integral part of our blog niche.
In our blog, foleyexploring.com, we share detailed “Expense Reports” that break down the costs of our trips, covering everything from food and entertainment to travel, healthcare, phone, and accommodation. We’re open about the cost-saving methods we use, like house sitting, as well as other opportunities that allow people to pursue full-time and long-term travel. We also explore what kinds of experiences are available in the world!”
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?
“When it comes to our travel wishlist, we don’t have specific locations in mind, but rather general areas that we’d love to explore. Greece and Italy in Europe, as well as Germany, are on our radar for future adventures. Additionally, we have a strong desire to visit Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia, including New Zealand and South America. These regions hold so much allure and cultural richness that we’re always on the lookout for house sitting opportunities in any of these places.
While we primarily use Trusted House Sitters as a cost-saving tool, we find that places like Southeast Asia might not be as practical for house sitting since the options can be limited, and accommodation costs are relatively inexpensive compared to Europe and the USA. Nevertheless, our dream is to see as much of the world as possible, and with such a vast globe to explore, we’re not fixated on revisiting any specific locations for now.
That said, one exciting possibility that has captured our imagination is the prospect of a boat sit in the Caribbean. The idea of caring for a boat and enjoying the turquoise waters and idyllic scenery sounds like an amazing experience we’d love to embrace if the opportunity arises!”
What do you prioritize when you consider applying for a sit?
“When considering applying for a house sit, we prioritize several key factors that contribute to our decision-making process. Here are the things we take into account:
Animal Friendliness: Assuming that any animals in the household are friendly and easy to care for is a crucial starting point for us, as we love cuddle time!
Timing and Location: The timing of the house sit and its location are significant factors. We look for sits that align with our travel plans and general direction, allowing us to seamlessly move from one destination to another.
Outdoor Area: A nice outdoor space is a must for us. Having access to a pleasant outdoor area allows us to enjoy the fresh air and adds to the overall experience of staying in a new place.
Kitchen Amenities: We prioritize house sits that offer well-equipped kitchens. Cooking our meals is essential for us as it not only saves on dining expenses but also provides a homely touch to our stay.
Internet Access: Good wifi is generally important I would say.
Public Transportation: We love exploring new places using public transportation. Hence, we seek house sits that provide easy access to public transport, enabling us to explore the local area and nearby attractions conveniently.
Comfort and Homeliness: A place that “feels” like home and offers comfort is highly valued. Feeling at ease in the house and having a comfortable environment allows us to fully enjoy our stay.
Have you ever met up with other petsitters anywhere? Your own meet the housesitters so to speak?
“As of now, we haven’t had the opportunity to meet up with other pet sitters, but we are open to the idea and would be thrilled to hang out for a drink if any fellow pet sitters are in the same area!
One of the unexpected benefits we’ve discovered through house sitting is the strong bond we develop with the animals we care for. I truly cannot believe how much we fall in love with our new furry friends in such a short period. Building a connection with them brings immense joy to our house sitting experience and our hearts.
Read Vicky of Buddy the Traveling Monkey’s very exciting reply to this in Meet the Housesitters 3!
Moreover, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the incredible generosity of some homeowners! On several occasions, they have allowed us to use their food, and we’ve even received unexpected treats like a bottle of wine. Sometimes, we’ve taken the opportunity to reciprocate their kindness by cooking meals for the homeowners or going out together. These moments of sharing and connection with the homeowners have made our house sits even more special and memorable.
See some of our Favorite Tokens of Appreciation that we’ve received.
Have you ever left feedback less than 5 stars on a housesitting platform?
“Yes, we have considered leaving feedback less than 5 stars for one of our house sits. However, in the end, we chose not to leave a review at all. It was a difficult decision because the location we stayed at had black mold, and it was only a short sit that we needed to be there. We faced a dilemma between leaving a review that could protect potential future house sitters from similar issues and the possibility of receiving a less than perfect review on our own profile. Since we are still relatively new to house sitting, maintaining a positive reputation is a priority for us.
Regarding the review system, we believe it is generally effective. To make informed decisions about accepting house sitting applications, we always have a video call or some form of interaction with the homeowners beforehand. This allows us to get a feel for who they are and what kind of situation we would be entering into. The current reviews serve as a valuable resource to determine whether a house sit is a good fit for us or not.”
A lot of non-housesitters often ask me what happens if there is a pet emergency. Have you ever had a pet emergency?
“Thankfully, we have never experienced a medical pet emergency. However, we do have a memorable story to share. During one of our house sits, we encountered an unexpected situation. The front door of the house did not close properly, and it accidentally remained open for about 30 minutes while we were going about our morning routine. To our dismay, all three cats took this opportunity to escape outside and into the apartment building.
We were in a state of panic as we searched around the building, calling out the cats’ names. Eventually, we found two of the cats inside the main building—one in the elevator and the other hiding under the stairs in the basement. However, one cat was still missing, and we couldn’t find her anywhere.
For the next four hours, we frantically searched the neighborhood, printing flyers in German (despite not speaking the language) and going door to door, seeking help to find the missing cat. We were getting desperate.
At one point, a mail delivery boy informed us that he had found a cat, so we rushed over with hope in our hearts, only to discover that it was a different cat! It was a heartbreaking moment, but we knew we had to inform the homeowner about the situation.
After contacting the homeowner, she asked if we had checked under the sofa in the office. We had already checked, but we decided to look again just in case. And there she was—the third cat who had never left the apartment, safe and sound under the sofa.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions… from fear and worry to relief and joy. This experience taught us to be extra vigilant and to double-check the security of the house to ensure the safety of the pets we care for.”
Everyone always asks us is how long we will keep it up? So we have to ask on Meet the Housesitters: Do you have a timeline for when you’ll go “back to normal”? Do you miss a “normal” life?
“When we initially set out on this world adventure, we told ourselves that it would be a one-year journey. However, now that we’ve been at it for about three months, it’s becoming clear that we can’t imagine stopping this adventure so soon! We don’t really miss our old “normal” life. The whole purpose of embarking on this journey was to break free from the nine-to-five routine and explore something fun and exciting with our lives.
Living this nomadic lifestyle has opened our eyes to the beauty of the world and the diverse experiences it has to offer. Each day brings new discoveries and opportunities, and we feel a sense of freedom and fulfillment that we had never experienced before.
Of course, there are challenges and uncertainties that come with this lifestyle, but the rewards far outweigh them. We’ve embraced the spontaneity and unpredictability that comes with traveling to new places, meeting new people, and caring for adorable pets in different environments.
In many ways, this journey has become our “new normal,” and we’ve come to appreciate the richness of life outside the confines of a traditional routine. Our hearts are full of gratitude for the experiences we’ve had so far, and we eagerly look forward to the adventures that lie ahead.
So, to answer your question, no, we don’t miss a “normal” life at all. This is our new normal—a life of exploration, growth, and joy that we wouldn’t trade for anything. We feel incredibly fortunate to be living our dream and can’t wait to see where this beautiful journey takes us next.”
Do your family and friends understand the concept of pet sitting? Do they get why you are choosing to do this?
“When we first shared our pet-sitting adventure plans with our family and friends, their reactions were quite varied. Our friends didn’t seem too interested or engaged, which left us feeling a bit perplexed. On the other hand, our family’s primary concern was our safety during international travels. They wanted to make sure we were well-prepared for any challenges that might arise while exploring new places.
To help them understand our decision better, we framed our journey as a one-year adventure with a clear purpose. We explained how we would be immersing ourselves in different cultures, meeting new people, and providing loving care to adorable pets along the way. By presenting it as a well-thought-out plan, we hoped to reassure our loved ones and reduce any uncertainties they might have had.
Although we received more questions from our friends than expressions of enthusiasm, we still felt supported and understood by both our family and friends. Their genuine care and involvement in our lives have been heartwarming, and we know they are just a call away whenever we need them. Their encouragement has only strengthened our resolve to embrace this pet-sitting journey wholeheartedly, and we are excited to share our experiences with them as we continue to explore the world.”
Why do you think so many people are choosing this lifestyle?
“The house sitting lifestyle is undeniably addictive, as many who have experienced it can attest. Words cannot describe the sheer freedom it offers… unburdened by typical constraints, is nothing short of exhilarating.
Advancements in technology, particularly the internet, have played a pivotal role in making this lifestyle more accessible than ever before. The ability to connect with homeowners seeking reliable sitters across the globe has been streamlined by online platforms, allowing aspiring adventurers to explore new territories and cultures with ease. Moreover, a growing cultural acceptance of alternative living arrangements has fostered an environment where house sitting is embraced as a legitimate and viable lifestyle choice.
The trend is not confined to any particular age group, but rather it has resonated with a diverse range of individuals. Millennials, seam to be in a “life crisis” of sorts and often seek solace and meaning through unique experiences – house sitting offers precisely that. Meanwhile, empty nesters, who find themselves with newfound time and a desire for adventure, are equally drawn to this nomadic lifestyle. Both groups find solace in the companionship of beloved pets and the opportunity to redefine their place in an ever-changing world. As more people embrace the wonders of house sitting, this lifestyle seems to be growing and opening new doors to exploration and self-discovery.”
Do you miss your social life?
“Our social life has always been relatively small, as we’ve been described as “old souls” even from a young age. For the past 15 years, our focus has been on setting ourselves up for the future. We’re both 29 years old, having been together since we were 15 in high school. Throughout college and our late teens, we worked in engineering, constantly honing our skills and climbing the career ladder to eventually start our own businesses. Our social activities revolved around playing board games with close friends, traveling, and enjoying water sports like sailing and boating. While we miss those experiences with our closest friends, we never really indulged in nightlife or other aspects of a bustling social life. Campfires and meaningful conversations have always been more our style!”
Our Twitter followers wanted us to ask Meet the Housesitters: Do you miss belongings?
“Amber and I have embraced a minimalist approach to packing for our travels. Each of us carries a Peak Design 45L backpack, along with a smaller day backpack, and a single large rolling hard case luggage. Surprisingly, we don’t miss our belongings at all, and in fact, we’ve come to realize that we currently have more than we actually need! Being low maintenance, we believe in buying items only when we truly need them.
As a general rule, we have only brought things that serve multiple purposes. Things like packing interchangeable wardrobes are pretty common practice, but we have also brought things like sarongs and shemaghs that can be used for many things if you have the know how! I think my favorite item we brought was collapsible food storage containers
Don’t Forget to Check Out Their Blog:
If you’re curious about what exactly we brought on our adventures and why, we’ve got a detailed post about it on foleyexploring.com. We break down the items, their purpose, and even the cost involved. You might find some unique items on the list that you hadn’t considered before.”
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