One of my favourite life quotes is from St Augustine: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
John and I have been lucky enough to devour a virtual library of travel over the past 25 years with his job as a Petroleum Engineer. Even before we met my need to see the world created itchy feet I immigrated to Canada at the tender age of 26 years, taking up a Senior Management position in International Marketing and Event Planning then a single mum with a two-year-old this was a huge challenge, I made it work!
Fast forward through our years spent living the expat life in many countries and surprise, surprise, retirement loomed large on the horizon. Had we thought about it, planned for it? Financially of course but emotionally..... not really. What to do? Where to live? How to cope with the "ordinary" our perception of retirement? Truth is as much as our travels gave so they took away -- roots, connection within a community, and a true sense of belonging. We had become life-long nomads staying “put” wasn't something remotely appealing we're two hugely independent individuals and with much of our married life spent apart this was not going to be an easy fix.
I wonder how many readers are saying “OMGoodness, that's us” read on for this does have a happy ending!!
We bought a home in France, stayed a year. Bought a beautiful ocean-front home on Vancouver Island, Canada an existing B&B, realising a long held ambition of mine then two life-changing occurrences, John retired and we lost our beloved Springer Spaniel Holly, our heart dog, she had shared our lives for 14 years, we took her to Africa as a puppy, then to India, France, Germany, England and Canada. Our world had sadly changed we were heartbroken, those who have ever been owned by a beloved pet will know the sadness we felt only too well.
The Christmas before we lost Holly I had met and engaged a pet/house sitter, we become friends. Hearing of our loss and knowing my huge love for animals she asked if I would help with her numerous clients I hesitated at first but have spent the last few years being eternally grateful that it was a minor hesitation that opportunity, fate, good fortune call it what you will started our amazing pet and house-sitting adventure.
Pet and house sitting across five continents we see and experience life in local communities, getting under the skin of cities, towns, and the countryside it's people and culture, our travels have purpose. We're not simply on vacation no overcrowded, impersonal resorts plus making new friends, two and four legged, is unavoidable! This travel lifestyle has enriched our retirement beyond measure without putting us in the poor house trust me if we had to pay for everything, accommodation, car rental, restaurants sometimes for months at a time, our children would have shut us down long ago we'd be spending their inheritance! With family and close friends in the UK arranging house-sits close to where they live is the convenient and comfortable answer, we're ideal guests, never outstaying our welcome.
Our 2013 intinerary, Las Vegas for a month, six weeks in Manhattan, Vancouver Island, a small ranch in Snoqualmie, WA, five weeks in San Francisco, four weeks in LA, and six months in Southern Spain, enjoying a lovely villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Since arriving three months ago we've become volunteers at A.R.C.H., the Andalusian Rescue Centre for Horses attended fund-raising events, built up wine stocks from winery visits, made friends with neighbours and now greeted by name in nearby Benalmadena Pueblo.
This is our kind of traveling I hope you'll join me on assignment in Spain!
Angela has been traveling the world for the past 40 years. Her career in International Marketing took her across Canada and the US and since the mid 80s has lived in Italy, N. Africa, India, Singapore and other parts of SE Asia with husband John, a Petroleum Engineer, now retired. Self-professed nomads with a shared passion for travel and animals, they continue to travel the world having adopted an affordable travel lifestyle: Pet and house sitting. Some five continents, many amazing homes and wonderful four legged friends later, Angela is the resident in-house expert, advising home owners and house sitters at Trusted House Sitters and a regular contributor to travel blogs sharing experiences of life away from the travel brochures, living like the locals. You can read more at www.housesittingperfected.com.