I’ve been living in fear and anger lately, without much hope in uncertain times. We’ve had to leave our home in the UK, only to be treated like we don’t belong ‘back home’ in Australia. We couldn’t say goodbye to any of our friends or even to our life of the past six years – just had to jump on a plane and hope for the best. It’s been very sh!t.
COVID-19 has impacted a lot of people in many terrible ways. Some people don’t understand, they remain lucky and unscathed; the most they have to complain about is that the gym is closed. Others find themselves in situations where they can’t see sick or dying family in hospital or at home. Cooper and I had our lives torn away from us, and I haven’t seen light or hope, if I’m honest. Grief.
I know I don’t want to live like this. So, as we sit in mandatory 14 day isolation in a hotel in Australia, I’m finally getting to a point where I feel like I want to make the best of it. Acceptance.
This has been many weeks coming though. If you’ve followed the stories on this blog, you’ll know we’re now in our fifth week of isolation.
Then we witnessed the health crisis unfold in the UK, although we were watching from a distance in our beautiful little corner of Bedfordshire with our friends Andy and Helen who we met through house sitting adventures.
Hope and acceptance amidst impossible decisions
We found ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. If we stayed in the UK, we did have accommodation and I had employment. But, Australia is harder and harder to access now (closed borders, very few international flights in), family is here and we seem less affected by Coronavirus (so far). Is it a better bet? After what we’ve witnessed, we worry that many here are too complacent – that Coronavirus will explode after Easter. I hope that prediction is wrong.
A friend recently gave me some advice about dealing with impossible decisions. She said, “sometimes you just have to make the choice, commit to it and make it work“.
Now that we’re here, we’ll make the best of it, even if ‘it’ means taking things month at a time.
There’s also a school of thought that my friend Leanne (publisher of Get it Magazine) and I have been focusing on. Time is something we have gained through Coronavirus isolation. Read our April Get it e-news for our tips on the ways you can use your time to improve your business and your life 😄
We have to hold onto this 👇
“Now more than ever, hope can actually become our power source.” -Deepak Chopra
Finding hope in uncertain (and isolated) times: our fave tools
No matter what’s going on in your life, in the end, hope comes from within. And it’s something we have to practice accessing – we can’t take it for granted. (just like you shouldn’t take your time, fresh air, fresh food, nice bed, and HEALTH for granted – think about that today 🙏).
So, from within the confines of our forced lock-down in Australia, here’s what we’re leaning on:
Throughout this disaster that we know will end, although no end is in sight, I know more than just Cooper and I have retreated ‘home’. A wise friend and lifestyle coach Linda Stewart-Brown, reminded me that going back to your roots isn’t a bad thing, and to not feel like I’m peddling backwards. She says:
There are some things that need clearing up and finalising, in one way or another. Doing this, one step back, as you might see it, also means the next step is definitely forward! A strategic retreat and then transformation and clarification to be able to move ahead more quickly and with greater success. It is difficult to see right now, however, in 18 months, or less, this will all be 20/20 hindsight for which you will be very grateful.
I learnt a little something in this mental health and life coaching training too, that talks about a nice evening ritual. The course mentors encourage us to visualise our future at night. If you’ve got a partner, talk about it before bed. No worries if you’re on your own – pull out your journal and write as if you’re in that future moment.
Feel the health, travel, fun, freedom and abundance that’s on the way.
We hope you’re doing ok in these uncertain times. Let us know in the comments about your experiences, or find us on social media to say hi. We’re in isolation, after all – happy for your company 😉
And if you have any helpful ideas or resources to share, do feel free to link them below.
It’s with a heavy heart that this proud expat blogger writes one of her last posts from our adopted home of England. London has been such a wonderful adventure. It’s not been without ups and downs, laughter, tears and lessons.
But, we’ve lived our motto here: life is about experiences.
Expat blogger – future uncertainty
I had wanted so very much to settle in England. We’ve produced plenty of blogs for expats and travellers here on Travel Live Learn. And as a reader on this site – to you I say thank you 🙏 I am grateful.
As an ‘expert’ expat blogger, I started out getting together guides on living and working in London. Cooper developed our videos too, that showcase fun, travel and tips. We’ve been lucky to be recognised for content on this site with a couple of awards, and have covered wonderful destinations while living over here.
As I look over it all now, I have to admit to fighting back tears. It’s hard to let go of one life and go back to another – or start yet again. That’s risk we take though, forging a space for ourselves in a new country. You either get to stay or one day must leave. But we must not forget: life is about experiences.
Difficult decisions for expats all over the world
We’re at the end of March 2020 and as I type, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing the face of the planet. It was completely unexpected, and it certainly is not discriminating in who is impacted. The world has been dealing with this public health crisis since January, although then most people outside of China where the disease originated, never predicted the impact that’s unfolding.
I type this while on ‘self-isolation’ in the English countryside. We were lucky to get out of Italy when things shifted from ‘manageable’ to ‘catastrophic’ overnight on 10 March. Cooper and I found it very difficult to get a flight out to leave.
Just as we made it back to England though, lock-downs and strict measures were imposed. With the threat of airline closures and restricted international flights, it feels like we’re heading back to the days where travel was far less accessible and much more expensive. The UK has already seen one major airline go into receivership over the past week. Which other airlines will follow?
As we come to the end of our work sabbatical which was covered in major media, I fear our story about inspired action is turning into one of retreat, back to ‘our’ official corner of the world. We are set to renew visas for the UK in July, but with so much uncertainty around the future, I am sad to say it seems like that that dream will no longer become a reality. As these shocking events continue to sweep the globe, I doubt very much we are the only travellers, digital nomads and expats forced to reconsider our paths. Borders are closing. People are worried. The tourism industry and way we travel will look different on the other side.
How it feels to leave ‘home’
As I type this I remember the little things about life in the UK. Old church bells chiming. Work bus commutes when I’d to listen to new music that would become the soundtrack to special moments. My favourite walk around London Fields where I’d feel so happy sometimes I’d almost burst. Dog spotting on the tube; identifying wonderful old buildings amongst innovative new ones. Swifty at Wembley! Swifty at BST Hyde Park, for that matter 💕
I remember ‘stairwell lunches’ with my friends when we’d laugh so much and be told off for being too jovial; and impromptu after-work pub runs that would last ’til 11:30pm mid-week, with the sun just down not long before that. Just ‘popping over’ to France, or Spain, or Italy on the train or plane. Pride, festivals, fairy lights and Christmas markets, dining in igloos by the Thames, fireworks night, bank holidays spent in the park and at the loveliest markets in the world.
Only in London.
There were moments I helped people get through tough times. They became my good friends. And other times when people here would show up for me, just as I needed them. I call them too, my best friends. Sunny park days in summer – oh the joy of sunshine 😀! And snow days of course – always gleeful for an Aussie in London. We made a mark, got a special invite to Buckingham Palace, covered royal weddings, and mostly just enjoyed life in the big, mad, historical, beautiful, wonderful city that London is. I’m sad [understatement] to leave. This has been our home. It is a home of ours.
But after six years, and because of this pandemic and situation, the best version of a ‘goodbye’ we could do with all our friends – our UK family – was on WhatsApp.
What to do when the world is ending
Maybe a bit dramatic, but you’d agree if you saw Heathrow as we did today – like an eerie mall, all closed down, lifeless – another planet. As an expat blogger who now needs to find a new niche and start another life, you get where I’m coming from, I hope. Everyone has been impacted by this, and will be for months, if not years to come.
But we’ve been hit hard.
Our life as we embraced it was ripped away today.
We’re working on new projects already though, like this venture into wellness travel (podcast launching soon); but when can those who value travel, safely and freely travel again?
We left here once before and I consoled myself with the idea of bringing adventure back home. I’d spoken to another expat friend too and discovered there is a mourning process around leaving somewhere you love, somewhere you’ve invested heart and soul into. Having two homes – I’ve always maintained – is a blessing and a curse.
Coming to terms with change
This time when we leave the UK, I don’t know, maybe it’s for good? That’s not how we feel right now though. This is a ‘trial’ separation 😉
We know we’re lucky to have options, and family and friends who are happy to see us (and we to see them). But, I’m only at a ‘2’ on the change curve, which you can probably guess from the tone of this post – in a state of disruption I’m feeling anger and fear.
It all goes too quickly, is the old lesson. Wasn’t it just yesterday we arrived back mid-2014, to pick up where we left off in 2011? Isn’t it all so delicate, just hanging by a thin thread that can break at any time. Like now.
If you’re impacted by the fallout of borders closing or difficult circumstances brought about by being based in another country, being a digital nomad, or the change that’s been thrust upon you now, let us know about your experience in the comments. We’d also love for you to join us in our Facebook group – come say hi today!
By anyone’s standards, we’re living in troubling times. Coronavirus messaging is overwhelming, from the media, governments, employers and family members – how to deal with anxiety of it all then?
With very few details to go on, the only consistent message we had for months was to keep our hands clean and off our faces. Then hand sanitiser sold out! (well, except for the packs of six small bottles that you could buy on Amazon for the bargain price of £75 😠).
Travel plans are out the window and some of us face a very real threat of being separated from family, friends and the future we’d planned because the world is closed, indefinitely.
How to deal with anxiety around Coronavirus
The exceptional pace at which events have unfolded since January 2020 means people are living in fear. Unexpected lock-downs began in China, then Italy which we got caught up in. People worry about empty supermarket shelves, closed international borders and economic collapse.
All of this came out of nowhere. Our travel trends never predicted this in the plan. It’s new, and it’s upsetting.
I know you are stressed. Me too!
Friends have messaged me in tears. Fellow travel writers and bloggers have contacted us to ask, ‘what are you guys doing next?’ Another friend has been stuck on a cruise ship for over 25 days – no port will accept the passengers! If someone walks past and coughs, panic wells inside of us all. Our biggest international airlines have simply stopped flying indefinitely. The business landscape is changing, and many people are without work. It’s madness.
Social isolation is enforced globally, including here in the UK. We’re keeping our distance from other humans. Pubs are shut – it’s bad. That would be a joke if it weren’t for all the other businesses that have closed too. Hotels, restaurants, events, tours, even the famous summer festival Glastonbury has been cancelled, in what would have been its 50th year! Will summer destinations like Ibiza – heavily reliant on seasonal tourism – even be able to open this year?
I would have thought it was all a bit of a crazy media frenzy, if we’d not experienced all of it directly. Unfortunately, it’s all true.
It’s time to admit we’re in trouble when ‘wartime’ rhetoric is invoked, but admittedly I’d drawn these parallels already.
Coronavirus anxiety has been following Cooper and I for a while, from before our trip to Italy where we were set to attend the TBEX conference, here in the UK and in Australia.
The situation for digital nomads and the Coronavirus pandemic
Last August Cooper and I set off on a grand adventure. For the first time in our lives we let work be a secondary concern. On a house sitting sabbatical adventure (that made international headlines) we had a world of opportunity at our fingertips. We’ve embraced a house sitting and digital nomad lifestyle – like thousands and thousands of others. This lifestyle has been accessible and easy for years now. Living a laptop lifestyle and all of that.
But what happens when you have plans to travel, live and work in different countries, but now deal with anxiety around what’s [not] on offer? The Coronavirus outbreak means for many of us that we need to return home before we want or intended to. When will we be free to travel again? It’s estimated that most airlines will be bankruptby the end of May 2020. A staggering and saddening thought.
I remember the days when there was no competition and there’s no way an average family of four could fly from one city in Australia to another. We had to drive. I imagine it was the same in Europe. Now we flit from the UK to Spain on a whim. Well, at least we could do that three months ago.
Currently we’re in the UK where we have residency, thankfully for a little while yet. We were going to apply for indefinite leave to remain visas this year and stay. But we want to be at home in Australia too. How can we get there when all flights are cancelled? We are without a flat because we’ve been travelling. It feels like our options get slimmer by the day. Where’s safest in terms of wellbeing and the economy? No one knows from one day to the next.
Anxiety and stress: dealing with Coronavirus and an uncertain future
Whether you’re in a precarious situation like us, uncertain of the future; or, you’re feeling down, worried and downright isolated working from home for the foreseeable future, it’s easy to get caught up in the worry mindset. Oh yeah, I get that. There are people trapped in foreign countries right now, with no money or accommodation. Cruise ships with ill passengers being denied entry to ports. Sick with worry – that’s no way to live.
Author and spiritual teacher, Gabby Bernstein, shared very helpful tips that I’ve passed around to friends who are caught up in Coronavirus anxiety. In this blog, she talks about how to claim back a good night’s sleep, and about taking responsibility for your own thoughts. It’s worth a read.
How to deal with anxiety – our own experience
Our ‘new normal’ includes:
limiting the amount of news and social media we’re consuming.
breathing! (don’t forget to do it).
we use ‘spare’ or ‘locked-in’ time to focus on creative projects, like our upcoming wellness travel podcast launch (perhaps timely, given the world’s predicament) – it’s called ‘Exhale’ which is referencing, appropriately, remembering to breathe!
taking the time to reevaluate what’s working in our business – getting prepared and positioned to be available when things pick up again and new opportunities arise out of such significant change.
acknowledging when things get too much and giving ourselves a break – there have been some tense moments over the past few weeks and it’s led to emotional and physical burnout for both of us.
looking for opportunities to laugh and live in the moment.
As I write this, we’re safe at a house sit in the Bedfordshire countryside with our pups Maise and Mole and horses Haze and Roo. Cooper and I went into a 14 day self isolation after returning from Italy, and fortunately we are ok. Our biggest issue is sourcing groceries, but the kindness of neighbours has meant that strangers bring us food and check on us. Beautiful 💕
There are changes happening around us every single day, and we are practising the art of allowing and letting go of the plans we simply can’t make under the circumstances. We have a few options to consider, but are taking this day at a time. It’s taken some time to get to this head space though, to be able to write even this piece in a calm and collected manner. Tears and depression have presented. I’m a ‘planner’ by nature, and right now I can’t plan. It’s tough, but we’re all in it together regardless of status, race or colour. It’s like a disaster movie and we’re all playing a part.
There’s people I work with who hate the term ‘moving forward’, but I this it’s appropriate here and hope we can do it soon. Let’s pray the airlines keep running; that lost jobs are found again; and that we can continue to travel in the direction in which we’re called.
I hope wherever you are that you feel safe and connected, despite enforced social distancing. This too shall pass. And, it’s an opportunity to think about your future and how you’ll embrace change on the other side.
If you have tips or stories on how you’re going through all of this, let us know in the comments or on social media.
Have you ever wanted to go home after a holiday? Nah, us either, except for this past week when the Coronavirus Italy lock-down was announced without warning. We had legitimate fears we’d be stuck in Sicily for the month to come. Maybe longer, the way things are looking now! Things have been anxious and stressful, to say the least. And as I reflect on the events that unfolded, I’m sad to say things have only gotten worse.
Just a year ago, we were on one of the best trips of our lives. We enjoyed a train journey across the country, taking in Milan, Lake Como, Verona and Venice.
It was magical, and I hope to return again soon.
Coronavirus Italy lock-down
For now, Italy has been hit HARD by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the country is a no-go zone. Usually it’s teeming with tourists. On the morning of 10 March, we woke up in our Airbnb in Catania, Sicily, at 6am to discover that late the evening before, the government had announced extreme measures – all of Italy was on lock-down. A terrible way to start your day!
Coronavirus – an infectious disease that attacks lungs and airways as well as other vital organs if you’re suffering from underlining health conditions – had been sweeping through the north of Italy. When we chose to continue with our trip to the south of Italy – Sicily – that area was clear. Several major centres in the north had already been quarantined which had been the strategy for China where COVID-19 originated. But just a few days before when we stepped onto a plane, our destination was fine.
Certainly, there were signs of trouble on 8 March. Our flight was only about a quarter full. But we had nowhere else to be that week, and figured we would go catch up with some friends who were also headed to Catania – a few ‘TBEX survivors’ who still turned up for a travel media conference that has been (at time of publishing) postponed.
Panic response vs managing a crisis
If we’d only seen the messaging the evening before, we might have got out on a flight to the UK easily on Tuesday 10 March. It had been our back-up plan – if things escalated, we’d just get on a flight straight away. But from 6am until 6pm both Cooper and I were on our computers and on phones, trying to get out.
Things looked bright around 8am when we finally got a flight from Catania to neighbouring Malta. We figured Malta was a good choice, we know the place well. I transferred our Easyjet flight from Catania (set for Saturday 14 March) to take us from Malta to London the next day. We incurred some hefty fees but that was ok, it was time to leave.
Something told me to keep an eye on the Catania airport departures board. It felt like the response from our accommodation on the ground in Malta was fearful. Malta is close to Italy, and it’s a small island. If Coronavirus infiltrates, they’d find it hard to manage. I was liaising with the manager of the airport accommodation on WhatsApp when I spotted about 9.30am: our flight status had gone from grey (‘scheduled’) to red – cancelled.
Distress kicked in from that point. Everything was cancelled, more and more as the minutes went by. We love travel. But the feeling of being trapped is unnerving. Our family in Australia were getting worried too. They called and tried to help – which was appreciated, but added to our anxiety.
In my view, with so many people trying to urgently get back to their country of residence, governments and airlines in the area made bad decisions – panicked choices that amplified the problems and the region’s collective fears.
Bad practice by airlines in a time of heightened anxiety
After this, we spent the day trying to book flights on numerous airlines to many different destinations. The threats from the media and government warnings kept mounting: we would be locked in and all flights grounded within 48 hours. Although, many, many flights were simply cancelled that same day. Countries were closing their borders to anyone coming from Italy. It felt like we didn’t have a chance!
BUT, airfares continued to sell. Oh, and many airlines simply shut off their customer service call lines and social media messaging function too. No contact, many charges and much stress. We’d get to the payment section and the bill would tally on our credit card – our flight tickets wouldn’t process though. We encountered ‘errors’. Only to try again and discover the flight prices had been hiked up significantly. Very bad practice in a time of much stress. Some university students we met later on told us stories of how they simply had no more credit to keep booking under these circumstances, and they’re still in Italy.
It seems that if you continued to book, you eventually won a lottery seat on a flight out – but he/she who paid the highest price won a spot on the escape route. By 5pm I was in tears, Cooper was stressed (he’s NEVER stressed), and we didn’t know what to do.
Small gestures and good people
Through all of this though, our encounters with kindness were amplified. The manager of this small airport hotel in Malta was ever so kind, assuring me he’d not hesitate to issue a refund, despite booking.com stating the fee was non-refundable. He stuck to his word, and the money came back.
Similarly, our Catania Airbnb host made us feel safe and offered help to contact embassies and get food. He also told us that he’d help us with accommodation if we got stuck.
These gestures – from operators who will suffer financially as part of this global disaster – were really appreciated in stressful times.
We were also in contact with our house sit in England – one we were returning to after sitting for them in Bedfordshire last year. (They run a beautiful B&B here too, if you want to visit when things are back to normal!) 👇
Due to the unprecedented situation, we suggested they might want to look for last-minute sitters. Instead of doing this though, our host spent time looking for flights that might just get us out of Italy and back to the UK via a European destination.
We’d tried a few of these routes, but Andy at our house sit found one on Ryanair via a cool city in the Netherlands that we’d never heard of, Eindhoven.
As it turned out, Andy’s suggestion that we chose to book (despite the stress of mounting credit card fees and the necessity of an overnight connection stay) totally saved us. This flight was one of the last two flights out of Sicily on 12 March. Nothing is set to leave until mid-April, or beyond. When we landed in Eindhoven, everyone cheered!
Lock-down in Catania
We were really lucky to get out after a couple of days. Wow, were those days fraught with anxiety. To get groceries or necessities, we had to line up one at a time outside stores. Lock-down got crazy and scary. Masks and gloves were essential. The image above is from an area near us in Catania – deserted. The feature image at the top is from Catania’s famous and usually thriving fish markets. Again, now all closed indefinitely.
One shop after another gradually closed, store-owners aware they were shutting their doors indefinitely. How will they pay the bills? Can this country recover? Life’s already tough for many.
Sleep was hard because each hour the rules changed, not just in Italy but around Europe and the world. Borders closed, transport was restricted and people started hoarding food.
There was no guarantee our flight would depart. Every half hour on the 12th, we obsessively checked but it remained green: good to go at 5:15pm.
Travellers in Catania worried about whether they should try to leave and risk potentially spreading the virus at home or passing on to ‘at risk’ relatives. We would face a 14 day self quarantine if we got into the UK, but that was ok by us – we were headed to a regional area anyway. As residents in England, we chose to pursue a location where we can access healthcare (although perhaps a dubious notion now that hospitals are overwhelmed).
We worried for friends (like Jason and his mum 👇) who appeared to be entirely stuck in Catania. They were even asked to leave their Airbnb with nowhere to go!
I had transferred our original Easyjet tickets back to the Saturday flight out (at more expense), but it was cancelled too.
We felt sick, despite the sunny days in Catania which would otherwise be a joy. Our time was spent indoors except for going out to get a bit of food. The streets were dead. A few cafes were open, but not for many more days, I’d guess. The experience took me to the height of anxiety. We’re still waiting for refunds from airlines that I’m not sure will come – perhaps they’ll go into receivership before processing. I never imagined I’d want to leave Italy, ever! But during those days, we very much did want to get out, back to a ‘home’ base.
Since we left Italy, thousands of people have died due to COVID-19, and thousands more are ill, without access to oxygen or healthcare. The situation there is now worse than it is in China. The system in Italy is not coping. Other European nations are in a similar situation, and the UK harbours legitimate concerns about the future too.
Conversations have moved from ‘this is just a flu’, to, ‘you really should talk about final arrangements with your family should the worst happen’.
They say there’s reasons to find hope within this chaos. This is how things unfolded in Sicily and elsewhere 👇🙌
Now we are on lock-down in the UK (but so far virus free 🤞). We’re trying our best to deal with the anxiety associated with an uncertain future – here’s our personal tips on that.
I don’t know if things are ok though, or what’s around the corner.
It’s been over six months since we set off on our house sitting UK adventure. We’ve explored terrific destinations in the UK through house sitting, including London, Northampton, the Cotswolds, Bedfordshire and soon Devon and the Sussex coast.
We’ve loved house sitting in the UK, and we’ve also been to Malta, France and Ireland.
House sitting UK: 6 lessons learnt
Leave the toilet seat down!
You hear stories about dogs drinking out of the toilet, right? One night we were sound asleep but awoken at 1am.
“Can you hear a noise, is that an intruder?” I asked panicked (but still tucked into bed)
“I’m not sure… do you think I should check?” asks Cooper, as we hear again… what is that?
“Slurp, slurp, slurp…” 😆
Our beautiful shepherd, Luna, couldn’t be bothered going downstairs to her bowl. Our lesson? Close the toilet lid! It’s true – dogs DO drink from the toilet.
Never forget poo bags
We find poo bags in all or pockets now. It’s pretty funny. The bags always come in handy, of course. But what about the one occasion you forget to take them?
In Northampton we had simply popped out to the corner store. When I was inside gathering supplies, Cooper was walking Luna (pictured above) around the block and having a little play with her. You guessed it – she chose this very time to do her business.
And it was no small matter!
Cooper scrounged around to find cardboard and resources to clean up after Luna, but it wasn’t pretty, oh no.
Hence, poo bags in every pocket since that time.
Watch what your dog eats
I’m sorry, this seems to have turned into a post about toilets and dogs’ business. You see, we took care of another gorgeous pup, Teal. A Springer Spaniel – about the best behaved and most affectionate creature you’d ever meet. But Teal has a secret.
Teal eats poo. In the depths of fields around the Cotswolds, this innocent pooch will grab a ‘snack’ the second you turn away. At first I thought Cooper was exaggerating because he spotted this, er, behaviour first. I didn’t believe him. Not our lovely Teal.
However, when I turned around after being engaged in conversation with a fellow dog walker, I saw it. Oh Teal. Perhaps he needed some nutrients that are in there?
Whatever the case, we were reminded that dogs are like kids. Keep an eye on them at all times 🐶
We took care of a precious little old man called Monty. He was such a beautiful old soul. A 15 year old Jack Russell, for the most part he was super easy to look after. Except he suffered major senior separation anxiety.
When we arrived he seemed ok, but once his parents left he wouldn’t leave his bed or hid under theirs. It broke our hearts. We kept an eye on him over the 12 hours to come, and we even called TrustedHousesitters pet line for guidance to make sure we were doing all the right things, which we were.
For anxiety, we’ve discovered we need to give dogs in this scenario their space. It’s beneficial for them to be in their own home. If they are not sleeping or eating, then you should contact a vet. One thing we had going for us was that Monty liked his food. We used this to try and coax him to love us 💖 We even got him downstairs by laying out a cheese trail – his favourite treat.
After a while though, we realised we were using treats in the wrong way – we were reinforcing his behaviour to stay in his bed or hide from us. We’d give him treats for it! Instead, we switched it around – gave him treats for coming to us and we got him outside on walks which cheered him right up. Our lesson: consider what kind of behaviour you’re rewarding with treats, or are you giving them to make you feel better?
House sitting in the UK brought many lessons our way. When we took care of Blue, a senior Lurcher doggie in London, we’d been told where in the house he could go. It was pretty much everywhere except the bedrooms. What we didn’t realise is that’s exactly where he’d try to go. Some of the door handles weren’t shut properly and we discovered this after he went missing twice. Blue managed to break into the rooms, have a nap on his siblings’ beds but then got locked in, bless him!
Our Luna in Northampton was known to break into the fridge and eat all the meat, so we had to lock the door to the kitchen if we went out. Luna’s also actually unlocked the front door to go in search of her family 💕 So, we needed to deadbolt it for her own safety from the busy street outside.
A special mention must go to Harley in Dublin who knew how to follow you into the toilet, jump up on the sink and drink water while you wash your hands. His mum said that is entirely his father’s fault for teaching him 🤣
‘Digital nomad lifestyle’, for most of us who resonate with the term, means travelling + working. It sounds fun, and yeah it is. But it’s easy to fall into ‘holiday mode’, which means no income! Cooper and I have discovered that routine is critical when trying to maintain a healthy nomad lifestyle. Falling out of a routine means you can quite easily become demotivated. Hence, ‘holiday mode’, which doesn’t pay for this way of life consistently.
A few weeks back we realised our routine (or lack thereof) was letting us down. Over the past few months we’ve been refining a digital nomad routine that fits with our lifestyle, so we re-implemented the plan.
Maybe some of these tips will resonate with you too.
Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine
Plan daily, keep a diary
When you’re travelling and working on the road you need to be super organised. Use a diary! We plan our days in advance and share a Google calendar which tracks the work Cooper and I do together as well as individual workloads. We plan it all in, can see when it’s coming up, and try to stick to the times we’ve set. Quite often we will also plan time in for daily exercise or getting out and about.
Depending on where you are, your daily routines can fluctuate. A group of full time digital nomads have shared insight into how they manage their routine, on the Becoming a Digital Nomad blog.
Project plan within your week
We don’t just plan our days in advance, but our weeks too. Blocks of time are planned into our diary for project work. For example, we might have a three hour period marked as ‘website development’. We break that down into sections, so within that time frame we might want to achieve finding a new theme for the website and editing the copy on the home page. If we get those tasks completed in that time frame, we’ve achieved our goal for that day.
It’s very easy to plan a chunk of time for ‘a project’ but get distracted and overwhelmed on where to start, then not to anything of any real substance! But, if you plan smaller tasks into a larger section of time, you’re more likely to complete the priorities you’ve set for yourself.
Cooper and I catch up each morning to see where we’re up to and to reschedule anything that didn’t get done the day before. There’s obviously the need to be flexible if something more urgent needs to be prioritised.
Nomad lifestyle requires planning around disruption
Travelling between house sits or new locations means we lose work time. That’s totally fine, but we have come to accept that we need to give time to cleaning, packing, moving.
We used to plan work into our travel time (e.g. work on the train or plane), but it never gets done between being tired or having no space/internet/power. We now look ahead at what’s coming up and don’t schedule real chunks of work into that time.
Consequently, if Wednesday becomes our Saturday for the week, or we need to work on the weekend because we had some ‘days off’ during the week, so be it. But it’s in our diary. See points one and two.
Be accountable to someone else
We’ve made a deal to keep each other accountable. Diary alerts, alarms, nagging each other works. I’m pretty good at organising things, but Cooper’s better and making us stick to time. So, we work as a team to make our routine work to time.
If you don’t have a partner to do this, find other ways. You can appoint an accountability buddy who also runs their own business or freelances; connect on social media to prompt and encourage each other. Find meetups with other intrepid solo travellers, work at a coworking space or visit coworking cafes so there’s others with the same mindset around you.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
To stay out of holiday mode, stick to a sleep routine too. Science says that it’s far better for our health and wellbeing to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even if it’s your ‘day off’.
It’s important to step away from work. Maintain your work/life balance. We hear about this in the corporate world but it’s just as important when you’re working for yourself. And don’t mistake ‘travel’ for ‘holidays’.
There is a huge difference between being on a holiday, and travelling while we’re working.
Don’t get me wrong – we love that our office landscape changes frequently, and that we can explore new cultures and make new friends along the way. That’s fantastic! But we are trying to run a business and as anyone who works for themselves knows, that’s a seven days a week gig, and rarely 9am to 5pm.
It’s for this reason we do have to make sure we exercise, do Yoga, meditate. House and pet sitting keeps us in check though, because there’s always a dog who needs attention, walkies, ball time and love.
Keep in mind too, that if your body is telling you to take a break – re-prioritise – and do so! You’ve got the control over your time. The Morning Maryjolaine blog makes some nice points on this. See FOMO vs JOMO.
Switch off each night
For your mental health and wellbeing – switch your devices off at least an hour before bed. No social, no emails – step away from the machine, my digital nomad friends!
Got any other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper, and here we share our advice and stories about expat living in the UK; pet and house sitting around the world; wellness travel and creative living, no matter where on the planet you are. We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for 20 years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. We hope you find value in our content. Please do connect by leaving a comment or find us on social media.