In this episode of Freedom and Four Paws, tune in for an inspiring chat about solo travel and house sitting for women. We meet Aussie Beth Wilkinson who’s been house sitting her around the globe looking for a second home. Four years later, she is still searching – but in a beautiful way!
Finding a way into solo travel and house sitting for women
After 18 months being stuck in North America due to COVID, Canada finally lifted restrictions on international travel. As a result, Beth quickly discovered on Facebook groups that:
Australians she knew there were eager to visit family and friends back home;
Many of these expats needed someone to look after their pets – this is how Beth fell into house sitting!
She quickly developed a positive reputation and people started reaching out for her to house and pet sit.
It was actually Beth’s Mum who suggested she use house sitting as way to travel outside of Canada.
In the past four years, she has now visited Europe, America and South America. This is a fantastic example of how house sitting opens up the world for travellers. We hear similar tales from the likes of Lisa who now makes money from pet care and house sitting; and the Frugal Travellers who have a successful YouTube channel about the topic too!
What we learn from travel
Through her solo adventures Beth has been able to push through her fears and any limitations which may have subconsciously restricted her.
The experience she has created means she’s able to apply this confidence to many social and business situations; it’s not just limited to travelling. After, backpacking solo around Mexico, Beth realised that she could adapt and in fact thrive in foreign countries where cultures and languages are very different.
Find out more, watch the interview here:
How to have the ‘remote work’ conversation with your boss
Beth works remotely full time for an employer, and this means she can live and work from anywhere she pleases.
For anyone considering this option, it’s important to have open conversations with your employer to discuss what works best for you, the business you work for, and what you can bring to your role as a remote worker and digital nomad.
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Daniel Brown shares five of his best tips for the adventurous lone traveller. If you’re heading off on a solo journey soon, read on. Here we cover trip planning, keeping your important documents and valuables safe, battery power and tech, dining solo and more…
Even though the trend of solo travelling is becoming more popular, it is agreeable that venturing alone without a companion is daunting. Luckily, there are clever tricks anyone yearning to be a lone traveller can make use of to feel more comfortable along the way.
I believe everyone can benefit from trying on the ‘lone traveller’ hat at some point in life.
Many swear that travelling solo can be likened to experiencing religious enlightenment!
Not only are you able to fully rely on your own judgements and ideas, but as a lone traveller, you can do whatever you please all throughout your journey.
A pretty liberating thought!
Of course, with all the freedoms of being a lone traveller, come the drawbacks. Some of these, concern safety and overall wellbeing.
To make things easier, following are my practical tips which will empower you to book your solo trip.
You might also enjoy our feature in Get it Magazine on how to choose your own solo adventure, including interviews with two of our fave bloggers. Read it here
The very first tip after you have decided to venture out solo, is to remember to take some time and extra effort to plan the whole trip as thoroughly as possible.
Spontaneous travel is great, but when a co-pilot is not there to help you out, you will want to have a plan to fall back on.
Make a list of all the must-have items you cannot travel without. But remember, you’ll need to pack light. Heavy bags and luggage will slow you down, and it may be uncomfortable to carry extra through a crowded airport or bus station.
Next, double check the bookings, such as the taxi, the means of transportation and accommodation.
Something I was taught is to try and memorise maps as accurately as possible. It’s helpful so you don’t have to be reading a map in public (potentially looking lost), or if Google Maps fails, as sometimes it does.
Plan, book, and get ready for the time of your life. You inevitably make friends, whether you’re heading off on long term travel, a wellbeing retreat or city tours.
Make copies of your documents
The most important thing you should bring with you when travelling is a case which contains all your personal documents. These will include your passport and photo ID. It is certain that there is nothing as stressful as getting your documents lost or stolen.
To make sure that your most important documents are safe and easily accessible, it is recommended to scan them before leaving home. The best way to do this is to make copies and store them online, for example, in Dropbox. Make sure your connections are safe though. In another article we talk about using a VPN to make sure your privacy is protected when travelling, surfing the web and accessing personal files.
If you know where document back-ups are, you can rest assured that in the worst-case, there is a quick solution to save the day.
It’s important to invest in quality equipment to keep you connected and safe on your journey. Don’t forget local power adaptors for the places your’e visiting, a portable WiFi hub can be helpful, and back-up battery power is essential.
A new favourite of ours is the slim and sleek Zippo HeatBank that doubles as a hand warmer in cold weather. Pretty neat, and lasts for ages (choose three or six hour packs).
Keep your valuables safe
Another common fear when travelling alone is getting your belongings stolen. No one can fully relax and enjoy time swimming, for example, without letting go of the fear that a stranger will slip away with your personal possessions.
You could carry with you quality waterproof containers that can go into water. These double as food containers when you’re travelling and saving on buying out all the time. Alternatively, you can leave your money and valuables in the hotel room, but use a safety deposit box if possible.
With hotels, it is important to take extra precautions. It is not uncommon for things to be lost even when they are in the drawers, seemingly safe. A smart tip to ward off thieves from your room is to hang up a “do not disturb” sign after leaving your room.
Also, by leaving the television turned on, anyone is able to trick potential thieves into thinking that you have not left in the first place.
The best bet to keep your money and fancy jewellery safe is to only carry enough money with you for food, taxi, accommodation and tours. Leave all the luxurious bling-bling behind.
As a matter of fact, it is best to not put on fancy necklaces, rings and earrings. Don’t attract unnecessary attention – better safe than sorry.
Do not be afraid of solo dining
Many people are anxious to dine alone. It’s common to feel like sitting solo in a restaurant makes you seem desperate or ‘sad’. But, it’s not uncommon to witness people sitting by themselves, enjoying a coffee or a meal and reading a book.
It’s just so important to get your city break packing list right! There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination with a suitcase full of clothes and nothing to wear. Getting your city break packing list right is essential for those of us who book cheaper airfares and carry-on-only luggage too. Even more important if you’re travelling solo!
Have you ever been caught at the airport having to pay an obscene amount of money on excess luggage weight? It’s awful, and stressful.
With it being so easy to get to some places now, you don’t want your city break experience ruined by carting around unnecessary baggage. London to Amsterdam or London to Paris, even Brisbane to Sydney if you’re in the southern hemisphere – enjoy your trip by conquering your city break packing list.
City break packing list: the must-have item
As someone who has travelled extensively for my job, I was once asked what one item of clothing was an absolute travel essential for my suitcase.
Think about it, it’s handy for the beach as a swim suit cover-up, as a scarf, a head covering if needed, a wrap on a chilly flight, it’s completely versatile.
After packing and unpacking a million suitcases, there are certainly many things I’ve learned, sadly by trial and error, in terms of what not to do when packing your suitcase.
City break packing list – the five big mistakes
Not making a ‘what to wear’ list
It might seem excessive, but sitting down and actually planning out what outfits you’re going to need will save you a lot of room in the suitcase. Much in the same way that menu planning saves you money at the grocery store.
If it’s a work trip, remember that if you are seeing different clients on different days, parts of your outfit can easily be re-worn. If you’re on a city break for leisure, you can be much more relaxed about your attire. Let go of preciousness. Be comfortable, be happy.
Taking ‘out there’ items
Sure that wild print dress looks great on, but take items that are easier to mix and match.
Clothes that can be both dressed up or dressed down will get you more mileage and take up far less room.
Taking your shoe collection with you
Every pair of shoes you packwill add at least a kilo to the weight of your bag. Let’s face it, shoes are awkward items in suitcases, making it tricky to pack around them.
Think about exactly what you really need and what you can wear twice.
Most of the time you need a pair of versatile walking shoes or trainers, and a pair of flats or sandals or flip flops. That’s it.
Taking too much gym gear
Yes making time for fitness, especially while travelling on business trips, is important. Too much room service and social drinks can certainly add up quickly, but so can the weight of gym shoes and the extra clothing.
Think about it, will you really use the hotel gym on more than one occasion?
If so, take the gym clothes. If not, think about maybe taking a swim suit instead. Less room in the suitcase and most hotels have usable pools year round.
Taking your bathroom with you
Yes, we all love our little comforts from home.The shampoo we’re used to, the moisturiser we love the scent of. But really we know we could go a day or two without it. Don’t waste space on shampoo, conditioners and lotions which could accidentally break open in your bag and cause a whole other headache when you know the hotels will always have them available. Worst case, you can buy inexpensive version on the road and discard before returning home.
If you’re a frequent traveller and fussy about your brands, packing a travel bag of small sized toiletries and keeping it packed will make it easy for you to re-pack every time you go away as well.
What’s your input on how to compose the perfect city break packing list – what do you class as ‘essential’ to take with you? Drop us a line in the comments below.
About the author Gwen O’Toole is an accomplished writer focusing on travel, events management and food and wine. She also published a fiction novel while spending the past eight years as a magazine editor and travelling the globe before launching The Ideas Library, a creative services and event management company. She is regularly featured in a variety of travel and leisure publications and blogs.
Welcome! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London. We like to inspire on how to travel for longer and to live and work from anywhere. Our most popular content here is about seeing the world with your pet, remote working & digital nomadism, and house + pet sitting. Create a global life of your dreams at any age! Subscribe to find out more :)
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