Guest blog post – Teresa Roberts
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Teresa constantly seeks creative routes to her personal freedom and has reinvented herself more than once in life. From teacher/principal to world traveler/international house sitter to author and travel journalist, Teresa illustrates how life sans-paycheck is not static but rather filled with adventure and new challenges! Choosing to house sit as a means to travel the world is not only an imaginative route but a practical one as well.
A unique way to travel
I live in countries all over the world! I am not an expatriate. I’m definitely not a tourist. My method of travel is a bit unusual. I am an international house sitter!
I still like saying those three words, international house sitter. Even though I have been taking care of houses for almost five years, I have not become jaded. In fact, I remain mildly startled and totally grateful that I managed to stumble across a very unique way to travel, one that makes it possible for me to “live the dream”. I know that phrase sounds cliché. In fact, it has become a very overused phrase in many ways. When I hear it, it always makes me feel like someone is trying to sell me a time share on a crowded beach. Let’s see if I can paint a picture of how my life has turned out to be the perfect fit for me without resorting to another cliché.
First of all, I am not rich. I am not young. I don’t have connections. I am truly an ordinary gal who just wanted to travel. I retired from a good career in public education with the hopes of discovering a way to travel a lot even though I didn’t have a big income. I took a hit to my state pension because I retired about ten years earlier than many of my colleagues. I walked away from a nice salary without looking back. Well, maybe I looked in my rear view mirror once in a while, but what I saw, although familiar, was not enough to lure me back to the manner in which I had been living for most of my adult life.
House sitting is a way to achieve a travel experience that is extremely cost effective. That part of the business is probably the most obvious. People can recognize immediately that living abroad in someone else’s house reduces my expenses tremendously. The idea of no hotel bills is naturally appealing. Who wouldn’t like to live in Malta for ninety days, enjoying the comforts of home. Sweeten the deal with Internet, TV, and all other utilities included and it becomes very apparent why I have the luxury to stay in any location that I choose for such long periods. I stay for months at a time in some of the most beautiful locations on the planet, literally for free.
Digging into local culture
The part of this story that is not always quite so obvious is the part that is directly related to my personal dreams. Oops! Did I just resort to a cliché again? Maybe just a half cliché. Sorry about that, but I do think that this way of life that I have been leading for years is suited particularly to my style of travel. I have never been very interested in tourism. I don’t like rushing my experiences. I don’t enjoy racing through a country. I like to dally. I adore digging into the local culture. I prefer exploring a tiny region and meeting people who eventually befriend me. I have friends all over the world!
But is it limiting?
House sitting may be limiting to those who require nonstop action. After all, when I agree to take care of someone’s home for a given period of time, I also relinquish my rights to roam very far afield.That becomes the privilege of the home owner, instead. I don’t mind. I know what I want from the experience and I make sure that I get it before I accept an assignment. I want to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty. I want to be able to sit on the patio or terrace enjoying grand vistas. That wish has usually been granted. I have lived in some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful locations in the world from high in the Almijara mountains in Spain, overlooking the Mediterranean, to passing idyllic months on a tiny tropical island with panoramic views of the entire Dutch Antilles. All of it exactly what I dreamed it would be and more, so much more.
For practical travel information, pros and cons to each destination we have visited, click here
Besides the natural beauty of a particular region, I get to do my own cooking, partake in the local festivities, enjoy leisurely morning coffees in a café, grab a cold beer in my favorite pub, shop where people know my name and relax in the plaza with new friends. All the while, I am reaping the benefits of some very fine homes, pools, gardens, friendly pets, and kind neighbors. It is a peaceful way to see the world, one region at a time.
I am a quiet traveler. Wherever I go, I can easily make myself at home. I rarely feel the urge to alter my way of living in order to squeeze in a trip to a nearby country. When I am in Spain, for instance, it would be quite easy to go to Portugal for a weekend or Morocco for a few days. I don’t! When I think about those other places, I always say to myself that one day I will live there, too. Eventually, I do! That’s my dream life. No cliché intended!
If you want to find out more about how Teresa travels the world as an international house sitter, feel free to visit her website Creative Paths to Freedom where you can also buy her new book Finding the Gypsy in Me – Tales of an International House Sitter.