Life is too short not to have fun. The big adventure for 2023 is taking a two month trip to travel around England. We will be housesitting and living life as a local, exploring the area and looking after pets all around the country, while remotelyworking.
In the middle of the trip I’ll be attending the Atomicon conference in the north of England. This was the catalyst for the trip.
January was spent in planning…. working out which app to use, creating a profile that positions us, applying for opportunities, interviews with pet parents and building our itinerary.
After speaking to a colleague who has been housesitting for years, the app Trusted Housesitters was recommended. This service connects ‘pet parents’ with verified house sitters. Both parties create profiles, and reviews are posted from each experience. “Stay for free with adorable animals in unique homes around the world. Sit as often as you like, wherever you like.”
Starting out with no reviews, trust is created through profile content, photos, requesting recommendations from other experiences, links to LinkedIn and AirBnB to share social proof and evidence of the kind of guest you are.
There are three types of membership; Pet Parent, Sitter, Combined (for those with pets, who also can sit). As a sitter there are three levels of membership;
Basic Sitter — Unlimited house sits worldwide.
Standard Sitter — Unlimited house sits worldwide, instant alerts for unlimited saved searches, dedicated member support, free video calls & online chat with vets when pet sitting, accident & third party liability protection.
Premium Sitter — Unlimited house sits worldwide, free video calls & online chat with vets when pet sitting, instant alerts for unlimited saved searches, dedicated member support, accident & third party liability protection, sit cancellation insurance, 2 global airport lounge passes.
I started with the Standard Sitter annual membership for the liability protection and support, but once the trip grew to cover 2 months, I decided to upgrade to Premium membership which includes sit cancellation insurance. If a pet parent cancels, Trusted Housesitters provide up to $150 compensation per night to cover the cost of alternative accommodation, up to $1,500 per sit, up to 30 days annually. This means we shouldn’t be out of pocket if we need to book accommodation.
Generally the process is to apply, then you may be invited to a video meeting if you are being considered. Most invited us to sit during the meeting. Others invited us to sit from our text interactions.
Once the first house sit was locked in and the conference accomodation was booked, the trip started to take shape. Destinations needed to make sense in the flow of the trip to ensure we weren’t back-tracking or double-booking. This took a lot of co-ordination, particularly when invited to house sits that clashed in dates or locations.
February was about locking in the itinerary and filling gaps with AirBnB experiences, researching local areas and adding things to see and do, including pools to swim in as part of my #PoolQuest.
Google My Maps
When building a plan, Google maps is your best friend, particularly Google My Maps. With each destination, I would look at where it is located, and how we would get there using public transport or if we would need a car. Then I’d zoom in and look at what we could do and see in that area.
When building a map on your Google Maps account, you are limited to 9 stops between the start and the end. So I found a way to create a map using multiple layers which connect together. The only negative is that each later labels stops as letters, so with three layers, the letters repeat. It would be great to be able to start at a specific letter, or change the colour of the travel route line to have 3 different colours.
This image shows the back end and how I have the three layers each with stops. Each layer starts at the last destination to make it continuous visually.
I then exported the complete map, created a new map, import the file, and now I can change the colour of each layer to differentiate. Our first loop south of London is in red, then we go north (purple) and back south, then west and finally back to Londoon (blue).
Here is our original travel map:
This map is created from the perspective of driving directly between each stop, but we may take detours and add in side adventures between accommodation, but it gives a general idea of where we will be staying.
My itinerary is managed in a OneNote notebook, with sections for accommodation, preparation check list, things to do, travel and a journal.
In my accommodation section, I have a table of every place we will stay across dates with a link to the property, either on Trusted House Sitters, AirBnB or Last Minute. It includes address and contact details, pets, key details about the home and location.
All house sit details are in the app, which also includes a Welcome Guide, detailing requirements about the pets, home such as bin day, and instructions to use things in the home, transport details, neighbourhood info and emergency contacts. I like to capture critical info so it is all in one Page.
I was looking for a tool to manage our travels when GoogleMaps was looking to be limited. I came across Wanderlog, which has a free version and Pro account (which gives you offline access and offers), and has an app or is available via the browser.
The app lets you create trips which you can build manually and by sharing travel confirmations such as flights, accommodation and rental cars. Add notes, create sections such as ‘Pool Quest UK’ and create check lists such as packing lists.
It gives you an overview or a detailed itinerary view with suggestions of things to do in each place, from reviews on the web.
Set your budget and manage your expenses, which are added manually or automatically deducted when importing reservations from Gmail (Pro feature). And set your local currency.
The app allows you to set your default transport as public or driving, seek help and support, and share your trip with others. And you can capture a journal of your trip by creating a Guide which could be about the entire trip or specific destinations. It shows up on your account profile and can be shared with others. Read other people’s guides for inspiration and ideas.
You can follow others and have people follow you, and gives you a name to match your app usage and for those who like a bit of gamification, it has leaderboards.
I’m curious what apps and tools you use to manage your travel.
CONNECTION & COMMITMENTS
The next part of the trip planning is logistics such as phone/internet access and letting people know we are visiting to organise meet ups. This is the theme for March. Also we are locking in our work availability now we know where we will have good internet, because while we are on an adventure, we will be working some of the time. For the most part we can work anywhere, the main challenge is the time difference for consulting and live training. This will mean working afternoons/evenings while on longer housesits and having adventures in the morning, which is perfect.
Mobile & Data Prepaid Plans
Whilst most places we will have good internet, we need a back up and we need to be able to communicate with each other, so rather than $15 a day international roaming, we are organising our UK travel sims before we leave thanks to Sim Corner. Each plan gives unlimited calls and SMS to UK mobiles and standard landline and data.
O2 UK prepaid plan (100GB | 30 Days | O2 UK) $67
3UK prepaid plan (12GB | 30 Days | 3UK) $35
I will be catching up with business colleagues at the Atomicon Conference in Gateshead in June, family and friends in Yorkshire, Liverpool and other locations, and I will meet up with fellow LinkedIn specialists, and LinkedIn connections around the country.
1. Thurs 18 — Sat 20 May London / Midhurst TBC
2. Sat 20 — Sat 27 May Midhurst, West Sussex
3. Fri 26— Mon 29 May Oxshott, Surrey
4. Mon 29 — Wed 31 May Hove, East Sussex
5. Wed 31 May — Sun 4 June Weybridge, Surrey
6. Sun 4 — Mon 5 June London TBC
7. Mon 5 — Fri 9 June Bolsover, Derbyshire
8. Fri 9–11 June Barnsley, South Yorkshire
9. Sun 11 — Tues 13 June Newcastle, Northumberland
10. Tue 13 — Thur 15 June Kendal Lake District, Cumbria
11. Thur 15 — Mon 19 June Leyland, Lancashire
12. Mon 19 — Fri 23 June Kidderminster, Worcestershire
13. Fri 23 — Sat 24 June Bilson, West Midlands
14. Sat 24–25 June Bath, Somerset
15. Sun 25 — Thur 29 June Poole, Dorset
16. Thur 30 June — Mon 3 July Redruth, Cornwall
17. Mon 3 — Wed 5 July Battersea, London
18. Wed 5 — Sat 8 July Norwich, Norfolk
19. Sat 8 — ? July London TBC
A couple of sits cancelled their plans, so new sits were locked in, and AirBnB’s booked to fill gaps. We booked places that were fully refundable to have the flexibility.
Get in touch if you would like to catch up, have me speak at your event or train your team.
And if you have any suggestions for things to do on our travels around England, please share. We love outdoor activities, being in, on or around water, op shopping, history, local bands and good food.
Look out for the next instalment as the trip gets closer.
Yours in adventure