We are full-time pet sitters. We traverse Europe from sit to sit. We’ve taken care of everything from chihuahuas to chickens. From mules to Spanish waterdogs. Traveling in this day and age enables us to enjoy possibilities which – let’s say 15 years ago – were unimaginable. The internet brings imagination closer to reality. Dreams are brought to life. We have lived in Europe for more than 3 years without having our own home, in lovely, homely places, making friends as we go. Furry and non-furry. And this all has been made possible for us by the sharing economy.
Skyping in the Dark
Last December we were house-sitting in Portugal on a 16 acres estate for two months. It was both a 30-minute walk to a stunning beach with an overhanging cliff and to the charming village down in the valley. During that stay, we were about to meet two homeowners living in France to discuss a future house-sit. And when I say “meet” – I mean virtually – via an online Skype call. But suddenly, the wifi in our apartment stopped working.
We found a ray of wifi while sitting outside the main house with our laptop and finally connected with Arjen and Nancy. At 6 p.m. in the winter it was already dark. With a weak light at the ceiling, our faces were just visible. But this call in the dark ended up being the start of a great cooperation – and friendship – with this B&B-owning couple.
Four months later, Nancy picked us up at my mom’s place in the Netherlands to travel together to their home in the Morvan Regional Nature Park in France. Sharing a ride for eight hours was the perfect way to get to know each other a bit better. The time flew by and none of us noticed the time. I sat in the back surrounded by plants, while Marleen shared the front with Nancy. Lush and talkative, we cruised to the Morvan.
Experiencing Life in the French Countryside
Nancy and Arjen rent out lovely cottages to holiday-makers starting in April of each year. They had just bought a new place for themselves. To get all jobs in the new home done in time, before the season would explode again, they needed some help. Marleen and I pitched in by taking care of all of their animals. They were quite a colorful bunch! We took care of ducks, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, mules, a pony, and eight horses.
We had the best time. With birds singing in the morning we woke up. Happy and enthusiastic animals ran towards us because we bring in their biggest joy of the day: FOOD! It was one of those detoxing places and experiences where we left stress behind and sensed a different meaning to life. We had a great time with Arjen and Nancy. They are big-hearted, trustworthy, extremely helpful people, and fun to be with as well. Our help was a great relief for them.
The Fox Paid us a Visit
The first morning the owners were away – for a mini break – nature showed a different face. A fox visited the chicken coop. This hadn’t happened in the past five years, Nancy and Arjen told us afterward. You can imagine the chaos he left behind, and unfortunately, two of the chicken were half alive. We did what we had to do; we took our responsibility with a heavy heart.
Six weeks flew by with a blink of the eye. We fixed the foxhole in the coop. We walked hours with the two dogs Lola and Fleur in the woods surrounding the little gem. Of course, we bonded with all the animals and leaving them behind was a bit sad too. But another house-sitting adventure was waiting. The friendly owners dropped us off in Autun – a bigger city in the area – where Frederique picked us up to continue our journey. End destination: Barcelona.
From Sharing Pets to Sharing Cars – different faces of the sharing economy
Frederique is part of the BlaBlaCar carpooling community; we found her by searching for rides via the BlaBlaCar app. We filled empty seats in her car, she earned some extra money, and we traveled efficiently without owning our own car. It is a very economical, sustainable and social way of traveling. The sharing economy once again at its best!
After 2 hours of driving the car was fully packed with a singer-songwriter on his way to the airport for a gig in London that same day. And with an office lady who was stuck because of all the strikes that took place in France (her train didn’t move an inch that afternoon). Frederique herself was covering more than 400 kilometers to visit her dentist on the coast. And then there was us: two digital nomads on their way to their next house-sit.
Finding More Joy in Barcelona
In Barcelona, we got a great welcome from the host family. They were so happy they felt they could trust us and we would take care of their big dogs Pluto and Thor. We were happy to live beside the sea for three weeks with these great guys.
We can’t imagine a life without the joy of house-sitting and of the sharing economy. Helping each other out. Experiencing little adventures in our life.
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