Technology isn’t just for nerds anymore. It can be used for amazing things with the average person, such as grocery shopping, talking to your doctor, chatting with your grandkids, and finding past and new friends to talk with on social media. The possibilities are unlimited. In this 2 part article, I’m going to share with you how I figured out how to stay almost free in the UK for four months and made new friends in different countries using Google Maps, making that made my stay there more fun!
I’ve been to Europe several times but this time was very different. This time I was taking my 14-year-old daughter with me on an adventure. I first went to Europe when I was 15, and I learned so much from the trip. I learned that not everyone thinks the same way that people here in America do, and I caught travel fever. I wanted her to have somewhat of the same experience. I wanted her to be a well-rounded person living on this planet.
The first problem to solve was how we were going to be able to do this trip. I’d been saving for a bit, so I knew that I could afford the plane tickets but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when traveling. There are other things to consider such as transportation to and from hotels and the airport, getting around while sightseeing, food, entrance to places such as castles, museums, and other activities you might want to attend. When I went as a teen, I went on a school trip and everything was planned and paid for by the leaders of the group. My past trips to Europe were paid for by the company I worked for. Time to get creative!
I started doing some research on the computer and discovered house sitting. Intrigued, I read more about it which led me to a website called TrustedHouseSitters.com. This website lists people who will be traveling for a number of various reasons and need someone to stay in their homes while they do so. One of the biggest reasons is that European insurance companies can refuse to cover your home if it’s left unoccupied for longer than 30 days. Not a big deal for a quick week or two holiday, but what about if you want to go on an extended trip for pleasure or work? Time to find someone to house sit for you!
We were really fortunate. Since our schedule could be easily adjusted, we were able to find people to house sit for a bit easier than if we had strict schedules of free time. People who are retired often have that same type of freedom and can use this same method. Our first stay was in Mid Wales for a family that was going to Australia for three months. We met with them on Skype a few different times before we both decided it was a good fit. We were promised the use of their car while they were gone which was a nice benefit. We just had to get insurance. Thank Goodness! We ended up needing it but that’s another story for another day.
Can you imagine the United Kingdom prices of hotels and Bed and Breakfasts for 90 days? Not to mention the additional cost of eating out daily, etc. I estimate that house sitting for this family saved us approximately $1800 just in hotel and food costs. We stayed in their lovely cottage, drove their car, ate eggs from their chicken, shopped at street markets in local towns, and did a lot of sightseeing and got to know a lot of the local people there. My daughter even got to sing with a Welsh choir! Would we do that stay again? Probably not. Mid Wales is VERY lovely but is pretty rural when it comes to distances and things to do. If you are looking for a quiet place though, with opportunities to go to a beach and enjoy hikes and a very relaxed atmosphere, I would definitely recommend it for a period of time.
In fact, in Mid Wales, specifically in Machynlleth, is an 18th-century cottage called Bron-Yr-Aur. Led Zeppelin wrote some of their most iconic songs! We made friends with the current owners who live mostly off the grid and are very delightful. Here’s a website for more information about the cottage.
In our next article, I’ll tell you how we met people ahead of our trip and how you can also!