Our journey to find the right type of freedom…
The desire to travel and be free of the constraints of a “normal” life has led us down some interesting paths. Although, we are currently traveling full-time as house and pet sitters, our journey as nomads didn’t begin this way.
In early 2017, we sold almost everything we owned to live in an RV full-time.
The term recreational vehicle (RV) is often used as a broad category of motor vehicles (especial in the US) which include living quarters designed for temporary accommodation. Similar but often larger than a motorhome or campervan.
We wanted a big, dramatic change to get out of the frustrating cycle of working too hard and buying too much stuff that we didn’t need. All of which was making us more miserable every day.
It was exciting and freeing to first drive off in our new rolling home. However, we quickly learned that this new lifestyle was not without its own set of challenges.
The struggles of full-time RVing
The day-to-day planning, worry about something breaking, and trying to figure out how the heck to work from the road, was much more stressful than we realized it would be. We were overwhelmed almost immediately, but were determined to make it work.
Of course, it was also amazing at times.
Our summer was spent exploring Atlantic Canada – all the way to Newfoundland. Getting to sleep on farms in our RV, or waking up next to the ocean, felt like heaven. It really was the epic adventure we wanted. However, we only had those three months planned. The rest of the time, we were just driving around aimlessly trying to decide what to do and spend as little money as possible.
Definitely not the constant vacay we imagined.
When we decided to take the plunge, we also saw the full-time RV lifestyle as a way to save money, but that wasn’t the case, especially if we wanted to stay at campgrounds.
So, we “boondocked” (camped without hookups on public land) as often as possible. However, as we began to get more freelance work, the need for a steady internet connection pulled us out of the woods and onto the cement slab RV park life. It wasn’t what we wanted. We didn’t feel free.
The big change
Although we were beginning to wonder if this was the right decision for us around month two, it wasn’t until our eighth month of RVing that things really changed for us.
One of the main reasons we began RVing was because we had a loving, fluffy cat named Sugar and we wanted her to be able to travel with us. Living in a rolling home with her just made the most sense. We got to see new places, and she still got to snuggle us each night.
So, when she passed away unexpectedly, not even a year into RVing, it was time to re-evaluate. We were devastated by our loss, but no longer being pet parents meant we no longer needed any kind of home base – certainly not this RV that brought us so much stress.
We tried to push through and keep RVing, but we ended up selling just before our one-year anniversary of hitting the road.
Life after the RV – why pet sitting?
As we discussed what life would look like after RVing, we kept coming back to four big points:
- It was central to our lives that we could continue to travel a lot
- We needed more consistency than the RV provided
- Spending time with animals as often as possible was important
- We wanted to do something that provided value to others
After reading a blog about a couple who were house and pet sitting, we knew this was the right choice for us as well. Although getting another pet didn’t make sense due to our desire to travel extensively, we knew being around animals brought us joy. So, the idea of getting to spend time with someone’s beloved pets while getting to travel was a dream come true.
We also love the consistency of having a home base for a few weeks or more. It helps inform our travel, so we don’t feel like we are scrambling every night or week to make plans. And, getting to help another traveler have peace of mind during their trip is such a wonderful thing.
We’ve only been pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters for a few months, but it is everything we want and more. It has allowed us to make so many friends already – from fluffy faced pets, to their sweet owners, to other sitters. And we get to stay in beautiful places with all the comforts of home.
Plus, we haven’t had to buy any of the necessities we’d need at a home – it’s all provided. We actually downsized even further after giving up full-time RVing, so we could fit everything in our car!
It truly feels like freedom now
There aren’t any worries we had of our expensive “rolling home” breaking down on us. We aren’t spending any money on campgrounds or rent. And, we are able to travel even more extensively than ever before. This summer, we’re spending two months pet sitting in Hawaii, and are always looking out for other amazing far-away sits.
Being a nomad will always have special challenges. We’ll constantly have to adapt and figure out what makes the most sense at the current moment. We’re not sure how long we’ll travel this way. But, every time we meet a new happy, furry face, we are reassured that this is the best possible way we could be spending our time right now. And we are so grateful to all the people who trust us with their home and beloved pets. It is a truly beautiful thing.
Brooke and Buddy Baum are digital nomads who pet and house sit while they travel full-time. During and between sits, they like to explore new areas, hike, and spend time chatting with interesting people. Buddy is the photographer and videographer, while Brooke is the writer and trip planner. They share their experiences on their website, TrailingAway, and love to connect with other travelers on Instagram – @trailingaway.