Individual housesits aren’t puzzling of course, they are very straightforward. There are start and end dates, a location, and pet responsibilities. What could be puzzling about that? Well it’s not the individual housesits that I’m referring to here, it’s the process of organising those bookings into a schedule that works. Not always as easy as it may seem.
What makes it a puzzle?
We’ve been doing a couple of puzzles on our current housesit here in Essex and it was whilst we were agonising over which bits of sea went where that we realised it was a really good metaphor for our travelling lives at present.
Just imagine that your calendar is your puzzle frame and each housesit an individual piece that has to be placed in that frame to fit neatly with all of the subsequent pieces. Add to that the fact that you start the puzzle with only a couple of pieces and have absolutely no idea how the complete picture will end up and it’s a bit harder than imagined.
Obviously this issue is the same for all housesitters, even more so for those full-time sitters out there, or it may just be the way that we choose to live our lives that makes it so tricky. Not sure. We spend just under 50% of our time housesitting so the puzzle is even more complicated with our travelling plans and personal trips included.
Applying for housesits
We are always on the look out for new sits on TrustedHouseSitters and scan the daily emails and search the website on a regular basis. And although we do have a rough idea of future available dates the sits never quite pop up in such an organised way. We may see one for five months time that we like and another for two months, and apply for both. If we get both then that puts two pieces in the puzzle and starts to give us a structure of sorts. Now we need to look at dates that fit in with those booked sits.
Housesits or Travelling? Which comes first?
That’s the million pound question isn’t it? There is no definitive answer here as it all depends on how we feel and what we have been discussing. Sometimes we decide on a big trip or week away and that gets booked and added to the puzzle first, other times we wait and see what gaps occur. I’ll come on to ‘gaps’ later. First though it’s probably a good idea to give you an example of how our puzzles develop.
Example of JWalking Housesitting Puzzling
You can see above that we have a trip to Snowdonia in North Wales booked followed by a stay in the South of France working with Helpx.
A week after returning from France we’ve organised a get-together with our sons and daughter-in-law leaving us a short one week gap to sort out.
Our Helpx stay is cancelled due to issues with accommodation. Luckily we manage to get a housesit in Hertfordshire for the first week but that now leaves a huge gap.
We apply for another couple of housesits and get one in Wiltshire whilst waiting on another. Some take longer than others to arrange.
The second sit in Devon is confirmed and we manage to secure a third in Hampshire. We decide to book a weekend in Cardiff after Devon as it’s so close but that still leaves us a couple of gaps to fill.
These changes to our puzzle continue constantly and we often have to book one night or two night stays in Travelodges or Premier Inns just to plug gaps between longer stays. A almost completed section of our puzzle could look like this…….
Transport and Travel
Once we have a section of the puzzle sorted out and confirmed we then need to look at transport. How do we get from one housesit to our sons house, or from a weekend away to a sit down in Devon? This is where we look at trains and start booking our tickets in advance to try and save as much as we possibly can (How to save money on train travel). In truth the process of organising transport happens at the same time as booking, another part of the puzzle.
Are you kidding? Add a few more tasks to the planning list for other things that need adding to the puzzle.
- Planning when we wash our clothes
- Visits to the doctor and dentist
- Shopping for food
- Occasional meals out with family and friends if we are nearby
- Dropping our bigger bags in storage if we plan to fly
- Putting winter coats and boots in storage for the summer
- Family birthdays
- Getting coats and boots our for the winter
So as you see it isn’t just a housesitting puzzle is it? It’s our JWalking life planner but a lot of the arrangements do actually depend on the housesits that we book as they determine our location and a rough structure to our weeks. And I haven’t even started on our trips and travels and all of the planning that entails ……..
Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? Well it’s not. We actually love the planning and organising and are never happier than when we are researching new places to go and new housesits to apply for. We do need to be ultra-organised and really on top of our arrangements but to be honest we’ve both always been really good at that sort of thing.
Please be patient
So when we suggest a day to get together that’s four months in the future or ask you what time exactly you want us to arrive it’s because we have to know. We’re not being awkward, it’s just our life.