14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka (Part 2)

 

Softly spoken Sri Lanka travel blog Continued from Part 1.

More information on travel in Sri Lanka below.. 

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

View from our room

9. Ramboda Falls 

During Sri Lanka travel we head south and east, takes us deep into the deepest blue of the Bunsen burner flame of the Sri Lanka map. Luckily for us, and tip of the hat to uncle Nigel (thanks, Nige!) we have an old-school fold-out paper map to trace our route, circle stops and appreciate this graphic flame often and at our leisure.

Turns out that deepest blue in the bunsen burner means altitude! We spend the morning gaining some of it pretty quickly. It’s about 2.5 hours of up into the mountains before we have to ditch the car at a turn off and are shuttled down an immensely steep switchback drive to the lobby of the most spectacular Ramboda Falls hotel.

The casual hostel scruffiness here gives way quickly and magnificently to the surroundings – a south facing overlook on a wooded ravine. Flanked by a powerful nearby double waterfall on the left, a taller, slender, silent one straight ahead in the distance and a crinkle of mountain range spanning out to the right.

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It’s hard to describe the excitement when the guy helping with our packs and showing us our way to the room leaves the main dormitory style building and leads us out to the furthest-most cottage perched right at the steepest and most nicely shaded spot where the view is nothing but Sri Lanka travel’s finest.

An afternoon of waterfall and sun bathing, dog-befriending and balcony music happy hour sunset give way to an evening of buffet, wine, table-side Sri Lankan happy-birthday guitar and tambourine quartet (not even close to my birthday, but very nicely played, Ali!), a few hours of 8-ball billiards in the hotel bar with self-soundsystem and finally, a flat-on-our-backs-in-the-grass star-gazing cosmos ponder.

 

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10. Nuwara Eliya

(Travel Sri Lanka) Next day, awakened by a small platoon of caffeinated monkeys on the tin roof of the cottage, it’s off through the tea plantations, into a tea plantation factory (where our guide reinforces my hunch that most commercially available black tea bags are filled with the dust swept off the factory floor) to the nearby town of Nuwara Eliya.  This place is too cute. Much cooler temperature-wise given its altitude than anywhere else we’ve been, NE is full of storybook brick and stone Tudor architecture inspired by the English countryside.

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya colonial Post Office

Apparently, the British colonialists found this to be one of the best spots to set up a home away from home complete with a golf-course, plush resort hotel and downtown with banks and a post-office.

Taking a walk a few blocks north of downtown though and the bus terminal, fruit markets, roti cafes and shops selling SIM cards, milo, hardware, bridal hairstyling, stiff-billed Stussy caps and elephant pants – say, “nah, this isn’t the Cotswolds, you’re travelling Sri Lanka still’. It’s just a little less hot.

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Tharanga in the Nuwara Eliya market

 

But then a walk by the adjacent recreational lake feels again like somewhere else altogether – maybe Sweden? Who knows. It’s nice though, and our guide there, a smiley yellow dog that trots up and puts his paws in Ali’s seated lap, stands tall to signal his approval of her, makes sure we leave town with a profound appreciation for its welcoming and carefree spirit.

Another light-agenda day is just right, and after a breezy windows-down drive back through the tea plantation road switch-backs, we spend the rest of the day near the hotel luxuriating by a natural pool in glittering dappled sunlight, bouldering and building Zen rock piles.

The evening is about a village walk, another riverside waterfall scamper to get the bpm’s up. Then a fantastic night of watching Makila, a local dude with big plans, and his buddies laugh uproariously and tweak each other gently about not *quite* getting the cue ball up table, around a coin and back to home in three shots, no cushion or coin to be touched – a game that Ali knew would be all it takes to start a fun, bonding party like this.

 

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya train station

11. THE Train Ride

I believe this to be one of the main reasons to travel Sri Lanka:

This morning we’re met by our second driver/guide, Nisha.  He’s a lithe, handsome guy who looks quite a bit younger than a 43-year old dad of two teenagers. Nisha’s got an easy smile, gentle demeanor and the same confident flow behind the wheel as Tharanga.

I’ve learned from Ali that Nisha is the engineer and artist behind our itinerary and he’s got the presence you might expect from a mastermind.

We make a stop back in Nuwara Eliya for a little breakfast and coffee before heading over to the train station to catch the 12:15 to Ella.

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

The best train ride I’ve been on

The train is only half an hour behind schedule and when it does pull in it’s interesting to note that it takes about five minute of Nisha and his colleagues trailing other guides and their disembarked clients before they return hurriedly holding tickets for us to board. (Sri Lanka Travel made exceptional via train)

First impression, after lots of hype is “Oh. OK. Cramped commuter train through the countryside with other underwhelmed, snacking Eurameristralians.” Ali even picked up a dark vibe in her foursome across the aisle from me – which, thankfully, made us move to a better location in the carriage.

But then. End of Car. Open doors. Full-face lean-outs over seated leg hangers.

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Leg-hanging out the door whilst cruising

 

“Tika-taka, tika-taka, tika-taka. Ta-tak; ta-tak; ta-tak.”

This was the dialog between the steel wheels, the carriage, the tracks, the sleepers and the earth as we coasted past a grove of silvery gum trees bathed in dappled sunshine that punctuated a view of green mountains through them and blue ones beyond. It was only another bend before the train was enveloped in a passing cloud, bringing a cool misty ghostliness to the emerald grasses and fiery flowered bushes that brushed our outstretched toes.

Here and there a face would drift by, one with a whistle, softly but firmly blown to signal something like “I’m here”. Another squinting through a sunbeam to gather a glimpse of the far paler faces aboard looking back through open windows and sunglasses.

There was nothing loud or abrupt or forced or splashy about this afternoon train ride, billed as the most beautiful in Sri Lanka, between the quaint Britishy-feeling tea and scones resort town of Nuwara Eliya.

Surrounded by some of the country’s most prolific tea-producing plantations and the not-so-nearby ayurvedic backpackers/ beer/tea/shisha/massage basecamp called Ella nestled in the crook of Adams Peak and the 9-arches bridge.

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About an hour in, after a station stop in a sunny-side opening for a side-by-side seated leg-hang of our own, albeit on the less scenic, less sunny side.

But then, almost instantly, a big right-hand bend and the valley of the gods opens up to us through ghostly gum trees and we’re there, floating, clicking, clacking, grinning and breathing involuntarily deep breaths.

Next through a cloud, then whipped at the toes by sun-warmed grasses, past small farms and houses bathed in late afternoon golden glow.

Please don’t let it stop. And it doesn’t.

Seeming hours (and it was) of fragrant sun-dappled woods, 200-km views to distant mountains, wooshing tunnels and smiling faces at stations and between.

THIS is the Sri Lanka I brought with me when I left. Mountains, colors, tea, train, mellow sunny fragranced fields, patient tuk-tuk travelers stopped at crossings and gentle breezes.

 

12. Ella

At our destination, Ella, high in the central province mountains, all pile out and it’s apparent that more than half of the passengers are 20-30-something crunchy back-packers, tatted, dreadlocked, tanned, ankleted, pony-tailed and equipped for trekking.

The town itself is small and caters to this contingent – hostels, bars, shisha joints and lots of little mom-and-pop ayurvedic massage emporiums. After a pot of street-front, people-watching tea, we book into a massage place. Relatively early to bed at another deserted hotel after some amazing hotel-grown-and-made pumpkin soup.

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Mini Adam’s Peak

 

The following morning we make quick work of Mini Adams Peak – a brisk vertical endeavour that rewards with an incredible panoramic view of surrounding mountains. Now cast in stark atmospheric relief by the brilliance of the mid-morning sun and offers a nice glimpse in the direction of the next chapter of our tour, south toward the ocean.

A family of mountain dogs and their pups show us around the summit after they were treated to Coconut Haiwaiin cookies care of Nisha, much to the delight of a pair of Aussie ladies whom Ali pegs as being from Queensland.

 

Part 3 continued here.

 

If you’re considering a trip to Sri Lanka, PLEASE make sure you get in touch with the below wonderful humans to help make your trip a comfortable and educational breeze:

 

Nisha (organised the WHOLE trip for us):

WhatsApp; +94 77 626 4733

 

Tharanga (majority of driving & educating):

WhatsApp; +94 70 363 6046

 

For discounts on accomodation through Booking.com, click HERE.

 

 

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14 things to consider before housesitting

House-sitting Havoc – Mallorca

Do you want to know what Mallorca and Silence of the Lambs has in common?? I’m about to tell you…

Imagine going to a country where your family heritage resides, add the fact that I’m a sea worshipper, you’ll understand how much my soul was looking forward to this Mallorcan Island trip.

I’m in heaven, surrounded by salty aqua, secluded empty beaches and white limestone cliffs over looking the Mediterranean Sea, living virtually for free, looking after 2 dogs and a cat. The dogs; Puppy (Pronounced Poopy) – a very lucky Mexican dog, that only speaks French, living the life of luxury on Mallorca; Iria – a stunning wolf-cross whom only speaks Spanish and did her utmost to ruin my sanity; and Margot – a cat whose head is too small for her body.

Margot

For a self professed “Animal whisperer” like myself this housesit was going to be a cinch… Or was this animal-sit just to prove to me that my ego was too big?

The sheep of Spain wear these beautiful wind chime chattering bells around their woolen necks – which, in normal circumstances, sounds like something from a guided meditation by Buddhist monks, but hearing the chaotic rush from those bells after being chased by Iria, I now have flashbacks to Silence of the Lambs. (Insert mental image of Clarice Starling trying to catch a serial killer).

My fluffy, freedom-seeking, soul-sister proves how alike we are by choosing lambs as her favourite meal. She would disappear for an hour or so, initially, and I’d just live in hope that she’d return after she had finished whatever it was she was doing (this was on numerous occasions before I was able to discover exactly where she went on her expeditions). 

Iria after her first of many Houdini acts

So, if you’re contemplating doing a house and furry-beast-sit for anyone, here are some things to consider and questions to ask the owner before you say yes…

Porto Cristo Boat Harbour
  1. It’s possibly mid-winter or high-summer where you’re going to housesit. 

If you’re ok with chilly or cooked bones then by all means sign up for everything and anything.

My most recent housesit I was incredibly enthusiastic about going to Spain (from Australia) and having spoken to my incredibly kind and seemingly relaxed homeowner, I anticipated a super laid back 2-3 months with 3 beasts and all the time in the world to myself to explore my mild wintery island home (I say mild due to Melbourne’s Antarctic wind blown, frosty comparison), complete some study and travel blogging. Boy was that far from reality.

Thankfully Mallorca’s version of winter is a humid balminess – On average, temperatures were around 15-20 degrees celsius.

Find out whether supermarkets, restaurants and other basic necessities are operational during winter or if you’re going to be bombarded by tourists before your decision too. I discovered that just about every town shut down for 4 months upon my arrival in early November. Insert tumbleweeds being the only traffic through the small, crispy breezed, ghost towns with closed, multi-colour shuttered doors and windows contrasting the endless terracotta stained buildings.

“Ready for a walk, Iria?” Uhhhhhh….

2. Find out what training the furries have had.

Dare I go into detail about how important it is to train your dogs? Even something as simple as being able to walk them on a lead and recall should be mandatory but isn’t always the case – so I painfully discovered. Humans spend all this money on educating their children, why do animals miss out? 

In my not-so-humble opinion – humans need more training than domestic pets. What makes you think you can house a wolf-cross, another elderly Mexican dog and a cat, whose head is too small for its body (obese), in an apartment with very minimal backyard? 

Tiniest backyard (I have a well, cute dog and a murderous looking white van – Silence of the Lambs ref #2)

I’ve walked these animals on average 18kms per day. It’s not anywhere near enough. Poor Iria needs to roam free on acreage not be trapped in a townhouse with a bedroom sized yard day after day.

Due to the beasts neediness / separation anxiety, I couldn’t leave the house for 5 minutes without something in the house being attacked.

Chaos by the pesky varmints:

Numerous books selected individually from the full bookcase, then ripped to shreds;

Tea towels mauled, swallowed and vomited up in a pea soup looking liquid days later – inside the house;

The box of masticated materials is currently too small so a new, larger shipping container is required now.

Although I appear miffed at Iria, I know the problem lies in ownership.

It’s cruel keeping this stunning creature locked up and without any training what-so-ever. 

To put it simply; Make sure you’re fully aware of each of the animals’ idiosyncrasies.

Looming beasty

3. Meet and talk with the owner and animals before you take on the role. 

Personally, I think you can tell a lot about domesticated animals behaviors by their owners personality. In this case, I believe that my host creates these needy relationships where she is depended upon to warrant her own existence. This is why all three animals required constant attention.

If you’re overseas then I suggest a few Facetime/Skype calls to see how all parties involved are behaving. Find out all behavioral patterns before agreeing because you may find that your usual natural ability to talk to and understand animals is pointless.

Mallorcan house

4. Ensure all the basic house stuff is operational. 

i.e. Wifi, hot water, electricity etc

The first month I spent without wifi – that caused absolute boredom and crabbiness because I couldn’t do any of the blogging and study that I had planned.

Also, the hot water disappeared for a week. I believe I was advised that the gas bottle would last a good couple of months, so I didn’t think to check that initially. But after being frozen solid each morning in the shower for a week, during winter, I thought I’d better see if it was a lack of gas. Of course it was. 

See below regarding receiving detailed notes on how things operate within the household.

Unicorn onesie for warmth

I tried not to use the heaters too much as my host told me how much previous house sitters cost her in electricity. Well Love, perhaps investing in something other than electric blow heaters is a cheaper option. After 1 month of being cold and fully man-flued – even whilst wearing a rainbow coloured dragon onesie for warmth – I decided that heating was an absolute necessity.

Wedged tubby cat (in litterbox)

5. Do you know enough of the language to get you out of a tough spot?

Say your wolf-buddy disappears for hours at a time – how do you put up signs or ask neighbours if they’ve seen the missing fluffy when your native tongue is English and everyone else speaks Español?

Or wifi doesn’t work – how do you call the provider to work out the issue and have it fixed?

6. Check which neighbours are besties with your host. 

I say this for 2 reasons; 

1. Who is going to be informing your host what you’ve been up to? 

2. Who can you call on for help?

Where shall I sit?

7. Are you physically and mentally strong enough to do all that is asked of you?

In this case, walking the beasts for 18kms per day over rocky, limestone cliffs beside the Mediterranean Sea wasn’t enough to stop chaos in the household. Plus, being in my 40’s I’m not that well equipped physically to do much more walking every single day. And not being prepared for the three most needy animals I’ve ever met was one of the most mentally draining experiences I’ve had to deal with. 

8. Check the beasties for any health issues. 

I’d suggest even taking before and after photos to ensure you’re not blamed for problems once the owner comes home. (Like when you hire a car, go over the critters checking for any scrapes and bumps).

Yes, I was blamed for 3 different problems that were not within my control.

Murderous white van – Silence of the Lambs ref #598

9. Is there a car for you to use? 

Are you confident enough to drive on the opposite side of the road and car?

You know I’m a sucker for large, salty aqua, outlined with rocky limestone cliffs and hills, so I’m incredibly grateful that the lady I’m housesitting here for, for 2+ months, has allowed me to use her criminal looking van so I can visit such quiet and pretty coastal towns.

Driving on the opposite side of the road, sitting on the opposite side of the car and changing gears right handed in the white, serial killer appearing, VW van is amusing. 

Attempted gear changes with left hand: 19

Wipers on instead of indicators: 1 (true, only once)

Trying to find seat belt with right hand: 12

(Insert rainy day – wipers and indicators both going for nearly the whole drive)

10. Know what your host expects of you.. 

..and what you expect from your host.

Being able to use the heaters when you have icicles hanging from your nose is an important query.

Will you be paid for your services? Or do you have to pay?

What tasks are you asked to perform on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? Like putting bins out for collection. Bill payments so you’re not left sitting in the dark at night without electricity. Worming the pets. Taking pets to the vet for check ups. Will they leave you enough food or money for supplies and emergencies?

If it’s a decent length housesit then ask if it’s ok to have friends visit. Super handy for those sits over the Christmas/holiday period. Surely you don’t want to spend Christmas and NY with furry, needy beasts alone.

My friends’ arrival couldn’t have been timed any better, I was at my wits end after 6 weeks in my nightmare. Thankfully they helped me walk Iria to give me a break from being dragged along the street and resting my temporary Tourette’s – I don’t think I’ve ever sworn this much in my life.

Just for old times sake I took Iria for a toilet break where I was lucky enough to score some more animal induced skin loss and bruises. Ugh! Get me out of here.

No, that’s not my knee.

11. Ask for detailed written instructions of how to run the house and pets.

If you’re anything like me, the memory can be a bit of a sieve sometimes, so having everything in writing helps you recall what’s expected. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with my hosts before they left for overseas, but still, I can’t be expected to remember everything.

12. Know the dates of your homeowners travel plans. 

Even ask for a copy of their itinerary just in case of emergency contact. Also, knowing where they are at certain times can help when you are trying to contact them – especially when you discover that they had lost their phone in their country of tour and you have no idea where they are.

I loved the fact that my host was travelling with her young daughter and not having any real plan… initially. 

After a month from hell I started asking the question as to when she will return home, only to be met with “I don’t know” too often. This same person contacted me almost on a daily basis as to when I was arriving in her country about 3 months out from my arrival. 

So, it’s important to get all the information ahead of time so you know where you stand and can book your own escape. 

13. What to do if you want an invite back for the next holiday.

Do a big house clean at the end of your stay, make those floors and kitchen shine like the sun.

Give the beasts loads of love so they actually want you back. Buying their love with treats also acceptable – unless you’re dealing with an obese critter.

Take LOTS of happy phone snaps and send to the host on a regular basis. Those images that show how much they’re enjoying themselves are best.

14. Learn the lessons of yourself if you have had the housesit from hell.

I discovered that Iria and I are alike – we don’t like being tied down and in a small environment without escape options.

I also learned that, even after my whole India-Yogic experience, only recently prior to this housesit,  wasn’t enough to help keep me calm in very stressful situations. Something to work on, personally.

I despise neediness, 

I need secluded, warm, swimable beaches,

My Spanish is average.

My friends and family call me the Dog Whisperer because I have an innate sense of what a dog needs and train them pretty well. So I am always confident in my abilities when I go to any housesit.. This time my ego has been shot down.

Still want to housesit after hearing this worst case scenario? Here’s the website I used to score this gig; 

www.trustedhousesitters.com

This website requests supporting reviews on your previous housesits, which is important reassurance for the homeowner that is allowing a stranger into their private world.

They also charge you an annual fee for the privilege.

It’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit…. and getting the hell out of crappy situations immediately.

For more images and entertainment head over to my YouTube Channel here.

I’d love to hear your travel house-sitting stories and will happily add them to the blogs here so comment below or send me an email. https://blinked.com.au/contact/

For super cheap and extensive travel insurance;

  1. They feature your unique Refer-a-Friend link: https://www.1Cover.com.au/?raf=1546193
  2. Your friend clicks on your unique link and buys a 1Cover policy from our website. They can also buy a policy from our Call Centre, quoting your unique code: 1546193

14 Housesitting tips

Housesitting Tips from Mallorca, Spain

housesit petsit

Porto Cristo is stunning

Housesitting tips to travel solo cheaply

 

Do you want to know what Mallorca and Silence of the Lambs has in common?? Read on…

 

Imagine going to a country where your family heritage resides, add the fact that you’re reading about a sea worshipper, you’ll understand how much this soul was looking forward to this Mallorcan Island trip.

Porto Cristo is heaven, surrounded by salty aqua, secluded empty beaches and white limestone cliffs over looking the Mediterranean Sea, living virtually for free, looking after 2 dogs and a cat.

The dogs; Puppy (Pronounced Poopy) – a very lucky Mexican dog, that only speaks French, living the life of luxury on Mallorca; Iria – a stunning wolf-cross whom only speaks Spanish and did her utmost to ruin my sanity; and Margot – a cat whose head is too small for her body.

housesit petsit housesitting tips

 Iria

housesit petsit housesitting tips

Margot

 

I’m not a newbie to this housesitting gig:

For a self professed “Animal whisperer” like myself this housesit was going to be a cinch… Or was this petsit just to prove to me that my ego was too big?

My fluffy, freedom-seeking, soul-sister proves how alike we are by choosing lambs as her favourite meal. She would disappear for an hour or so, initially, and I’d just live in hope that she’d return after she had finished whatever it was she was doing (this was on numerous occasions before I was able to discover exactly where she went on her expeditions). 

The sheep of Spain wear these beautiful wind chime chattering bells around their woolen necks – which, in normal circumstances, sounds like something from a guided meditation by Buddhist monks, but hearing the chaotic rush from those bells after being chased by Iria, I now have flashbacks to Silence of the Lambs. (Insert mental image of Clarice Starling trying to catch a serial killer).

 

housesit petsit housesitting tips
Iria after her first of many Houdini acts

 

 

So, if you’re contemplating doing a housesit / furry-beast-sit for anyone, here are some things to consider and questions to ask the owner before you say yes…

 

 

Porto Cristo - Housesitting tips

Porto Cristo Boat Harbour

Housesitting tips

 

1. It’s possibly mid-winter or high-summer where you’re going to housesit. 

If you’re ok with chilly or cooked bones then by all means sign up for everything and anything.

My most recent housesit I was incredibly enthusiastic about going to Spain (from Australia) and having spoken to my incredibly kind and seemingly relaxed homeowner, I anticipated a super laid back 2-3 months with 3 beasts and all the time in the world to myself to explore my mild wintery island home (I say mild due to Melbourne’s Antarctic wind-blown, frosty comparison), complete some study and travel blogging. Boy was that far from reality.

Thankfully Mallorca’s version of winter is a humid balminess – On average, temperatures were around 15-20 degrees celsius.

Porto Cristo

What’s open?

Find out whether supermarkets, restaurants and other basic necessities are operational during winter or if you’re going to be bombarded by tourists before your decision too.

Discovering that just about every town shut down for 4 months upon my arrival in early November was a slight surprise. Insert tumbleweeds being the only traffic through the small, crispy breezed, ghost towns with closed, multi-colour shuttered doors and windows contrasting the endless terracotta stained buildings.

 

housesit petsit housesitting tips

“Ready for a walk, Iria?” Uhhhhhh….

 

 

2. Find out what training the furries have had.

Dare I go into detail about how important it is to train your dogs? Even something as simple as being able to walk them on a lead and recall should be mandatory but isn’t always the case – so I painfully discovered. Humans spend all this money on educating their children, why do animals miss out? 

In my not-so-humble opinion – humans need more training than domestic pets. What makes you think you can house a wolf-cross, another elderly Mexican dog and a cat, who is the reason “ball of fluff” became a real explanation, in an apartment with very minimal backyard? 

Tiniest backyard (I have a well, cute dog and a murderous looking white van – Silence of the Lambs ref #2)

 

How to combat a tiny backyard:

I’ve walked these animals on average 18kms per day. It’s not anywhere near enough. Poor Iria needs to roam free on acreage not be trapped in a townhouse with a bedroom sized yard day after day.

Due to the beasts neediness / separation anxiety, leaving the house for more than 5 minutes – without something in the house being attacked – was a tough ask.

Chaos by the pesky varmints:

Numerous books selected individually from the full bookcase, then ripped to shreds;

Tea towels mauled, swallowed and vomited up in a pea soup looking liquid days later – inside the house;

The box of masticated materials is currently too small so a new, larger shipping container is required now.

Although I appear miffed at Iria, I know the problem lies in ownership.

It’s cruel keeping this stunning creature locked up and without any training what-so-ever. 

To put it simply; Make sure you’re fully aware of each of the animals’ idiosyncrasies.

 

Looming beasty

 

Housesitting tips

3. Meet and talk with the owner and animals before you take on the petsit. 

Personally, I think you can tell a lot about domesticated animals behaviors by their owners personality. In this case, I believe that my host creates these needy relationships where she is depended upon to warrant her own existence. This is why all three animals required constant attention.

If you’re overseas then I suggest a few Facetime/Skype calls to see how all parties involved are behaving. Find out all behavioral patterns before agreeing because you may find that your usual natural ability to talk to and understand animals is pointless.

 

Porto Cristo
Mallorcan house

 

Housesitting tips

 

4. Ensure all the basic house stuff is operational during your housesit. 

i.e. Wifi, hot water, electricity etc

The first month I spent without wifi – that caused absolute boredom and crabbiness because I couldn’t do any of the blogging and study that I had planned.

Also, the hot water disappeared for a week. I believe I was advised that the gas bottle would last a good couple of months, so I didn’t think to check that initially. But after being frozen solid each morning in the shower for a week, during winter, I thought I’d better see if it was a lack of gas. Of course it was. 

Housesitting tips

See below regarding receiving detailed notes on how things operate within the household.

I tried not to use the heaters too much as my host told me how much previous house sitters cost her in electricity. Well Love, perhaps investing in something other than electric blow heaters is a cheaper option. After 1 month of being cold and fully man-flued – even whilst wearing a rainbow coloured dragon onesie for warmth – I decided that heating was an absolute necessity.

housesit petsit housesitting tips

Wedged in tubby cat

 

5. Do you know enough of the language to get you out of a tough spot?

Say your wolf-buddy disappears for hours at a time – how do you put up signs or ask neighbours if they’ve seen the missing fluffy when your native tongue is English and everyone else speaks Español?

Or wifi doesn’t work – how do you call the provider to work out the issue and have it fixed?

When you n need to replace gas bottles, where do you go, who do you talk to?

 

6. Check which neighbours are besties with your host. 

I say this for 2 reasons; 

1. Who is going to be informing your host what you’ve been up to? 

2. Who can you call on for help?

housesit petsit housesitting tips
Where shall I sit?
housesit petsit housesitting tips

 

Housesitting tips

 

7. Are you physically and mentally strong enough to do all that is asked of you?

During this petsit walking the beasts for 18kms per day over rocky, limestone cliffs beside the Mediterranean Sea wasn’t enough to stop chaos in the household. Plus, being in my 40’s I’m not that well equipped physically to do much more walking every single day. And not being prepared for the three most needy animals I’ve ever met was one of the most mentally draining experiences I’ve had to deal with. 

 

housesit petsit housesitting tips

 

 

8. Check the beasties for any health issues. 

I’d suggest even taking before and after photos to ensure you’re not blamed for problems once the owner comes home. (Like when you hire a car, go over the critters checking for any scrapes and bumps).

Yes, I was partially blamed for 3 different problems that were not within my control.

 

 

Murderous white van – Silence of the Lambs ref #598

 

Housesitting tips

 

9. Is there a car for you to use for your housesit? 

Are you confident enough to drive on the opposite side of the road and car?

You know I’m a sucker for large, salty aqua, outlined with rocky limestone cliffs and hills, so I’m incredibly grateful that the lady I’m housesitting here for, for 2+ months, has allowed me to use her criminal looking van so I can visit such quiet and pretty coastal towns.

Driving on the opposite side of the road, sitting on the opposite side of the car and changing gears right handed in the white, serial killer appearing, VW van is amusing. 

Attempted gear changes with left hand: 19

Wipers on instead of indicators: 1 (true, only once)

Trying to find seat belt with right hand: 12

(Insert rainy day – wipers and indicators both going for nearly the whole drive)

 

 

10. Know what your host expects of you.. 

..and what you expect from your host.

Being able to use the heaters when you have icicles hanging from your nose is an important query.

Will you be paid for your services? Or do you have to pay?

What tasks are you asked to perform on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? Like putting bins out for collection. Bill payments so you’re not left sitting in the dark at night without electricity. Worming the pets. Taking pets to the vet for check ups. Will they leave you enough food or money for supplies and emergencies?

Housesitting tips

If it’s a decent length housesit then ask if it’s ok to have friends visit. Super handy for those sits over the Christmas/holiday period. Surely you don’t want to spend Christmas and NY with furry, needy beasts alone.

 

My friends’ separate arrivals couldn’t have been timed any better. I was at my wits end after 6 weeks in my nightmare. Thankfully they each helped walk Iria and Puppy to give me a break from being dragged along the street. Along with resting my temporary Tourette’s – I don’t think I’ve ever sworn this much in my life.

Just for old times sake I took Iria for a toilet break where I was lucky enough to score some more animal induced skin loss and bruises. Ugh! Get me out of here.

No, that’s not my knee.

 

Housesitting tips

11. Ask for detailed written instructions of how to run the house and pets.

If you’re anything like me, the memory can be a bit of a sieve sometimes, so having everything in writing helps you recall what’s expected. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with my hosts before they left for overseas, however, one can’t be expected to remember everything.

 

 

12. Know the dates of your homeowners travel plans. 

In other words; ask for a copy of their itinerary just in case of emergency contact. Because knowing where they are at certain times can help when you are trying to contact them – especially when you discover that they had lost their phone in their country of tour and you have no idea where they are.

The fact that my host was travelling with her young daughter and not having any real plan was music to this solo travelling female’s ears… initially. 

After a month from hell I started asking the question as to when she will return home, only to be met with “I don’t know” too often. This same person contacted me almost on a daily basis as to when I was arriving in her country about 3 months out from my arrival. 

For instance, it’s important to get all the information ahead of time so you know where you stand and can book your own route out. 

 

 

  • housesit petsit housesitting tips
  • housesit petsit housesitting tips
 
 

13. What to do if you want an invite back for the next holiday.

Do a big house clean at the end of your stay, make those floors and kitchen shine like the sun. I pride myself on this clean up – thank Ma for being the hospital grade cleaner for me to learn from.

Give the beasts loads of love so they actually want you back. Buying their love with treats also acceptable – unless you’re dealing with an obese critter.

Take LOTS of happy phone snaps and send to the host on a regular basis. Those images that show how much they’re enjoying themselves are best.

 

Housesitting tips

 

14. Learn the lessons of yourself if you have had the housesit from hell.

Iria and I are alike – we don’t like being tied down and in a small environment without escape options.

As a result of all the chaos I learned that even after my whole India-Yogic experience – only recently prior to this housesit – wasn’t enough to help keep me calm in very stressful situations. Something to work on, personally.

Neediness is not fun, 

Warm secluded beaches are my thing – not this winter caper,

My Español is average.

Friends and family have previously dubbed me the Dog Whisperer because I have an innate sense of what a dog needs and train them pretty well. So I was always confident in these natural abilities when invited to any housesit.. This time the ego has been shot down.

 

In conclusion; This was a worse case scenario. Every other housesit has been an absolute breezy dream, so please don’t be deterred.

 

Still want to housesit after hearing this worst case scenario? Here’s the website I used to score this gig; 

www.trustedhousesitters.com

This website requests supporting reviews on your previous housesits, which is important reassurance for the homeowner that is allowing a stranger into their private world.

They also charge you an annual fee for the privilege.

 

It’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit…. and, above all else, getting the hell out of crappy situations immediately.

 

For more images and entertainment from this petsit head over to my YouTube Channel here.

I’d love to hear your travel house-sitting stories and will happily add them to the blogs here so comment below or send me an email. https://blinkedtravel.wordpress.com/contact/

 

 

For super cheap and extensive travel insurance;

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