2015 has been an incredible year for us and we are extremely grateful for it. We've had some perfect times which have given us perfect memories, and some not so perfect times which we've taken extremely useful life lessons from. This post has been written to thank everyone and everything which has made this year so incredible, and to reveal to you the lessons we learnt, in the hope that they can help you too!
Jokes aside, this really was the perfect house sit. The 'farm' - well the owners call it a farm, but it wouldn't be out of place in a glossy magazine about perfect villas - has a 180+ degree breathtaking view and its own vineyard!:
This was also the first time that we made a substantial income. For the last few months we'd been breaking even, but mainly because we'd been spending next to nothing. This month thanks to a combined effort of earnings from my ebook, from Tanbay's ebooks, and earnings from our website AND translating German to English (and vice versa) we managed to make a decent amount of money!
When the home owners returned, they thanked us with a GoPro! It was so generous and completely uncalled for as we'd already had the best house sit ever, but we are eternally grateful: Thank you so much guys!
Biggest lesson learnt: Don't put all your eggs in one basket - in terms of how you earn money - probably a good lesson for everyone, but especially for free-lancers/ travel bloggers.
In February we returned to England to do our next two house sits and see family and friends. The first house sit was in Bromsgrove and we looked after a whole menagerie of pets: a lovely Belgian Shepherd, a gorgeous cat, guinea pigs and fish.
She is a very active dog who kept us fit with many walks up the hill. My aunt and uncle live in Stroud and they very kindly took us out for afternoon tea, and invited us round for lunch. It was great to be able to catch up with them.
The house we were sitting was very lovely, not as big as the Bromsgrove one, but more to our taste with its authentic Stroud look. We completed another successful post there: How Can I Make Money Online and How to Afford Travel which revealed all the different ways we've made money since we first left the UK. We ended off February with a lovely visit to my Grandpa who lives in Woldingham.
March: Finland and Estonia
The dog we were looking after was really sweet and lovely, and very clever. He was also very active and so we had lots of nice walks in Finland:
After Finland we wanted to see Tanbay's family in Germany, but found that the cheapest way to get from Helsinki to Germany wasn't straight there, but instead to hop over to Tallinn first. Never one to miss a chance to see a new country we jumped at the chance.
After a smooth flight from Tallinn to Bremen, we spent a month catching up with Tanbay's family. We did a lot of work here, we launched our ebook on Amazon, ibook store, google books and several other online stores.
We launched two posts about house sitting: Should I Become a House Sitter which features all our FAQs including Do House Sitters Have To Stay In The House The Whole Time? The other post that we launched was called House Sitting Opportunities which we've been updating ever since, it basically shows off the latest and greatest House Sits, to hopefully inspire you to sign up!
Inspired by Tanbay's success with his many non fiction ebooks I decided to write a fiction ebook. 9 months later and it still hasn't sold a single copy, not my forte. Ha.
The rest of the time in Germany was spent with family and animals. We rescued, rehabilitated and released some baby rabbits and did some horse riding.
May: Portugal and the Azores
We were situated very close to lots of stunning beaches and as Hyena has a big garden to entertain herself in (with lots of shade), we were allowed to spend hours on the beach without worrying too much about her.
Portugal really is everything we'd hoped it to be and more! The weather is amazing, the food is delicious (and cheap), the people are friendly and everything is very beautiful. Especially the tiles.
The interview we'd done for Der Spiegel was released this month, and brought us so much traffic to our blog! If this wasn't exciting enough, we then had an email from a German TV crew saying that they wanted to fly out to us from Berlin, to film us and interview us about our life.
We asked the home owners (who thankfully said yes) and out they came!! It was an intense day of filming and one of the weirdest things we've ever done, but also one of the best. (More info on this at the bottom of this post).
For more info on our first Portuguese House Sit, check out this post: 5 Reasons to House Sit in Portugal
June: Azores, Belgium, The Netherlands
This iPad has been an incredible asset to Travelling Weasels. We were finally able to get Instagram which we love 100% and we also got Snapchat (travelweasels). Our photos improved thanks to some photo apps and it was easier to manage our email subscribers. So, guys, thank you so so much!!!
But there was one other thing we did in Germany, and this was by far the most inspiring thing we have ever done: We got to meet our hero, one of the top travel bloggers in the world! Thank you so much for meeting us Sabrina from Justonewayticket!! :)
It also reminded us of how much we love Berlin! And we forced ourself to choose between Berlin and Rome as our favourite city in Europe. In the end we decided to choose Berlin as our favourite European summer city and Rome as our favourite European winter city. Ha.
We were asked to return to our Portuguese House Sit in September and immediately said yes. We love it so much there!
We've had sunshine almost every day, went to different beaches and even tried couples yoga (see image below). All in all we had an amazing time once again and we hope to return to this stunning location. We also celebrated my birthday here.
We wrote a post about everything you need to know before house sitting in Portugal and, thanks to the inspiration from Sabrina, started work on our first ever sponsored posts!
Most grateful for: Being invited back to Portugal, getting our first sponsored posts
We managed to see a lot of sights in Athens, such as the Pantheon (see image above). If you want to read more about Greece, check out how to spend an awesome first day in Athens.
For one reason and another we had a few 'downer' days in Greece. Our Italian home owners felt bad for us and sent us some money on PayPal so we could take ourselves out for a meal! It was so kind of them and meant so much to us. Again, thank you guys!!
We also met up with two more awesome bloggers Christine the NYC Jet Setter and Anna from Aspects of Style.
Whilst Portugal and Italy had exceeded our expectations, Greece fell a bit below them, so we were very happy to return to Italy and our 'home away from home'.
We spent a few lovely days with our favourite home owners, and then they kindly agreed that my mum and her boyfriend (John) could visit!
Our home owners left for their holidays and Tanbay and I, my mum and John all house sat together. We are really grateful the home owners let them stay as we had a wonderful time together. We (and the dogs) are also grateful for how much mum and John walked them, and for the yummy food that they prepared!
We had a few days trips together to some of the cute Italian towns and got to see the seaside.
After two weeks my mum and John left, and Tanbay and I spent the next two weeks house sitting this amazing place by ourselves. It is safe to say that this is our favourite house sit, which is why we have written an entire post about it here: The unbeatable House Sit
One of the highlights of this trip was finally going to the Harry Potter Studios in London with my mum. It was everything I'd dreamed it to be and more!
Due to family commitments and emergencies I'm yet to write a post about this, but don't worry it's top of my list of things to do in January!
Another highlight was visiting Stonehenge for the winter solstice with my dad. We actually got to go in the stone circle itself which was very awesome and inspiring, again a post is due in January. My godmother very kindly let us stay with her in Salisbury, which was so kind of her, thank you!!
The third highlight of December was seeing family and friends. We successfully saw all 14 members of our English family and managed to see almost all of our friends. My school friends were so sweet and arranged an engagement party for us!! (We actually got engaged in April 2014, but this was the first time we'd seen them since then!)
We spent a lot of time getting ready for our trip to South East Asia, which is happening in February 2016 and we are already very excited about. This included getting our vaccinations for Asia. I am SO SO grateful that most jabs are free on the NHS. Free health care should be a right, not a privilege!
You might be able to spot that the images from Stonehenge are a lot better in terms of quality than all of our previous images. The reason is that we invested in a DSLR camera, which was definitely the right choice and we should have done this much sooner (sorry Instagram).
- Do something awesome for our anniversary! This year we were rubbish and just ordered take away (a kebab) and watched some awful films. In 2016 it will be our TEN year anniversary and we will be in the PHILIPPINES, so fingers crossed we do something cool.
- Blog at least once a month
- Send out an email newsletter every month
- Dedicate more time to our Instagram we love Instagram and want to connect more with our followers on there!
- Help people decide what they want from life, and then help them achieve it!
Now I'm going to leave you with my beautiful fiancé, Tanbay, to tell you about our blog highlights for this year:
This year has definitely been beyond our expectations, not just in terms of travelling, but also in terms of success for this travel blog. It all started when we got an email from a journalist who works for the Daily Mail whilst we were house sitting in Helsinki. Sure enough, a few days later we we're actually on the daily mail website and couldn't believe they dedicated an entire article to us: How to spend the night in amazing destinations for FREE
From then on, things really started to happen for us in terms of press. A few weeks later we got an email from a German reporter who works for Der Spiegel and fortunately for us an entire article was dedicated to us on their website as well: Als Housesitter um die Welt: Mein Pool, mein Tennisplatz, mein Weinberg
But the highlight of the year in terms of blog success was the fact that someone who was working for the French/German television channel Arte was also reading about us, and she was just producing material for one of their shows, and the subject just happened to be travel related. So she contacted us and we were more than happy to be featured on their program. Here is the result:
As if all of this wasn't enough, we then got a two page feature in the German edition of the fashion and lifestyle magazine Grazia (see below), as well as mentions on the following major radio channels and websites that can be viewed on our Press Page.
We want to say a big thank you to all the journalists and bloggers who interviewed us and we hope to get even more press coverage in 2016. If you are interested in interviewing us or working with us don't hesitate to contact us.
If you haven't already, make sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, in the comment box below or on our Snapchat (travelweasels) and Instagram accounts! If you'd like some further reading about House Sitting check out these (awesome) posts:
and this ebook 'A Guide for First Time House Sitters, which can be found here.
We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.