Meet Ruth Johnston and her son Louis, traveling house-sitters for HouseSit Match
On a regular basis at HouseSit Match we come across some fabulous people, and naturally we love to hear and share their stories via our blog. Ruth Johnston and her son recently joined our network of experienced house-sitters. We have long admired her tales of adventure and the way she captures her experiences in video. Ruth kindly agreed to an email interview to share some more of her traveling house-sitters tales…
1. How long have you been house-sitting?
We started house-sitting when we were preparing for our trip overseas. So in total about 5 years. Firstly, it was just for friends.
We house-sat for a neighbour who approached us in the final packing up weeks of our home we had sold. They lived a few doors up he road, and we were able to stay there and care for their home, and at the same time finish the final packing of my home, and the cleaning.
We then planned the first major part of our trip around a house-sit on an island in Fiji. We had the time of our lives really mixing with the locals and ex-pats there.
2. What is your main motivation for becoming traveling house-sitters?
We decided to travel and see the world now, mainly because my son is at an age where I can handle the level of education he needs for home-schooling. So now is the right time. We both wanted to travel, and as part of that we also decided to make Random Acts of Kindness a focus of our travel. This just happens as we come across a need. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. Sometimes it is in mass doses, especially if we are in third world countries.
Another focus for me as a Mum, is definitely to select places where we can learn from the country we visit. Effectively this is all countries, but in some places there can be more history or a focus on something my son (who is 9 yard old) wants to learn. For example he wanted to learn about the Inca children, so we went to Peru.
To house-sit and travel at the same time really works for us – we love being traveling house-sitters. It enables us breaks from hostels and hotels. It gives us time to slow down. We tend to do more home-schooling in these periods, and I am trying to write, so it gives me time to do that too.
It also sometimes gives us a chance to look after pets, and as we both love animals, this is a real bonus. Just to not pack and unpack for a while is wonderful too. And of course it saves us money. And the life as traveling house-sitters is a real adventure and an education for both of us.
3. How do you make this lifestyle sustainable? It must cost something to go on the road, what work are you able to do as you travel around?
I’m actually writing at the moment. I want to motivate single Mums that they can change their lives and get out of a rut.
I also am trying to get advertisers to my blog, so we can support ourselves as we travel. Right now we live off my savings, so we really do need to get an income of some sort soon. Anyone who donates to our Random Acts of Kindness is assured ALL the funds are used to help the poor and needy, and not to fund our travels.
4. You travel with your son, what do you feel this lifestyle has given you both?
We are definitely closer. He is a funny kid, with a great sense of humour and I need that. Travel can be stressful at times. So that is why I like to stop and house-sit and that gives us a good mix of ‘down time and normal life’.
We definitely have a close bond, and it has helped us both to make so many new friends – I think that is pretty special. Becoming traveling house-sitters together is just the icing on the cake!
5. How do you manage home schooling as traveling house-sitters?
I love the fact we both seem to be learning so much. I am suddenly learning again, because it has become a focus of the trip.
My son and I know some Spanish now – enough that he can go to the counter and order what he wants. We world-school, so this is using the places we visit, and the culture around us as a living classroom. History comes alive. Tour guides become teachers as education is outsourced.
There are areas such as currency conversion, geography and social studies where he would far surpass many children of his age.
6. As traveling house-sitters is there somewhere you have particularly enjoyed together?
We have visited 21 countries so far and it is interesting as some of the places I love he didn’t and visa versa.
I loved parts of Cuba, but he didn’t not just because of the level of poverty, but because they had no wifi in 99% of the places, and because the food choices were so limited.
He loved Antigua, Guatemala. That was because there was one of the nicer MacDonald’s in the world, and that he made friends and had a sleep over. And he says, not to forget that he slept on a tree house, and he loved the cobblestone streets. I must admit, I did love most of Guatemala too.
We both loved Fiji because the people were so honest and friendly. And Quito Ecuador was another favourite. I remember sitting on a rooftop in Quito overlooking the city, and I felt like I was in Rome, at a quarter of the price.
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