Interview With Full Time Traveler and House Sitter Janet

Recently, we had a chat with Janet, we were blown away by her incredible spirit for travel and adventure.

After things (in her words) fell apart, she picked herself up and moved to Panama! After finding a running her international language school, she decided it didn’t bring her joy and looked to house sitting!

Make sure you read to the end because her plans for 2023/2024 will leave you in awe!

Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from,, do you do it full-time or sporadically
I’m Janet, a semi-retired teacher from Florida. In 2012, after “all thing [fell] apart,”

I moved to Panama to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up….this time.

The plan was to stay for one year. The second I landed, however, I fell in love with the beauty, diversity, and culture and never moved back.

After working for an international school for a few years, I started my language school but soon found that it did not satisfy me.

So I decided to try house-sitting for maybe six months to see where I wanted to settle in Panama.

Well, that has been over three years now, and yes, I fell in love again…with Nomading. Wanderlust seems to be my middle name.

Now, I am houseless but not homeless as a way of life; I travel full time via house-sitting while teaching English as a second language. I have a car in Panama with all of my worldly belongings and one in Florida at my son’s home, where I also have my travel trailer-to-camper conversion project.

While there, I go back and forth between my son and daughter and their families, grandkids and fur babies. I usually do a few houses sit close by so as not to invade too much of their space, as well as have some me-time and my space.

I am a widow of 12 years, a mother of 3, and a grandmother of 3: a family I am blessed to be able to visit often.

I have had many lives: movie theatre “candy girl”, secretary, event planner, catering director, non-profit founder, teacher, and ALWAYS a student of life. I speak only 2 languages but am proud to have learned the 2nd at this age (I will be 67 in mid-August).

How many housesits have you had and where?

To be honest, I have not kept track but, after 3.5 years of many both long-term and short-term sits in Panama, Florida, and a few in Europe, on 4 platforms and a multitude of repeats and referrals,

I have racked up enough memories, made many wonderful friends, and learned sufficient information, both important and insignificant, to keep smiling through my entire golden years in the home (who am I kidding? I’d rather go out ziplining!).

Why did you do petsitting? What is the main motivation?
I house-sit because I love it. I get to travel, learn about new places, cultures, history, etc, make new friends, and get fur baby cuddles to boot.

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accepted for your first assignment?

I got lucky. I joined and posted in Trusted House Sitters and was contacted almost immediately by the principal of an international school in Panama, who was attracted by my post as a retired teacher.

I subsequently sat for them several times and their precious Bull Mastiff in a magnificent condo on the Panama Canal.

What a gig!

We have remained friends even though they moved to Norway. I have an open invitation to visit them and might do so during my upcoming Europe adventure. Later, I added myself to Mind My House, Rover in the US, and Nomador, but I only used the first two as fill-ins.

How much luggage do you travel with?

I am down to a backpack and a carry-on. I have donated my larger suitcases and only take what I need for a few days.

I don’t remember what anyone else wore yesterday, so why would anyone care what I had on? Besides, I am rarely in one place long enough to be seen in the same thing. If I need something for some special occasion, I find a thrift store and donate it back before I leave.

I am planning (as much as I do plan) a trip to Europe in September to walk the Camino de Santiago (short version) with my daughter.

Once she leaves, I will look for house sits over there to wander and explore more of Spain (where I have some dear friends), Portugal and Italy until my great deal of a repositioning cruise takes me from Rome to several stops in Spain, 1 in Portugal then Bermuda and finally New York where I will visit friends from Panama then back to Florida in December to spend the holidays and some birthdays before returning to Panama the end of September 2023.

Pros of House Sitting?

It’s a great way to see the world cheaply and get in our animal fix.
We love being able to cook our food in nice kitchens and soak in people’s spas.

In my random online searching for who-knows-what, I found out about house sitting and figured, why not…so I did…and, as with Panama, fell immediately and deeply in love with the life.

It fit me perfectly at a perfect moment in my life.

Cons of House Sitting?

Trying to juggle dates, travel arrangements, and fill-in accommodations between sits can be a con, or it can simply be a challenge and part of “doing business”.

I use those in-between times, if and when I ever have them, to visit friends and family or to explore places I have been unable to see or interesting ones near my last or next stop.

How do you decide on a destination?

Sometimes it has to do with will; I generally don’t. They seem to choose me.

I get a referral from a previous homeowner that leads to my next adventure. Then I look for my next sit or something nearby, check out potential sits in that area, and post on a Facebook group that I’m available.

Or you could find an interesting cruise bargain (the Basel to Athens one was $99 for five days, including alcohol).

That line is no longer in business! (Lol…really!). If it seems like a sufficient gap, I will visit my family and friends in Florida.

What’s been the biggest adventure so far?

I think the biggest adventure (aside from moving to a foreign country where I did not speak the language!)

I was going to Europe to house sit for 2 Main Coon cats in a small village in Switzerland (where I did not speak the language!), then traveled around Europe for a bit.

I also incorporated a river cruise from Switzerland to Amsterdam, visited the birthplace of my ancestors in Frankfurt, Germany, wandered some more and finally took a repositioning cruise to Athens before heading back to Panama.

How did you find out about house-sitting?

You know, things seem to come to me at that perfect time when I need them most, whether I realize I need them or not.

I was going through another upset when I decided to walk away from my language school and had no idea what was next.

In my random online searching for who-knows-what, I found out about house sitting and figured, why not…so I did…and, as with Panama, fell immediately and deeply in love with the life. It fit me perfectly at a perfect moment in my life.

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

I couldn’t possibly claim a favorite. Each has had special experiences, locations, furbabies, homeowners, etc. It’s like our children: each special in their way but equally loved.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

This probably falls into the same category of nothing specific, but I have had plenty of precious pet moments. However, one thing that seems to be a common giggle moment is how all dogs seem to want to “save” me from yoga!

They seem genuinely concerned and want to help me out of this “situation.”

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

I have not had any unusual pets, but mostly by choice.

Although I had a farm of my own, I would rather just sit for cats and dogs and a few other small pets. I think you always need good instructions for the dog sitter. That way everything is taken care of.

Most of my sits in Panama are for people who have rescued street dogs, which has historically been a problem there. These precious pups, in most cases, come with both psychological and medical issues and require some extra TLC.

Tips for others wanting to get started?

I guess I’d say to just be open-minded and respectful and keep in mind that you are in “their” home and they are trusting you with their things and their “babies.”

Although many homeowners want to make things comfortable for me, it’s my job to adapt to the home, the homeowners, and the pets’ routines.

My life is all about change, and one reason people use house sitters is so that the pets’ lives are not too disrupted while they are away.

This is a wonderful community of the kindest-hearted people I have ever met. They are trusting, caring, and giving.

I don’t think I could have chosen a more rewarding retirement lifestyle.

Where to next (when you can)

Right now, I’m in Florida with my family. I just finished a repeat month-long sit nearby with 2 adorable cats who wonder why I’m there and have no need for me, as is the definition of cats.

I leave here in just over two weeks for a short repeat sit for four stray adoptees and then a month back to another repeat sit in a mountain village in Panama called El Valle de Anton in a lush, dormant volcano crater valley.

From there, I am off to the cool mountain town of Boquete, Panama, for a fellow house sitter, a kitty sit for someone I met during another house sit at a gorgeous beach condo for two precious pit bulls in a small beach town near Costa Rica called La Barqueta.

I have sat there twice and made many good friends in the process. The Boquete sit is for August, and then, as I said, I am off to my Camino, a few months of wandering Europe, and my repositioning cruise.

That leaves me in 2023! I wonder what great adventures that new year will have in store.

My bucket list includes Honduras, Ecuador, back to Colombia, the DR, and maybe Costa Rica. Once I finish my trailer-to-camper conversion, I might tour the Florida state and county parks sprinkled with a few sites. There’s a great, big, beautiful world out there, and many belly rubs and ear scratches await!

Buen viaje

Want to try House Sitting As Well?
There are thousands of opportunities to house sit around the world!
Check out the resources for getting started as a house sitter here.

Author: Britt

I am Britt. I have been house-sitting and pet-sitting for the past seven years. I have cared for 25 dogs, 35 cats, one turtle, and one rabbit over 80+ houses in 15 countries.

The opportunity to experience different homes, cultures, and communities has been extraordinary.

I’ve connected with homeowners seeking reliable sitters through house-sitting platforms like Aussie House Sitters and Trusted House Sitters. This unique way of living has allowed me to save money on accommodation, explore new cultures, and meet new people.

Being a member of these platforms has broadened my horizons and opened doors to short- and long-term house-sitting jobs. I’ve found joy in providing excellent pet care and ensuring the home is well-maintained.

I get many questions about how to start as a housesitter, so please reach out if you have any questions! I want everyone to enjoy this incredible lifestyle as well!

You can read more about Jay and me here!

Or connect with me on Facebook or in our house-sitting community on Facebook.

House Sitting in Salon-de-Provence
Me (Britt) House Sitting in Salon-de-Provence, France

Are You Ready to Start House Sitting?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *