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September 20, 2010


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I think you're right that there's a lot of money spent on pets, and there's potential to earn a lot. I'd worry about liability to some extent, if something happened to a critter or if something happened at a home you had a key to.

I'm not sure if I would pay for a home pet-sitter; I feel more comfortable having my pets at the vet's kennel while i'm away. That way I don't have to worry about them getting loose or anything else.

It can get pretty pricy though, so maybe if I could get all the animals taken care of for one low price, it would change my mind. I would need to be convinced/reassured that they would be safe.

Our vet charges $16.50/night for dogs under 20 pounds, cats, and exotics. Dogs 20 to 40 lbs are $17.50/night and dogs over 40 lbs are $18.50/night.

For anyone deciding to do pet waste pick up, I would recommend a claw-type scooper (can get at most pet supply stores); it really makes the job a breeze.

I have a very good friend who used to work in accounting for a major department store chain. In 2003, I went abroad to live and travel for a year, and he joined me for 3 weeks, and the experience completely changed his life. He got a taste of life lived on the road and was struck with wanderlust in a really incredible way. Unfortunately, in America, work and wanderlust aren't particularly compatible.

This was in the very early days of Craigslist, so upon returning to the US, he had the idea to start advertising as a dog-walker/pet-sitter, just to earn some side-income to fuel his next mini-adventure. Within 6 months, he had a dozen clients who paid him $15 each, per day, to walk their dogs. He also had a few clients who would pay him $50 or more per night to house sit while they were out of town.

Then he decided to go to get certified as a massage therapist (for humans), and soon left his job in corporate America to work 100% independently - caring for dogs and providing massages (again, for humans). Today, he's completely self-employed and travels for lengthy periods of time every year. In fact, he's in Rome as we speak, 2 weeks into a one month jaunt around the Mediterranean. The best (and smartest) part of his plan is that he'll often take a course on a new massage technique in whatever country he's visiting, and is thus able to deduct a portion of his travel expenses from his taxes, since they're business related. He'll also take his massage table with him on some trips, and advertise on Craigslist while he's there to offset his costs.

Michele, I like your friends story. But I do want to ask you a question. You said "Unfortunately, in America, work and wanderlust aren't particularly compatible." Can you give me an example of a country where they are compatible?

Work and wanderlust are compatible when you can earn money in the US, then go and wander in a cheaper country. :)

Well, Australia comes to mind, for a couple of reasons. First, as a member of the commonwealth, Australians are able to live and work in any other Commonwealth nation (most choose the UK) for up to 2 years on something that is known as a "holiday working visa." This is a VERY common practice amongst Australians, who spend this 2 years not only living and working abroad, but taking advantage of their new found proximity to a couple dozen other nations that they can travel to quickly, easily and relatively cheaply.

During my one year living, working and traveling abroad, I met no fewer than 50 UK-based Australians on various weekend getaways. I'm an American and therefore do not have access to a Holiday Working Visa anywhere in Europe (though I could get one for 4 months in Australia), so I essentially lived and worked illegally in the Czech Republic during this time (which certainly colors my views of illegal immigration now!).

Australians also have the benefit of speaking English, which makes loads of international travel exponentially easier.

Beyond Australia, in my experience, most of Europe operates in such a way that work and wanderlust are much more compatible than they are here in the US for the simple fact that geography makes it easy (and affordable) to travel internationally even on short jaunts, and many European nations have laws in place that require employers to provide a generous minimum of paid-vacation. For example: In France, workers are guaranteed 5 weeks of paid vacation, in addition to a dozen bank holidays.

The US, in contrast is geographically isolated with only 2 neighboring nations to visit - one of which is remarkably similar to the US and the other being rather "scary" to many Americans. The Caribbean is relatively close by but still requires a pretty significant investment of time and money to visit. Likewise, the average American gets 2 weeks of paid vacation and 6-9 paid holidays, which makes traveling (NOT vacationing, mind you; there IS a difference) rather difficult.

@Claire: Honestly, in my experience, time is far more conducive to indulging wanderlust than money. They're both important, of course, but you can always make more money while engaged in extended travel. It's much more difficult to make more time.

I was a pet sitter at my own home for 6 months and charged $15-$30 a night. It saved me from having to drive all over the place and the dogs were able to get human attention while we were home. It was pretty awesome and then I started blogging - less mess. ;-)

Maybe, but I am not comfortable trusting my dog to be let out only 3x/day and be good at home alone. He'd get lonely, hence the kennel it is.

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