About Us

It all started in the 70’s

Stolmaker-Markoff familyWe met in the 1970s and have been married since 1981. Our first journey together as a married couple was to the island of Bermuda where we discovered our mutual passion for snorkeling that has yet to be quenched. With jobs, independent businesses and raising two boys we still managed to see a lot of California and the western US, camping, skiing, hiking and rafting with the family.

With the boys grown into men, the house/mortgage grown into an upside down burden, and businesses suffering in the economy we decided it was time to try something different. We overhauled our lives, step by step, finding creative ways to simplify and unburden ourselves of just about everything.

Toyota-JJ-on-the-roadToday, we have a small car, that we use when in the US and Canada, a small savings account, that we use as little as possible, a small apartment in Neil’s sister’s home, that we use now and then, and a huge desire to enjoy the wonders of living large through travel and exploration.

From homeowners to nomads

In 2012, our California home of 12 years dropped in value by half! We realized that we had to leave it behind, but had nowhere to go. At the same time, both our independent businesses had begun going into a serious decline and our income had dropped considerably.

Based on the small amount we had in savings and our reduced income, we realized that if we wanted to stay in California, we would be making major lifestyle changes and finding full-time jobs. We had worked hard all our lives, our two grown sons had recently moved out on their own, and there had to be a better way!

Our research revealed that we would have enough money to live cheaply as expats once Neil started receiving Social Security. We researched and considered moving to Panama. We really didn’t relish the idea of moving so far from family and friends, but had yet to discover that there were other choices. Then, quite by accident, we learned about house sitting.

When we recognized that house sitting would allow us travel and live cheaply, we got started learning everything we could about it. Everything that we discovered seemed to match really well with our skills and our desire to travel. And we would still be free to visit family and friends.

We are both experienced writers and Neil has web development skills, so it didn’t take us long to set up our house sitting profile and begin looking for a place to stay, at least for a while.

 

When our first house sitting assignment was confirmed, we had found a way to live in a beautiful house in Canada for two months and were also close enough to family to care for Neil’s dad exactly when we were most needed. It worked out really well and we soon secured a second house sit all the way around the world in Western Australia. It became clear that house sitting was a perfect fit for us.

We live as international nomads, taking house sitting assignments all over the world and, in between, finding inexpensive countries to explore that fit into our budget. We have experienced and learned so much on our journey and this travel blog is our way of sharing what we have discovered with others. We now know that it is possible to travel extensively, and have a life full of fun and new experiences on a very small budget.

More about Laurie

As of 2016 Laurie is celebrating turning 60.Laurie-with-tiger
She is our travel visionary and tireless researcher, creating beauty in every place we settle.

She has been a waitress, special education teacher, parent educator, family therapist and a stress management coach. Laurie is also a talented artist with a flair for design.

Laurie loves to find new places for our travels, new adventures with animals and in nature and new folks to make friends with. Once she learns to say delicious and good, she will talk to just about anyone she meets, ask for help, and shop in the market.

Laurie is the one on the back of the ATV or bike. She loves letting Neil drive.

Thanks to Laurie we learned about and got started house sitting, have found housesits in great places and made friends all over the world.

She also loves reading about our destinations, taking pictures, making art, tasting exotic fruits and veggies and finding massages and spas, art museums, and interesting destinations along our travel routes.

More about Neil

Neil-with-drinkAs of 2016 Neil will be 65 years young.
Neil is our resident computer geek and keeper of all things technical. He is organized, detail oriented and patient.

Neil has been president of his own company, managed a few retail stores, worked as an X Ray tech, been a portrait photographer, worked in the film industry and been a chef in a restaurant.

He is the guy everyone calls when they need help with their website, can’t work their TV or don’t understand what is wrong with their plumbing or electrical in their house. If Neil doesn’t know about something, he loves doing the work to find out.

We have yet to go on an adventure, house sit or bus ride that he didn’t think was great fun.
He can be found hauling home 20 liter bottles of drinking water, driving us around on a motorbike or figuring out how to make our wifi work in a new country.

And when Laurie comes up with the next crazy thing to do, Neil always surprises her with a “yes.”

More about our life as nomads

A to Z Appreciations

We love finding ways of focusing on the things that we appreciate and are grateful for. We find that the more we notice what we like and enjoy, the more we find to appreciate and every moment is more positive. See what we mean with this game.

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Magical Time?

A good number of friends have expressed awe, appreciation, even envy over what we are up to. Depending upon my mood, I have different reactions. My most sarcastic response is something like this "You too can lose your house and most of your income and live this...

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That Being and Doing Thing

How do I value myself?   I am certainly not the first to notice that we tend to evaluate our own worth by our ability to contribute or produce in the world.   And, lately, I have gotten a lot of appreciation for doing meaningful work, supporting service...

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I Am In A Foreign Country!

This weekend is the unofficial beginning of spring in Canada because tomorrow is Victoria Day, and this weekend Canadians tend to head for "cottage country" to begin the summer parties and outdoor play. Last week the neighbor called to warn us the liquor store...

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Time Traveling to Massachusetts

Our cross country trip from West to East meant that we lost time almost every day. Fortunately we had three secret weapons that kept us going and made each day a new adventure.

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Traveling from Santa Rosa CA to Portland OR

As I sit in Ontario Canada on a bit of a grey day, it seems a good time to get started sharing about this experience. I am choosing to start with the travel. The history of the decision to do this is vast and will fill in on other sections of our blog as time allows....

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Lost and Found

Finally settled into our family home base in Holliston, MA. Neil's dad is comfortably set up in the downstairs apartment they created for him just six weeks ago. We arrived a few days ago from Santa Rosa, CA with a short detour to Portland, Oregon to see our kids....

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First stop, Portland OR

left our grown up kids in Portland, after a nice three days. Tonight we are headed for bed in Boise, Idaho. Next stop, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Read Next

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