How we were able to travel the world on a very tight budget

Would you like to be able to travel the world without the cost of hotels? When you travel, do you

Would you like to be able to travel the world without the cost of hotels?

When you travel, do you have a statute of limitations on restaurant meals and after a while you just want an egg on toast?

How about having a washing machine in the next room?

It started after a discussion about what would be the most fabulous thing for us to do right now.

We’d come together as a couple only a year before (although we’d known each other for 30 years!) Neither of us had full time jobs, having been brave enough to step away from the disincentives of our chosen industry. We were freer than we’d ever been.

The answer was easy. TRAVEL!

We’d both travelled for our jobs and as tourists. This time we wanted something different. But not a cruise. We weren’t up for backpacking and we didn’t need adventure. What we did need was an alternative, authentic travel experience.

For years I’d dreamed about living in France. So I wanted to know first-hand, what it’s like to LIVE in France. Then it became France or the UK. Then France, the UK and maybe Italy, or Switzerland. What about The Netherlands?

The solution was house sitting!

We began looking for a way to earn along the journey, which would enable us to spend a full year travelling. We circled various options, but came back to our area of expertise – making a television series!

We had no budget and no broadcaster, but we made a start, knowing that if we just took the first steps, the rest would be revealed to us. With help, we began manifesting our dream lifestyle. Stuff started to happen because we started moving forward, not waiting around for “the right time”. The right time is now!

So we went ahead and started shooting!

We found 3 fabulous house sits in Australia and have just returned from a 5 week stay in the stunning Adelaide Hills. We drove, with a few stops along the way 2,200 km to get there. That’s the same as driving from Paris to Prague and back again.

Most of the time, people need house sitters because they have pets that need to be cared for while they’re away. That’s a joy for us because we love animals.

Normally you have the entire house to enjoy, you get the passwords for the WiFi and Netflix then settle in like it’s home! You’ll shop for your own food, you’ll meet locals who can tell you about the places that are not on the tourist brochures and you’ll find a favourite café.

The Adelaide Hills gave us our first real taste of living like locals. Taking care of an old dog, a sheep and 5 egg laying hens, was far from a chore, it enriched our enjoyment of living a village lifestyle. And for most, that’s about as much as you need to do.

But we’d chosen to make this a working travel adventure!

We were busy. VERY busy. Plus we’re breaking new ground with our shooting style so we were learning along the way.


We have no crew! It’s just the two of us.

The entire series is being shot on a Nikon DSLR, 2 mobile phones, a mini iPad and a Sony Action Cam. This enables us to be spontaneous, fast and real! We shot 20 items for 2 episodes – all with complete creative freedom! Luxury.


At Hahndorf Hill Winery, we tried the next big thing in white wine called Gruner Veltlina. We visited several wineries in the Barossa (hey we were SO close it would have been impolite to ignore them) including the Centenary Cellar of 100 year old tawny at Seppeltsfield. At Langmeil we recorded the story of how they saved 150 year old vines from destruction. This was not another wine story, this was history! When the Classic Adelaide Rally stopped for lunch in Stirling, we enjoyed seeing a collection of incredibly expensive luxury or classic cars and met their drivers. To keep it balanced we visited the local primary school of just 60 students and investigated the spectacular food from the region.

Hahndorf Hill vineyard

In early March we head to France for 3 months despite the recent drama.

Then we’ll spend serious time in the UK and Italy. The idea of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas for 2016 is growing stronger and we may hang around once we finish shooting in November.

We’re primarily doing the Village to Villa year long trip because we know it’s going to be awesomely amazing. There will be many rewards for us.

But we’re both experienced story tellers and we have the ability to share this with you! It’s important for us to inspire and encourage others to follow their travel dreams.

While you’re contemplating your own house sitting adventure, you can learn from how ours is unfolding by tracking us on

We’re also on Facebook, Instagram and I’m sure there will be more as we learn how to master the dark art of Social Media! One of our goals is to gather 1 million followers by the end of the shoot.

Follow our progress (and the odd misadventure!) by leaving us your details on the website. Just below the photo of “Gai and Neil at their favourite café in Stirling”, there’s a spot to leave your email address – then you’ll be part of Village to Villa.

Heathfield hedge

  1. Grace Boland  

    Glad it suits you both — I love travelling. But this would not be for me

    • Hi Grace, thank you for your note. I didn’t think it would be for me either, but we did the research and opened up our attitude to try it. I was hooked on the first experience! The trick is to join a good agency and choose the sits wisely. You never know.. you could find something that is PERFECT for you. Have a wonderful Christmas and I hope you follow our house sitting adventures on Starts at 60.

  2. Try Couch Surfing if you are mobile and can handle your own baggage

    • Hi John,
      thank you for the heads up on Couchsurfing! What a fabulous way to experience other cultures. It’s even MORE grass roots than house sitting. I think this is perfect for younger travellers – and it could lead to house and pet sitting!! Enjoy Christmas,
      regards, Gai & Neil

  3. *** . After I left the aerobic exercise I gained a lot. but this year I managed to lose weight 27 pounds with the diet that site 3BestDiets .Com

    • Hello Lee from Adelaide! We absolutely LOVED our house sit in the Adelaide Hills. 4 weeks of tranquility and new experiences. We didn’t want to leave. Stirling is closer to the “action” in Adelaide than my sister’s house in Hallet Cove!
      Neil and I could certainly live there one day. I hope you stay with us on our year of travel, we’ll be regulars on Starts at 60.
      Enjoy your Christmas, regards Gai & Neil

    • Hey Gayle, we agree, we think our house sitting adventure is VERY COOL! We’re extremely excited about heading to France in March. I hope you’ll follow our journey with Starts at 60.
      Merry Christmas to you and your family, regards Gai & Neil

  4. Well done says a Kiwi who lives in Brisbane .. Happy travels.😊👍🏾👏🏾

    • Hello Pat ! Ah Brisbane. I lived there for 18 years and loved it. Thank you for the encouragement – we hope you’ll stay with us on the rest of the journey – we’ll be here on Starts at 60. We won’t get to NZ this time, but who knows what we’ll do after the first Village to Villa!
      I hope you have a fabulous Christmas and a wonderful year to come.
      Regards Gai & Neil.

    • Hello Vivienne,
      Your name is the same as one of my favourite streets in Paris – rue Vivienne! Thank you for your kind note and I hope you continue to follow our year long journey – from Starts at 60. Who knows, when you see how fabulous house sitting can be, you may want to give it a try!
      regards, Gai & Neil. Merry Christmas

  5. Great idea. Have good friends who housesit all over our state. They really enjoy the change of scenery every month or two. Only come home now perhaps for a month or two each year!

    • Hi Robin, I’m so pleased to hear that your friends love house sitting and are really making the most of their opportunities to experience other ways of life within your state. I hope you’ll continue to follow our big adventure on Starts at 60 – we love the encouragement! Have a wonderful Christmas and we may chat in the new year…
      regards, Gai & Neil

    • Hi Jenny, I’m so happy to hear that you will consider house sitting for when you’re ready – that is one of the very big reasons we wanted to do Village to Villa. We’ve been inspired and encouraged by other long term house sitters and we want to repay the same thing to the next wave! Go as soon as you are able – be bold and you will reap the rewards. Meanwhile, stay with us on Start at 60 – we will be back! Merry Christmas,
      with regards Neil and Gai

  6. We have done five farm and house sits this year, in FNQ, last year we were in the Adelaide Hills for Xmas, and before that we did two farm sits in beautiful Dorset and Devon, and one in Ireland. Our first sit was in 2012, …..a villa in Umbria, away from the tourists, fabulous Italian villages in the hills….
    I could go on. The experiences have, mainly, been really enjoyable.
    Heading to SA next week for Xmas in the Hills again….love the area.

    • Hello Dee,
      What a wonderful note to receive from you – a seasoned house sitter!! We’d love to hear more about your experiences, perhaps we can have a chat in the new year after you’ve had a peace filled time in the Adelaide Hills? We adored the “Hills”. We’d also love to hear about how you went in UK and in Italy – they come next year, after France for us.
      Enjoy a coffee at our favourite cafe in Stirling… the Patisserie behind the pub! Looking forward to hearing from you.
      regards Gai & Neil

  7. I’ve been house sitting all over Australia for past 4 years, love it. Need to look now at o/s sitting, not sure where to start.

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