Do you want to stop living vicariously through other people’s travel posts on social media and start making your everyday life feel like a vacay?
Yes! We get it. Same here.
That is why we’re excited to introduce you to Stephanie Perry, owner of Vaycarious!
Stephanie travels the world on a budget, but she does not shortchange us with her answers in this interview of how she makes this possible by house sitting! Stephanie explains how she said goodbye to her career and hello to making it her job to enjoy her life now!
Stephanie reminds us that a leave of absence can be where we find true presence. A career break can help avoid a breakdown. A two-week notice at a nightmare job can turn into a lifetime of noticing that you’re living your dream! She reminds us that we can address our personal limiting beliefs about what it means to be successful all while at a stranger’s address in a different city, state, country, or continent!
So, for anyone ready to spread their wings and fly metaphorically, Stephanie is waiting to show you how to take flight…literally.
In a nutshell, who is Stephanie Perry and what is your mission?
This is my favorite thing to talk about! I am Stephanie Perry, a year-round house sitter. I am the creator of House Sitter School. I help black women take a sabbatical and move abroad on a budget.
When I was 41, I quit my job to travel for a year on savings.
It was easier to quit my job and travel for a year than it was to get approved for a vacation.
I earned vacation time, but I worked for a hospital and every time I put in a request for 5 days off, I would only get approved for 3 days, and not even consecutive days! So, it was literally easier to quit my job, vacation, and then come back to get my job back than it was to be approved for vacation time. It is sad! It is a super American story and other nationalities cannot relate to that story!
During that year of traveling the world, I decided that it was a wonderful opportunity for me to reevaluate what I wanted my life to look like and how much more of my life I wanted to dedicate to work. The answer turned out to be zero!
I did not want to stick to the model that we have; work until your 65 and once your body is tired and broken down a little bit, THEN you get to enjoy your life.
I decided that I do not want to do it that way. Now, here I am teaching others how to do it the way I did!
You have a couple of services such as House Sitter School which you created, 1:1 Coaching, and YouTube Marketing Tips & Tricks. What made you start these businesses? What is your goal with each of them?
I started those for one simple reason; people were asking for them!
I am not an entrepreneurial person by nature. I started businesses because people were like, ‘Hey, how did you do that thing?’
I started house sitting because I Googled, ‘How can you travel with no money?’
Google told me, ‘Be a house sitter.’
So, that’s what I did! I’m house sitting right now. I am in Tampa, Florida and it is awesome!
As I house sat more often, people started asking me more questions like, ‘How did you get the house sit? Who can house sit? Can I house sit if I have a dog? Can I house sit if I have a spouse or a child?’
I created House Sitter School to answer those questions.
Same with 1:1 coaching. Some people feel nervous about things and no matter how much you lay out, it’s still more helpful to have a person hear your plan and give you some feedback. I started doing 1:1 coaching because people were asking how to contact me personally to guide them through the process.
Same with YouTube. I started a channel where I talk about house sitting, taking a sabbatical on a budget, and about leaving the country to become an expat. Again, people were like, ‘Oh, your YouTube channel is doing well, how did you do that?’
It is about being willing to give people helpful information and listening when they tell you what they want next.
When I stopped working and started house sitting, I did not have a bigger picture in mind, like starting these different business lines. It was just a general knowing that I wanted to house sit around the world and work as little as possible.
Working as little as possible is my life’s motto!
People have put me on this path to be of service to other people by asking me questions about my own experience. That was never in my plans, but it feels so good!
What was the defining moment when you realized, ‘I can’t do this anymore? I just need to take the plunge.’ What were the first 3-5 steps you took to get yourself going on this new path that you have never traveled before (pun intended)!
We already talked about what a fight it was to request vacation days.That was the beginning! It was my 40th birthday and I asked for 5 days off from work and only got approved for 3 days. I had to find coverage for other days, but I was able to get to Brazil to celebrate.
The lightbulb moment happened while I was on that vacation in Brazil.
I was born in 1974. I am Gen X all the way; I am the heart of Gen X. But while I was in Brazil, I got to hang out with all these young millennials! They were there for weeks and months at a time, and when I told them I was only there for 5 days, they thought I was crazy. They were utterly confused at something I thought was totally normal!
These young travelers told me, ‘You know, you can quit your job and travel until you run out of money and then just go get your job back!’ Immediately, I was like, ‘I NOW DO THAT!’
I was not hesitant to take that advice because the good thing about being a hospital pharmacy technician is that people are always hiring hospital pharmacy technicians. I did not have any fear that I was not going to be able to get my job back.
My first step was to do some google searches.
Where could I go and how little money?
Thank goodness a lot of travel bloggers were sharing how much they were spending when traveling and in a lot of places it was $40 or less per day!
Most of the money I started to save came from working overtime. Also, it was about 2014, so there were services like Direct TV that I decided to cut out of my budget. Also, some cliché advice that I hated-but really did work– was to cook my own meals instead of eating out.
And boom, within 15 months I had the $14,400 that I needed!
Secondly, I had to decide where I wanted to go.
Southeast Asia was heavy on my list because you cannot just take a 5-day trip there! I wanted to travel to places that I would not have been able to get to while working.
Thirdly- I booked the trip so I could not back out!
Once I quit my job, I went to Southeast Asia, Australia, and a little sliver of Europe.
My budget got me to 12 countries in my first year! It was cheaper for me to be out of the United States than in the United States!
You are pro sabbatical, pro career break, pro gap year- basically not waiting for retirement and traveling now. What are the top 3 most common objections you hear for why people don’t think this is possible for them and what advice do you typically offer to help change their perspective from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can?’
A really sad objection is, ‘Who am I if I don’t have this job? I worked so hard to get to this place in my life, what will happen if I leave this behind even for a few months?’
It’s difficult if you have tied your identity to what you do. It’s sad, but that is the reason to go. It is the reason to take a break.
You need to know who you are outside of your job or responsibilities.
I didn’t take a gap year to find myself. I took a gap year to take beautiful pictures for Instagram. That’s all I wanted to do, but mannn did I find myself! Mannn did I find out who I really am!
I learned things about myself that if you would have told me I would be into- like talking to strangers-I would not have believed you! Now I get to tell the story of how I was sitting on a park bench in Vietnam and a Vietnamese woman sat next to me. We both struggled our way through a conversation in languages neither of us understood and I absolutely loved every second of it.
If your adult life has been dedicated only to working, then you truly do not know who you really are. This is the reason to DO IT!
Money of course is another common objection.
But this can be done on a super small budget. We talked about how I traveled on a $1,200 per month budget for 12 months. Once I discovered house sitting, I was able to cut my money needs by more than half! For example, I went to Mexico and took $3,000 total for my entire 6-month trip!
Lastly, the third objection is that traveling is not safe.
You hear this a lot from Americans-not so much from people abroad.
I’m telling you that IT IS SAFE.
Funny enough, I will usually ask someone who has that objection where they live, and I get an answer like, ‘St. Louis.’ And I just crack up. If you can make it there, then you can make it anywhere! You can do it!
There is some propaganda out there that America is the safest country and that the “other” or the “stranger” is not safe. I’m telling you that the world is safer than we believe- especially the places that you are going to want to go. These places are full of people like you who are going to work, taking care of their families, and going out to eat.
I’ve had complete strangers take care of me with no expectation for reciprocity all over the world.
When I look lost, I don’t try to hide it. I even pull out that paper map to let people know I’m open to get their help! And they have helped me every… single… time.
You have a YouTube video and PDF resource about the 10 Steps to a Breakthrough. We love Step 1: Give Yourself Grace. It is okay to not know the thing that is going to make you unstuck. It is only important to recognize that you want more and that you feel stuck.
We also love Step 6: Change Your Input. You encourage people to listen, watch, and read content that confirms the belief that this life is also accessible for them! That is why we’re thrilled to be sharing your content and message with the world right now. You are doing the thing. You are showing people how to do the thing. You are proof it is possible! In times where people might feel hopeless or out of control, you are reminding them that they are always in control of what they choose to consume to get back to being hopeful!
If you could add Step 11- knowing what you know now through all your experiences- what would it be?
Step 11 would be to put something on your calendar!
You can have a shift in your mind from, ‘I don’t think there is anything better for me in the world and I am stuck,’ to ‘The possibilities are open. I want to try this and that thing.’
But no matter how much you have that shift, no matter how much you want it, it will not happen if you do not put time towards it.
Recently, I shared my vision board for 2021 on my YouTube channel and I had my own wakeup call!
The things that came to fruition so far are all things I could point to on my calendar. I wanted (X) number of subscribers on YouTube, (X) number of sponsors for my channel, and (X) number of coaching clients- these were all traceable back to my calendar. The multiple items that have not yet manifested, well, you guessed it…they were not written there!
You have to go beyond, ‘This thing is important to me, and I want to do it.’
You have to write it down. Things are going to go differently than how you plan. You don’t know how it’s going to happen, but you must take some steps so that it will happen. There are not extra, magical days of the year that are going to pop up. If it’s important to you and you want to be able to look back and say that you did it, then make the time on your calendar now.
Aside from a free place to stay abroad when house sitting and exploring a new country, what are some additional perks that may get overlooked or taken for granted that you have come to love? For example, getting to eat any leftovers that owners didn’t take with them or seeing different owner’s personalities through their home decor or art?
You make friends! Some of my house-sitting clients are my friends now and that’s not something I went into this expecting. Remember, I didn’t even talk to strangers when I started this journey! It’s been a wonderful bonus.
You find things that you would not have known about places just by staying in someone’s home. I’m going to talk about food because I love food! Starting with, why is vanilla extract so expensive in America?
Years ago, I was talking to my mom about money.
I said, ‘I don’t know how to know when I’ve made it, but I think it will be when I can walk into a store and buy vanilla extract without looking at the price.’
In Mexico, I could do just that! Vanilla extract is so inexpensive; just 80 pesos and I could buy a big ol’ bottle!
Also, it’s interesting to learn things like how food is prepared or prioritized. In Mexico, you aren’t going to buy prepackaged tortillas. The tortilla lady or man home makes them and brings them to the store! It smells sooo good!
A strange thing that I have also learned is how little men were involved in the running of the household in the United States as compared to other places like Mexico, Netherlands, or UK.
Typically, when I’ve gotten to the house-sitting gig, it is the female partner who explains how things are run. I’ve had a wife tell me how often she brushes their dog’s teeth, and the husband didn’t even know that was a thing, never mind that she was the one doing it!
I was super confronted by the unequal division of labor and one day I would like to write an expose on that.
What is the next journey for Stephanie Perry- metaphorically and literally? Where are you traveling to next, but also what direction do you think you’ll be taking your work now that you have so much personal experience and growth in your business?
Travel wise-I have some house-sits lined up for the rest of the summer. People always ask me how long I plan to be nomadic. I don’t ever foresee myself stopping house sitting because it’s genius, but I will be looking for a more permanent home base. It’s hard to stop consumerism! I need a place for the stuff I’ve collected along the way!
I’m headed to Asheville, North Carolina next. I’ve never been there so I am looking forward to it.
Work wise– my next adventure is a secret but I’m going to tell you first!
I run a virtual summit for black women with my business partner, Rashida Dowe. She is from Shida’s on the Loose. It’s been up in the air as to whether we would continue or not, but in September we decided to run the Exodus Homecoming Summit for women who want to take a sabbatical.
Ultimately, I just want to keep inspiring people. I want people to know how real this is.
I used to think that this lifestyle was only for people born with a trust fund. I did not know it could be done on the pennies I do it for now.
The gospel needs to reach all corners!
Where can we learn more about you? Name it all here so we can support you and the awesome work you’re doing!
Get your New House Sitter Toolkit: https://vaycarious.com/housesit
TIME TO QUIT
We’re not telling you to just up and quit your job right now, but we hope that after reading this article that you are ready to quit believing that this lifestyle is not possible for you!
Let us know where you would want to try your first house sit in the comments below. We love hearing from you!
Check out some of the interview on our YouTube channel below and don’t forget to subscribe.