How To Live In Europe For 9 Months Each Year (Ep. 32)

For those of us that have some interest in living abroad for an extended period of time, it was time for me to invite some guests on who could help us understand how we could do it. Greg and Betsy Ball sold their house in Texas and now travel Europe 9 months out of the year. Listen as we cover the following:

  • The lake house in Quebec and the "dry" heat of Texas
  • Retiring early to travel
  • Dealing with the Schengen Zone
  • First time doing 9 months in Europe
  • Enjoying the non-Schengen countries
  • Picking grapes and making gin
  • Working with WOOF without a work visa
  • Living with locals
  • Taking part in every facet of a winery
  • Looking down the same hill as Napoleon
  • Getting around when you don't own a car
  • Does learning a language get you wanting to stick to that destination?
  • The advantage of not being able to read signs
  • Chuck Norris vs Communism
  • Architectural oddities
  • What is Workaway?
  • Experiencing the slower pace
  • What did you have for lunch?
  • Trusted Home Sitters
  • Cool perks with some people you sit for
  • Ever without a place to stay?
  • How EuroTravel Coach helps clients get comfortable with traveling
  • Being comfortable with who you're working
  • Canadian flags to Americans
  • Quebec and the misconceptions
  • What are the biggest concerns for new travelers?
  • The Cold War movie


Show Notes


Betsy (00:00):
Hi, this is Betsy and Greg Ball with Euro Travel Coach, and you are listening to Travel Fuel's Life.

Drew (00:18):

Drew (00:18):
Everybody, and welcome to Travel Fuel's Life, the show we share stories, tips, and inspiration to help you live a travel lifestyle. I'm your host, drew Hamish, and have you ever thought of just selling your home and taking off for a whole new country or even a whole new continent? Well, that's what Greg and Betsy Ball did just a couple of years ago. They sold their house in Texas and now they're living their dream of working Italian vineyards and traveling across Europe. And so how are they doing it? I mean, I'm very interested in this subject myself. There's many times I've thought about potentially moving overseas, so we're going to find out from them how they deal with things like the Shink zone, how they find lodging, and how they're surviving financially by just giving it all up here and heading overseas. So nine months of the year they're spending in Europe, let's find out how they do it. So from my home in Greenville, South Carolina, let's jump on the worldwide web and talk with Greg and Betsy. Ball of euro travel coach.com. Hey guys, welcome to the show.

Greg (01:29):
Thank you. Thank you. So glad to be here so much. Yeah.

Drew (01:32):
Yeah. So you're coming from one of my favorite places, Quebec.

Greg (01:36):
Yeah, we have a Lakehouse here. We spend our summers at, and Betsy's family built it in the sixties and we have been fortunate to spend most of our summers here since we've been married. And it's a great place. We love it.

Drew (01:51):
Well, for everybody that's down in, I'm in South Carolina right now, so it's not been as hot as it could be, but sometimes people think, Ooh, I'm going to go to Canada in the summertime because it's nice and cool. Is it cool or is it pretty warm up there?

Greg (02:07):
It's been pretty warm. It's been up in the mid eighties, high humidity and yeah, it gets warm. It gets warm. I know. We lived in Texas for many years and that doesn't sound all that hot, but it's feels warm up here.

Drew (02:22):
Yeah, well you probably get a bit more humidity. What part of Texas were you from?

Greg (02:26):
We taught just southwest of Fort Worth. Oh, okay. So didn't get the humidity that Houston gets, but it certainly got very hot.

Drew (02:36):
Yeah, I got suckered into that. Move out to Texas. It's a dry heat and then it's 104 degrees and 50% humidity in 104 degrees. Doesn't really feel that great.

Greg (02:50):
No, it's toasty.

Drew (02:51):
Yeah, absolutely.

Greg (02:53):
Spend two hours on a marching band field in that. Oh,

Drew (02:57):
Hot. I hate to admit I sold cars while I lived in Texas for a month and completely wore out a pair of shoes. Why were

Betsy (03:06):
You selling cars in the summertime?

Drew (03:08):
Oh, that's in July. Yeah. It was not good.

Betsy (03:13):

Drew (03:13):
Rough. Yes. That's one of those where you, it's just life experience. Just one more thing to put into your storybook. Exactly. So you guys have retired, so you say you guys don't look like you are of age to retire. Is this early retirement all

Betsy (03:28):
Of you? Thank you.

Drew (03:30):

Betsy (03:32):
Yes. We retired two years ago from teaching at Charlton State University. We had been there a long time. I taught international business for 15 years and Greg taught music and jazz for 27 years and we loved it. It was great, but it was time to do something new and we always loved traveling and we traveled with our family. We took students abroad on study abroad trips. Greg took the marching band to London and to Dublin and to the Monte through jazz festival in Switzerland. And we had a lot of travel experiences and we never got enough. Every time we got on the plane to come home, we we're like, I'm not really ready to go home. So

Drew (04:18):
I get

Betsy (04:18):
That so we can find, yeah, exactly.

Greg (04:21):
So last year we put that agenda and we were nine months on the road at the end of nine months. We weren't pretty much ready to come home, but an amazing time. It was, was a blast. And so we did it again this year and planning to pretty much do it next year.

Drew (04:37):
So if you are on the road for nine months, is this because you travel in Europe mostly? Correct?

Greg (04:45):

Drew (04:46):
So is this nine months, was that kind of because you had to get out of Europe or was this, because I know the whole shink zone situation and all of that, or would you have stayed on if you had had the opportunity to?

Greg (05:01):
Well, this where we are right now is the only home. We sold our house in Texas. We don't have a house anymore except the cottage we have here on this lake. And so this is kind of our retreat, our summer retreat, and we plan to start spending even more time here, but two or three months here is a beautiful place to be and we come home to visit parents and family. But yeah, nine months, it was great. It was pushing our limits a little bit, but man, it was marvelous. The changan was a totally different thing Betsy can,

Betsy (05:39):
So we are very careful with our Changan day. So the Changan is most of Europe, but not all of Europe, and we wanted to explore Europe as much as we could. So what we did was to bounce in and out of the Changan zone. So with an American passport, you can stay in the Changan for 90 out of 180 days. So we would spend getting close to 90 days in the Changan. So Italy, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal. I mean, most of the countries that you're thinking of on the continent are in the GaN. So when we got close to running out of days, then we would bounce to the UK or Ireland, and that's how we manage our Changan days. And you can also go to Cro, Croatia, Romania, there's some other European countries that are not in the Changan. So we still have more places we can go when we run out of Changan Bay.

Drew (06:37):
Yeah. Did you try any of those out, even for a short period of time, like Romania or that Eastern Europe area

Betsy (06:44):
This year we're going

Greg (06:45):
To Romania's coming up. Yeah,

Betsy (06:47):
We're going to be, we're going tochar arrest.

Greg (06:50):
We did some time in Croatia.

Betsy (06:53):

Greg (06:54):
What about rga? Latvia is

Betsy (06:57):
No, Latvia is in the Chenin. It

Greg (06:59):
Is in the Chen, yeah.

Betsy (07:00):
Yep. Are the Scandinavian C isn't, but our daughter who is also part of our company, your old travel coach, she lives in Bristol uk. So we can go visit her and then we're outside of the Changan and that's quite nice. So it's been good. And we have been extending our travel dollars by volunteering in exchange for room and board. So we've done woofing, which is worldwide opportunities on organic farms. We picked grapes in the Mont area, the northwestern part of Italy. We did that at the same organic winery two years in a row, which was amazing. And we have done different work aways where we worked at a little thatched cottage bed and breakfast that had a gin bar in the new forest in the uk. We taught in we

Greg (07:55):
How to make a proper English gin and nice.

Drew (07:58):
So what's the

Betsy (08:01):

Greg (08:02):
Goodin and the right garn for the Differentin? There were 80 different gins at this gin bar. And so we had to try to memorize which ones got mint and which ones got basil and which ones got a lemon and which one got a grapefruit and wow. Yeah, it was a blast.

Drew (08:20):
Really, really. I didn't know that gin was that technical, but then I didn't think that whiskey was as technical as it is until I got into it. Exactly.

Greg (08:29):
Yeah. The gin craze in the UK is, we haven't caught up in the States yet, but it's got to be coming because they're really fun to explore.

Drew (08:41):
Well, that was the surprising thing to me because when I went to Ireland into Scotland not too long ago, I went to a distillery in Dingle Distillery in Ireland. And when I went there, of course a distillery can't have aged whiskeys right off the bat. So they start make exactly, they make vodka, they make gin. And then this place won an award for their gin and they were just talking about the explosion of gin across the UK and Ireland. So that was interesting to hear.

Greg (09:15):
Yeah, one of our favorite gins is the botanist that's done by Lati. Oh yeah. And which we just visited recently. Yeah.

Betsy (09:25):
We were just on Ila Nice and Uhland recently on a whiskey tour. Yeah, it was great. When I say a whiskey tour, I mean it was our personal tour.

Drew (09:37):
Did you try the Octa more?

Greg (09:41):

Drew (09:41):
You did. What'd you think?

Greg (09:43):

Drew (09:44):
Yeah. See, this is what's interesting is that I was told because I record to

Greg (09:48):
Marvels bottles very often.

Drew (09:49):
Yeah. Well, it's funny because I didn't like Petey Whiskeys at first, but now I love them, they're my favorite. And somebody said, well, you have to try Okta more because it's the most PD whiskey there is. And when I went and did the tour, I actually did a warehouse tour, so it, it was a tasting event and they were taking it straight out cask strength from the barrel and letting it taste it that way. And I thought, oh, this is going to knock my socks off. And it was like, wow, I really liked this, but I don't know that I want to spend 150 pounds to buy a bottle.

Greg (10:29):
Yeah, exactly.

Betsy (10:30):
Well, that's one of the nice things about the tasting is you didn't have to, you can taste whatever you like, you bring home and whatever you didn't like as much, you got to taste and leave there.

Drew (10:42):
Yeah. So talk about Wolf, because I, I've not heard of this before and when you brought it up, I thought the first question that hits my mind is how did you discover these different ways to be able to fund yourself while you're on the road? Did you have a mentor or were you just doing a lot of web searches? How did that work out?

Greg (11:03):
Well, it was mostly Betsy. She's being the business person and me being the musician, she takes care of the finances. Got it. So we started to talk about traveling this way. We knew we couldn't afford to stay at nice hotels for nine months out of the year. So she just started to look for different opportunities and started presenting me with these ideas, which I thought was a little crazy at the time. But it's been a great way to meet people and experience the local culture in a much more different and intimate way.

Betsy (11:40):
It's been a great addition to our travel experience because we're living with locals and we're experiencing the local environment in a way that we would not get to do in any other way. So what you asked specifically about the wolfing first? Yeah. Well, our wolfing experience was on, like I said, an organic winery in the northwestern part of Italy. We

Greg (12:09):
Had a goal to pick grapes on a winery. And because we were teachers, we never had that opportunity. We were teaching during the harvest season and couldn't take a few weeks off in the middle of the semester to go pick grapes. So that's one of the things we first started looking for. And that's when you kind of ran across Wolf. I think

Betsy (12:31):
We, I mean, we were very specific about wanting to be in this particular wine region because we're very much into wine. We we're certified level three by the wine and spirits education trust. I mean it this, it just means that we have studied a bunch about wine and we've had a lot of wine to drink and we really like it.

Greg (12:53):
Air quotes, yes.

Betsy (12:56):
But one of our very favorite wines is Barlo. And so we wanted to spend time there. And so I started looking into ways to be able to do that. They're not paying us, we're not earning any money. We don't have a work permit, a work visa. But through woofing we were able to provide our labor in exchange for room and board. So we lived on the winery and they fed us three meals a day and they were extraordinary meals. We were there with people from Switzerland and Germany and the US and Italy. Italy. So I mean, the dining room table was absolutely amazing because you had all these different languages is rolling around the table and so many different experiences. And we expected to be really the old people with a bunch of younger people. And at this winery, that wasn't the case. No. There was one person in his twenties, an Italian young man, and then everybody else was our age or older. So it was so great. This particular winery required that we stay a month because they were not able to time the harvest. They say, okay, you come in the middle of September and stay until the middle of October because we don't know when we're going to harvest. We want to make sure we have enough hands on deck. So we came and we were there for harvest, but then you're there for a month. So it's a farm. So once the harvest is over, they have you do doing all kinds of other things.

Greg (14:35):
We stacked wood this year. I've built boxes for composting out in the field.

Betsy (14:46):
On rainy days we cracked nuts,

Greg (14:48):
But we also got to planted bunch of grapes this year, brand new baby shoots we planted, we learned how to prune a little bit. The first year I let giant fires, they were in a, it scared me to death. They were in a big drought and they wanted me to burn these brush biles. I'm like, oh God, I'm, I'm going to take

Drew (15:11):
Burned down, burned down Italy. Yeah, there you go.

Greg (15:15):
Somehow I managed it,

Betsy (15:17):
But we also worked in the cellar. I mean we were labeling bottles and boxing bottles and you were cleaning equipment and I mean we were able to participate in every facet of the winery, which is really one what we wanted to do. Yeah, that's amazing. With people who are passionate about wine and they've been doing this for 25 years and it was just a fantastic learning experience.

Drew (15:42):
So how many hours a week are you there working and then are I are getting to explore town and do all that sort of stuff as well?

Betsy (15:51):
The websites all say that the typical requirement is about five hours a day, five days a week. I would say on this particular winery, we worked longer than that. I mean we just worked until the job was

Greg (16:06):
Done. Especially during the harvest, when the grapes are ready to come in, you pick till the grapes are gone cause they're all picked.

Betsy (16:16):
But we would usually start maybe eight 30 and then have a little break in the middle of the morning and then work some more and then have a nice lunch and a two hour siesta of sorts and then work till five or six in the evening. But then on the weekends we were off and our hosts were amazing because they've lived their Swiss, but they've lived in this place for over 25 years and they know the area very, very well. And so they would make recommendations and we would just go, we went into the Italian Alps and stayed at a little lodge and did some hiking. One weekend they point out different towns like Mondavi that I had never heard of. And we went there for a day and went to the markets and explored the medieval town. And I mean, it was a place that Napoleon stood on the hilltop and looked out over, and I mean very historical. I had never heard of it. It was amazing. But then we also, because we loved the wine so much, we did a lot of exploring of

Greg (17:26):
The wine shops and wineries and

Betsy (17:28):
Making friends. Making friends who love wine.

Drew (17:34):
So how are you getting around all this are, do you have a car that you've rented and you're just taking it with you everywhere? Are you taking trains, public transportation? How are you doing that

Greg (17:45):
In this area? The public transportation is pretty poor. The infrastructure's just not there. The

Betsy (17:51):
Buses though, sometimes we would take then, yeah, sometimes we would take the bus and it would be also be the school bus. So you would be there with a bunch of students. Awesome.

Greg (18:01):
But the owners of this winery loan us their car mean us. When we hiked up in the Alps, they found us a place to stay, booked the room for us. And we took their car up there. It was a couple hour drive to get up, but oh my God, it was gorgeous. And then sometimes we just hike and other places we have had a car when we've done house sitting or work away experiences where they may say you need a car, then sometimes we rent a car and

Betsy (18:35):
Occasionally it has to do with whether or not they can put us on their insurance. But sometimes we have, and people

Greg (18:43):
Have been very gracious loaning us their cars as long as we can, they can add us to their insurance. I've done

Betsy (18:51):
That a number of times, especially for house sitting.

Greg (18:53):
House hitting. Yeah. Huh. Wow. We care people's dogs, they want the dogs to be able to go on walks outside sometimes and outside of town, different areas and put 'em in the back of the car and take them to the park or whatever, and up to the mountains and we do that. It's been great.

Drew (19:12):
So did you learn any Italian while you were there? Did you know any Italian before you went?

Greg (19:18):
We both did do a lingo and thought we were getting along until we got to Italy Wars This past year we spent two weeks in Sienna at a language school where we spent seven, eight hours a day in classes where all they spoke were at was Italian and then we did a homestay through the school, but with an Italian woman who spoke no English. So we'd, we'd be exhausted after a day of class and come home and have to keep speaking Italian. So we're getting there. Nobody would mistake as for Italians yet, but we're not as shy about picking up the phone and trying to speak to an Italian if we have to.

Drew (20:06):
Once you learn a language like that or start to pick up a language, does that kind of make you feel like, okay, next year when we go, we should go back to Italy because we can keep brushing up on our Italian? Or is it like, let's just hit the next country and figure out some about it?

Greg (20:24):
I think we keep going back to Italy because we just really love Italy and different parts. We've been all over Italy now, but no, we, there's a certain wonder lots where we definitely want to explore places we have not been before, but we have a few spots that we keep coming back to and don't get sick of it. And the Piedmont region around Barlo is one of those

Betsy (20:46):
Spots. But we also love France and I do speak some French, so that's very helpful. A lot of people speak English and one of the frustrating things I find about trying to learn a language is that as soon as I open my mouth, it's very evident that it's not my first language and they

Drew (21:03):

Betsy (21:03):
Revert to English because their English is better and it's an easier way to communicate. Yeah,

Drew (21:07):
We don't, but I need

Betsy (21:08):
The practice.

Drew (21:09):
I was going to say, we don't get much chance, you living in Texas, you didn't get much chance to probably practice anything but some Spanish here and there I would say. Yeah,

Betsy (21:16):
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah,

Drew (21:18):
Exactly. It's interesting to see how that goes because to the point you were talking about before in terms of places that you want to go back to, I went to Prague, I fell in love with the place and I just thought it was amazing. And then I did the Czech Republic and I took five days and just drove across the country and enjoyed every bit of that. And I thought I could easily just live here. I would have no problem with that until I got to Scotland. And then I'm like, wow, this place is really great and I could just live here.

Betsy (21:55):
I completely agree. The Charter Republic is interesting because it does add the dimension of not even being able to read signs with letters we're used to, right? Yeah, yeah. I mean like that challenge, I think it's quite interesting, but it is an added layer to the adventure for sure.

Drew (22:20):
Wait, wait till you get to Romania. Although I understand, I don't know if you've ever seen it before, but there was a documentary I saw on Netflix or Amazon Prime or somewhere like that that was about Chuck Norris versus the U S S R. And there was apparently one person who was dubbing all of these bootleg movies back in the eighties while they were still under communist rule and just this one female voice, everybody in the country knew because they were all bootlegging these tapes and listening to them and hearing that. And then there was this an appreciation for American stuff there. And so I think there's a lot more people probably that speak English there that who are probably trying to listen beyond this interpreter who was doing all the voices from it. But it's just so interesting to go to countries like that. Who I like to say when I go to Czech Republic, what I love about it is that you're used to European architecture, you've seen it your whole life, but Eastern Europe is just completely different. It's like you've gone to a, you really feel like you've gone somewhere.

Betsy (23:39):
Yeah, yes. Yeah, absolutely. And Prague is so wonderful because it was not devastated by the war, so it hasn't rebuilt. So you have that architecture, but then you also have the architecture under the communist rule when, and so yeah, the distinct difference between the timing of the building of the building,

Drew (24:05):
There is a building that comes to mind when you say that. And it's a hotel, it's like an inner continental or something like that. And you walk along and you see all of these gorgeous buildings along the river and then all of a sudden you come to this very 1960s looking and really kind of Soviet looking building and it's just a shock to see it. Yeah. And every time I walk through London now and I see all of this new modern architecture that they keep throwing up, I keep going, wonder what people are going to think of this like a hundred years from now when it's sitting next to all this classical architecture. And then you have this thing called a gerkin. Yes,

Greg (24:49):

Drew (24:50):
So talk about Workaway a little bit because I don't know about that program either. Is that similar to Wolf or what is that all about? Yeah,

Greg (25:00):
It's very similar except it can be almost anything. So we've helped put a kitchen in a old historic stone home in the light district in England. We built some shelves and different things on an island on the Thames, the thatch cottage and the gin bar. That was a Workaway experience. And that one was Wiz was with a bunch of 20 year old 20 something. We were the old people on that one. And these others have been mostly in private homes. So it's just us and the owners and they just want some extra hands or need some extra help to get some jobs done. And that's one way they do it. So you put your profile up and tell 'em able to do. I've done a bit of building over the years, especially here at the cottage that's on our profile. And I can help put a kitchen in, I don't know all the ins and outs, but I'm an extra pair of hands and I've had enough experience that I can help with something like that. And they usually don't, they're not looking for a master carpenter, they just need a couple extra pair of hands to get some work done.

Betsy (26:27):
And I can paint quite well. I mean, give me a paint brush or a roller at this place where Greg was working out on the kitchen, my big job was they had this very intricate fireplace that had been painted over and they wanted the paint removed and it was very difficult to remove it. So I spent many days in a suit with a mask and all rubber gloves trying to scrape this paint off the fireplace. But it was great. I mean I loved it and the people were super nice and they encouraged us to hike. The lake district in the UK is just gorgeous. And again, they knew the area really, really well. And they would tell us where to go and drop us off at the trailhead. And

Greg (27:14):
That was a place where, I'm not sure we ever got our five hours in a day.

Betsy (27:21):

Drew (27:21):

Greg (27:21):
Working. And we'd put an hour or so in and he goes, let's have some tea, and we'd stop. And he just liked to talk that we'd have tea and cookies and talk for a while. And this kitchen had, they were hosting Christmas and the kitchen had to be in, and I was more invested in it than he was. I think, don't you want to get the stove in today? We got to get this in. You're hosting Christmas in a couple weeks. I wanted to see the finished product before we left, but he was so nice. We, we'd wake up one day and there was snow on the ground and it was crystal clear blue sky. And he goes, you guys have to hike today. You don't need to work, don't hike.

Drew (28:03):
I'm like, nice. So I do notice when I go to Europe that there's definitely a slower pace to things or that we tend to get into a rush, rush mode. And the first time I went into a French restaurant and they weren't coming back over to bring my check to me, I'm like, oh, I'm ready to go. What's happening? And then you're in Germany and it's 1230 and everything's closed. Just not stuff we're used to, right?

Greg (28:35):
Yeah, very much so. It's cool to get into that groove and sometimes when we come back, it's a little hard. Somebody wants to eat dinner at six. It's like, really?

Betsy (28:48):
That's one of the things that I love about travel so much though, is that is the cultural differences and appreciating how other people do things. And it's not always the same as what we're used to. And that's okay. We can learn from each other. That's one of the things I just absolutely love so much about it. I have heard, and I have come to believe that, I mean, generalizations are dangerous to a degree, but I think it's a reasonable leap to say that Americans tend to live to work and Europeans tend to work to live. So it's a complete distinction. We are, as Americans, as North Americans, we tend to be very consumed with our occupation and what we do. And that's not the most important thing for most Europeans.

Drew (29:43):
Yeah. Well, as a friend of mine said, who was on the podcast not too long ago, he said that in Italy, the biggest question was, what did you have for lunch?

Greg (29:53):

Betsy (29:55):
That's an

Greg (29:56):
Important question. Yeah,

Drew (29:57):
It is. It. All right. So another thing that you guys did was trusted home sitters. So de describe that. And I think the other question I had too was, is there ever a time where you are just without a place and that you don't have a job and you don't have a place to s to

Betsy (30:15):
Lay head at night? Yeah. So I'll draw a distinction between these three ways of finding accommodation that we've used. So I've talked about wolfing. One thing, one extra thing that I'll say about that is you have to decide which country you want to be a member of for wooing. So we wanted to pick grapes in Italy. So we joined the Italy woof membership. So for Workaway, it's a global membership, so I don't remember how much it is. I think it's like $39 for the year to have access to the Workaway website. But then you can access any place in the world that has workaway and they have all kinds of different opportunities all over the world. So you could be doing anything. And then trusted house sitters. I think our annual membership was $119 per a year, and that is where people need someone to take care of their home and their pets when they go away. They might be going away for vacation, they might be going away for work, but they might leave for several weeks at a time or several months, or maybe it's just a weekend. And we've

Greg (31:30):
Met some people, like ours have been usually a couple weeks, two or three weeks, but we've met people that do it for several months. People are having to leave their home for whatever reason, for a pretty extended period. So you just take over their house for those months and you

Betsy (31:50):
Become a local. We did a house sit in England a couple hours north of London and the people were traveling to Asia, but they always attend

Greg (32:06):
Burns night dinner, a

Betsy (32:07):
Burns night dinner, which I was not familiar with, but they always attend this Burns Night dinner and they weren't going to be there for that. And so they said, but we've got the tickets. Our friends will pick you up. They had TURs for us to wear. They had a vest for you to wear. And just their friends embraced us and took us to all these local things. We went to a panto. That was really fun. It was really fun.

Greg (32:32):
Sunday dinner at their house, sun.

Betsy (32:33):
Yes. I mean, we went to a roast at their house just because they wanted us to experience a very traditional Sunday roast and they were so kind and generous. And again, it's something that I love to be a tourist, a really good tourist, but I love even more really embracing the culture and getting to find out more about what it's like for a local to live in all these different places. You asked, are we ever without a place? I'm a planner, so plan ahead pretty well. And it's easy to do on these websites. I mean, look ahead, where do you want to be? When do you want to be there? What do you want to be doing? And look for these different opportunities. And if there's ever a gap, I mean, we have also done some of our own traveling for our business to a degree because there are some places that we have wanted to explore that we had never been to, but we would like to be able to offer it to our clients and have small group trips there and included in some of our custom itineraries. So we spent a couple weeks in Sicily this year simply for that reason to do so, to do some great research simply, simply for that reason

Greg (33:41):
Only for research, and

Betsy (33:43):
Went a SaaS and a SAS just blew us away. We were so excited to go there.

Greg (33:50):
We hadn't been till last year to Berlin before, and so we spent a week in Berlin and loved it. Nice. Spent a week in

Betsy (33:59):
Budapest. In

Greg (33:59):
Budapest and loved it. And yeah, it's been, so

Betsy (34:04):
Sometimes we do some of our own explorations, and so that fills in some of the gaps.

Greg (34:12):
The first year you had booked us relatively solid with workaway and wolfing and blah, blah, blah. Yeah. This year we had more time that we explored on our own more time that we just traveled and did spend time in hotels and Airbnbs and such.

Betsy (34:28):
And we're also finding that as our business grows, we're enjoying the house sitting more because it gives us more time to work on our business and still be traveling, still traveling at the same time.

Drew (34:41):
Right. Well, I was going to say, the reason that question came out was because I'm a planner too, and I remember when I had come back home to try to figure out what my next career was going to be before I became a web developer and I was using two different temp agencies back and forth. One would get me a job and then the other one was always there. So I just had a backup plan always to make sure that I had some kind of temp job going on until I finally landed something. So I thought doing something like this, you know, need a place to rest your head, especially if you don't have a car that you own with you, and you can't just ride on the train all day. So Right. Something's got to happen. Well,

Betsy (35:32):
The other thing to just be aware of when you're making these kinds of plans is you really want it to be a good fit between the host and you want to know what your accommodations are going to be. You want to know, you just want to know what the expectations are, and you sort of want to make sure that you're going to jive right, because it makes a big difference in your experience. So we've been very fortunate. Really? Yeah,

Greg (36:03):
We really have.

Betsy (36:04):
But that's something you, it's a little bit up in the air until you get there, but you can sort out a lot of that by what are the email correspondences? You can get a good feel from that. And also by reading some of the reviews on the websites, because these websites by and large have the ability to rate hosts and rate the workers or the house sitters.

Drew (36:30):
So where did this idea, now, because your company is Euro travel coach, and so you're teaching people how to travel across Europe, are you teaching them to live a lifestyle similar to what you're living? Or are you teaching them how to travel in smaller bites?

Betsy (36:48):
We're not teaching them to travel this way unless they want to. No, we

Drew (36:51):

Betsy (36:52):
We're helping them to travel in whatever way they want to and explore in the way that they want to, where they want to, when they want to go.

Greg (37:00):
So we create custom itineraries for people, and our ideal clients are somebody who's never really traveled before and just have a trouble making that first step. They're not quite sure how to book a hotel. And in Europe, in Italy, and if you don't have the language, how scary is it? And some people just get paralyzed by that. So we've had a few customers that we planned for them their first overseas trip and it was a blast. And then to hear their experiences afterwards is really rewarding for us. And then our other ideal customers, somebody who just doesn't have the time, the Americans who live to work can't afford to spend the hours they need to really prepare a proper vacation. And

Betsy (37:53):
It really takes about 60 to 80 hours to put together a 10 day to a two week trip. I mean, of research and making sure that all the logistics are right and the lodging is right and it's within your budget, and that's a lot of hours. And when you're working a lot of hours, that's tough. But we pay for accountants, we pay for tax preparation, we pay for people to come clean our house. We outsource lots of things. And this is something that we can do to help people travel in the way that they want to, but not have to spend that time. People who are time poor but want to travel. That's also our ideal customer.

Drew (38:35):
So what do you think is the thing that most intimidates people about traveling to Europe?

Greg (38:41):
We get a lot of questions about language, which is funny because I mean, if you've never done it, it probably is kind of a scary thing. But most places that are touristy at all, even a little bit, there's a lot of English I have spoken,

Betsy (38:58):
People get tied up in what to pack, honestly. You said what intimidates people. Well, by and large, everybody always says, oh yeah, that's true. What

Greg (39:07):
Do we pack? Yeah,

Betsy (39:09):
I mean, we have a blog, blog about how to pack. And people are like, oh wow, that's really good. That's so helpful.

Greg (39:14):
Which is really, I mean, it's funny for us because we travel for nine months at a time with one carry-on suitcase and a backpack that's relatively small backpack. And then people who travel for a week have these jado suitcases that they can't handle themselves. And it's like, what are you doing? You don't need that much stuff with you. You're only gone for a couple weeks.

Drew (39:43):
Somebody told me that they actually sell a lot of Canadian flags to Americans when they're in Europe because they want to not be appear as Americans because they feel like there's something very negative in the world against Americans. Do you hear that from people?

Greg (40:03):
I have heard our very first trip in 1990 that we did. Somebody told us that. But we have not experienced that at all. We've had nothing. But people embrace us. And I think it's just your own attitude. If you smile and you're cordial to people and you attempt us to say hello in their language and you're open, people want to treat you back the same way we, we've had nothing but good experiences and we've never, even though we spent a lot of time in Canada, we've never tried to claim we're from Canada, we're America, and we're proud of that. And for the most part, people in Europe aren't upset ever with individuals. It's usually our government that they don't necessarily agree with. And you know, can say that about almost any country probably. So,

Drew (41:00):
Yeah, it's funny, when I went to Quebec for the first time, it took me forever to go up there and I really wanted to go because Quebec city is so full of history. And so the thing that kept holding me back is I was even reading guide books that said that people up there are not very friendly to Americans. And so I was intimidated when I first went, and then I started talking with somebody at the end of my trip and I said, everybody here has been so absolutely friendly to me, and I don't understand why there's this feeling that Quebec City and Quebec is this place where they don't like people who speak English. And the guy said, how do you introduce yourself? And I said, well, usually I'll say [inaudible] when I walk in. And he said, well, that's it, you, you're coming in and you're acknowledging the language and you're showing some respect. And he said there, there's also like 20% of the population in Quebec that really doesn't want to speak French. And so it's sometimes those people, they think you're one of those people that doesn't want to speak the language. And I thought, right, isn't that interesting? Because we don't know enough about why somebody's acting a certain way towards us. We just assume or we just make generalizations about people.

Betsy (42:25):
One of the things that I hope for all of our clients is that they are able to meet local people and understand that they do on a personal level, appreciate Americans. Canadian. I mean, it doesn't matter where you're from. I mean people are people, right? We're really more alike than we are different. And one of the other things that Euro a travel coach does is lead small group trips. And we always make an effort to stay in a local villa with local people hosting us, and we can have conversations with them and ask questions. Okay, what's it like to live there? We have local guides, we can ask lots and lots of questions, and people are able to find out that they really do. It's a person to person thing. And it's, it's wonderful. It's wonderful. That's one of the things that I hope people get out of their trips when they travel with us.

Drew (43:21):
It's amazing to me the misinformation that we get or the feeling that what we hear on the news is what we're supposed to be believing about. The place we go to. I mean, would've never gone to Europe because they had the Belgian terrorist attack just before I left. And a friend of mine said, you really want to go there? I mean, is it safe? And I'm thinking, well, I mean the crime rate in most American cities, you probably have as much chance of having something happen to you in a major American city. So absolutely.

Betsy (43:57):
It's always a little unnerving to see policemen with very large guns in airports. But on the other side, it's like, well, I feel pretty darn safe. They're going to take care of anything if it happens. So I, we've never ever had a problem

Drew (44:14):
That happened to me in Prague. I was going through the subway in Prague and they had all of these guys with machine guns down there, and I could have looked at that and gone, well, this is pretty scary. Am I in a safe place? But instead, I looked at it and I was like, I feel like I'm in a Cold War movie. I have all these Eastern European men walking around with machine guns around me. It's like, I'm in a movie. This is pretty cool. Yeah, yeah, exactly. It's all about your attitude, all about your attitude. Well, tell us a little bit about how people can learn more about you through your Euro travel coach and keep up with the stuff that you're doing.

Betsy (44:56):
Well, I would absolutely love, for anybody who's interested to log onto our website, www.eurotravelcoach.com, check out our blog. You can see we have lots and lots of travel tips. We have lots of information on specific countries and specific areas within certain countries, but we also talk about our own travels and how we have been traveling around Europe ourselves. So

Greg (45:24):
Betsy started the blog in September, I think the year we decided to retire. So a lot of the early blogs are the decisions we made. Why are we leaving these jobs that we really, really like? And in a city where we'd spent over 25 years and raised our kids, why are we leaving the comfort of all this to do something scary? Well, wasn't scary enough, but a lot of people think it's a scary proposition. And then like she said, travel trips, packing, how to pack light.

Betsy (45:58):
You can see the different services that we provide on the website. And I'm very accessible. My email is on the website. It's just betsy euro travel coach.com. And my phone number's on there. I mean, I love to hear from people. So if anybody is interested, just drop me an email.

Greg (46:16):
We are on Facebook and Instagram as well, and

Betsy (46:20):
Twitter and LinkedIn and everything, so, all right,

Drew (46:23):
Very good. Totally

Betsy (46:25):
Find us. Yes.

Drew (46:26):
Where do you have time to do all this traveling? You're on social media all the time. Question I ask myself all the time, right?

Betsy (46:35):
Airports. That's the answer. Just do your social media in airports.

Drew (46:38):
There you go. There you go. So I'll put all of the links to all of your contacts out on our show notes page, and so people can check out what you're doing there and where are you off to next, when's the next time you take off, and where will your destination be? I'll planned out.

Greg (46:57):
I'm, I'm heading for New York City tomorrow, Monday. And to hear some jazz at some clubs there that I'm really excited about. And our son, who's an actor, lives in New York City, so I'll get to hang out with him a bit. But our next European adventure is

Betsy (47:12):
We have an opportunity to travel with Viking Cruises, and we're starting in Budapest and we're traveling east toward Romania. So we'll be traveling on a Viking cruise to Bucharest. And then after that we fly to Italy and we're leading a small group trip in Piemonte, our very favorite part of Italy. Nice. We have 10 people who are coming. We're staying at a villa. We're visiting wineries, we're eating an a Michelin starred restaurant. We're going to a hazelnut farm. So it's a really great itinerary. It will be a lot of fun. And it's one of our favorite parts of Italy. We have people that we know and love there now after having been there many times. And so after that I mentioned that our daughter lives in Bristol, England. She and her husband are going on a sabbatical. His work provides a sabbatical after you've been there five years. So they're going to Southeast Asia and their apartment will be empty in the UK house sitting. Yeah, we're house. Awesome. Great. In Bristol. And we love Bristol. Bristol's great. Yeah, cool town. So that's the plan that gets us to December. And I haven't quite figured out what happens next, but

Drew (48:33):
More plans will develop, I'm sure.

Betsy (48:35):
Exactly, indeed. Yeah. Keep up with the website and then see how it turns out.

Drew (48:41):
Well, fantastic. Well thank you guys so much for being on the show. And I wish you safe journeys and lots of success down the road with your coaching business.

Betsy (48:52):
Drew, thank you very much. We enjoyed speaking with you. Thank you so much and safe travels to you as well.

Drew (49:00):
Well, I hope you enjoyed the show today and head out to our show notesPage@travelfuelslife.com slash podcasts. Look for episode 32, and you're going to find all the links to the sites that we mentioned today during the show, including the social media for Euro Travel Coach, and also a link I put in there for the [inaudible] zone. We talked about that some of the countries in the EU are in it, some are out. And so I put a link there to a website that will explain which ones are in which ones are out, and all the regulations that go along with that. So check it out. And if you enjoy today's show, make sure to subscribe and use your favorite podcast app to do so, and that way you won't miss an episode. And check out instagram.com/travel fuels life to get inspired with some great travel locations. Done a lot of traveling this year, sharing all my pictures out there on instagram.com/travel fuels life. Or you can find us at facebook.com/travel fuels life. And until next time, have a great week and thanks for listening to Travel Fuels Life.

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