Scottish mum sells possessions and takes kids out of school to get paid to travel world
Scots-born Carol-Ann Chiang, 40, and her husband Jimmy, 37, left behind their comfortable lifestyle in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, USA, with Lana, 11, and Alyssa, nine, four months ago.
So far, the ‘Chiang Gang’ have visited five states in the US and Canada and are now in Greece planning their next stint abroad.
Mum-of-two Carol-Ann, who was born in Armadale, West Lothian, says their plan was initially met with ‘concerned’ looks from friends when they heard they were selling most of their possessions.
They hope to make memories while their children are still young, to escape the headaches of their jobs and to teach their children how lucky their lives are compared to others.
Despite taking their kids out of traditional schooling they plan to educate them through ‘hands-on learning’ combined with online lessons.
Using the website TrustedHousesitters they are being paid to travel the world taking care of people’s pets and homes while they are away on vacation.
Carol-Ann said: “There were a few raised eyebrows and looks, knowing we were giving up nearly everything we own.
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“We sold a profitable business, a home and the comfort that comes with that, as well as most of our belongings to make it happen.
“Initially I think people were alarmed and concerned, but when we explained why we were doing it and the freedom that it opens up they came around to the idea.
“There is no set plan or timelines on how long it will be, it just depends on the opportunities, costs and ticket prices.
“We hope it will last longer than a year, we are open to travelling for as long as we can make it happen, as long as everyone is enjoying it and we don’t see any detriment to the kids.
“We have had positive experiences so far, it has definitely been rewarding for us, plus we have pets to hang out with and we all enjoy being around them.
“The kids enjoy the interaction and staying in beautiful homes and meeting lovely people who make us feel at home.”
The whole reason we are doing it is to enjoy life without stress and headaches, and to inspire others to enjoy life.
“It’s a different way of life, I’m excited for the many different experiences and to expose our kids to that.”
One of the reasons for doing this is to allow them to be enlightened in some way on how many luxuries we have in America that we take for granted.
“We want to show them that we have luxuries that some people could only wish for, how our lives are a whole lot different and for them to realise how fortunate we are.”
Carol-Ann met future husband Jimmy on a round the world trip on April 1st, 2003, while he was stationed in Hawaii as part of the Marine Corps.
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This year, 15 years on from the day they met, and now as a family-of-four, they started their own adventure.
Carol-Ann said: “The idea was posed to me by my husband, I was a bit alarmed by the suggest it seemed like a joke, but it became more of a reality at the beginning of 2018.
“The more we realised it was not difficult to make happen it was just making the commitment to sell the business, packing our possessions and then to raise funds to make it happen.
“At first, it seemed like airy fairy talk, but once we committed it happened very quickly, now looking back it’s a little mind-blowing.”
So far, through TrustedHousesitters they have visited: South Carolina, Utah, Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Calgary in Canada, and after Greece they intend to travel to Thailand and Asia.
One concern was the children’s education, but aside from the experiences that will teach them the parents are supplementing studies with online classes.
Carol-Ann said: “There are definitely openings to do schooling on the road, a lot of online school systems, some that are free through various websites.
“A lot of learning has been hands-on learning versus sitting down behind a computer or a book.”
The parents hope to savour time with their children and travel while they still can.
Carol-Ann said: “Over the past few years, we had our own business which was a lot of work, we realised we wanted to take time out to enjoy life and our kids growing-up.
“That time is passing quickly, so we want to pause and enjoy what happens right now rather than in 10 years.
“So many people don’t get that opportunity through health or whatever else happens.”
TrustedHousesitters has facilitated more than two million nights of house and pet sitting globally, since its birth in 2008.
(Image: Caters News Agency)
The Chiang Gang are one of nearly half a million members spread over 130 countries.
Tim Lyons, 41, managing director, said: “The Chiang Gang’s story is so inspiring and demonstrates how much travel freedom the world of house and pet sitting can give you.
“It means a great deal to know we’re helping so many families to enjoy more quality time together as they travel the globe, while their children learn and see the world with their own eyes.
“To be able to enjoy these experiences together with the companionship of pets is an incredible thing.”
The Chiang Gang have set-up their own YouTube channel to document their journeys, already luring over 900 subscribers.
They hope people watching them will take the plunge and go on an adventure themselves.
Carol-Ann said: “It was intended to document our travels and experiences, as well as giving Jimmy something creative to work on every day rather than lounging in the sun.
“It’s something that will be online forever to let us remember what we did together during this time.”
Membership to TrustedHousesitters costs £89 per annum and comes with free 24-hour online and telephone support.
Tim said: “Every day we hear of more and more people of every age who are not only taking up house sitting, but they’re choosing this as a way of life.
“There are a number of families currently using the site and we are helping these families enjoy truly authentic travel experiences with the company of adorable pets.
“More than anything, we love hearing how our site is helping pet lovers travel the world, while making savings on travel accommodation.”
For more information visit www.trustedhousesitters.com