The word homeless has many connotations, but the first thing that jumps to mind is not generally a retired couple using their homelessness to promote a business, a book, and travel the world.
However, that is exactly the scenario Bill and Susie Davidson have found themselves in. The couple moved to Fallbrook originally in 1989 and later launched themselves into early retirement and their self-titled “great adventure.”
Bill, who was a Southern California Edison employee for 32 years, some of which were based out of San Onofre, entered early retirement. He was followed by Susie six months later in 2001 when she quit her job as a secretary at Fallbrook Union High School.
The couple initially planned a five-year trek to travel the United States at some depth, as opposed to hitting only the biggest tourist attractions. The retirement plan had been in the works for some time, the duo saving since the beginning of their marriage with the intent to travel when they were older.
They sold their home and everything to their name as they embarked on what they expected to be a phase of homelessness, yet constant motion. Little did they know their plans would change.
While in Alaska, the first stop on their prized vacation, distant cousins who live in Boston called with an inquiry that would forever change the direction of the Davidson’s retirement.
They were in need of a house sitter, something neither Bill nor Susie had ever heard of, but now it is how they find a place to sleep at night. The Davidsons are traveling house sitters. They come to a home, stay there while the family is away for anywhere from two weeks to a few months, and care for the home and pets.
The Davidsons use an online site where they can advertise a desired location and time frame and through a mutual selection process decide where they will journey next.
The only ground rule in their selection process is that the home they are going to be taking care of must have pets; saying Susie is an animal lover would be an understatement.
As the Davidson’s map their memories, there have been over 800 beds that the couple has slept in, usually together, but occasionally apart, such as the two years Bill spent in Baghdad.
“Home is where our feet are,” Susie says of the couple’s slogan for their travels.
Though there are difficulties of never having a permanent home, the Davidsons do not focus on these and instead marvel at the great and unique opportunity to see the world that they have been afforded.
The couple has house-sat in nearly the entire United States, but they have yet to make it to Hawaii, the Dakotas, and Montana. They also spent a summer house-sitting in Europe.
The Davidsons embody the definition of wanderlust, a word they use to describe what keeps them motivated to keep traveling.
“We’ve had a lot, done a lot, and seen a lot,” said Bill. “But we have more places to see and people to meet.”
The Davidsons have goals for their future travels: Bill would like to spend six months in Australia to give them enough time to really experience the culture, and Susie wants to finish out their trek to see a baseball game in every park, they are currently two away from the goal – missing only Marlins Park in Miami and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The Davidsons’ storytelling is not limited to word of mouth however. The couple recently wrote and published a book tracking their movements and journey across America.
The book, “We Sleep Around, Homeless by Choice,” is a detailed, first-person account of their years on the road. It includes pictures from various locations, and has its roots in the journals that Susie keeps on a daily basis.
The Davidsons offered some advice for others. “When you can and where you can – travel there.”
That is not just a mantra that they have shared over the years, but something they have really embraced, finding a niche doing something that they love and that gives them the ability to travel.