Your Hosts Josie and Conrad
Update February 2016:
Spaces are no longer available for the 2016 April 16th-28th Trip.
Who are Josie and Conrad?
Conrad and I often say, “We were made to do this!”
It’s just one of those things in life – we both have backgrounds that lend to being perfect traveling companions for each other and for you. We possess traits that have led us to be successful tour operators.
Here is a list of our major accomplishments:
* Eagle Scout
* Medical Research Scientist
* Tour Bus Driver
* School Board Member
* Leader in Community Recreation
* Up-to-date with CPR training as of March 2015 – Okay so this isn’t a major accomplishment but we want you to know.
* Girl Scout Leader
* Church Youth Group Leader
* Owner of a Garment Manufacturing Business
* Window Treatment Decorator
* Sewing Instructor
* Freelance Writer
* Up-to-date with CPR training as of March 2015
In short, we have spent our careers as leaders and helpers in our communities and around the country!
After Conrad’s 30-year medical research career at the University of Michigan – in human genetics and pharmacology – he became a tour bus driver in order to travel. From 1-day casino runs to 30-day round-the-country excursions, he perfected his touring skills working with step-on guides, resorts, the needs and personalities of his charges, and altering routes to make the experience better. He is the navigation guru amongst his peers!
I have also covered a range of careers. At the age of 16, I started my first company called Winters Warriors Creations Unlimited, after a line in Gordon Lightfoot’s, Song for a Winter’s Night. Over decades I honed that business into a garment accessories manufacturing company. Our biggest sellers were novelty mittens – with fringe, rivets, fashioned shark fins, flowers, printed leathers and jeweled trimmings. They were sold to boutiques and department stores through national sales reps, with our largest customer being Jacobson’s Department Stores along the eastern United States and Midwest. I consider that time my greatest education into business, finances, negotiations, and myself. I have pulled from that past for my current freelance writing, with published pieces in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Hour Detroit, as well as my own traveling blog. A research position at the Ann Arbor Observer now keeps me busy a few days a week.
Conrad’s and my first venture as partners is as Airbnb hosts. Travelers stay in our home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We love meeting folks from everywhere, such as Germany, Netherlands, China, and all over the States. We have been awarded the title, “Super Hosts” by Airbnb. Here is a link to our profile where you can read reviews left by our wonderful and fascinating guests, plus see our home:
We always knew travel would play a major role in our lives. To travel farther and for longer periods, we started house sitting in 2010 – a rapidly-growing trend amongst baby boomers and young folks alike. The practice is an exchange – travelers get a free place to stay and homeowners gain peace of mind knowing their home and pets are looked after. Those are the nuts and bolts of house sitting, but in reality, the rewards are so much larger than free lodging. House sitters live in a community and truly delve into the culture of a place.
Conrad and I house sit around the world and credit the lifestyle with bringing cultures into focus for us. There is no better way to understand peoples around the world than to live in their shoes for a few weeks.
I started a website to help others get started in the wonderful world of house sitting. My blogs offer tips to help win the best house sitting assignments around the world, like Paris or Berlin, South Africa or Slovenia. Or you may choose to house sit in a community not far from where you live simply because the area appeals to you. Here is a link to my help-style blogs, offered up here so you may know us better:
What follows is a letter of recommendation by a homeowner for whom we house sat in 2011. It illustrates the closeness we achieved. Her deep feelings for us were absolutely mutual and the two of us continue to email with family updates.
Here is the recommendation letter. (I left it as is with misspellings):
To Whom It May Concern:
I wholeheartedly recommend Josie and Konrad Knudsen as housesitters. My husband and I work in academic research and in 2011 we accepted a faculty position at an university abroad. We were struggling with the decision of renting our home while deciding our next step. I became aware at a later point of the housesitting option, which sounded appealing – but we needed a very long housesitting service and were quite hesitant at first.
I must say that after signing in one of the major housesitting website, the whole housesitters community already struck me as composed by highly educated, wholesome people who loved the lifestyle that the service entails – traveling, relationship with new people, helping a community, etc.
Even in this context, Konrad and Josie’s profile stood above others already at the starting line, for the completeness of the information provided: their profile was cheerful but factual, detailed, covering both their personal profile as well as their housesitting experiences, providing plentiful pictures and references. That took a lot of guesswork out.
This first impression of trustfulness and competence was fully confirmed in our first email and phone exchanges. We thus invited them for a weekend and spent time listening to their previous experiences as housesitters, going over our current needs and simply connecting on a personal level, which was very easy as both of them are so easy going, pleasant, bright and highly educated.
By the end of their visit we felt we accomplished a lot and found what we were looking for: we laid out a clear plan and at the same time, developed a great deal of trust and sympathy – and were hoping to spend more time to know them as friends!
It has been now a year of housesitting, and having Josie and Konrad home has given us an invaluable peace of mind in a difficult year for us. The problems along the way – the washer that broke, the shower not turning off, the switch in the internet/TV company, which they suggested and saved us money – were communicated promptly and taken care of efficiently. They also agreed ‘on the spot’ to care for our two box turtles, which we fond out at the last moment we could not take with us.
Last August we got home. Josie and Conrad came to pick us up at the airport and prepared a great dinner, and it was like seeing old friends by then. Not only all was clean and well taken care for, but they kept their presence in the house so discrete, which for such a long period I thought it was truly remarkable. Simply put, the house and yard – and turtles as well! – looked very much like we never left. The neighbours unanimously loved having them, too, and felt they were part of the community.
To wrap this up, I must say that Josie and Konrad are outstanding housesitters: they are honest, trustworthy, reliable, organized and with excellent communication skills. On a personal level, they are two great human beings, and I wish anybody the pleasure of spending time with them to appreciate them.
Our interest in travel also led us to become the co-leaders for the Michigan chapter of Travel Massive. The international organization is a resource for travel professionals to network and learn. We organize and host speakers at our bi-monthly meetings in topics such as travel apps, the evolution of travel tours, and airline mergers and changes.
This letter’s purpose is to gain your trust. I want to help you feel comfortable with us as the people planning and carrying out this two-week trip to Spain. We invite you to follow any of the links above to get to know us better. In addition, we are just a short email, phone call, or Skype call away from answering any other questions or concerns you may have. You may also reach us via the contact form on the Pricing Page.
Click below to visit the 4 other pages of this travel brochure:
Can Marcer de la Penya – 17th Century Villa — Check to see what rooms are still available.
Josie Schneider and Conrad Knutsen
966 W. Summerfield Glen Circle
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103
A Path Less Traveled
Skype username: Cultureconnectors