Meet Dalene and Peter Heck, the inspiring Canadian couple who sold everything in 2009 to travel the world.
Unhappy working to climb the ladder in the corporate world, the couple decided to initiate a shift and leave their conventional lifestyles behind after a number of testing circumstances left them exhausted, with little desire to remain fixed.
"[Now] we are profoundly different people, or maybe these ideals were always in us, but it took traveling to bring it out."
A remarkable 5 years on and they're still going strong - housesitting, blogging and photographing their way around the globe. Intrigued, we got in contact with Dalene and Pete to discover just how they manage to do it. Here's what they had to say...
It's been 5 years since you sold everything, packed up your most treasured belongings and set off to travel the world after a testing string of events. Could you briefly describe how travelling has affected you both?
Our life of travel has changed us in so many drastic ways, I am sure we don't even know them all! It has made our relationship stronger, has taught us to live more minimally and consciously, it's taught us that the world isn't such a scary place and that we all need to start doing more to help improve the lives of the people around us. We are profoundly different people, or maybe these ideals were always in us, but it took traveling to bring it out.
You've definitely done some exploring around the world! Combined, what are your top 5 countries and why did they make an impact on you?
This is always the most difficult question to answer because most countries are loved for very different reasons, it is hard to choose who comes out on top. But, when pressed...
- We both adore Turkey so much. We've spent a total of 6 months there over our 5 years, and have never found people more generous or hospitable then the Turks.
I think we will always also have fond feelings for Bolivia because it was our first stop on this journey. It has incredible natural beauty and was so different from the life we had just left, that it held many awe-inspiring moments for us.
We had only planned for a few weeks but ended up spending 2 months in Argentina, as we couldn't get enough of its incredible natural beauty. From glaciers to rainforests and waterfalls, it has everything!
We didn't expect to enjoy Poland as much as we did. The resilience of the people is astounding and our month there was really fascinating to being to understand their history.
Italy. For the food, obviously. 🙂
What kind of travellers would you say you are and what sorts of activities do you like to get stuck into? Are you both the adventurous type?
We both can be fairly adventurous! Some of our best memories come from the crazy things we've gotten ourselves into - kayaking and camping for 8 days along fjords in eastern Greenland, so much hiking in the Andes of South America, etc. But that is just a fraction of us as travelers - overall I would use the word "slow" to define us. We really like to spend our time in each country getting to know it better than your average tourist. We like to get to know the people as much as possible. I suppose that is also an adventure on its own. 🙂
The life of a travel blogger... It's not all cocktails on the beach and picnics in the countryside is it? What does a day in the lives of the Hecks go a little something like?
So much work. But it's not even just for our travel blog anymore - we've gone beyond that and started our own media company which is keeping us very busy (to the dismay of our blog a bit, truthfully). It has increased our time behind the laptops but is also going to ensure we can keep up this lifestyle as we are finally beginning to make some decent money.
If someone says we need four days to explore a city, then we plan to spend over a week because we need to fill that extra time with work. So most mornings you'll find us behind the laptop, we usually try to explore in the afternoon (when we can!), and then back to work in the evenings.
What inspires you both to get things done throughout the day?
I use the word "work" a lot, but I really don't even consider it that. We both love what we do, so it isn't difficult to keep us motivated.
From your blog sidebar, we can see your most popular posts but what are your 5 personal favourites and why?
1 & 2. Both parts of the "And So We Traveled" posts are personal favourites because they were not only incredibly cathartic to write, but the response was tremendous. We bore our souls completely in those posts, and I think they both helped us establish a very strong relationship with our readers.
- The post "Witness to a Protest" was written after seeing a tragic protest by garment workers unfold right in front of our hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I put a lot of effort into researching the issues surrounding the protests, and I hope I shed a light on how we need to be more conscious consumers.
"A Turkish Experience" is one of our favourite posts, if only because it is one of our favourite memories from traveling.
"The Love Tap", set in Turkey, looks at how we worked around the fact that PDA should be avoided entirely. We came up with our own system to show affection. 🙂
From all the things you do in order to make money while traveling, what do you enjoy most?
With our new business (HeckticMedia.com), we are working to connect travel bloggers with destinations and brands and it is incredibly rewarding - largely because we are only taking on projects that will actually pay bloggers for their influence. We also both come from business backgrounds and it is fun to again put those skills to good use.
Could you give some practical tips and habits others can develop to create an online stream in order to travel more?
The key for us was to take skills we already had and adapt them to what we now do - we both had negotiating and project management experience, and now we can take all this great travel blogging knowledge and marry the two. The travel blog itself is not our focus for making money, but it has become a great platform for securing other things.
You're the King and Queen of house sitting, with an ebook to prove it. How many gigs have you had in the past 5 years and where has it taken you?
We've lost count! Let's see...Canada, twice in the US (New York and Wisconsin), Ireland, twice in Turkey, Belgium, Spain, London, Germany, Honduras. I am sure I am missing some, but it is a lot! And soon we will be spending a few weeks house-sitting in Paris which we are really excited for.
If you worked out the length of time you've spent house sitting, how much money do you think you've saved in accommodation?
We must be in the $50,000 range, if you count on an average of $50/night saved.
As a couple living frugally, how often do you cook your own food?
We cook quite often, not really to save money (although that is a nice perk), but because Pete enjoys to cook a lot. And it's always nice to have our own comfort foods, especially when we are in places that don't vary their cuisine much. We do go out to eat at least once every couple of days through, as sampling the food is an important part of understanding the culture.
We've noticed Pete has been trying a range of delicacies as of late. Which dish has been the most 'exotic' so far?
Probably the deep-fried tarantula in Cambodia. Most exotic, and probably most disgusting.
What would be your number one piece of advice for aspiring long term travellers who are just starting out?
Go slow! So much more is learned about a country and its culture by spending more time getting to know it. Too often people just race through to see the sights and meet only the people in their hostel - take the time to get out in the community and travel will become exponentially more rewarding.
Thank you both so much for your time and safe travels!
To find out more about the couple and their journey from one exciting place to the next, visit Dalene and Pete over at hecktictravels.com! And to see where their successful new business venture is taking them, visit heckticmedia.com.
Recommended reading: To learn more about house-sitting and how you can stay around the world for free, we highly recommend reading their ebook, "How to Become a House-sitter and See the World". By the end of it, you'll know all the secrets behind their house-sitting success (14 house-sits in 9 countries, with more on the horizon!) and how to put your new found knowledge into practice. A complete A - Z guide!
Have you sold up for a life of travel and discovery? How do you do it? We'd love to hear your stories in the comments section below 🙂 Alternatively, come say hey on Facebook!