Interview with Dalene and Peter of Hecktic Travels

April 29, 2011 |

Each person’s unique vision of Nomadtopia is a reminder that there is no one way to create the travel-centric life you want, no right or wrong approach, and that many people just like you—or in even more complicated circumstances—have made it happen. This is the first of many interviews with travelers, nomads, expats, and nonconformists I plan to share on the blog to keep us all inspired, and to remind us to dream big!

Dalene and Peter Heck are a Canadian couple who have sold everything and been on the road since 2009. After almost 18 months in Latin America, they are gearing up to explore the other side of the Atlantic, starting with a two-month house-sitting job in Ireland. You can follow their vagabond ways at Hecktic Travels.

1. How would you describe your current lifestyle (Nomadtopia, if you will)? Are you planning to continue as you are, or are any changes in the works?
After spending a good part of a year jetting around South America, we have slowed down our travels and are taking our time in each place. We find this to be the most rewarding as we can really take it all in and dive into the culture. We love getting involved in the community, making new friends and trying to make a difference through volunteer work everywhere we go. We don’t plan on changing our style anytime soon (except for the location). When we are finished our six month house sitting job in Honduras (June), we’ll be heading over to Ireland for another two month job. We’re hoping that Ireland will be our first step in exploring all of Europe in a similar fashion.

2. How long did it take you to get from “here’s a crazy idea” to making it happen? Was there a particular moment when you realized you could make your idea/dream a reality?
The “crazy idea” floated around with us for many years, but for a long time it remained just that—a crazy idea! It all changed in 2007 though, as we each endured some really difficult personal tragedies. It finally dawned on us that maybe the idea to be location independent wasn’t so crazy. We knew it would make us happy, and life is too short not to do what makes you happy, right? So, in December of 2007 we made the decision to really go for it. It took us almost two years to put the plan into action though, as we had a tough time selling our house in the tanking housing market. But, we stuck with it and we’ve never looked back.

3. What is the most unexpectedly useful thing in your current Nomadtopia?
Strangely enough, we think it’s our blog! Not only does it help keep our family and friends abreast of what is going on in our lives (which was the only real purpose at the start), but it has opened up doors for us. House sitting jobs are easier to get (as the home owners can read about what we are really like), and we’ve gotten a couple of odd writing jobs on the side as well. Not to mention all of the amazingly supportive people we have met in the travel blogging community—for the first year we blogged quietly and didn’t get involved, and now we sure wish we had earlier.

4. My better half, Roberto, wants to know: What do you miss most that you didn’t (or couldn’t) bring with you?
Our furbabies!! No question—we really wish we could have brought our two cats along, as we both miss the companionship of pets. We are really looking forward to our next house sitting job in Ireland as we will be caring for their beautiful dog—that is going to be one spoiled puppy!

5. A customer at my last job in the U.S. told me I shouldn’t go to Argentina because “it’s not very safe.” When I asked him what he meant, he said, “well, you know, that Chávez…” What was the craziest advice or comment you heard from people when you told them about your plans?
Peter’s brother Phil gave him the advice to learn how to poke people’s eyes out so that he could defend us in a gang attack that was SURELY going to happen. Phil figured that if you could just poke one guy’s eyes out, then it would scare everyone else off. It’s logically sound advice, but we’re still waiting for the gang attack to put it into practice. 🙂

6. Twitter follower @LeighHaugseth wonders: In your experience, is it easier (lifestyle wise) to focus on one main income stream or several different ones?
Right now, we have a very little income stream (living off of savings!), so it’s real easy. 🙂 But going forward, we will be focusing on a couple of areas, our blog as well as other writing. Our goal is just to “break even” and have enough to eat and put a roof over our heads. Such things as house sitting allows us to also live quite cheaply, and so it really won’t take that much. We have learned that we don’t need riches to be rich, and that we are much happier this way.

7. Riffing off your “Would you rather…” game with Warren and Betsy from Married with Luggage, would you rather spend one month in a place you’ve been to before, or 24 hours somewhere you’ve never been before?
One month in a place we’ve been, for sure. Neither of us feel like we can say we’ve “been” to a place in just 24 hours. Sure—we could run through a destination and get our mug shots in front of the important sights and be out the next day, but just don’t feel like this really counts. We’d prefer a leisurely month at an old favorite—even if we’ve been there before, we would definitely find some aspect left to explore!

Thanks, Dalene and Peter, for sharing your experience. I especially love how you realized you “don’t need riches to be rich.” So true!

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