Here at Nomador, we love it when people make the decision to live their dreams. It isn’t always easy – but the rewards can be endless!
For Pete and Dalene Heck (and all of us in the Nomador community!) the dream is travel. And while most people take baby steps towards their dreams, Pete and Dalene decided to throw caution to the wind: they sold all their belongings and bought a one-way ticket to South America. With no particular plans other than to enjoy the experience, they set off into the unknown.
After a year of travel, they discovered house-sitting, and their lives were transformed once again. Suddenly, their lifestyle was no longer confined to that of a backpacker: they could live in a comfortable home, and save money at the same time.
Pete and Dalene began chronicling their experiences on their website, Hecktic Travels, and have also published an ebook on house-sitting. This year, they were even nominated for National Geographic’s Traveller of the Year awards! So, we thought there could be no one better to go to for inspiration and advice on living the dream. How does one become a full-time traveller, and use house-sitting to help them get there? Read on to find out – and we dare you not to be inspired. ;)
When you first made the choice to pack up and become full-time travellers, what were you most excited for? And, what was the most daunting prospect?
I think we were most excited by the challenge of the unknown. Having been living the usual routine of wake-work-sleep for a decade, we were eager to do something so new. At that point, we knew nothing of the community of nomads that exists in the world – as far as we knew, we were the only ones who had ever done such a thing! It was exciting but also pretty scary.
The most daunting prospect was also that same challenge. We had quit our jobs, sold all of our belongings, and bought a one-way ticket to South America. We had no idea how long our money would last, what our ultimate plan was, or whether we would even enjoy the change in lifestyle! It set us off on an emotional roller coaster, especially leading up to the first plane ride when some of our family and friends were writing us off as crazy. But, once we got on that plane, it felt like a massive weight had lifted. We couldn’t stop smiling – we knew then that we had made the absolute right choice for ourselves.
How do you feel that travel and your lifestyle now have helped to work through your own personal tragedies?
One of the biggest lessons of losing loved ones is coming to face one of the most obvious clichés: that life is far too short. When Pete and I both lost family members within a few months of each other (and had all kinds of other stuff happen in that short time frame), that reality smacked us both in the face. Hard. We were reeling for many months, and it was in the year that followed where we really starting asking what to do with our short lives. Were we happy? What did we want for ourselves?
"We really starting asking what to do with our short lives. Were we happy? What did we want for ourselves? Travel was the answer."
Travel was the answer. We had talked about extended travel many times before but could always find excuses not to do it. Finally, we had run out of excuses. And by now embracing it so fully, we’re filling our short years with the most amazing experiences we could have ever hoped for. We’ve found our purpose! And along the way, we of course have made peace with the difficulties in our lives, because we know that by being so ridiculously happy, we are living the lives that our loved ones had always wanted for us.
Was it difficult to adjust to the lifestyle of travel?
Oh yes, it was quite an adjustment! Especially with regards to our relationship – in our previous lives our best quality time was in the hour commute to and from work - we spent the majority of our time apart. Then we started spending 24/7 together and our traditional roles went by the wayside. We had to rework our relationship so as to support each other better (and also not drive each other nuts). It took the first few months to really find our groove, but our relationship now is so incredibly strong.
The one aspect that has been the biggest surprise to us is in realizing how few material things we actually need to live happily. I used to have a closet full of the latest designs and now I rotate through the same few articles of clothing weekly. And it doesn’t matter. None of that matters now, because having few things has given us so much freedom to pick up and go wherever we choose, whenever!
What is the most rewarding part of the lifestyle? And what do you miss the most about ‘normal’ life in one place?
The reward is the fundamental changes we see in each other. We’re more educated, we live healthier and more thoughtful lives, and going on this grand journey was the best thing we could have ever possibly done for our marriage. We have pure freedom and have built a life that we deeply love! We never could have said those words in our previous lives.
"We have pure freedom and have built a life that we deeply love! We never could have said those words in our previous lives."
I sometimes miss the routine though – being surrounded by a stable group of loving friends and family, having a bed that I know for sure I will get a good sleep in, even having a gym membership. Oh, and our cats! I really miss our cats.
When and how did you discover house-sitting?
We met an older American couple in Ecuador during our first year of travel. They had been house-sitting for 16 years, with plans to do it all the way from Mexico to the south of South America. As you can see, they were taking their time!
After our year in South America we returned home for a family wedding. At that point we were pretty tired of being backpackers, and briefly considered restarting our lives in Canada. But, it didn’t take us long to realize that we really wanted to be back on the road again, but needed to change the way we travel. We knew we wanted to slow down, have richer experiences in other cultures, and house-sitting provided the perfect medium for that. We took our first job in British Columbia – two months to rest up and plan our next steps – and while we were there we were contacted by a couple in Honduras who wanted us to watch their house there. And we’ve been on a roll ever since!
Thanks Pete and Dalene for taking the time to share your experiences, insights and stories! Are you ready to make the dream a reality? Nomador brings the world to your doorstep: start searching for your dream home today!
Stay tuned for more with Pete and Dalene... Part 2
HeckticTravels’ eBook « How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World”, gives all the secrets behind Pete and Dalene house-sitting success. Inside you will find over 60 pages jam-packed with information… including a discount code offering a free subscription to the Confidence Option on Nomador!
Nomador is an international home-sitting platform. The nomador community puts people in touch with home-sitters and home-owners they can trust. It is dedicated to people who need to find a solution to leave with peace of mind by entrusting their house (for family holidays, trips abroad or business travels), and people who travel through the world in exchange for lodging (watching over a home).