Dalene and Pete Heck are a Canadian couple who were both working in the oil and gas industry when they left in 2009 to travel to South America.
Their corporate escape plan was first hatched on “a snowy afternoon in December of 2007″ after overcoming a difficult year of personal tragedies and realizing they were tired of the corporate lives they were living.
You can follow Dalene and Peter on:
Their travel blog: hecktictravels.com
1. What were you doing before you started travelling?
We were both gainfully employed and worked very hard in the biggest industry in Alberta, Canada – oil and gas.
Pete, being a Certified Management Accountant, was a Financial Controller at a small services company and I worked in Supply Chain Management for one of the big boys.
But there came a time, after nearly a decade of working very long days and not taking near enough time to enjoy doing what we love (travel), that we finally looked at each other and said: “What is it all for? Do we need the big house and new cars? Why aren’t we enjoying our lives more?
While neither of us will ever say that we hated our jobs, we were unfulfilled, and knew that we wanted to live our lives differently.
2. Were your colleagues and family supportive of your travel plans?
95% of the people in our lives have been nothing but supportive, even at our work.
The remaining 5% believe us to be completely nuts, or just don’t even try to understand, but we are very happy that most continually offer encouragement and follow us along on our adventures. With Pete’s boss, the situation had been a little difficult, as he was also a long time friend!
It took over a year to sell our house and plan our escape. All the while we had to keep it a secret from many people in our joint circle of friends. It was a big relief to finally spill the beans, and our decision to quit and travel was received well (albeit as a huge surprise!)
3. Where did you go on your first major trip?
It was over two years ago that we made our first flights as vagabonds from Canada to Bolivia.
From there we spent almost a year backpacking around South America, before returning to Canada for a family wedding. Bolivia and South America were real eye-openers for us, and changed us in so many ways. Sucre, Bolivia will always have a special place in our hearts for this reason and we hope to return there someday.
4. What happened when you came back from your first trip? What made you go travelling the second time?
We were tired after our year of constantly moving (except for a few months where we sat still and volunteered along the way), and I half expected that once we returned to Canada, we would want to settle.
It didn’t take us long to realize that it just wasn’t going to be possible. Even the thought of sitting in one place and resuming the kind of life we had before made us both quite anxious. We lucked into a beautiful housesitting job in British Columbia after the family wedding, and used those two months to rest and figure out what to do next.
Now, we haven’t looked back, and neither of us have even the slightest desire to settle down.
5. How are you funding your travels?
We were good savers during our corporate days, and also made a nice chunk of change when we sold our house.
For now, that is the primary source of our income, but we do have ideas in the works to start some “mobile” income streams. In the new year we plan to slow our travels down a bit with extended housesitting jobs in order to focus on getting those ideas off the ground.
6. Your top 5 tips for others who want to continue travelling past their “initial” trip?
1. Housesit. As far as we are concerned, housesitting is the best way to travel long-term. It gives us rent free accommodations, the ability to sit still in one place for various lengths of time, and the chance to continuously explore new places (side note: see Housesitting 101 and Housesitting 201 on how get started.)
2. Use your current skills. Start thinking early about how you can use your existing skill set to make money on the road. Whether it be via an internet based business or finding local work, when you can get your travel costs down low, it doesn’t take much to make your travels sustainable.
3. Get rid of everything. Don’t regret keeping some things in storage that you clearly aren’t going to need for sometime (wish someone would have told us that!)
4. Set up a blog! Whether you poise it for mass consumption or just use it to update family and friends back home, it can be a valuable resource and is very worth the effort.
5. Set new traditions. When you do make it home to visit, convince your family to adopt the long-term traveler holiday of “ThanksChrEaster” (that’s the combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter into one) so that you don’t sustain turkey withdrawal for too long!
Any other thoughts?
To anyone considering traveling long term or taking a career break – JUST DO IT.
There are always a million reasons not to do it, but you will likely live with a million regrets if you don’t. We each have but one short go around on this earth, and our time should be spent doing what we love!
>> How did your long-term travel adventure plan get hatched? Would you ever leave it all behind and to travel around the world?
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