This Couple Quit Their Cushy Corporate Jobs Five Years Ago To Travel The World

Five years ago, Dalene and Peter Heck were toiling in cushy, lucrative corporate jobs in Alberta, Canada. Life was good, if monotonous. Then came a deluge of personal trials, family illnesses, and tragic accidents.

The Hecks had a realisation: Life is short and you have to make the most of it.

The two made the radical decision to quit their jobs, sell their possessions, and embark on a life of travel.

They booked a flight to South America with no real plan, except that they would start by using their savings to fund their travels. They had no idea how or if they would be able to make their hoped-for life of 24/7 travel sustainable.

Five years later, they have taught English in Turkey, lived near a volcano in Ecuador, kayaked in Scandinavia, and nearly been swept off a mountain in Peru.

They started a blog along the way, Hecktic Travels, which is bursting with gorgeous photos of the many places they have been and fun anecdotes from their tribulations on the road. While they initially thought travel blogging might be a way to fund their adventures, they quickly it to be time-consuming and poorly paid.

So they started Hektic Media, which connects travel brands with travel bloggers. The new enterprise has been a far more lucrative endeavour.

“Travel blogging is the wild west in many ways. We know a lot of people that do good work and we meet a lot of companies that want to work with them, but they don’t know where to start. We help connect the two and help manage entire campaigns,” explains Dalene Heck.

The couple was recently named the Travellers of the Year by National Geographic.

The Hecks spent their first year travelling all over South America and making the classic first-time traveller mistake of trying to do too much, too fast. After the year, they were exhausted. They were offered a job house-sitting in British Columbia for a few months. They accepted the gig.

Slovenia Kanal

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hektic Travels
Kanal, Slovenia

The house-sitting turned out to be perfect for them, giving them the chance to fully experience a place, recharge their batteries, and travel slow. Ever since, they have picked their destinations based on where they get house-sitting gigs, including Ireland and Turkey. This is Connemara, Ireland.

Lough Shindilla Connemara

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media
Connemara, Ireland

One of their favourite house-sitting trips was for three months in Turkey. They loved it so much that the family they house-sat for offered for them to do it again the next year. They accepted.

Istanbul Trolley

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media
Istanbul, Turkey

While in Turkey, they stayed in Burhaniye, a coastal town in the South. They visited schools where they helped Turkish youth practice their English. Many had never met a native English speaker before.

Hecktic Travels Burhaniye Friends

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media
Burhaniye, Turkey

The Hecks frequently take short trips to visit different areas of the country while house-sitting. In Turkey, they visited Pamukkale, which Dalene called “one of the most unique places” they have ever visited. The city’s name literally means “cotton castles,” named after the many travertines (terraces of white carbonate minerals) that dot the landscape.

Pamukkale Turkey Pete

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media
Pamukkale, Turkey

House-sitting has allowed the couple to spend less money and have a deeper travel experience, becoming embedded in local culture for months at a time. They house-sit about half of the time they travel. When they are not house-sitting, they use AirBnB to book apartments for short periods of time.

Budapest Hungary

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media
Budapest, Hungary

In Greenland, the couple did a nine-day kayaking trip up the eastern coast. Dalene called it “one of the most challenging experiences we’ve had.”

Pete and Dalene Greenland

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media

One of their favourite trips was a week-long tour through Jordan. Dalene described nights spent listening to Bedoiun music, while sitting amongst candles.

Jordan Petra Treasury by Night

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media
Petra, Jordan

The Hecks say that they see no end in sight for their travels. “We are addicted now. We need to wake up and explore new places, meet new people, and try new foods. The thought of ever sitting somewhere scares us a bit,” says Dalene.

Afternoon Park Netherlands

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media

For aspiring travellers, Dalene gave this piece of advice: “Go slow. Most people start out by going to each place for two or three days, but when you go slow, you don’t burn out as quickly and you get a richer experience. You understand a place, rather than just grabbing a selfie and moving on.”

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai Thailand

Dalene And Peter Heck/Hecktic Media
Chiang Mai, Thailand

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