This series aims to build community – yeah, we swap a few tweets and likes here and there, too, but we want to get to know the people who are sharing all this information, the people who are really doing it – those I deem the experts.
Dalene and Pete Heck of Hecktic Travels are the experts on house-sitting. They didn’t set out to be these people – their tagline, “No possessions, no plans, just travel,” opened a unique pathway for them. 3 years ago, the couple left their home and jobs in Alberta, Canada, to spend a few months volunteering in South America. They returned to Canada, and were surprised to share the mutual understanding that their trip was not over. They landed a 6-month house-sitting job in Honduras, and haven’t looked back.
What you’ll find on their blog: Gorgeous photos, tips on house-sitting, a font that’s easy on the eyes (love this, guys) and good, quick reads about new destinations.
Sushi or pork roast? Pete – Sushi, Dalene – Pork Roast
Coffee or Red Bull? Coffee
Wine or beer? That’s like choosing between our favorite fur-children. Pass.
Suitcase or backpack? Backpack
Night train or night bus? Never taken a night train! But our guess is that we’d prefer it.
Sleeping bag or bedding? Bedding. Clean, preferably.
Window or aisle? Aisle, both of us. There might have been a spat or two over this.
Diarrhea or constipation? Constipation (thinking about that night train or bus)
Malarone or malaria? Malaria
Hops or grass? Hops
tw: What would you like most to communicate through your blog, and why share your perspective?
HT: “We blog for completely selfish reasons. We like to travel, we like to tell stories, and we like to take pictures. We have no ambition to be the number one blog, nor do we vainly believe we are some grand inspiration. We just love what we do, and the interaction we get with like-minded souls.”
Once you actually quit your job and bought your first plane ticket, what did you feel?
“The few months leading up to our departure, we were both complete wrecks. We were thrilled but terrified, excited but completely skeptical of our decision. There were many times when we questioned our own sanity as we rode the complete emotional roller coaster. But once we got on our first plane, all those feelings immediately melted away. We knew we had done the absolute right thing for us.”
How long did it take you to realize this house-sitting gig was going to work long-term, and when did you decide to embrace the wandering lifestyle?
“After touring South America for a year, we arrived back in Canada quite weary and tired, but knowing that we didn’t want to settle down into our old lifestyle. That’s when we secured our first house-sitting gig, and everything clicked. We knew then that we could make our travels sustainable, and really do what we love – constantly immerse ourselves in different cultures, yet not get burnt out from it.”
Why is traveling so important to you and how would you define ‘real travel?’
“Travel is pure education. I need to see to believe – I could never be satisfied with just watching something on TV or reading about a place in a book. I need to get out there and absorb it with all my senses, and make my own decisions on the state of the world. Now that we’ve started, I don’t know if I can stop.
“‘Real travel’ is just that – an education. It doesn’t have to mean traipsing off to remote corners of the world (although, that sure is a good way to do it)! It can be done in your own backyard, or in your city at a cultural festival. The point is making the effort to learn more about the world around you.
Do you plan to travel indefinitely? Do you ever get paid or have to pay for house-sitting?
“Our current plan is to keep going – we have no end in sight. We’ve just signed onto another house-sitting gig to keep us busy through January, and then – who knows! We work very hard on our blog while on the road, and have done a lot of volunteering as well. We have never been paid for house-sitting, we believe that it is a fair exchange of services and will never ask for anything more.”
Do you have a story to share about plans gone awry?
“Is there anything that you dislike about staying in others’ homes? Every job has some sort of quirk to it – a few houses have had no coffee makers (the nerve!), one had no shower. Each requires a bit of an adjustment to how we would normally do things, but we’re generally pretty flexible and make do. As long as they have good internet and it’s decently clean, we’re happy.”
What was the strangest food you’ve ever eaten, and what was the best?
“Pete is the weird-food-tester out of this duo (I prefer the job of drink-tester), and he has had both fried guinea pig (in Peru) and stewed iguana (in Honduras). The best food we’ve eaten is a tough choice, but the first one that comes to mind for both of us was an afternoon spent at Trattoria Annamaria in Bologna, Italy. Best. Pasta. Ever. ”
What is your favorite place in your home country or city?
“The interior of British Columbia has mountain scenery that would rival any we’ve seen in the world. We LOVE it there, and if there ever comes a time when we would have to move back to Canada, we would bee-line it to BC.”
Do you have favorite travel blogs that you read regularly?
“We have many in our reader but are always instantly drawn to just a few: Wandering Earl, Escape Artistes, Inside the Travel Lab and So Many Places.”
Mountains, beach or city? Mountains
Couch-surfing or guesthouse? Guesthouse
Cockroaches or rats? Oh gawd, neither. Las cucarachas, I guess.
Skiing or surfing? Pete – skiing. Dalene – surfing.
iPhone or Android? Neither! We are phone-less!
Travel tool you find most useful: Camera
Postcard or emails? Too lazy for postcards. Emails.
How do you inform yourself about your next destination, and how do you prepare for the trip?
“We do neither. We typically enter each new country having done very little research, preferring to get recommendations from locals. As well, I like to wander around the world in a constant state of being pleasantly surprised by anything I see or do. If I’ve read too much about a place, I’d be worried that my view may be spoiled by other opinions.”
The best breakfast in the world is… Eggs Benedict. With Canadian bacon, of course.
What is on your bucket list and where you will your next trip take you?
“We’ve been to 29 countries together, that leaves over 160 left on our bucket list! Our next house-sitting job will see us settling into rural Wisconsin for almost three months. We are big suckers for log cabins – this one is on a lake with kayaks, snow shoes and a cuddly cat – we are SO excited. After that – who knows? We do live by our ‘no plans’ tagline pretty closely.”
If you could recommend three places our readers must visit in their lifetimes:
“Turkey (for the most amazing, hospitable and generous people on earth), Italy (for the foooooood) and Argentina (for a big country full of diverse sights as well as the best steak in the world).”