Dalene Heck and her husband Pete don’t like to stay in one place for very long.
“We’re kind of travel junkies,” she says. “We just have a strong desire to constantly be learning, trying new foods, meeting new people.”
But the couple wasn’t always that way.
In 2009, after a series of personal tragedies, the Hecks decided it was time to see the world. They sold their Okotoks home, bought two one-way tickets to Bolivia and have been on the road since.
Their motto? No possessions. No plans. Just travel.
Five years and 70,000 photos later, the couple has been named one of National Geographic’s Travellers of the Year.
They both say the award is a huge honour, but insist it’s something everyone can do.
“Everyone assumes we won the lottery, or life is a giant vacation but that’s really not the case,” Dalene said. “We’ve found a way such that it’s cheaper for us to travel than it ever was to live a stable life here in Alberta.”
The couple call themselves “digital nomads.” While the digital age has the ability to bring the world closer to home, it helped the Heck’s travel farther.
“This is basically our life, this is how we sustain ourselves,” Dalene said. “This is our most important thing that we carry with us besides our passport. This is how we get by.”
They blog about their travels and have also written an e-book. Their only regret so far, they say, is that they didn’t start their journey sooner.
“We find we have passion and purpose now,” Pete said. “We wake up each day and decide where we want to go and what we want to do. It’s a lot of freedom.”