Living A Meaningful Life After Travel – An Interview With A Former Nomad

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

I got to witness Jackie’s journey from almost start, to present!

** This interview was conducted before Covid-19. Clearly, you should not travel until it’s safe. **

One of the things that warms my heart is meeting brave souls out there who, after 40, made a leap of faith, quit their job, and then find their way to a new landing that lights them up. I hope more and more of us midlifers can have the faith to change our present so that we can live inspired futures. It certainly inspires me because I’m one of them! I’ve had the joy of speaking with a lot of midlife nomads in my video series The Inspired Nomads. In this post, I’m thrilled to share with you a story from Jackie Mordue, a friend I made in Thailand in November 2018 who I’ve had the pleasure of staying in touch with, and even meeting up with in Santiago, Chile, since then.

Jackie and I met on a day tour in Chiang Mai. She accompanied me to my birthday dinner, which ended up being a double celebration because her birthday is two weeks before mine! We bonded over being close in age and quitting jobs that didn’t fulfill us. May you be inspired by Jackie’s journey.

All photos of Jackie submitted by her and subject to Copyright.

What work were you doing when you quit?

I was a class teacher, teaching primary age students.

How long did you know you wanted to quit but feel like you couldn’t?

At least five years. (Side note – many of us know for a long time that we want to quit, and should do it, but we buy into the belief that we don’t have enough money, or, worse yet, are too old, to do it.)

How old were you when you finally did quit?

I was 46 when I finished my job.

What made you decide to travel the world after you quit?

It was part of the process of quitting. I knew I needed to leave my job and take a break. I’d been in the same school for 16 years. I love travelling and the prospect of being able to do so for an extended time was exciting. I knew I wouldn’t be leaving the school where I was to straight away take up another teaching job.

What are some of the fears you had when you quit, and how did your parents feel about your decision?

Budgeting. Travelling by myself. A feeling of stepping into the unknown. These were my biggest fears.


As for my parents, my mum was excited- she’s the traveller/ the adventurous one. My dad was worried and concerned with the practical things. Once travelling, the fact that they could talk to and see me on video chat whenever they wanted really helped. Plus they came and joined me in Sydney for three weeks which my dad says was his best holiday ever!

How do you feel you grew/changed as a result of quitting and traveling?

I couldn’t believe (and actually still can’t) that I could navigate myself around the world. I was able to build on my existing skills of independence and self reliance. I set out hoping to be able to combat my worrying and anxiety. Within a few days of independent travel I soon realised that I would never be able to stop worrying but that was actually ok. I just adapted my travel style to suit that. Plus as I went along I found I never worried half as much as I did when full time teaching.

Travelling has given me a quiet inner confidence and a belief in myself.

I’m here gushing – that is so beautiful! The power of self-acceptance and you’re still young enough to put that to great use!

Do you regret quitting?

Never. I don’t regret giving up my job. I don’t regret selling my house. I don’t regret going travelling. Such a good life experience….plus lots more travelling to do!

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about the traveling?

In general, I loved meeting people. Seeing amazing sights and having new experiences also topped the list. On the downside, sometimes the restrictions on being a solo female traveller were hard – particularly going out in the evenings.

When you returned home, did you feel done with travel and ready for work?

No. I’m never going to be done with travelling! So much more of the world to see and experience. Travelling gets under your skin: the more you travel, the more you want to travel.

What’s the job you found after returning home?

So I’ve been home since the end of July and have been feeling unsettled. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to find work. I have perused avenues that weren’t teaching as I felt I didn’t want to go back to full time in the classroom and have that sense of dread that had developed during my career; I couldn’t separate the parts I enjoyed from the parts I dreaded.

I saw the role of travelling teacher on the Falkland Islands advertised. You are not classroom based but in the homes of children on outlying farms. You would be teaching between 1-4 children of mixed ages. It just really excited me.

Wow, that sounds exciting even to me, and I don’t have your teaching experience!

You mentioned having your eye on this opportunity three years ago. Why do you think it worked out now?

I’ve had the experience of travelling and realised that I could be anywhere in the world to work. It’s given me the confidence. Three years ago it probably wouldn’t have even occurred to me to apply for it.

What I love about this is, how many times have any of us seen an opportunity and either thought “nah, not for me” or “I’m afraid if I don’t take this opportunity now I might never have it again”? And yet, when you follow your heart, and do something you love, somehow the universe seems to save that cherished opportunity for you, or it becomes right because you did what you love!

Can you describe the feeling you have about this new work opportunity and why it feels right?

I’m excited mainly and a bit nervous. I feel it is an amazing opportunity. And I feel..possibly….that my passion for teaching…may..have ..returned. (WOW!!) It just feels right. I can’t explain it. There is a lot of excitement, some anxiety and no dread. I went to the interview with the feeling that it was the job for me.

Picture me with shivers of inspiration on that one, amazing! I mean, this is my quest, too. I want that sense of “this is the work for me” – whether that be working for myself or someone else. You just proved, once again, that this is possible for all of us, thank you!

If you step back and think about your life now compared to before you quit how would you summarize your journey?

For me it’s been about breaking out of the cycle of work and anxiety; to step out of my comfort zone and go for it. Its given my the time to slow down since I got back, to try and analyse what I really want. To find a job/ career that I can get excited about again.

Note: In some ways I feel that actually coming back home has been harder than travelling by myself. I’ve felt a lack of purpose, whereas when you are travelling you are experiencing new sights every day and most of the time that is exciting, new and you are learning and being challenged.

Not that travelling always goes to plan!

What are you most proud of about your experience?

Being brave enough to do it.

Anything else you want to share?

Travel. Just do it
Jackie was able to fly over for the job a few months ago. After two weeks quarantine, she was able to begin her job and is enjoying her time in the Falkland Islands. Clearly, when Covid restrictions are done, we will all be traveling again to find our selves, our purpose, and the world. Can’t wait!
If you’re ready to change YOUR life, sign up, above, for a free 3-part video series on how to create and live a more meaningful life.

Learn about Heather and what set her on her world journey. She also explains why this life is not just for Millenials, it’s for anyone that wants to create a life around what they love most in life. 

Listen to an episode of the video interview series that will inspire you to follow your heart. Whether you want to travel full time or have another calling, this series is for you.

See the amazing people I’ve been meeting on my travels and the fun stories that go along with the meetings.

Check out my travel photos from around the world to see the world from wherever you are.

If you’ve been thinking that there’s got to be  more to life than work, or, you’ve lost your job, and wonder whether now is the time to do something you’re more excited about, this quiz will help you. Answer a few questions and get a free guide to help you know the areas you need to work on, followed up with inspirational and helpful tips to put your dreams into action.

Traveling the world full-time may sound glamorous and exhilirating. (In many ways, it is!) But, it’s not full-time fun. Before you decide to go, take this quiz to make sure you’re ready, and, if not, find out how to bridge the gaps.

This fun quiz helps you understand what your travel personality is, and how to make sure you indulge it when planning your next trip to maximize your enjoyment!

This one is pure fun – test your transcontinental travel trivia knowledge. Hit the button below if you dare take the quiz and see your score! 

If you enjoyed the first quiz, see how you do on the second one! More fun, more tricks, Click the button below to test your knowledge!

If you want to see every post I’ve written, starting with the most recent, this is the place to start!

In 2020, I was traveling in New Zealand as the coronavirus pandemic brewed, and, got stuck there. If you want to read about what this time was like and traveling during this time, check out this page.

Many of my blog posts are about things I’ve discovered about myself or about being, while I’ve traveled. If you’d like to focus on posts that only have self-discovery themes, click the button below.

I’ve been traveling the globe solo, and many of my posts share thoughts and resources specifically for other solo travelers. If you’re a fellow solo traveler, or you’re thinking about solo travel, this is a collection you will find of interest.

Sometimes I write posts where I give insider information on certain cities I’ve visited, which may be more along the lines of places to go, how to save money, etc. If that’s your main interest, check out this compilation of posts.

At the heart of international travel is learning about the many different cultures and ways of being around the world. The posts compiled on this page speak, specifically, about the cultural observations I’ve had.

If you’re looking to read blog posts about specific destinations, click the country of your interest below to go to it’s blog page and get country-specific reviews and thoughts.






Costa Rica


New Zealand








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Want more in-depth information about travel? Trying to figure out how to afford full-time travel (or, doing what you want to do, full-time)? Check out these items!

Looking for a photo or a travel-related item to reconnect with the spirit of travel? Check out this page to see some of my photos and where you can find them as prints and various photo-gifts..

Trying to create a more fulfilling life? Want help with planning out how to make your mark in the world? Check out this page to see how Heather can help you!

Ready to start a more fulfilling life but can’t figure out the money part? This eCourse may be your answer! Click here for more details.

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