Starting Year Four Of Nomadic Life – Reflections On 2020 And The Future

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

Lessons awaiting me in the new year.

I find it hard to believe I’ve been a full-time nomad for three years. I spent ten years viscerally craving this and unable to overcome my excuses, and years before that, wondering what else I could do with my life. Here I am, now, living it, and still loving it.

After almost nine months in my beloved Kerikeri, I’m back to my nomadic life, albeit, only in New Zealand. I was so excited to have an article published in Stuff, one of New Zealand’s national publications, about my experience, so far, in this country. As I’ve traveled, it’s been fun meeting people and learning they read the article! And, New Zealand really is a small country – a guy on one of my buses ended up staying at the same hostel as me in Taupo. We left on different days, but I saw him again when I took a bus to Bulls. At that same hostel, I met a French guy I knew from Kerikeri! I won’t be surprised to see the same people over and over again until it feels like everyone in the country is a friend or aquaintance.

Standing near my temporary home in Kerikeri, New Zealand.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020

2020 was, as we know, a strange [insert adjective of your choice] year. I flew to New Zealand ten months ago, thinking I would avoid “that China virus” by skipping out re-visiting Asia. Several weeks in, when I was ready to fly to another country, I was faced with the choice of running back to New York or staying in New Zealand, indefinitely. At that point, I thought “indefinite” meant 3 or 4 months. Looking at what my country has been through, and how Covid has taken its toll, I’m so glad I decided to stay in New Zealand.

One of my favorite parts of full-time travel is how each year carries a theme for me, and early January is the time I reflect on it. This year is no exception. Reflecting on my choice, and on my year of life in New Zealand, I step into year four realizing the themes that will dominate 2021 for me – loving and accepting my decisions. I’m learning to make decisions by feel, rather than head-y logic. When I go into a decision with a debate, or try to make a decision that pleases other people, I have often ended up regretting the outcome of those decisions. More recently, I’ve seen the power of making decisions by feeling and intuition; it’s how I decided to stay in New Zealand, ultimately, and how I made a recent decision between two great options and felt wonderful trusting my heart and choosing the one I knew less about. (More about this in an upcoming video…)

“Deciding by feel instead of logic.”

This week, I did a house-sit in Christchurch (PS – housesitting is a fabulous way to save money in New Zealand) and got to look after the wonderful Frank. He’s a very loving dog and craves attention and time spent with him. Whenever I left the house to go out on my own, I received the most horrible puppy-dog eyes and depressed walking I have ever seen. I almost caved on the rules for him a few times but held my ground. I realized he was the perfect teacher for me. If I could resist those puppy dog eyes, I’m going to do just fine standing my ground when others give me their version of puppy dog eyes. Thank you, Frank!


Frank and his puppy dog eyes.

Entering year four, I’m happy that my desire to remain a full-time nomad is still with me, and also aware that I may start spending longer periods of time in one country even when I start traveling again. At least, at some point in the near future. I’m very aware of how lucky I’ve been to choose New Zealand (and it, me) at this time in the world. Jacinda put her people first, and that decision resulted in keeping the virus very well contained. That means that we can safely travel in the country, and that mandatory mask wearing is limited to bigger cities, like Auckland, and only in public areas like buses. Because the virus has been so well managed, we can feel good about carrying on as normal and not infecting other people. I am so grateful for that.

As I recommence my nomadic life, I’m finding my rhythm again, making changes to my plans when I realize I want to stay longer, and having fun. I decided to start sharing the fun with all of you in my new YouTube series – “Travel Adventures With Heather.” The first episode is below! Please subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss out on future videos (there are 13 already!) and, hey, I need more followers so I can change the name of my channel! 😮 So, I’d appreciate if you could follow me.

While I have greatly missed skipping off to the other international destinations I had planned last year, travel became inward again. I found refuge in friendships and discovery and learned that even when you think you know “everything about a place,” there’s still more to discover. The same is true about yourself. Travel is a most wonderful teacher, even when that travel is close to home, or in the same country. (Though, of course, I can’t wait to get back out there again, like you, and see more of this earth!)

As 2021 begins, I’m so happy I’ve learned to go with the flow and trust my intuition. I’m looking forward to new adventures and creating new possibilities and sharing them with you.

Most of what’s keeping you from what you want – full-time travel, a new business idea, a radical career shift – are your excuses. After one session with Heather, you’ll understand which excuses are holding you back the most, how to get them out of the way, and you’ll leave with an action plan that helps you set the foundation to pivot into the life you want.

You know you don’t like your job, but you can’t figure out how to survive without it. Designed for frustrated professionals the program focuses on teaching you the key steps to shifting your work and money mindsets, and giving you the money and work strategies to pursue, leaving you empowered to quit with confidence and see that it really is possible to live happily without a stable job.

Whether traveling full time was your dream before the pandemic, or after, this session will help you understand how to prepare, what you need to know, and how to get your finances in order to make it happen. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the “How To Afford The Travel Life” eBook. You’ll also get an understanding of both what’s great about full-time travel and some of the challenges. You can also discuss planning help, and how to get the most out of your experience.

It’s always been essential to understand your money, but if you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic, now it’s even more important that you create financial empowerment. In this session, Heather will work with you to first understand your gaps in managing your money, then she’ll help you with the framework on how to ensure you can afford the life you dream of. You’ll get tips to save and budget, and also discuss ways to earn money that will shift you out of feeling like a victim of the times, to seeing the opportunities in front of you to begin making money in a different way.

You want to quit and travel full time, but when can you go? This eBook gives you all the formulas you need to calculate when you can quit and afford the travel lifestyle you want, in under and hour.

Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve all had a chance to ask the question, “what now?” If you’ve decided it’s time to quit your 9-to-5 to travel full time (or take it with you while you live nomadically), this program will help you address the core mindset, money, and planning gaps you have. This is the program that will help you acknowledge and overcome your fears about what’s next, figure out how to afford and sustain your travels, and feel confident about planning your adventure. Book your free session to see if you’re a fit!

You’re finally serious about traveling full time, but you cannot figure out how you’ll afford it. Or, you’re just curious whether it’s really even possible to afford the lifestyle. Bootcamp is for you! We’ll go dive deep into savings strategies before you go, how to save on the road, and how to sustain your travels, as well as look at lots of work opportunities if you want to work while you travel! Includes a 3-day build your budget challenge to get you thinking about how to replace dreams with real logical steps to make it happen.

You’ve dreamed about traveling full time for as long as you can remember, and now you’ve learned that it’s a little more challenging than you thought. Get help getting through the initial shock and changes when you realize you’re not on vacation. Learn how to manage those experiences where you meet parts of yourself long forgotten, and create a plan to help you have the best experience with your journey.

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

If you need some tips on getting started, traveling safe, and saving money while traveling full time, go here! 

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.

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









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.

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.

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.

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.