TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE

The Questions I’m Asked The Most About Life As A Full Time Nomad 

Heather Markel, Author, Photographer, Speaker, World Traveler

The longer I live as a full-time nomad, the more questions I get from friends and passerby about my life choices. Here are some of the top ones I get asked. 

“What’s your favorite place?”

This is the question I am asked the most, and it’s one of the most difficult to answer because there are so many! Here are my thoughts:

Costa Rica. This is where I started my journey. It’s where I had a deep spiritual encounter and had a total meltdown that almost led me to give up. I turned it around and this became the ultimate incentive for me to continue my journey.

Scotland. This country is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Rolling hills that look like they’re part of a perfect painting, and Highland cows with hair in their face. You can’t get much closer to perfection!

Argentina. At once beautiful and raw, a country diverse in nature. I met some wonderful friends here, fell in love, and became obsessed with yerba mate!

Peru. I almost didn’t go because I was scared of many things I read about it and thought I’d have to do ayahuasca. Instead, it was full of deep healing for me and I loved the food and the people and that I made it through altitude sickness with only herbal remedies!

South Africa. Primitive, beautful and full of animals I’ve never seen, and amazing people and complexities. One of my favorite places in the world with which I experienced a deeply visceral connection.

Namibia. Billions of acres of nothing. I’ve never seen so much land that’s not inhabited, and where animals roam freely. And the sunset is unbelievable.

Enjoying the hanging gardens in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, where my journey began!

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020

“Where do you enjoy photographing the most?”

Landscapes and animals are my favorite subjects. Some of the places that allowed me to capture both were in Patagonia, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert, Machu Pichu, game drives throughout Africa.

“How do you afford all the travel?”

I planned a lot and it took years before I went from dreaming about it to doing it. I learned quickly that traveling is drastically less expensive than a fixed life in New York. I gave up my apartment (so no rent or utility charges!). I lowered my per diem budget, especially in places like Southeast Asia and Argentina where the dollar is strong, and it’s allowed me to extend my travels much longer than I ever thought possible. I also acquired paid work writing travel articles which helps a lot! Finally, I have a lot of air miles which means flights are the least expensive part of my travels. I just paid $26 for my flight to New Zealand! Click here for more tips if you want to figure this out for yourself.

“I’m glad YOU can afford all this travel.”

Usually expressed in a somewhat aloof tone. I can only presume that the people that say this to me are thinking that my life costs more than theirs and that I must be wealthy. Thanks for the assumption! But you don’t need to be wealthy to travel full time. In fact, I’ve found it much more rewarding to travel on a budget because people are so outgoing and fun and I make lots of friends! Note, I’m usually staying in hostels or budget hotels, and sometimes sharing my room with lizards, roaches, and who knows. It’s not luxurious, but it is amazing.

“Which country has the cutest guys?”

Clearly, this is subjective. I’d say South Africa and Argentina, personally! 😉

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020

“What’s the weirdest animal you’ve seen?”

I think it’s a tie between Pumba (warthogs), sloths and wildebeest. Warthogs are hillarious – they’re stout little creatures and bend their tiny front legs to eat or drink because they have no neck! Sloths are just cool – they smile, they’re cute, they’re hairy and I totally want to cuddle them even though they are kind of strange. Wildebeest I found oddly pretty. One of my tour guides said they are the Frankenstein of animals because each body part looks like it’s from a different animal. They still remind me of some strange breed of cow, so I like them.

“How do you decide where to go and how far in advance do you plan?”

I really go by feel. I don’t do a ton of up front research, I decide on a region of the world I want to explore, and pick a first destination and book the first few night’s accomodation. The rest, I figure out via a combination of feel, costs and other people I meet and recommendations I receive.

“You travel by yourself?”

Yes! I meet people everywhere I go, so I don’t feel alone, but my plans, so far, have been solo apart from a few weeks when I met, and traveled with, fellow travelers I met along the way.

“Where are you going next?”

New Zealand is next and then I’ll be working my way west over the course of the year.
The world is truly an amazing place. After two years of travel, I’m looking forward to discovering more this year, so stay tuned for more favorites! 🙂

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