Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Ywe Travel Podcast. Today we want to talk about something that is a dream for a lot of people and that it’s full-time travel, so you’re being a full-time traveler [00:01:00] and exploring the world. A lot of people. Try to do this. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s absolutely possible.
And today I have Heather Markel with me. She is a full-time traveler and she’s also a business coach. Showing people on how they can become full-time travelers. So that will be an interesting chat. quit her 25 year corporate career in 2017. Expecting to take a three to six months career break to travel the world.
Instead, she found her calling and almost six years later, she has been to 33 countries on six continents, including , being marooned in New Zealand. Two years during the pandemic that happened to the best two of us . She’s now a bestselling author and TA speaker. Heather helps our clients, I said, transition to a full-time travel lifestyle by teaching them mindset, money mastery skills.
They need to ditch their destiny and discover their destiny through full-time travel. So let’s dive right into it. Hi Heather. How are you today? I’m
Heather Markel: great, thank you. How are you? I’m
Claus Lauter: very well. Thank you. Full-time travel. As said, I dream for a lot of people. , it is achievable. , I, myself, I’m a slow mat.
I’m traveling , for many, many years now around the [00:02:00] world. It’s not the easiest lifestyle, to be honest. It has advantages and disadvantage, and , that’s what we want to talk about today. You ditched your corporate career with the plan to do a gap year or something, and it didn’t work out.
Tell me a little about
Heather Markel: this, it took me years to have the courage to actually just like quit. I was hoping to be laid off actually, like for someone else to just make it happen. And I finally just decided, , there has to be more to life than rotting up my desk waiting for retirement to enjoy myself.
And when I quit, I honestly thought it was a career break. , and I was just gonna travel the world for a few months, which is something I love doing. And then I was gonna come back to real life and get another job. And then when I came back after the six month mark, I was like, I’m having so much fun, and it’s a lot less expensive than I thought so, why am I going back to real life?
And that’s when I just, looked at the price of that. I was paying monthly for an apartment in New York and now I could equate it in travel language and I was like, wow, that could get me like eons more travel. So gave up my apartment, [00:03:00] put things in storage. Actually, at the time I thought I was going for one more year, but I’m about to start year.
Claus Lauter: .
Yeah, I can completely relate to that. Now, maybe let’s start with mindset. You said there was a shift in your mindset and looking at the numbers and then traveling can be cheaper or most likely it is cheaper than staying, at the place. Yeah. Gimme a bit of idea. What was the process , in the change of your mind there?
Heather Markel: Well, in order to have a full-time travel lifestyle, it’s very different than vacation. , I know a lot of people think they can’t afford to travel full-time because all you have is a reference point is vacation where you’re spending buckets of money. , but that’s because it’s a short-term experience.
You’re racing to see all the expensive sites, eat at the best restaurants, get the best souvenirs, but when you’re just traveling, , you don’t need half of that stuff. Like you said, the slow mat experience. You just get to see everything. take your time. And suddenly I was very aware that, I’m booking places to stay or sometimes staying with friends when I’m lucky and I get to choose the price [00:04:00] point.
And I know that sounds silly, but when I was in corporate, of course I went free of 250 bucks a night was no sweat. But now, wanting to travel longer, I don’t know, it just happened that I was like, well, if I spend $250 a. That’s gonna limit how long I can travel.
But if I spent $50 a night or even $20 a night, oh. And then I started looking at things and I was like, oh, I could buy this really nice dress for, $75, but $75. Now I know it could get me three nights accommodation and a week’s food, , and it just built like that and just became practice.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Now when it comes to change in lifestyle, obviously you possibly got rid of a lot of things that you have accumulated during your life.
Heather Markel: , I got rid of some stuff not enough because like I said, I thought I was going for a year and coming back. So in fact I just recently went and cleared a whole bunch of stuff out of my storage unit so that I could start, cause I don’t need it.
So I wanna downsize and, pay less money. ,
Claus Lauter: let’s [00:05:00] talk about money. Is that living in New York City, obviously one of the more expensive city on the planet, but , going to other places, how do you do your monthly budget to be a full-time traveler and on what do you spend your money on?
Heather Markel: What I spend my money on, , the highest costs typically are accommodation in food.
, so I try to lower those costs. So that could mean house sitting is great, it’s a free way to stay, look after someone’s pets. I love the companionship. However, , using something like trusted house sitters, which is great. Isn’t so great. Like, I’m going to Malaysia. There’s nothing, they don’t have anything in Malaysia.
When I was marooned in New Zealand for two years, I found Kiwi House sitters and they had a lot more listings than trusted house sitters. But the thing about Malaysia is that it’s already lower cost of living. So one way to travel is to find places that don’t cost a lot as a strategy.
, and food. I try where I can, where it’s plausible to do $5 [00:06:00] a meal. , even Malaysia might be even less, right? So, I operate with a per diem budget. So I basically track every expense you talked about, inconveniences of travel, full-time travel. I calculate everything.
And then if I have extended over my daily budget, then the next day or week, somewhere in there, I’m gonna have to spend less to make it, to make that match. Okay.
Claus Lauter: Now being on the road. You learn a lot of skills that other people potentially, specifically if you’re a tourist and you or holiday maker, then you buy a package and everything is being taken care of.
Yeah. As a full-time traveler on your own, you need to figure out a lot of things on your own, and I think you also become a bit more street wise than a normal holiday maker on what’s happening. So what are for you, the skills that you value the most, or where you think you have learned the most?
Heather Markel: Well, one big thing is intuition.
This lifestyle just goes hand in hand with. Really honing in on what intuition means for you, whether it’s a feeling in your body, a voice in your [00:07:00] head, whatever that is, and learning to trust it, period. , it’s the only, one or two times I’ve had a almost bad experience was because my intuition was speaking and I doubted it.
So that’s number one. , number two, as a, female solo traveler, , Do not go out and drink by myself unless I’m somewhere where, I just feel absolutely safe. , maybe I’ve lived there for a while, , but otherwise, I meet another woman who’s awesome, maybe will go out and have one drink.
I try to limit drinking, and also if I’m out at night, , I’m not gonna walk home alone. I’ll probably take a taxi to home at night, or just not be out at night by myself. . And then, like I said, just trusting. I always ask, , wherever I’m staying, is it safe for me to walk home at night alone?
Anyway. Also, are there any areas near here that I should be aware of, like, that are dangerous? , and whatever they tell me. I know you’re in, like, when I was living in Cape Town, , I said I wanna walk to, the green market square? And I wanted to walk , [00:08:00] to the waterfront and I said, could you tell me the directions to get to the waterfront?
And they. No ma’am, you take a taxi. And I’m like, no, but it looks like it’s really close. No, ma’am. You call an Uber and , I was just shocked until one day I walked like three blocks away and I immediately noticed like people were looking at me like sussing me up and I’m like, oh, got it. . So, really listen to what people tell you.
Claus Lauter: Okay. No, that’s a very good tip. , I can agree to that one. Now , with traveling, , sometimes can be quite lonely, specifically if you arrive in a new place. , how do you deal
Heather Markel: with that? It’s funny cuz um, going into year six of solo travel, I am more and more aware, like, oh, I’d really like to have , a partner to travel with.
, but what I do typically is I try to reach out on. Different in-country Facebook groups, maybe make a relationship with someone. I used to be a big apple greeter in New York City, and they have a greeter network worldwide. Argentina, Guo is a place where I actually [00:09:00] reached out and got a greeter, , who took me around for the day.
So I felt like, , I’ve met someone, I actually have my own Facebook group with over 5,000 people. So now I can actually in the group say I’m gonna be here, and if anyone’s around, let’s meet up. And then when I get to a place, I find, day tours are a great way, even free walking tours are my favorite resource to just go and learn about the city.
And I usually make a friend. There’s usually someone that’s solo, there’s still like someone cool in the group usually. So, , by the end of it, I have someone to go have lunch with, or grab a meal with, or explore something with the next day. And then I’m very outgoing, so I guess somehow I end up just having conversations with people that I meet here and there.
That usually , ends up, , it might only be a moment, but even if I have, A meal with someone or get together for an afternoon, it feels like I’m less alone. And I remember that the only time I’m really alone is in my, whatever room I’m staying in. That’s the only place. So when I’m out of the room, I’m aware that [00:10:00] there’s people everywhere and , I don’t have to be by myself every.
Claus Lauter: Makes total sense. And with the free walking tours, you actually gave a gold nugget away. , that’s definitely a secret tip. Works very, very well. . Obviously on your travels you have met a lot of other travelers, digital nomads or whatever they call them, expats and so on so forth. Main question you probably will get is , how do you finance this whole thing?
Heather Markel: That is the biggest question. . , my work with people is all around this because I remember being so disempowered for so long thinking I couldn’t afford this. And for me, what it comes down to is, , making the right budget. And I do believe anyone can travel on any budget clearly.
If you have a smaller budget, your lifestyle’s not gonna be as nice as someone with a larger budget, but you can do it. , when I was in Argentina, I actually met someone and we traveled together for a month and we stayed in. not very great youth hostels. We did all our own cooking.
, I paid that month, 300 US dollars. , and that was split, so it would’ve been [00:11:00] 600 US dollars total for both of us. So, , staying somewhere inexpensive, staying in a youth hostel. how cheap you can travel. If you need to go to the Ritz Carlton. Travel first class and do all that, then realistically you need $10,000 or more per month.
So it really comes down to how do you afford it, is you figure out, the lifestyle that you want when you travel. , it’s playing the numbers. If this is my budget, where can I travel in this style? Or there’s nowhere, cuz , I wanna live in the Ritz Carlton, but I see I don’t have $10,000 a month.
That isn’t gonna happen. would I be willing to bring my lifestyle down a notch? And then playing with how can I make. , the lifestyle work in a slightly different way. So I do think it’s really important to, , do your research. , and then now of course, that after the pandemic, people are trying to make their money back.
So I think costs are coming up a bit. I have a lot of airline miles. I also have hotel points. So another strategy is state for free. , , use your credit card, [00:12:00] get more points that land, more travel. So like I’m coming back, , I just booked a trip. I’m going to Asia now when I come back from, , , Korea, I booked , a ticket with Miles and I got, and I paid 15 bucks intra Asia.
I can travel for about $7 with my miles. , it’s a great question. And the answer is we could this, we could talk another hour about all the different strategies cuz there’s just so.
Claus Lauter: in the beginning I said a lot of people are sort of envy this lifestyle, but there’s other people who do totally do not get it.
They say, why do you do this? Tell me a little bit about the advantages of traveling full-time.
Heather Markel: The first year of travel, I used to get a lot of comments from people like, oh, it might must be nice that some people , can do this.
And I was. Well, you could, and once I explain like, yeah, I gave up my home, I gave up a lot of stuff. Then it becomes, oh, oh gosh, I couldn’t do that. There’s so many advantages. I just taught me so much about me. I didn’t expect that. I thought I was just gonna go see the world and be like, wow, these are cool places.
But no, , you will inevitably,[00:13:00] Something go wrong. Find somewhere where nobody speaks your language and have to figure out what to do. , have to find , where’s the bus station? How do I get there? Oh my God. In Thailand, I had to find some, not just the bus station where nobody speaks English, but which bus takes me to this tiny town?
When you do it, it’s like, oh my God, I did. I didn’t realize that I’m pretty cool. . I’m okay. You learn how resourceful you are, , and. You tap into your creativity because you just have to think differently. And in the process, I have mostly met the most wonderful people around the world and found that when I’m really stuck, someone shows up and helps somehow.
I think it’s karmic. Like I try myself to help people that I see, that are stuck or whenever someone’s, in a place. I know with a map, I’m just like, do you need help? Like, let me, help you get somewhere. , and nowadays, of course it might not be a paper map, it might be they’re staring at their phone, but , and the other advantage [00:14:00] is like you pointed to before, the slow travel.
I don’t have to be on a schedule to see everything in a finite amount of time. I can just be and exist, and if I love a place, I can come back every day and see it again, or I can just sit in a cafe and actually not worry about making a tour and running everywhere. It’s crazy just getting a perspective of what real life really is in other places and there’s so much bad news, so to be able to go to a place and see like,
there’s governments of a place and then there’s people of a place I didn’t realize. They’re so different. At the end of the line , we’re all just people existing on the planet and we may exist slightly different, and you may do things in a much more interesting and smart way than I do, so great.
Thanks for passing on that knowledge so I can take it forward.
Claus Lauter: I couldn’t have said it better. Now you’re helping people getting on the path to become a full-time traveler. How do you do this? [00:15:00] What’s the process?
Heather Markel: What I do is I try to meet clients where they’re at. I have a, three month coaching program, which is the full program, Where I address those components of mindset, money, and mastery. So it’s about helping people address the anxieties. Like, what’ll happen to me? What about my retirement? Can I really do this? , and then we move into money, right? Because like you just said, the biggest question is how on earth do I afford this?
So, , I go with my client and I’m like, what do you want? What do you got? Let’s put this together and make a realistic travel budget. And then the last piece is the mastery, which is the logistics. All the stuff you gotta do before you leave, like, what about your home storage, vaccinations, taxes, all that stuff.
So I really just help them ultimately fully prepare for the journey. , I have coaching and I also offer, , programs if they wanna self-study. So, I just meet them where they’re at and give them the information that they need at that moment.
Claus Lauter: Sounds great. Where can people find out more about you?
Heather Markel: , my website is, , full-time travel coach.com. , and if you go to, , from desk to [00:16:00] destiny.com, you can set up a free call with me and, , we can chat about where you’re at and what you need. .
Claus Lauter: Sounds great, Heather. I think as you said, we couldn’t talk for hours about it. Unfortunately we don’t have the time about it.
, thank you for giving a brief overview of the advantages of being a full-time traveler. , I’m biased, I’m a full-time traveler myself, but whoever wants to look into that, we should get in contact with you and see if there is a path for them to start the journey as well. Thanks so much.
Heather Markel: Thanks for having me, and I know I love talking to other travelers.
You get it, like you said, and it’s such a wonderful journey. So thanks for having me. Thank you.
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