One Truth About our Travels

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

One statement often startles people when we say it, but it is the absolute truth: it is cheaper for us to travel than to sit still.

Think about this: we have no house thus no mortgage, no vehicle thus no insurance. We have no need to own a table, a bed or even a broom. When we’re house-sitting, we have no rent. During our house-sit in Roatan, Honduras, we spent only $4,000 total in 6 months.

Our lives fit into a combined 200 litres of space and thus we have a very limited wardrobe. We need to update it more frequently (holes wear in quite quickly), but we still don’t spend near the amount we used to when dolling up in our former corporate wardrobes.

Not everyone will enjoy living the way that we do. We’ve traded in our fancy house, wheels, and lifestyle – those things that cost us a lot of money – for grand life experiences. We live with few possessions and fewer commitments, but that in turn has made us happier than we ever thought possible.

People imagine our lives as a never-ending realm of luxury and adventure. They assume we have won a lottery or received a big inheritance. The simple answer is that we haven’t – we keep our costs low and are thus able to enjoy waking up in different places around the globe. It is a lifelong dream to be able to travel so freely, and we’ve found a way to do it.


So what happens then, when an opportunity to live out another lifelong dream conflicts with the one we’re currently living?


Our one month in Ljubljana was a trial of sorts. During our last visit in November, we started a conversation with the curling association about perhaps contributing to the growth of their organization (read all about that visit here).

Those talks continued, and we found ourselves back in Ljubljana to give the city more than a four day tour, to live like a local, and to get a feel for what it would be like to spread out some roots.

One thing is for certain: we like it there. A lot. There are but a few European cities we could imagine ourselves settling down in, and one of them is Ljubljana.

Not only would we be able to pursue another important dream, but we would have an excellent base for which to explore so much of Europe and beyond. Our approach to travel would change somewhat, but we’d also be surrounded by so many previously unexplored locations.

But, there’s the kicker…

That one undeniable truth – it is cheaper for us to be on the move. Settling down in Slovenia would mean an increase in costs. Rent, maybe a vehicle, and definitely a table and broom. Our freedom would also definitely be clipped.

Ideally, we would have income from this venture, as Pete’s curling skills should be compensated like any other. But with the financial crisis in Europe, of which Slovenia is definitely not immune, funds have not been available.

And therein lies the sad/happy outcome.

We will keep on keeping on, largely for budgetary reasons. We will suspend one dream (at least temporarily), and continue to pursue the other.

There are but a few European cities we could imagine ourselves settling down in, and one of them is Ljubljana.

Which, we suppose, isn’t a bad place to be.


50 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • August 24 2012

    I’m constantly explaining to folks that I didn’t win the lottery nor do I have rich parents. It’s just cheaper to be on the go! Now I can point them to this post – you’ve broken it down so well =)
    Angie Away recently posted..Rained Out in the Desert – My Chilly Visit to Wadi Rum

    • August 25 2012

      Thanks Angie – nobody ever believes us too! But when I think about how much we used to spend in comparison to now…oy vey.

  • Couldn’t agree more. We spend about $1,300 a month while traveling. Yes, that includes airfare and trains and buses. Less when we’re traveling in our motorhome in Mexico. Can’t afford to live in Canada anymore.

    • August 25 2012

      We’re back in Canada now for a visit and CAN’T BELIEVE the cost of things. It’s unreal how much the cost of food and stuff has shot up. Definitely couldn’t afford to live here again. (Because we are NOT going back to our corporate lifestyles!)

      • Jane Vice
        April 11 2015

        Canada is SO expensive. This is true…We tell people we save money when we travel in the winter

  • August 24 2012

    I have been thinking about this topic for a long time. It is good to know that what I though was actually true. Housing and transportation are major expenses and without those traveling is definitely cheaper. Now I just need to figure out how to make enough to travel full time.

  • Gillian @OneGiantStep
    August 24 2012

    That’s an interesting dilemma to be in. I know people can’t believe that our year of travel cost us less than living here for a typical year – I think people get so caught up in the things they have that they forget that it all has a cost. We are looking forward to divesting ourselves of the little we have even now and living life cheaper and more nomadically. I’m sorry the curling dream didn’t work, this time. It’s good to have considered everything in the decision though. Cheers.

    • August 25 2012

      Who knows it may still work out in the future, but for now, this is just the way it is. And we’re okay with that. πŸ™‚

  • Brooke vs. the World
    August 24 2012

    I believe this and understand it completely! We are back in Sydney – the land of expensive things – where it’s about to get even more expensive. We’ve had weddings, housewarmings, all that to buy stuff for, and we’ll eventually find a new apartment and have to pay for all that, too. Lame.

    • August 25 2012

      There are perks to being back home, but yeah, it is DEFINITELY so expensive in comparison.

  • Chrystal McKay
    August 24 2012

    I am constantly proving to people that it is cheaper for me to traipse the world than it is to reside in Canada. Especially to every one of my friends with a Starbucks addiction (Their monthly habit is a week of hostel dorms for me!). I am glad you are continuing to travel, and I really hope that in the near future your costs will be able to balance so you can be curling superstars! πŸ™‚

    • August 25 2012

      Thanks Chrystal! Yes, the other option of still traveling isn’t such a bad one, hey? And I don’t think our dream is over just yet…hopefully just delayed!

  • August 24 2012

    I’m sorry to hear that the curling thing isn’t going to work out for you guys right now.

    BUT, the alternative is by no means a bad one! I feel like you guys still have some adventures to have before you settle down anyway. πŸ™‚
    Amanda recently posted..I’m Off to Alaska!

    • August 25 2012

      Yes, it’s hard to be TOO disappointed about it. We HAVE to go do more traveling? Aw, nuts!! πŸ™‚

  • August 25 2012

    I’m still hoping the curling thing works out, but that’s also for selfish reasons – it would be great to live reasonably close to you :). I never thought about travel being cheaper than staying put, but once you explained it, it makes a lot of sense. We’re off to buy more furniture today – something you don’t need if you’re always on the move.

    • August 25 2012

      But we DO enjoy the great furniture of others when we are house-sitting – haha! We both still hope the curling thing works out too, but if it’s not right now, that’s okay too. πŸ™‚

  • August 25 2012

    Not a bad place to be in at all.

    • August 26 2012

      Yeah, it’s hard to be *too* disappointed. πŸ™‚

  • August 25 2012

    It’s amazing how much cheaper travel is than the alternative. I paid less for my whole year roaming Oz by four wheel drive than I did *just* on rent back in the UK. If I had been more static, the cost would have been even lower. It’s all just a question of what we are able to live without. Once you realise you don’t need all the shiny new *things*, and how little you can live off, life becomes very exciting indeed πŸ™‚
    Laurence recently posted..Frittering my life away: a classic French BBQ

    • August 26 2012

      ‘Tis the truth! Now, when I look back at our old life, I can’t BELIEVE the things we used to spend money on. And we’re just so much happier now…

  • August 25 2012

    I definitely believe it is cheaper to travel than to maintain a home. Our electric bill alone was $500 per month when we lived in Arizona. We can travel on that much in Europe for a while.

    I still hope the curling job works out eventually. Would be nice to have you both so close!
    Jennifer recently posted..Barbecue Eastern European Style

    • August 26 2012

      Of course we would still love to pursue that dream of ours as well! I think the timing just isn’t right…

  • flipnomad
    August 25 2012

    my cost is actually almost the same and some times just a litlle bit more… but considering that i move a lot and see and experience a lot of things… i still prefer this way than my old lifestyle back in manila πŸ™‚

    • August 26 2012

      As long as you’re loving the life you’re living, then nothing else matters! πŸ™‚

  • August 26 2012

    This is so true! I was fine financially in the 9 months I was traveling, but the moment I settled back in Boston, the loot started pouring out of my bank account! Fascinating…
    Lillie – @WorldLillie recently posted..Educational Teacher Group Travel Study Tour to Cuba: Sarah

    • August 26 2012

      We are back for a quick visit in Canada, and even though we are staying with (and getting spoiled by) family so far, we are still spending oodles of money everyday on just little things! It’s painful how much it costs now.

  • Trixabelle
    August 25 2012

    This song is now stuck in my head.


  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    August 26 2012

    Well, if I have learned one thing so far in my pursuit to follow my dreams, it has been that generally people have more than one dream! And that means following one specific dream often means letting go or putting on hold other dreams we have for the time being. It is not always easy, and it is not always fund, but such is the reality of those of use with more than one passion in life!

    So glad you guys are enjoying Slovenia so much! You have really inspired me to add it to our Eastern Euro itinerary when we make it there! And hopefully some day in the future you will see your curling dream bear out

    • August 26 2012

      You are bang on Steph, and I hope no one is limited to only one dream! Getting to continue to pursue our first love of travel is of course still an excellent position to be in, I’m glad we have it to “fall back on” – haha!

      Glad you are enjoying our stories from Slovenia and I really hope you do make it there! Love it.

  • August 26 2012

    That’s excellent you guys. I totally agree. Traveling is totally cheaper than living in the US. It’s a shame more people don’t realize this.
    Leif recently posted..The Best Show in NYC

  • August 26 2012

    Dalene and Pete –

    You guys will go with the karmic flow that has gotten you this far to begin with. We will look forward to following your adventures….especially when (if) we settle back down in Cincinnati come December. Having kids really changes things.

    Hope to see you again on the road! Love ~ Annie

  • It also depends on where you are travelling and how you do it. With housesitting and slow travel you can save more money. On my recent Australia PR trip I spent a bloody fortune – even though much of the trip was free!
    Jade Johnston – recently posted..Australia – Katherine Gorge Hiking Opportunities

    • August 28 2012

      That is the truth Jade! Europe definitely chewed up more money for us than Central/South America, which is why living in Slovenia is really not an option for us at this time.

  • August 27 2012

    Such an obvious truth to all of us…yet the hardest to convince people of! Keep on keepin’ on…

    • August 28 2012

      Thanks Lisa! I don’t know how many conversations we’ve had over the years with people about this – and they STILL wouldn’t believe us! πŸ™‚

  • August 28 2012

    I remember chatting with Dalene about this opportunity a few months back. Shame it didn’t work out but you guys are VERY wise to do what you’re doing. “Settling” for a bit is costing us a fortune. Europe is an expensive place to live – obviously we live in the most expensive country, but they are all similar when it comes to taxes and high cost of everyday goods like petrol, rent/mortgage and utilities. We have considered packing it in more times than I want to admit (but sticking with it so far).

    • August 28 2012

      Ouchie, I can’t imagine how painful it must be to settle in Norway! Slovenia would be a walk in the park in comparison, but as of yet, still too pricey for us. We are bummed it isn’t working out right now, but there could still be opportunities in the future. Glad you are still sticking it out there, looking forward to coming to visit you someday. πŸ™‚

  • Ali
    August 28 2012

    Shame the curling thing didn’t work out, but you gotta do what works for you. If continuing to move is what works best, it makes sense to keep traveling. Any ideas where you’re going to end up after your visit to Canada?
    Ali recently posted..What If You Don’t Speak the Language?

    • August 28 2012

      Yup! We have plans for the end of October, a three month house-sit coming up! But we are only revealing the secret location to our newsletter subscribers – MWAH HAHA!! πŸ™‚

  • jan
    August 28 2012

    Love the photo of you guys. I understand that it would be cheaper to travel, especially house-sitting. You have plenty of time to return to Ljubljana in the future. Life is good!

  • August 28 2012

    When one door closes, another… So glad to read the update! I was dying to know what the outcome was.

    I hope that whatever the next few months bring, it’s all very happy. Few people work as hard as the two of you do. You deserve to see all your dreams come true with no compromise. (Or as little as possible.)

  • Andrea
    August 30 2012

    I live in Vancouver, and I know 100% it would be cheaper for me to NOT live here and travel. It’s such a stupidly expensive city to live in, whether you rent or (especially if) you own. I don’t want to live on the road, I like my home base, but it’s hard to travel when your monthly expenses are so high! If
    only I lived in Saskatchewan! (:
    The time might come when you decide you want to own a table and a broom again (LOL!) but until then TRAVEL ON!

  • August 31 2012

    To everything its season, I know my travel desires and style have changed over time. When it comes time to buy that table and (curling) broom, you’ll know. It’s not either or, it’s when…
    Love following your housesitting experiences. Subscribing to newsletter now so I can find out where you’re going in October:P
    Lesley Peterson recently posted..Key West for culture trippers

    • September 1 2012

      Absolutely Lesley. My travel style has already changed a lot in the last few years, and I’m sure I’ve got a ways to go yet.

      Thanks for the newsletter subscription! We try to save a lot of our juicy news for it every month! πŸ™‚

  • September 2 2012

    Great post Dalene. We just finished driving across Canada and were surprised at how LITTLE we spent (mind you, we did camp and couchsurf quite a bit). I’m so glad you’ve posted this article and totally agree with Angie Away’s comment – when people ask us how we afford to travel, we’ll send them here! Cheers!
    Viv & Vitor

    • September 4 2012

      Canada is not a cheap place to be – so kudos on doing it cheaply! Rent/hotels are a big part of the cost though, so avoiding that had to be a big help!

  • March 4 2013

    Oh man! Ljubljana is one of my favorite places too. The more I chatted with locals the most I wished I could live there. You know a place is good when you can have the biggest fight of your whole trip there, and still love the place. I hope you’re able to realize your dream at some point!

    And kudos for spending so little during 6 months in Honduras. I just reached the 6 month mark in Australia and I’ve spent 2.5x that amount! (Of course, Australia is notoriously expensive!)

  • April 12 2015

    People don’t believe me when I tell them this simple fact, even in a city like San Francisco where a month’s rent would be more than enough for a RT ticket to almost anywhere in the world. Of course, it comes down to choices; even settling abroad somewhere for a few months might be more experience that being on the go, but everyone gets tired from time to time. As for myself, I made the choice to be semi-nomadic this year, with a job in the US for eight months and traveling for four.
    Turner recently posted..Restarting the 9-to-5

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