Heather Markel: I’m Tempted by so Many Places

12. 10. 2018 · 5 min read

How would you describe yourself?
I’m a petite powerhouse who loves traveling the world and meeting people. I’ve got a background in corporate sales, marketing and customer service, and have been an entrepreneur for over 10 years. I speak 6 languages and love cows. I’ve performed stand-up comedy 6 times, and got a photo of John Hamm and John Stamos with the cow I travel with. During my travels I’m constantly in search of cows to photograph and have a tradition I don’t remember why I started – I take a photograph with a policeman in every country I visit.

Do you remember the moment you decided to start a blog?
I decided to start a blog (Heather Begins) when I decided to start my journey. I’m beating down my own judgments and perceptions of myself and the world through travel. I’ve made some bold choices that, when I think about it, are pretty scary and have left me completely in the unknown. My hope is that my blog inspires all the people out there that have some crazy dreams that, up to now, haven’t dared to act on them. If reading my blog allows them to take one step toward what they truly desire or want to change in their own life, I’d be delighted.

Are you a full time blogger?
I blog about my travels and am also a business coach for entrepreneurs growing their business, and periodically help expats acclimate to the different business culture they will find when moving to the United States. However, most of my time is currently spent traveling and blogging and looking for speaking opportunities.

Where are you from?
I’m from New York City. I’d definitely recommend it. There’s not other city like it on earth; tall buildings, something always open and alive, and yet you can find sleepy parts that make you think you’re someplace else. New Yorkers sometimes get a bad rap for being rude, but as I travel, I see there is no other place that compares to the amazing “got your back” action of New Yorkers. EVERY time a person falls or is in pain in public, about 10 people rush to their aid. It’s heartwarming, and something I miss when traveling in some places. The care we New Yorkers have for strangers is unparalleled.

If you’re visiting for the first time check out www.bigapplegreeter.org. It’s an amazing organization I volunteer with that pairs you with a New Yorker, for free, who will show you the non-touristy things you might never see on your own. Also, ask for help if you need it, we’re actually pretty friendly!

What are the top destinations on your bucket list right now?
I’m tempted by so many places. Currently in Asia, Thailand is definitely on the bucket list for my perception of beauty and ability to meditate and find some peace. Sri Lanka sounds fascinating as it only recently opened to tourism. I’m also looking forward to discovering South America – something about the combination of dancing, sun, warm Spanish language and penguins fascinates me!

What do you like about traveling?
The discovery of something new every day inspires me. I also love that I get to meet people I might never have known if I didn’t travel, and learn about other cultures and customs. Not to mention the amazing friends I’m making, many of whom are people I know I will be in touch with for a lifetime.

What is it you don’t like about traveling?
Since I’m traveling solo I sometimes find it lonely. However, I’m pretty good at meeting people, so don’t stay lonely for too long!

What apps or websites do you use for traveling?
I’ve been using Sygic Travel, Maps.me, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, AirVisual, FlyDelta, and local transportation apps I find in country when I need buses, trains or planes or tours

If you had an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours, what would your itinerary look like?
Because I have an unlimited amount of time to travel, luxury, right now, looks like a day of stillness – I’d pamper myself in the best spa and eat in the best restaurant and get myself to the quietest place I could find and look out at nature and breathe.

If you should decide today, which country would you pick for retirement?
So far, I’d say Costa Rica! The people are some of the happiest I’ve ever met, there is nature everywhere, animals that fascinate and excite the senses, and you don’t need a lot to get by. Not to mention you get to drink amazing fruit smoothies every day and the coffee is great, too!

What is the most overrated country or location you’ve been to?
I thought Nicaragua was a little overrated. To be fair, I was sick while there and only visited a party town so I don’t think I got a true flavor of it. I was in San Juan del Sur, and was disappointed to feel like I wasn’t getting a true sense of the culture, and like it was mainly a party town.

What is the most underestimated country or location you’ve been to?
So far I’d say Panama. When I arrived I felt like I was in the wrong place, and then every day I grew to love it more and more and want to discover it.

Thank you Heather!
Simona from Sygic Travel

Sygic Travel has been helping people plan travel itineraries since 2011. Millions of people all over the world use their web planner Sygic Maps as well as their iOS and Android apps.

Written by SV