Author, TEDx Speaker, and Adventurer: Heidi Is Constantly On The Move Hiking, Kayaking, Or Refueling On Local Must-Eats!
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GAFFL connects solo travelers from with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time with you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

21st Jul | 4 min read
"Travel is the best education. No Ivy League school can rival it". - Heidi

Originally from small-town Wisconsin, currently Heidi hangs her hat in South Florida, but as an adventurer, she’s never home for long. Your best bet is to find her hiking, kayaking, or refueling on local must-eats. As a storyteller with a severe case of wanderlust, Heidi has published three non-fiction books as well as two blogs over the last decade. To learn more about her adventures and books, visit or on IG @HeidiSiefkas. You can also connect with Heidi on GAFFL.

Why I Travel

My first international trip was at the age of ten to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my parents. I had always been at the top of my class, so when I heard people speaking Spanish, I had to learn it. I started studying Spanish on the trip and continued through middle school, high school, and college. Eventually, I lived abroad in Madrid, Spain for two years in college. It was living in Europe and having the ability to hop over to another country so easily that got me hooked. Travel is the best education. No Ivy League school can rival it.

I've Met Amazing People During My Travels

If I’m not hiking, kayaking, or exploring new foods, I’m probably writing. I’m typically do not get bored on my adventures; however, I do get lonely. The best things in life are meant to be shared. When I’m unable to travel with my PIC (Partner In Crime), technology certainly helps. I can share my stories, a beautiful view, or pictures via a WhatsApp or Facetime call or text.  

I have also met many great people during my travels. I probably have the most friends from my travel to Cuba. In creating my third book, Cubicle to Cuba, I traveled all around Cuba, leading tours for Americans as well as doing some solo scouting, leaving no stone unturned. 

Some of those friendships from trips to Cuba have joined me in Spain for the Camino de Santiago and in Japan for the Kumano Kodo.

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How I Choose Where To Travel Next & How I Keep Costs Low

I like to explore Mother Nature more than cities. Although many times, en route to my main destination, I pass through an international hub. I tend to select warmer destinations and go in the shoulder season. I’m not a traveler that goes during a festival like Oktoberfest or Carnival. The music, dancing, and merry-making may be fun, but the crowds, prices, and availability are deterrents for me. My next adventure is a move away from South Florida. This fall, I will be returning to the Hawaiian Islands. Later this year, I will be hanging my hat in Maui.

Before Covid, I would travel twice a month with a balance between personal travel and leading tours. The trips would be about a week to ten days. Since Covid, my travels have been domestic and all outdoors. My most recent trip was a remote adventure into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Northern Minnesota.

In order to keep costs down prior to Covid, I chose between communal accommodations at a ryokan or hostel with a private room, but shared bath and dining area. In these challenging times, I see camping, both tent and van, as a healthy and economic option.

An Important Travel Anniversary

Last fall I celebrated an important anniversary by walking the Kumano Kodo on the Kii Peninsula of Japan. Ten years earlier, I had nearly lost my life. I broke my neck in a freak accident in New York. Luckily, I underwent a successful surgery and a year-long recovery to be where I am today, healthy and with full mobility. The 5-day solo walk amongst cedar forests, mountains, Japanese killer hornets, and soothing onsens was challenging, mind-blowing, and life-changing. Ichi-go ichi-e was my favorite phrase learned on the trip, which loosely translates to YOLO (You Only Live Once).

I've Been Stung One Too Many Times

Bugs like me. When I met my former in-laws for the first time in rural Minas Gerais, Brazil, I was curious about a tropical fruit tree that I had not seen before. I looked under a branch with fruit. Unfortunately, a wasp was enjoying the fruit as well as stung me on my nose. Needless to say, the sting hurt, but it was the allergic reaction that was not a good first impression to my in-laws. Within an hour, my face started to swell. By later that same day, my head with swollen cheeks and forehead was the size of a basketball. Thank goodness for a local pharmacy only a dirt bike ride from the house. However, I didn’t learn my lesson until another sting by a wasp while hiking in Mendoza, Argentina nearly a decade later. So, when you learn of my run-in with Japanese killer hornets, you know I was carrying an Epi-pen.

My Biggest Travel Challenges

Other than the big Covid-19 elephant in the room, I, like many, try hard to find the delicate balance between obligations (financial, family, etc.) with travel time. I’ve tried to create synergistic opportunities so that my travels turn into freelance travel articles, a chapter in a new book, or another great creative project.

My Best Piece Of Travel Advice

Do it now and often. Don’t wait until after college, kids, and your career. Travel is the best way to check in with yourself and evolve. 

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    Allen LAnham
    October 19, 2020 at 5:40 AM

    Glad to see you up and at 'em with this crazy virus. I met you on a cruise to Cuba. Good luck. Enjoyed your talks and your books.