In our new interview series on the blog, we’re flipping the perspective of the iconic images we share on Instagram. We want to show the faces and celebrate the stories of the wonderful, courageous women exploring our world. Today, we’re honored and thrilled to spotlight one of our favorite OG travel bloggers, Helene Sula of Helene In Between.
Helene’s travels, her infectious honesty and sense of humor have made her one of our absolute favorite blogging travelers. Get to know Helene as we chat about all things travel, blogging and becoming an expat. Here’s Helene!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Helene!
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas I’ve lived in the same place for 27 years. After traveling Europe with every free day I had while working in marketing I started a blog chronicling my life and love of travel. After three years, I turned my blog into a full time job, packed up two suitcases, two dogs, and my husband and I moved to a country we’d never stepped foot in before: Germany.
When and how did you fall in love with travel?
Growing up, my parents taught a summer study abroad program in London. Each year I’d spend 6 weeks exploring London and beyond. At 18, I dragged my boyfriend with me on a trip. He instantly fell in love with travel and Europe. 6 years later we married and planned our escape abroad.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
Santorini, Greece pulls at my heartstrings. The white washed buildings speckled with pink bougainvillea and blue domed churches are like a parallel universe. It’s a place I can go to again and again.
Tell us about your journey into the travel industry! We’ve been following you for quite some time, but what made you first curious about travel blogging, social media and photography?
I’ve been blogging for a long time. My blog, Helene in Between, has been around for 7 years but I’ve been blogging long before that. I’ve worked in social media and marketing and worked on blogs and social media for other clients that I knew I wanted to one day make my blog my full time gig. I did that by offering coaching and courses centered on my background in media combined with my passion for blogging. Three years ago I quit my job to blog full time.
My blog has always been about a lot of things, mostly, what I’m passionate about. Travel has always been included. But when we moved abroad two years ago, I knew that travel would take on a bigger role. I decided to start attending travel conferences, understanding how to take photos (I took my first photography course 4 years ago), and learning what travel topics my readers were interested in.
I wanted to create a blog that focused on real travel. Travel that people like me could really achieve. I definitely don’t have a niche, but I try to focus on how I can be helpful.
You moved across the world to live in Germany. How’s expat life?
Expat life is wonderful but difficult. It’s filled with a lot of highs and lows. Moving abroad, especially without a visa, is tough. I shared my journey of moving abroad here, but it continues to be difficult. Adapting to a new culture is different and traveling so much can be taxing, but it’s always worth it!
What are the biggest recommendations you’d give to women who hope to make a big move like your own?
DO YOUR RESEARCH! We spent a solid 6 months looking at where to move abroad, what would be the best place for us, how we could get a freelance visa and more. You can see how we chose Germany here. But know that things will be different. Learn to go with the flow and try new things.
What would you like to see more of in the travel industry?
I would love to see more realistic sides of traveling. Not everything is beautiful, so what are the difficult parts. Or, how did a place really make you feel? I’d also love to see more representation of women as travelers, and thanks to Dame Traveler that is happening!
Has there been a place that’s totally surprised you? What is the destination do you’d consider to be a “hidden gem”?
I absolutely fell in love with Romania. It’s a place that wasn’t high on my bucket list, but after spending 19 days around the country I can say it’s such a hidden gem. There is so much wonderful cuisine, important history, beautiful architecture, and incredible people. I loved exploring Bucharest but Sibiu and Sighisoara are top of my list.
Why do you travel? What do you seek each time you hop on a plane?
I think for a long time, travel has helped me to discover myself. It’s helped me become clear on my goals and expectations of what I want out of my life. But it’s also because I want to learn and understand other cultures. I can honestly say going to somewhere like Bosnia and Croatia helped me understand the wars they’ve been through. This is powerful to me because it helps me put perspective into why our world the way it is today.
If you could summarize both of your personalities as a country, which one would you be and why?
I love this question! I think I’d have to go with England. I like to have fun but I’m prepared enough to get things done. The English tend to have a very strong will and determination, to the point of stubbornness, and I’d like to think I identify with that. And hey, I’d like to think I have some royalty in my blood.
Do you have any go-to resources for travel blogging that have upped your productivity or creativity? What advice would you give to women who want to begin their travel blog journey?
I highly recommend people hiring help. I believe strongly in staying in your zone of genius. There are so many tasks when it comes to blogging it’s tough to do them all. So hire a virtual assistant to help you with those. I also think it’s so important to take courses on skills that can help you grow. I took Marie Forleo’s B-School and it was so helpful!
What inspires you most when you travel?
I always want to learn. Travel is that outlet for me. It wasn’t until I graduated college and worked for a few years that I understood the importance to be curious. Travel to me answers that innate need.
How has a life of travel changed you?
It’s made me laser-focused on what’s important and essential in life. Because I travel so often I know the things that I need to focus on and the people that truly count in my life.
What has been your biggest travel “high” and what has been your biggest travel “low”?
My low and high are related. My low was when we got denied our visa for the first time when we moved to Germany. We had just secured a place to live and were thrilled to finally be settled. Then we were essentially told we couldn’t stay. After 7 months of working diligently, we were finally given a visa to live in Germany. That was definitely a high for me!
What is your “must pack” travel item… the one thing you simply cannot travel without?
My white adidas superstars. I am always on the hunt for a shoe I can walk in all day long. I get a new pair every 6 months after wearing them out. They are all I wear!
Do you have any travel insight on staying healthy and sane while on the road?
I’ve learned it’s okay to stop and take time for myself. I often get swept up in wanting to do it all. But it’s okay to take a break and watch a movie. I forget that life doesn’t always revolve around the location I’m in. I can step back and focus on myself.