1) Hi Helene, and congratulations on being featured as a globelle gal in focus! Can you tell us where in the world we'd currently find you?
Although I'm from Dallas, Texas I am currently living in Heidelberg, Germany with my two dogs and husband.
Having never stepping foot in Germany, we moved in September of 2016 with our two suitcases each. We picked this pretty town in Germany because of its centrality in Europe, the amount of English spoken, and it's truly a picturesque European town. We moved solely for the purpose to travel Europe. I'm a full time blogger and I hired my husband, Michael, full-time to help me with the blog.
2) What inspired you to first start travelling?
I grew up with very special parents. They taught a study abroad program in London and I got to tag along every year from my pre teens up to my early 20s. I even dragged my then boyfriend along when we were seniors in high school. He fell in love with travel (maybe a bit more in love with me, too!) and 6 years later we married and knew we had to move abroad. It was the best way for us to truly see the world.
3) What's been your favourite place to visit, and why?
I have fallen head over heels in love with Austria. Before moving abroad Austria really didn't cross my radar. But now it's a place I find myself longing for the most. It's pet friendly, has gorgeous mountains, friendly people, great cuisine, pristine mountain lakes, and some of the best festivals around. I've traveled here more than any other country and I can't seem to get enough. Here are 22 photos that will make you want to book a trip to Austria.
4) What's the worst thing that's happened to you since being on the road? How did you deal with it?
Oh man, there have been so many things. Now remember, I'm not nomadic. We decided before we moved abroad that just wasn't something we could handle. It was really important for me to have a home base because I'm generating a full -time income for two people from my blog. So I wanted to be "home" so I could have a place to rest. I never knew I'd need it so much!
On one trip, to Leogang, Austria, everything seemed to go wrong. I forgot my very important camera, my dog got hurt and had to go to the vet, and then, on our last day, I fell skiing. I ended up tearing my ACL and squashing all our foreseeable travel plans. It made me stop, think, and just rest. The worst part was the actual surgery! I had the operation in Germany and didn't quite realize how little pain medicine you're given in Germany.
But truthfully, the toughest struggle was actually getting a German visa. We actually got denied the first time around! We spent 6 weeks in a hotel (with two dogs!) trying to find a place to live.
5) Obviously life on the road is about fewer possessions and more moments, but what is the one thing you can't travel without?
I believe wholeheartedly in a good backpack. One that can hold a laptop, camera, and all the other things you stuff into it. I swear by the Osprey Porter Backpack!
6) You sold everything you owned in Dallas, Texas to move to Heidelberg, Germany - a country you'd never visited before. What was the thought process behind the move? What were you hoping to get out of the experience? What would be your advice for others considering making drastic changes to their current way of life & living arrangements?
We knew that the best way to really see and experience Europe was to move there. For years we talked about moving abroad, and then we put the plan in motion about 3 years before actually making the leap.
First, we saved up $45,000 because we wanted to make sure we had enough to live on. Then we moved to Nashville as a "test-run" to make sure I would be comfortable being that far away from my family. We picked Germany for a variety of reasons. But we wanted a place that was centrally located in Europe, spoke enough English, felt European and had a good economy. All of these things fit the bill for Heidelberg, Germany.
I didn't think my life would change that drastically, but I was so wrong! Culturally, Germany is very different from America. It really took a lot of getting used to. I think it's important to know that if you do want to move, to be as open as possible to your new surroundings. Life is different in other places and that's what makes the world so wonderful. So go into it knowing it won't be what you're used to, and you'll be more adaptable to change.
7) You were involved in a rock climbing accident which saw you fall 20 feet to the ground, breaking both your ankle and leg. You've since described the incident as a 'silver lining' for the time it gave you to focus on your blog.
How did you stay positive during this tricky time, and what would be your advice for others who find their plans altered by an accident when out doing their thing?
Honestly, my blog is the silver lining. I started blogging after falling because I was bored. I just wanted an outlet and a way to connect. I didn't realize I would be able to find and create an online community and even income. I got so wrapped up in the blog I didn't have time to feel sorry for myself. I just wanted to heal to get back out there. Since I've injured myself again (ACL tear in Austria) I try and take these down times to rest and really plan out for my future.
What do I want to do next? And also, what can I accomplish right now? I'd love to write a book so my down time was spent working on my novel. And you know what? I actually loved that time!
8) You're married to your childhood sweetheart, and moved to Germany together. What would be your advice for others who might set off travelling (or relocating) with a partner?
Give each other room to make your own choices. Traveling is hard because things will always come up. But moving, anywhere, is a whole other process. I truly think everyone has their ups and downs and moving abroad will bring out the best and worst. So give each other grace, space, and remember that you are creating memories that will last forever.
9) What are your plans for the future, and what do you hope to achieve through all of your hard work?
We decided to move abroad for 2-3 years and we've settled on 3. That means we will move home (to Dallas, Texas) in 2019. I'm excited to go back home and be with friends and family. We plan to keep on traveling and road trip through America and Canada. I will miss Europe too dearly so I think we might come back for another stay- just too much to see and do!
Eventually, I would like to publish a novel and I would love to continue sharing my travel experiences on my blog.
10) What does travelling mean to you?
Travelling means accepting a new place and learning about yourself in the process. So often, places surprise me. I fell in love with Morocco. Not just because of its beauty, but because of the people. I don't think I'd ever know that if I didn't experience it first hand. Travel also means letting things happen that are out of my control. I'm a bit of a planner and sometimes travel has a way of turning your plans upside down. I still believe in planning. But I also believe in taking the good with the bad and rolling with it. It might turn out to be better than you even expected.
11) If you could offer one piece of advice to those travelling for the first time, either as part of a group or solo, what would it be?
My best piece of travel advice is to sleep when you're dead. It sounds harsh. But I mean to soak up everything, experience it all, go on the tour even if you're tired. You won't regret it. I travel through Tuscany in crutches, France, Greece, and England with a leg brace. It was all worth it and I'm so glad I did it. So just push yourself a little, it will be worth it.
12) And finally, how can girls get in touch with you, and keep up to date with where you're exploring next?
My blog is: www.heleneinbetween.com and I'm on Instagram @heleneinbetween