People tell me: Helene, you’re so lucky. And I can promise you they aren’t talking about my hair (split ends) or my height (I’m 5’2” on a good day). They wanna know how I moved abroad for fun. The emails usually start out like this, “I don’t mean to pry but, what are you doing abroad?” I get it. What the hell am I doing here and why did I do it?! It’s safe to say I haven’t done an exceptional job to tell newbies to this blog why I moved abroad. Yes, I’ve written about it before, here’s why we chose Germany, why I chose to move abroad, how I make enough money blogging to travel, and some of the steps we took to get over here. But that’s not the whole story, really.
So, in an effort to get to know me better and explain why I did this, I’m going to tell you some things I haven’t yet shared on the blog. I guess I should tell you…
– My rules for traveling are simple: go with the flow, try new things, contribute to the conversation, and don’t complain. I’ll never forget a travel companion getting frustrated when someone didn’t speak English. Really?! We’re in THEIR country!
– I haven’t worn high heels in over a year. Even then, it was once for a wedding in maybe the past 3 years. I despise them. I know they might look pretty, but how can you really get down on the dance floor in heels? (Let alone walk?) I choose tennis shoes over everything. That, and my trusty pair of Chacos.
– I afford to travel by not spending a lot on things. I make a delicious chai tea at home. I paint my own nails. I get my hair colored twice a year (and this still kills me, mainly because I have a very tender head). I own very little designer stuff. And I really try to save where I can. We saved up $45,000 before moving abroad (that post here). Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes, but I don’t believe in Louis Vuitton or Gucci. To me, that’s transient and travel memories last a life time.
-My husband and I packed up two suitcases each before moving overseas. That’s it. I filled them mostly with clothes, makeup, dog toys, and a few books I can’t live without: Harry Potter, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, All the King’s Men, and half a dozen notebooks.
– Bringing dogs overseas is hard. But of course, they are like our children so it’s worth it. If you’re interested, look into the country’s laws on quarantine (Germany has none, thankfully) and make sure to get all your paperwork in order.
Aren't they the cutest?
– I tend to ask a lot of “would you rather” or “if you had to” questions. For example, one of the questions I always ask people is, “If you had to pick ONE musician or artist to listen to for the rest of your life, who would it be?” This always tells me a lot about someone.
– I have a hard time balancing blogging and travel. I am currently writing this on a train from Florence to Pisa in Italy and Michael is simultaneously discussing our travel plans for the day. He’ll have to repeat it a few times before it sinks in. I really try to blog (aka write, edit photos, create content for my courses etc) during every free moment I can. But it’s not always easy.
– I have one eye that’s smaller than the other when I smile. This drives me CRAZY when I look at pictures of myself. If I smile really big I think it’s pretty obvious.
– I tend to collect things. I once had 25 different sunglasses. Right now, it’s lipstick. I brought over 50 (I KNOW) abroad and have bought more since. Current favorite is Mac Liptensity in the shade Smoked Almond or Colourpop’s Clueless. At any given time I carry 7 with me. At a minimum.
– The main reason we moved to Europe was to travel it. That’s what we based our whole decision on where to live. We wanted something very European and centrally located.
– I actually go by my middle name, and always have. My parents just thought it was prettier to have Helene in the middle. By the way, that’s pronounced “Hell – Lean” and lots of people have a hard time saying it. It rhymes with “between.”
– I started watching Narcos and am obsessed. I actually dream about the show sometimes. I cannot get over that this is a real story.
– My mom is working on publishing her 3rd book and my Dad is working on his first (which will probably change the way we study the civil rights movement). I adore my parents and learned everything from them. But I kind of wish they weren’t so accomplished. I have some big shoes to fill.
– My favorite country (so far) is Greece. It’s just so out of this world beautiful. From the mythical islands to the olive trees giving us some of the best food on earth to the towering Parthenon, I just find it rich with history, culture, and beauty.
-If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I love electronic dance music. My current favorite artists are Oliver Heldens, Above & Beyond, Vicetone, and Cazzette. I feel it’s the perfect uplifting music and for every occasion.
– If I’m not traveling, I’m at my computer. I work about 60 – 80 hours a week if I can. This might sound like a lot, but I truly love it. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. My favorite thing to do is write.
– Since moving abroad I eat cheese almost every day. It’s just so good here. We have a market near our house that sources cheese from nearby farms and France (we are very close to the French-German border). Michael and I always joke that we are moving slow if we haven’t had our “cheese fuel” for the day.
– I’ve worn my hair the exact same way since I was 14 years old. Which is, down and naturally wavy. I am so lazy to do it any other way. See my guide to super easy travel hair.
– Michael calls me a hermit at home. I really do try to work as much as possible, so unless someone comes up with a plan, I’m likely to just stay in and work. This might sound odd but really I don’t mind it at all.
– I tend to get overly offended about things online. Like Instagram for example. I analyze and reanalysed how someone who posts a picture of a designer bag gets 7,000 more likes than someone who posts a picture of a travel destination. This is definitely something I need to get over, I know different people appreciate different things. But sometimes I don’t get it.
– The plan is to live in Europe for 2-3 years. Well, that was the plan. I guess these things can change but hoping to really see most of Europe in that time. I know I won’t be able to do it all, but I’m going to try.
So that’s hopefully something you didn’t know before! Spill something about you below.