I’m thrilled to introduce you to our woman of the week: Hélène. An Estonian native, Hélène is currently living in London and traveling whenever she can. We have a lot in common both in our many hobbies and in our travel philosophies, plus we’re both travel bloggers. To learn a bit more about how who she is and what she does, check out Hélène’s interview below. Enjoy!
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Tell us about yourself?
An Estonian expat in the UK, I have been living in London for the past 7+ years. I work in a full-time office job, managing research and insight for a lifestyle brand. Travelling is my big passion, but I’ve got a lot of other hobbies – longboarding, yoga, walking, cycling, photography, reading, dancing, opera and ballet, binge watching favourite TV series, hanging out in cosy cafes… For the last year though most of my spare time has been dedicated to running Flight to Somewhere – my travel blog.
Why do you travel?
I travel because I have an itch – that’s the best way of describing it I think! I’ve wanted to travel for as long as I can remember and no matter how many trips I manage to squeeze into a year, the list of places to visit just keeps growing, both with completely new destinations and the ones I want to return to for some more quality time.
I love the whole process of vacation planning, from checking out random deals and Pinterest for inspiration (which I do ALL the time!) to finding the best deals for a chosen location to mapping out what to do and of course the actual vacation.
How do you balance work and travel?
I am not one of those people who get to the end of the year and still have paid vacation days remaining – everything is usually planned and booked way in advance. To make sure I’ve always got something to look forward to in the foreseeable future I try and split my vacation allowance evenly throughout the year with a few months in-between, which means that my travels mostly last a week or less.
I would love to have more opportunities to travel (a week away every month as well as a few longer trips to more distant countries sound so appealing!), but I guess I shouldn’t complain as my job makes it possible to afford multiple trips a year and the paid vacation allowance, which this year has increased to 27 days plus bank holidays, would be considered generous in many countries.
I could probably fit in a lot more city breaks if I used the weekends to travel, but however lovely visiting new places is, it is also quite tiring, and I have work to go back to. I prefer to spend my weekends at home and make the trips longer, ideally with at least a day to relax after the return flight before going back to work.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from your travels?
A big part of what makes travel so awesome is being able to come home at the end of the trip. It’s great to spend some time in a nice hotel room where cleaning just magically happens, but ultimately it’s just that – a hotel room and not my home. Even if I’m sad when vacation ends, I love returning to my own house where all my things are and everything is just how I like it. It’s so fab to have a base – I don’t think I am cut out for a full-time life on the road! Of course, the elation doesn’t last long and before you know it, I am tired of the home-work-home routine and eagerly opening emails from Secret Escapes…
Another thing I learned quite quickly is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch – what you may be saving in money on a super cheap travel deal you will be paying out in sleep, convenience and comfort (5am Ryanair flight from a weird airport? Or that hotel that’s a lot cheaper than everything else because it’s located 10 miles away from the town centre? Or my very first holiday in Greece, with Club 18-30 – the hotel must have had a below zero star rating and the cockroach I saw there was as big as my fist…). I’ve decided that I value my comfort and convenience enough to choose decent flight times and good hotels, even if it means more of an impact on my wallet.
Wow, that’s a difficult question – there are so many! Every trip I have been on has something special and memorable about it. My last vacation was in the Azores and it was my first time to go whale watching. I know you can never be sure that you will see something with a tour like that, but we were extremely lucky – we saw a mama whale with her baby just swimming along. It was out of season for that particular whale type too – the captain of the boat said she must have stayed on a bit longer to make sure the baby got enough food before moving on. I was incredibly awed and humbled to have a chance to see these magnificent animals!
My biggest travel tip is not to expect too much from a destination as it’s a sure way to leave feeling disappointed. I find that when I visit a place expecting to be completely wowed, the negatives, which always exist, have a lot more of an impact than if I just go with an open mind. It’s better to be positively surprised than to feel let down by the shortcomings.
Thanks for reading Hélène’s story!
Looking for more interviews? Head to our Woman of the Week archives for the full library.
I’ve also created three freebies to help you plan your next adventure:
- 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF)
- 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist)
- and 30 Jobs to See the World.
After you join the mailing list up, you’ll have access to all the freebies, AND get the password to the Global Directory! The directory will connect you to my recommended resources for each country and tons of travel topics. All blog posts I recommend are written by traveling ladies. From logistics to inspiration, the Global Directory will help you find the info you need no matter where you’re going.