Girls That Go! – An Interview with Helen in Wanderlust

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This week’s going girl is the lovely Helen, from Helen in Wonderlust. Read on for her take on surprising experiences while traveling solo, 2014 goals and more in this week’s Girls That Go!

GGG: Hello, Helen! Welcome to Girls That Go! Can you start us off by telling us who you are, where you’re from originally and how you got started traveling? 

Hi Go! Girl Guides, thanks for having me! I’m Helen and I write a little travel blog called Helen in Wonderlust! I’m in my (ahem), mid-thirties. I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to travel, only really getting into it in my late twenties. I decided to take a career break from my career in marketing, so I saved up for a couple of years, but very conveniently also had the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy, so I used that money (plus savings) to take the trip of a lifetime. Just after my 29th birthday I headed to Africa.

GGG: Better late than never! You have spent a ton of time traveling through Africa. What drew you to that continent initially, and why do you find yourself returning again and again?

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Initially, I just wanted to visit Tanzania. I sponsored a little girl there (still do), so I wanted to visit her and I also wanted to climb Kilimanjaro!

GGG: You’ve written a great post about 25 things that will happen if you overland in Africa; if you had to add one more, what would it be and why? 

Ooh… 1 more. Well this could just be me… but on a few occasions I did something silly. We’d arrive at our destination and put up our tents, and then I’d start on my duties or head to the bar… I’d go to bed late, and realize that I’d taken my bag into the tent, but forgotten my sleeping bag and roll mat. I spent a few nights, lying on the hard ground, wearing every item of clothing I owned. That was fun. Not.

GGG: What has been one of the most surprising experiences you’ve had as a traveler? Most expected?

I think most surprising was how at ease I was travelling alone. I’d never really done anything like that before, and I was scared before I went. But as the weeks went on, I found myself really relaxing. My inhibitions disappeared, and I soon realized how I’d become conditioned by my previous environment. At home I’d been feeling stressed and probably not being the person I really was or wanted to be. I think travel challenges you and helps you to be the best version of yourself.  I’ve kept that thought with me and try to keep the travel spirit with me wherever I go! Most expected… was that I would meet some awesome people and I did. Lots of them in fact.

GGG: That’s good to hear! At the beginning of the year you wrote about some goals you had for 2014; now that we’re more than halfway done with the year (can you believe it!?), how do you feel you’ve done in meeting your goals, travel and otherwise?

Thank you for reminding me about these! Subconsciously, I think I have definitely moved in the right direction. Life is still crazy and hectic, but, I started a new job which has helped me find balance. I think I am maybe a better blogger than I was… a lot of people ask my advice – I take that as a positive sign! I maybe don’t dance like no-one’s watching yet… but I will work on that. I think I’ve been too busy not to live in the moment – so that one is a yes! And last but not least – I said I’d go on adventures! Working full time in marketing, I have to be creative with the old travel plans. But so far this year, I’ve been to Germany, Ukraine and numerous places in England. And then I have a big trip planned in a few weeks time…

GGG: Now that you’ve conquered Kilimanjaro, what would be the next big adventure you might want to undertake?

Well I have another big adventure coming up, but other than that, I would love to climb another mountain. I want to do Kili again, but I may do it on my 40th (a few years off yet)! I’d love to take a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, or go to Antarctica, or maybe go to Mongolia and Tibet.
GGG: All of those sound like great options. As you’ve said, Africa isn’t the only place you’ve ventured to–if you had to choose another continent to explore as thoroughly as you’ve started exploring Africa, what would it be?
That’s a difficult one. I’ve traveled to a few different places, but I think I’d have to say South America. Many people I’ve spoken to put South America on a par with Africa for being amazing, so maybe there. Or Asia. Or Europe… too many choices. Can I say everywhere?GGG:  Any exciting wonderlusting we can look forward to in the near future from you?

Well, I was supposed to take a trip through West Africa in October/November. But I’ve had to cancel that due to the ebola outbreak. So I am heading back to East Africa again as there’s still so much to explore! I’ll be visiting Kenya and Tanzania, it’s going to be an epic trip and I’m really excited to share it with my readers!

To hear about those adventures and get tips from Helen about travel, check out her blog, find her on Facebook or tweet with her! Thanks, Helen!

All photos in this post courtesy of Helen Davies.

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About Author

Sara learned the value of travel at an early age, on annual family trips in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Not to be relegated to the North American continent, she made her first trip overseas at the age of 13 and has been finding ways to travel ever since. She has explored Etruscan tombs in Italy, made hostel beds in Ireland, and hiked volcanoes in Costa Rica. Follow her travels near and far at www.saramelanie.com

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