Travel Blogger Helene Sula Says Anyone Can Live an Extraordinary Life

UPDATED: April 10, 2024
PUBLISHED: April 13, 2024
Helene Sula, "Helene in Between", in a field of flowers

Helene Sula shares her global adventures as the voice behind her eponymous blog and social media accounts, Helene in Between

The Texas native finds wide-eyed awe and genuine delight in the sights of locales from Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates to her newly adopted home in Oxford, England. She’s won fans—566,000 Instagram followers and counting—with reels about culture shocks she’s experienced living abroad, not once, but twice. Her love for Christmas markets is contagious, with posts featuring steamy drinks and indulgent dishes oozing with cheese adding to her platform’s appeal. 

While other digital nomad social media accounts have an aspirational—and often unattainable— feel, Sula’s posts have a “you can sit with us” vibe. Now, she’s taking her audience on another journey with her new book, Two O’Clock on a Tuesday at Trevi Fountain: A Search for an Unconventional Life Abroad, in which she encourages readers to find their own path to an extraordinary life. 

Helene in Between enters the blogosphere

It started with a rock climbing accident. In 2011, Helene Sula was attending her new husband’s work event at a rock climbing gym when an unsecured belay quickly led to her hurtling off the wall and smashing her leg and ankle. A bout of pneumonia in the hospital added insult to literal injury and continued blackouts due to her illness meant she couldn’t go back to work. 

It seemed Sula could no longer avoid the inheritance from her family of writers. She launched a blog. “I was so bored of watching Friday Night Lights,” she recalls. “It was just an outlet, a place to connect and talk about my life. It very quickly became an obsession.” 

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At first, her posts focused on her daily life. She felt encouraged by the connections she made with other people online, initially over their shared broken ankles. “I had this niggling feeling like, I wonder if I could do this full time,” she remembers. In 2012, there were few examples of full-time bloggers, and the path to revenue felt more like trades with other bloggers than profit. 

The path became clearer when an entry on Belgium’s “Tomorrowland” electronic dance music festival went viral, and she saw she could pivot her love of travel into the blog. She also poured her expertise working a day job in corporate social media into the passion project. 

Gradually, she landed sponsorships and created products to sell, such as an Instagram content system. “It didn’t feel like I was selling people something. It was a way to help other people grow,” she says. She wasn’t willing to quit her day job until she was making more on the blog than at her job. However, fate intervened: She was fired the day she launched her first online course. 

Moving forward

Sula’s been a full-time content creator, influencer and travel entrepreneur since 2015. Her content platform was so successful that her husband Michael was able to join her venture a year later. Although she says their business partnership hasn’t been without its frustrations and occasional stumbles, they’ve found a 50/50 partnership with Helene focusing on branding, marketing and social media, and Michael working on ever-important trip logistics and the business side.

The blog’s freedom allowed the couple to embrace a digital nomad life, which has included relocating from Helene’s native Dallas to Heidelberg, Germany in 2016. (HGTV’s House Hunters International chronicled their home search.) The duo moved back to the U.S. in 2019 to travel the country in an RV. They made the international leap again in 2023 when they relocated to Oxford, England—all with their two dogs in tow.

Helene Sula expands into entrepreneurship

Although she says a strong social media presence requires no small measure of enduring criticism both valid and petty, Sula believes the connections she’s made with people are rewarding. That’s what led her and Michael to lead trips themselves. For many years, this was with travel guide companies that attract well-known trip hosts, like TrovaTrip and Avalon Waterways River Cruises.

A desire to curate their guests’ experiences pushed the Sulas to charter two group river cruises, creating itineraries and activities that appeal to multiple generations, including younger travelers. “It’s such a great way to get from A to B with a large group of people, and to get them to these different places and seeing as much as they can. It also has the benefit of unpacking just one time,” she says. 

Sula says while she recognized the financial risks, she felt the demand was there. “We’ve been going to these places for years. We’re well-known for it with our audience,” she says. The initial booking sold out in 10 minutes, leading them to add a second. Michael planned every stop and every activity in the itinerary, which allowed the Sulas to take guests to more of their favorite places.

Turning the blog into a book 

Sula’s desire to connect with more people led to her aforementioned book, Two O’Clock on a Tuesday at Trevi Fountain, available April 9, 2024. Unlike the Helene in Between blog, which often delivers travel guide content focused on logistics, the memoir delves into Sula’s personal story. She believes it offers lessons that are relevant even if people don’t want to follow in her international footsteps. 

“The message that I want to get across is you can be a normal, ordinary person and live an extraordinary unconventional life,” she says. “You can go for your dreams and stay grounded. You can move abroad with your two dogs and have a mortgage and a marriage and still live an extraordinary life.” 

Sula knew if they were to move abroad and travel more, they needed to do so in a calculated manner. The duo spent a year researching, planning and prioritizing. They crafted lists of things they needed in their lives to feel grounded. For example, she knew she needed a home base. They also set a limit on the length of trips they would take. Finally, they knew they wanted to maintain connections to family and friends, so they encouraged them to visit often—frequently meeting visitors in a locale other than their home base abroad. 

The book’s title is drawn from a moment when Sula recognized she had met her dreams. That time, day and place was, “one of the first times I realized that I was living my dream and I didn’t even know it. It took that moment for me to look around and realize that you know, I have not had to change everything about myself and throw away everything I knew, [but] I can do the things that I want to do,” she says. 

She hopes the lessons are applicable to anyone, whether they’re hoping to start a business, launch a new career or travel the globe as she does. 

Photo by Michael Sula.