Originally from France, Helene is a digital nomad and an expat currently living in Ubud, Bali where I had the pleasure to chat for a couple hours with her over a cup of delicious Balinese coffee. With a big smile and soothing voice, she managed to share with me a glimpse of journeys and details of her mission to help people who are seeking fulfillment, balance, flexibility and are ready to create a meaningful life, whatever the shape.
Helene has been working in corporate jobs for 11 years after her engineer studies. She has experienced every kind of work dynamic and human environment. Two things were always missing: a need for meaning and genuine contribution, as well as a positive, uplifting and collaborative work environment that does not burn your motivation and energy. This is why she created Exploring Happy, and teaches people to manage their energy and not their time.
Where are you living now?
How long have you been there?
On and off living here for 1 year and a half now.
What’s your favorite thing about the city?
The super inspiring, uplifting, supportive community of entrepreneurs from the whole world. Like-minded people who have built a life on their own terms and empowered themselves to their full potential.
What’s your LEAST favorite thing about the city?
Traffic and the gas implied. It makes me cough a lot.
Is there a little known fact about the city people might find interesting?
Ubud means “medicine”.This city is a very strong energetic centre (true story), which you can feel instantly and it became a yoga mecca, especially these past 5 years.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever lived and why?
Ubud, for sure! I love living surrounded by rice fields and the jungle, I enjoy its the culture and rituals, the kindness and smiles of the locals. In addition, the community of entrepreneurs I have met here is really precious in terms of support, inspiration, and networking.
What is your LEAST favorite place you’ve ever lived and why?
Paris. That was a while ago, though. I’ve lived there for 3 years and left it 11 years ago. From my perspective people were too stressed- they moan, they are not friendly. Of course, as everywhere you can also meet great people, but I’ve come to the conclusion that big city life is really not my cup of tea – I lose my enthusiasm.
What was the EASIEST country you’ve ever visited (i.e. easiest immigration, easiest to open a local bank account, etc)?
That would be Spain. It is very easy for me because I am a European citizen. I’ve lived in Barcelona for 4 months last summer and appreciated how everything was very easy for me in terms of all the paperwork, bank matter as well as healthcare (European one).
Have you ever had any problems in a country? (i.e. immigration issues, getting robbed, etc.)
Yes. In Bali, my credit cards got scammed not once, but three times… It can be extremely frustrating.
Do you prefer one region of the world over another, and why?
I can not choose one, but I can narrow it down a bit.
Southeast Asia for climate, culture, and food.
Europe, because it feels so familiar and easy. I enjoy the fact you can quickly jump from one culture to another and be stimulated by still having a common ground. France especially for the wine and food, as well as the diversity of sceneries. Spain for the overall vibe.
Canada for the kindness and open-mindedness, as well as the breathtaking scenery.
Is there anything that would make you settle down and stop traveling as much?
What I miss the most is to have a place to call “home” and have a permanent base to come back to, a house where there is my name on the door. I still want to travel, but I crave this grounding after the last two and a half years of constant travelling. Once I have full clarity on my business model I will do that. It is definitely my next step.
Who has been the most influential person on your travels (someone that encouraged you to start, or someone who has influenced you along the way)?
An English organization called “Escape the City” has given me the initial inspiration, support and motivation to kickstart my journey.
The rest of the magic is the tribe I have built here in Bali. A lot of people were involved in this process, but I have surely made a few life-changing encounters. And it keeps on happening.
If you were coaching a new nomad, what would you recommend they do to get started?
To start: travel in a slower pace, find their anchors, explore flexibility in their organisation, and develop structure and boundaries for their momentum and balance. It is one of the key areas of my work actually: help people in transition to a new lifestyle!
What country would you recommend a new nomad go to FIRST?
Definitely to come to Bali, Indonesia, or Chiang Mai, Thailand.
What is one country that you have not been to but is high on your list, and why?
Portugal! Lisbon is growing and growing, and can’t wait to go there this summer. I have an exciting upcoming project that will happen there 🙂
What was the most unexpected surprise you ever encountered as a nomad?
Mini geckos (finger long) falling from the ceiling and don’t seem to bother anyone!
What was the biggest mistake you made that other nomads can learn from?
Plane tickets! Booking a discounted return flight that is flexible on paper, but the conditions end up being much more tricky that expected and at the end it costs MUCH more money than expected. Furthermore, not clarifying some matters with my bank before travels such as insurance I have in case I get my card scammed, assuming that a gold Master Card is safe enough and don’t require any additional insurance…
How do you meet new people while living the nomad lifestyle? Do you ever get lonely?
Mostly by going to co-working spaces, working from cafes, attending yoga classes and house parties. You will meet like-minded people.
You can read more from Helene Schmit on her website Exploring Happy.