Balancing out a demanding career with an undying passion for wanderlust may seem like a true challenge for most, but Shahana Helal, a young Egyptian traveler and marketer has managed to pursue a successful career and a satisfying travel life. We sat down with the ambitious traveler to know exactly how she’s managed to create this inspiring life for herself.
First things first, can you tell us a bit about yourself and give us a glimpse of your story?
I come from an interior architecture background, but shifted to branding, media and digital marketing. This led me to become a partner in branding boutique agency, as well as a digital brand manager at a reputable firm. My jobs are about creating stories whether in branding or digital marketing and you can’t create stories if you don’t explore. This allowed me to combine my career with my passion.
My passion for traveling started when my parents started planning one trip a year to expose us to what’s beyond my hometown Alexandria. Later, I moved to the States and that helped me in developing the curios extroverted side of myself.
After living in the States for 10 years, I moved back to Egypt eager to discover new places and meet new people- It became an addiction. I wanted to visit at least one new destination outside of Egypt a year and to also explore my own country.
How has being a traveler affected how you see the world?
Traveling is truly a blessing and an eye opener. It is the gateway to life and through it you grow, learn, and explore.
Through travels, I’ve learned to keep my eyes open to every opportunity and it taught me that the details in life are infinite. I’ve also learned to deal with different people coming from backgrounds and cultures and that, alone, is an experience.
Which spot, no matter how many times you’ll visit it, is one you’ll never get tired or bored of? Why?
As cliche as that may sound, but Italy is absolutely my favorite. The culture, the people, the history and stories. Everything about it is a journey.
Who are your role models or people who have inspired you to begin this journey?
I don’t know if I have a specific person that lead me to traveling. I’ve always had a curious nature about things, people, and cultures. Also, living abroad a bit showed me what I can experience by meeting different people from different backgrounds. If I had to pick someone, though, I’d say my grandparents and the stories they would tell me from the different countries they visited. One of the main stories that they always tell me, for example, is the story of how I got my name, but let’s leave that for later.
What advice would you tell our readers who want to become travelers but are stuck with constraints like 9-5 jobs or tight budgets?
I have a very demanding career, but what I always do is that at the beginning of every year, I plan all my main vacations. I make use of the fact that Egypt is generous with vacation days and long weekends and spread my days around them to make use of both. Two birds, one stone- this gives me the maximum of days I can have off.
As for the budget, I try to do my own homework by skipping travel agencies, and commercial offers. Just by taking some time to research early, you can save lots of money. Another thing I do that massively helps with the budget is looking for budget friendly accommodation- Remember, what’s more important is the location not the 7 stars hotel that you will stay at for a few hours a day.
Summer is finally here! If you’re planning to go on a vacation and you need some inspiring getaway ideas and/or a some life-saving travel tips make sure to follow @Shahanahelal and you’ll find exactly what you need.