In Conversation with Jetting Around Founder Pola Henderson
Pola Henderson is the founder of Jetting Around, a blog dedicated to city travel. After we were invited to co-host #JAchat, Jetting Around’s weekly city travel discussion on Twitter, we saw first-hand how many people Pola has inspired. We weren’t surprised. After all, Pola has turned her passion into a business through her blog. She has also published her writing in a number of US-based publications, though she grew up outside of the US.
We were thrilled to meet Pola at our 2015 writing retreat in Connecticut and learn more about her travels and work. A lot has changed since then, so we are publishing an updated version of our conversation.
We hear you’ve decided to move! Tell us about the big change. What brought on the new adventure?
I moved from Chicago to Paris in early 2016, after splitting time between the two cities. It was at a point in my life when I needed a change, a fresh start of sorts. Paris had been on my mind for a while and I knew that it was a now-or-never situation. Nobody thought I would do it, but it felt right. It still does.
Tell us about life in Paris. What has surprised you most about living there? Is there anything you wish knew before when you arrived?
No surprises really. I already knew the city, plus I grew up in Europe, so making the transition from life in the US wasn’t difficult. For example, I am not easily put off by red tape and I’m fine living in a studio, having moved from a large condo.
If there’s one thing I wish I had known earlier is how to find the right job opportunities for English speakers. As it turns out, there are plenty. While my French is fine for day-to-day situations, I write in English and I’m glad to have found my current job and projects.
What’s new in your career?
I work as a Content Manager for a tech company, putting to use my background in marketing communications. We are remote-first, meaning that we have the freedom to work from anywhere. It’s the perfect setup for someone who likes to travel and has family abroad.
I also run my small business, Jetting Around Media, working on content marketing and communications projects. It started back in Chicago, as an extension of the blog.
What is the plan for Jetting Around?
At this point, the blog is a part-time activity, but it’s not going anywhere!
Following the relaunch, I plan to expand the section about cities, with a focus on weekend getaways in Europe. From day one, the goal has been to inspire gratifying urban travel – going beyond major attractions and experiencing the local culture.
Jetting Around has an amazing community both online – through the weekly chats, and offline – through JA Café. Aside from a love of travel, what do your community members have in common? What are some topics that come up?
It’s such a diverse community that it’s hard to pinpoint common interests. We have solo travelers, foodies, and expats from all over. There’s a lot of city talk, due to Jetting Around’s focus, and discussions about world cultures and living abroad. I’m glad to see more French people attending my meetups in Paris, which are now bilingual.
When did you first start traveling? Tell us about your first big adventure.
You might say I was born with the travel bug. My first flight was… when mom was pregnant with me. The first adventure I remember was three years later – a family trip from my native Poland to Iraq, where dad was working on an engineering assignment. I still remember the taste of freshly-baked bread in Baghdad and walking through the blue Ishtar Gate in Babylon. I’m very grateful to my parents for those early travel experiences.
What do you love most about traveling?
Possibilities. When you arrive in a new destination, you’re given carte blanche. You can let go of your cares and live in the moment, exploring.
How do you manage the balance between work and traveling?
Luckily, you get a lot of time off in France and I can also work remotely. This means I can maximize my vacation time, like during a recent stay in Chicago. Instead of a short trip to visit friends and family, I did one week of vacation followed by two weeks of remote work. I still had the evenings and weekends to enjoy the city.
How often are you on the road?
I slowed down after moving to Paris, because I needed to get settled. Now I’m back to traveling every month, mixing weekend getaways with longer trips.
We love following your travels! Is there somewhere new on your bucket list?
I want to continue exploring France: Strasbourg and Nice are high on the list. As far as international travel, I’m eyeing New Zealand and would love to see more of South America: Chile, Peru, Colombia.
What’s your next travel destination?
I’ll be attending a conference in Lisbon. I went there for the first time last summer and couldn’t be happier to go back, it’s a new favorite.