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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

“Blog boomerangs” fly, travellers reply: My very own thoughts about the philosophy of travelling

“What kind of (unusual) ability did you ever wish for on any of your trips? Which country would you choose to live? What language would you still like to learn?” Aaaah. I really love this kind of questions, as they serve to stimulate my creative travel spirit. But “blog boomerangs”? To be quite honest with you, I haven’t at first fully understood the concept either: You receive a “virtual boomerang” from a dear friend or colleague of yours and are supposed to answer his or her questions about your life and thoughts as an online travel writer.The “boomerang” then gets thrown at the next couple of writers, and so on, gathering interesting insights along the way. For the benefit of you, dear readers – and just because we travel writers love to share with you our most exciting travel destinations, craziest ways to travel and funniest travel experiences. After that, each one of you is to nominate 10 further travel writers you want answers from: Ask them whatever you always wanted to know!

Who I have nominated for my questions is what you will read at the end of this article. First of all, let us focus on what questions dear Stefanie has had in stall for me! Stefanie writers for an Italian travel diary called “Azzuro Diary“. In her latest post, she has “thrown the blog boomerang” at me and interviewed “Creativelena” about the following:

 

Question Number 1: Favourite travel destination at 18? And why?

Good question! My favourite travel destination at age 18: London. For an entire nine months, I followed on the footsteps of this fascinating culture, shopping & world city, polished up my English, made some first international friends, found my way round the big city, learned how to dance “X’Press Yourself” R’n’B – and postponed big life decisions: After all, how would you know what you want to do / study / work at only 18 years old? No way! Let’s go abroad for a start, is what I was thinking. 😀 And still my advice for every young person to this day!

 

Question Number 2: Favourite travel destination today? And why?

New Zealand. I LOVE Aotearoa, the “land of the long white cloud” in the Southern Pacific Ocean and will probably have a life-long love affair with it. It was in New Zealand that I decided I would one day write a book. The topic? Travelling, of course. 😉 Altogether, I stayed there for a full 18 months living, working, travelling and writing: My very first blog, “Kiwi-Elli” dates from this time, and even later, on my second round the world trip I continue to write about New Zealand on the Tripwolf travel blog. New Zealand just means so much to me, it is difficult to put it in words. Let us talk pictures, therefore!

Neuseeland, das Land aus dem Träume gewebt sind: Beim Anblick der Bilder meiner Weltreise im Jahr 2011 gerate ich regelmäßig ins Schwärmen - hier zu sehen die Pancake Rocks an Neuseelands wilder West Coast.

New Zealand is a land of dreams: I regularly fall in love when looking at my photos from my round the world trip in 2011, such as watching the Pancake Rocks on New Zealand’s beautiful South West Coast here.

Blick auf die atemberaubenden Landschaften in Fjordland im Südwesten von Neuseelands Südinsel: Diese Landschaft auf dem Weg zum Milford Sound gehört zu meinen absoluten Lieblingslandschaften weltweit. Ich kann es nicht erklären, aber ich LIEBE diesen Ort. :D

Check out the majesty of these landscapes in Fiordland, New Zealand’s South-Western edge. This road trip all the way up to Milford Sound is among the most beautiful places on Earth for me. I cannot fully explain it, but I LOVE this spot. Just magic. 😀

Vielleicht auch, weil Neuseeland mir sowohl im Herzen als auch beruflich sehr viel bedeutet, habe ich dort nicht zuletzt meine Leidenschaft für das kreative Selbermachen im Austausch mit den Einheimischen auf Reisen kennen und lieben gelernt. Hier seht Ihr meinen Paua-Muschelanhänger aus Neuseelands Hokitika, geschnitzt in mein Markenzeichen von www.Creativelena.com!

New Zealand means the world to me on many levels: After all, it has been there where I finally unearthed my passion for “creative travelling” supporting the organisation Creative Tourism New Zealand for the first time and carving my first Paua-shell jewellery here in Hokitika. Today still, this carving serves as my logo and claim at www.Creativelena.com!

 

Question Number 3: Besides health issues or packing, how do you prepare for a trip? (Books, the Internet – both I guess?)

Health issues and knowing how to pack are certainly important issues when travelling, especially thinking big, long-term round the world trips. My travel preparations do vary over time, though: Leaving for New Zealand in 2008, I was still studying travel guides such as the Rough Guide to New Zealand, whereas today I like to be led by local inspiration and creative networks, such as the Global Greeters in Buenos Aires. For South America, I would not recommend vaccinations unless you absolutely want to go to the jungle: My yellow-fever vaccination exploring Peru or the Iguazú Falls was definitely not worth the side effects I had at the time.

What I do recommend you check out though are travel fairs such as World Travel Market in London or the Travel Market ReiseSalon in Vienna: Personal meetings with local operators or other like-minded people are definitely a help. And of course, I use the Internet for travel planning, be it apps, blogs, social media or other. As an online travel writer, I do look for the kind of secret tips or unusual travel destinations my colleagues recommend. Mongolia might be well known, however Yvonne’ personal travel reports, videos and comments about her adventures do make you want to go there even more (thank you, Yvonne  from JustTravelous!). 😉

Auch oder gerade beim Packen gilt: Leichtfüßig unterwegs sein ist die beste Art, voranzukommen. Lieber mal mehr zuhause lassen, als zuviel im Koffer oder Rucksack mit sich rumzuschleppen.

It might be a metaphor for your whole life, and it certainly is true: Less is more. Especially when it comes to packing your backpack your suitcase: Do leave most of your stuff back home. Your feet, body and mind will thank you for it.

 

Question Number 4: Which destination would you NOT go to and why?

I might be wrong, but speaking from my current point of view the big cities of China are where I really do not want to go. Especially since I recently saw an image of Beijing being covered in smog – totally crazy, like ground fog here but only made up of pollution. Add to this the fact that cultural heritage just gets torn down (old houses in Shanghai), human rights violated and individual opinions sabotaged, it all becomes even less attractive for me. At the same time, I feel a certain fascination and curiosity following my life principle “Do not judge before you know!”. So in a way, I do like to know: How is China for real? How are the people there? What are their concerns? I think the only way to know is to go there and find out for myself one day. We shall see!

 

Question Number 5: How important is sustainability in travel for you – now and in the future? What are you doing about it?

Sustainability in tourism is definitely important to me. I do mind socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial travel offers, given that local people get to benefit from the activity. Sustainability in travel is also about my very own contribution during the exchange with the local culture: How am I able, thanks to my network, knowledge and skills, to contribute to a successful travel moment & experience exchange for both the locals and myself as a traveller? How do local people think about tourism in the bigger picture of things? What happens with the environment? If local governments or operators do not care, I become less enticed to care and travel there, too. Quality has to prevail – for the benefit of future generations and all of us.

Die Iguazú-Wasserfälle im Dreiländer-Eck von Paraguay, Brasilien und Argentinien sind eine fragile natürliche Ressource unseres Planeten: Wie achtlos dort manche Besucher mit Müll, Tieren oder anderen Reisenden umgehen bringt mich zeitweise zur Weißglut.

The Iguazú waterfalls at the border of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil are one of this planet’s fragile resources: It leaves me stunned and angry to think back of how careless some people went about throwing away their own rubbish in this pristine environment.

Nachhaltigkeit auf Reisen bedeutet mir auch "nachhaltiges Gedankengut": Beispielsweise habe ich hier in Peru am Machu Picchu gelernt, am Templo de la Luna Pachamama (Mutter Erde) eine Darbietung aus Coca-Blättern zu machen. So machen es die Peruaner schon seit Menschengedenken - das Ritual und das Verständnis für einen Ort leben somit fort.

Sustainability and travel also mean “sustainable ways of thinking”: Travelling to Machu Picchu, Peru, we learned how to make a coca leaf offerings to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, like the Inca always did in the past. Part of the local traditions and spirits therefore continue to be embraced by those who visit, increasing overall understanding and respect for the local culture.

Nachhaltigkeit beim Reisen: Ist es nachhaltig, Besucher wie uns tagtäglich zum Greifen nahe an diese Robbenkolonien vor der Küste Perus zu bringen? Für die Tiere wohl kaum - die Einheimischen haben jedoch an diesem einsamen Küstenabschnitt heute ein geregeltes Einkommen und müssen nicht in größere Städte wie Lima ziehen.

Sustainable tourism: Is it sustainable to carry visitors past these seals each and every day? For the animals, it probably isn’t – however, it is for the local people who have found a possibility to run small eco-tourism operations and not being forced to move into bigger cities such as Lima or Cuzco. The key in this kind of situation, I guess, is the establishment and respect of international ecotourism standards respecting the environment this tourism activity depends on.

 

Question Number 6: What kind of (unusual) ability have you ever wished for on any of your trips?

Another good question, really! Give me a moment to think. While searching my memory, I again find myself back in New Zealand, where I spent almost one and a half years in 2008 / 2009. On my very first travels across New Zealand’s South Island, I often wished for my friends and family to be there with me, and be it only for the moment: “Beam them over, Scottie!”. The view of a magic landscape, a tasty dish, a warm word of the locals as part of an extraordinary meeting did make me think about the following phrase: Happiness is only truly lived when shared. Is it?

Glückseligkeit auf Reisen: Den Sonnenaufgang über dem Ayers Rock zu erleben, gehört zu meinen besten und schönsten Reiseerinnerungen an den australischen Kontinent. Noch schöner wäre es wohl nur mit Familie & Freunden rings um mich gewesen.

Happiness while travelling: Watching sunrise above Ayers Rock belongs to my most magic travel memories of all times. I guess it could only be topped by having my family and friends with me.

Ich durfte mal ein verletztes Känguru-Baby im Arm halten. Wirklich!! So unglaublich ist mittlerweile auch die Erinnerung daran, dass ich diesen Moment nahezu vergessen habe …

I once was able to hold a kangaroo baby in my arms that was being nursed back to health after its mother died in a car accident. Amazing !! I would have almost forgotten about this moment since there was no one I knew to share it with … In this moment, I really did wish for my friends and family to be there.

 

Question Number 7: Is there something you always do in or take with you from a new place you travel to?

Yes, there is: I always try to learn from the local people and bring something new & creative back home: Be it the preparation of typical Argentinian empanadas, crafting my own traditional jewellery in New Zealand or experiencing the Mate ritual in the South American Andes. Ever since having lived in and supported “Creative Tourism New Zealand” in New Zealand, this is my way to go: I owe countless magical moments around the globe to this trend of creative travelling. They are not mentioned in the typical travel guides, are entirely unique and hence all the more special: The best creative travel moments arise from a perfect meeting of (open-minded) travellers and locals. Magical, really.

Einheimischen und einem Schamanen aus der Nähe der Stadt Cuzco südamerikanische Schokolade-Bällchen gemacht. Ist es zu fassen? :D

I once learned how to prepare little chocolate balls together with a local resident community near the city of Cuzco in Peru. The memory is still incredible(y) fascinating to me! Moments like these: The smell of the chocolate lingers …

 

Question Number 8: Which means of transport would you like to try and use on your travels?

That is a good question. When I went trekking in Peru, I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO use the following kind of transport after two strenuous days walking up and down mountainsides and having to walk back up on the third day (starting at 05.00 a.m. without breakfast and in complete darkness … seriously, what was I thinking?):

Mein liebes, dick-wolliges und so herzig dreinblickendes Alpaca. Über ein Jahr lang zierte dieses Grinsen mein virtuelles Profilbild bei Facebook - so sehr habe ich mich in seinen Anblick verknallt. Man muss schon ein  bisschen verrückt sein, wenn man sich in der Weltgeschichte herumtreibt ...

Hello, beauty! I do not know, nor will I ever know, how it would have been to take a ride with you. You really have to be a little bit crazy, and adventurous, when you travel the world I guess 😀

 

Question Number 9: Which country would you choose to live?

Well, I already lived In New Zealand, country I continue to mention over and over around here, so I guess it does not count. The same goes for countries such as England, Spain or France, having lived in London, Paris and Madrid during my student times. So what about … South Africa, country where my travel friend Toni has made a living since almost ten years now? Australia would be an interesting candidate, too: People are very chilled out there and it is not far from New Zealand. 😉

And how about South America? After all, countries such as Argentina, Chile or Peru continue to fascinate me to this present day. I think I would go for … hm. Could I go for the joker of not having to take my decision as a poor libra star sign suffering from indecisiveness? 😀

In einer Schule in Chile habe ich mal 14-jährigen Schülern gezeigt, wo mein Heimatland Österreich liegt. Ganz ehrlich: Wir leben schon sehr, sehr gut hier, für Österreich kann ich mich glaube ich wieder und wieder entscheiden - trotz oder gerade wegen der vielen Eigenarten die wir als Kulturland so an uns haben!

I once showed 14-year-old students from Chile where Austria is located. Honestly, I think I would choose Austria again, despite – or maybe because? – of the countless funny idiosyncrasies that characterise our own culture here. Travelling, I have become especially conscious of how well off we really are around here.

 

Question Number 10: What language would you still like to learn?

The top question for an multilingual brain child such as myself !!! My mum has this way of going on about me still having to learn Italian in addition to English, French & Spanish. Somehow, I always think about it – but no Italian man, job offer or else has yet led me further south. And without living in the country, feeling an interest for its culture and history or without any desire to live or work there, I would not want to learn the language: Half-hearted efforts are not my style, I get much too passionate about little details too soon. Sounds funny, but that is exactly how I feel. Maybe, it is Maori then which I picked up and trained a few years back. Of course, this again takes us back to – New Zealand. 😉

Ausschau halten nach dem, was wir im Leben noch so alles lernen können, gehört für mich wie selbstverständlich zum Reisen & zum Leben dazu.

Looking out for what else there is to learn is a normal thing in life, I believe: It is what keeps you young and open to new horizons.

 

Question Number 11: How do you like to travel? With a travel guide or just by going with the flow?

Last but not least, it is going with the flow. This is exactly what I prefer in travelling, although I am aware that this might not always be possible, safe or advisable. I do admit that in all those travel years, I have always referred back to being safe by knowing the local lingo. It gave me confidence over everything else too: “It is going to be fine”, and well it did. Everything really. Long live travelling, learning, love & laughter! Especially about oneself and in a perfect embrace with the local people on this Planet Earth.

Anfangs so gar nicht zum Lachen zumute war mir beim Anblick dieses rauchenden Vulkans in Villarrica, Chile. Etwas argwöhnisch beobachtete ich Zeit meines Aufenthalts dort das sichtbare Zeichen mächtiger Erdaktivitäten.

Watching this Villarrica volcano in Chile was a bit rough at first – I did not feel reassured at all by the steam coming off its top. Sometimes, confidence lacks despite everything else.

Ok. Wo & WIE dieses Foto von mir in einem alten VW Käfer mit einem Chinchilla-Andenhasen auf dem Kopf mitten im nächtlichen Lima, Peru, entstanden ist, ist Stoff für einen weiteren Artikel hier auf meinem Reiseblog. Fürs erste sei gesagt: Treiben lassen, das berühmte "Go With The Flow", haben mich zu diesem ungeheuren Reiseabenteuer gebracht. !!

Ok. Where & HOW this travel photo with me steering an old VW Beetle wearing a real Chinchilla fur hat in the streets of Lima, Peru was taken, is definitely room for another article on this travel blog here. Let me say for now that “going with the flow” has led me to experience something incredible like this.

Last but not least: Reiseinspiration pur. Wenn ich auf dieses wunderschöne, sonnengebadete Foto starre, möchte ich sofort wieder zum Machu Picchu reisen. Und zwar am liebsten um 08.00 Uhr morgens, als dieses Foto entstand: Wenn noch nicht so viele Touristen vor Ort sind. Und man die Magie der heiligen Tempelstätte ganz direkt und unmittelbar spüren kann.

Last but not least: Pure travel inspiration. If I look at this photograph, I immediately want to go back to Machu Picchu in Peru – at 08.00 a.m. when this picture was taken and only few tourists were present at the same time as us. It was a special atmosphere, one that allowed you to FEEL this place in all its magic. Beautiful.

 

……. Well. The travel bug has almost carried me away now. Here I am, still having to introduce you to further travel writers who are to catch my “blog’s boomerang” with 11 more questions about travelling! Shame on me. Since “Creativelena” is an international, bilingual travel blog, I will draw upon the knowledge of my international blogging colleagues worldwide. What I want to know from you is:

  1. What is your most memorable travel experience? Why?
  2. What do you always carry with you on your trips?
  3. Where will you go when you are 60 years old? Who with?
  4. What do you refer to as “creative travel”? Would you like to try it? And if so, where and how?
  5. Your most beautiful travel experience with a local person?
  6. What piece of advice would you give young people who want to travel?
  7. What is your personal limit on your travels? What would you still try or endure, where is your borderline?
  8. What travel experience makes you feel really proud?
  9. If you could board a plane tomorrow, where would it take you?
  10. Your tastiest travel dish?
  11. What is your very own, personal travel philosophy?

And the blog boomerang goes to … these talented ten travel writers whose answers to my questions I look forward to:

Are you, too, interested in joining in the fun? I look forward to your feedback here: Leave me a message using the comment form or send me the link to your blog article! Do not forget to tell your friends either: After all, the blog boomerang is meant to keep moving and inspire all of us to travel even further.

I look forward to reading all about your adventures and tips! 😀

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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