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?
“The soul has its own time”. Very true. I might be physically back HOME after an intense, life-changing, three months adventure around the world, but my soul & spirit from this #CreativElenaRTW trip are definitely still somewhere in space. I have met sooo many amazing people. Angels among them, at that. Seen so many realities. Gained so much knowledge. Received so much inspiration. Spread so much wisdom. Shared in the beauty of essential conclusions about life, and love, and found certain things to be the same all over the planet. Same (for the essence of human beings) but different (in their cultural belief systems). That I take as a feeling of ultimate trust, and peace, that the world is actually a wonderful place if you see eye to eye with (real) people. And an inspiration to others who are here to follow my journey so that we can all learn, share and grow from each other.
Talking about learning. This post I have prepared for you here is all about learning. And sharing. 99 days of being on the road have left me with 99 conclusions about the world (of travelling), according to three major categories: Practical (travel) issues. Emotions & feelings from being on the road. As well as … quirky fun parts from all over the planet. Or did you know that New Zealand is actually the most tattoed nation in the world? That Buddhist monks just love taking Selfies? And that I actually ended up starring in an Indian movie alongside a famous Bollywood actor … in Sharjah?!
I have spent a total of € 6.000 on my round-the-world-ticket, including travel insurance for a period of three months covering a total of 22 international (long- & short-haul) flights around the world. I consider this to be the best business investment I have ever made in my four years of being self-employed.
I “guestimate” having spent at least another € 3.000 – € 4.000 on the actual trip. As I was often hosted as an international travel writer in return for my publication work, I have been able to sustain myself well.
I have been able to earn at least the equivalent of my expenditure from signed contracts received during the same period of time. That makes me happy, and shows there is always a way (for the willing and eager). Or as mum likes to say, “The world belongs to the eager and ambitious.”
I have always been able to continue working effortlessly while on the road, thanks to both my energy, inspiration and – the Internet.! Life is all about being connected, and WiFi makes us happy. 😉
I have been writing & publishing anywhere, everywhere, anytime, every time, from late night to early morning bedtime sessions, to bumpy bus rides, shaky cars, high-speed trains, comfortable planes, airports, homes, hotels, beaches, restaurants, bars, cafés, etc. The world is better when you are connected!
I have published at least 100 articles, in both English & German, each averaging between 1.000 to 1.500 words – simply because there is so much to say about the world.
I have cherished and thrived on my language & communication skills, sounding unidentifiable in my English accent, passing as Portuguese in Brazil (six months into learning the language), unleashing the most interesting storytelling from the native people on Easter Island in Spanish while casually speaking French with fellow travellers around the world – and a bit of German, too. Naturally, as I love languages and speaking to the peoples of this world.
I have been left with a desire to learn Japanese, Nepali and Arabic next.
I have spoken about the worldwide phenomenon & business networks of creative travel all over the world, while organizing several more speaking events in countries such as Japan, Slovakia, Germany and Nigeria.
I have had to calm my mum down for deciding to go for the latter.
I have seen signs of physical fatigue, such as colds or soar throats from travelling across several continents, cultures & climate zones, disappear by sheer willpower, healthy nutrition, and break time.
I haven’t touched the medicine I have carried on this trip. Not once. Instead, I have always trusted in what local people offered me in terms of food and shelter.
I have never suffered from jet lag.
I am leaving to go travelling again within five days of arriving back home.
I think of my car and my flat as my last two big items of worldly belonging back home.
I have found something in common to talk about with literally each and every person I met on this trip.
I have trekked myself to exhaustion in New Zealand, pushing the boundaries of what I thought I was capable of (enjoying).
I haven’t had to open my purse one single time while travelling in Nepal. It still humbles me deeply to think that visitors are treated as Gods, and that each and everyone there was just humbled by my presence as an international travel writer and tourism consultant, making everything possible for me.
I have travelled the world with one large backpack, one handbag, a playlist of 200 happy songs, several layers of clothing according to each climate zone – and six pairs of shoes. I am still a girl. 😀
I have taken at least 10.000 travel photographs, of which I published between 3.000 – 4.000 on my blog and Flickr photo galleries alone.
I haven’t used my cell phone for phone calls in three months. I found that to be rather enjoyable.
I have again enjoyed the liberating experience of travelling with just one big backpack (and a handbag!), confirming its life-changing ability to alter the concept of consumerism forever.
I am now more conscious than ever about each single one of my purchasing decisions.
I have seen my backpack’s weight size increase by about five kilograms on this trip (discounting the two boxes I sent back home from Santa Fe & Brazil).
I am guessing I would have put on just the same weight myself. And I do not mind this at all: The food has just been too good around the world. 😀
I have, however, accomplished my training goals of jogging in Central Park, New York, Ocean Drive, Miami, Puerto Maderas, Buenos Aires, and even Imperial Park Kyoto, Japan.!
I have stayed and spent time with the local people more than anything on this entire trip. Those have always been, and without exception, the best travel experiences all around the world.
I have bicycled around Kyoto’s Geisha districts with a research professor from Italy, waiting for a young Maiko / Geisha to appear and hear all about the concept of beauty in Japanese society.
I have never, ever been threatened, harassed, abused, lost or had anything stolen from me throughout the world. Not once.
I have felt natural around planes and airports to the point of falling asleep during takeoff.
I have forever explained, gathered support for and sparked enthusiasm for “creative travel” and my book publishing project around the world, to the point where I am overly motivated to start writing !!!
I have sprayed my #CreativElenaRTW hashtag on the wall of a Samba school in Brazil as part of a creative travel experience with local street art graffiti artists. Another one included taking a Samba lesson myself. Oh boy.
I have introduced myself as a writer and photographer on numerous occasions, essentially confirming the artistic soul within.
I have very often, and on repeated occasions, smiled at the world for (seemingly) no reason at all.
I have listened to the languages of the world, intrigued by their beauty and complexity.
I have encouraged young people the world over to go in pursuit of their dreams.
I have been asked repeatedly, from people as diverse as Italians in New Zealand to Iranians in Sharjah, to stay and work with them because they “liked my energy”.
I have enjoyed deep & meaningful discussions with young 70 to 80-year-olds, and hear children speak wise words of old.
I have simply been swept away by the beauty of our planet, counting many tremendous, jaw-dropping, and awe-inspiring moments. Such as seeing the Northern Lights for the first time over the city of Reykjavik. Or watching the sun sink as a big red disk beyond the hills of Nepal, the Himalayas at my back flaring red from its gentle touch.
I have stood on the fault line between Europe and the Americas in Iceland, feeling the power of the planet.
I have asked many innocent questions and received wise answers in return.
I have touched the essence of my soul, inspired by the nature of people around me.
I have had people fall in love with me, and shared in the beauty of being in love.
I have been able to allow myself, to embrace and to be changed by the most intimate and powerful form of travelling, or indeed life, on this planet Earth: LOVE. My heart is happily lost to beautiful people all over the planet.
I have enjoyed watching people’s reactions to my words, “I’m like a girl. I get distracted by the birds and the butterflies .. On any trail, I am usually the last person to arrive at the next hut, because I soak up all the magic!” Unanimously, they would all smile in return, all over the world.
I have been moved to tears from having a thirteen-year-old girl in Nepal cry over the intensity of saying goodbye.
I have been inspired to write. More. Poetry.
I have felt my friends from back home reaching out to me, asking for my return because there were “too many squared people” around them.
I have felt real, true and utter happiness from people’s interactions, comments, messages and feedback on my trip through Social Media, emails or direct conversation.
I have received most emails from home from my dear brother, laughing out loud over each one of his sweet, funny messages.
I have been able to move around and not miss home simply because I do feel home anywhere I go.
I have a huge, natural, unfaltering trust in the world and its people.
I have only, ever, in all my 31 years of being, met “gentle men”. And amazing women. People that inspire me, in fact!
I have not always known, or fully understood, what was going to happen in the next minute, hour or day of travelling, but have always believed in the good of people in front of me.
I have been the happiest, calmest, and most natural ME I have ever been in my whole life.
I have done this trip for no other reason than to make myself happy and inspire others in the process.
I look at my achievements not in terms of a “classical career”, but with regards to the (positive) difference I create for the people I meet.
I have seen true beauty in people around the world, shining as a light from within.
I have been called beautiful for no other reason than wearing a smile.
I have felt naturally at ease, and happy, anywhere in this world.
I have felt the warmth and love of my friends & family join me all the time while travelling, essentially allowing me never to “feel alone”. Not even once.
I have never been as “nervous” about getting back home, simply because of the tremendous impact & life-changing nature this trip has had on me.
I have always found that the soul takes much longer to arrive in any one place than its physical counterpart (and certainly so upon coming back home).
I have felt really uncomfortable watching a woman totally covered in black at a hotel in Sharjah, leaving not even a tiny slit for the eyes. What are we to make of that, I wonder?
I have lost my heart to the world times and times over.
I might have said this before. That is just as well. 😉
I learned that New Zealand is the most tattooed nation in the whole world.
I have been reminded of my “female point of view” for wondering as to why indigenous tribes on an island the size of my home town would go to war rather than talking to each other first.
I look at eating as making love to my body. Which is why I could never go on a diet. And probably put on some weight during this trip. 🙂
I have both been craving for, and abstinent from, the Internet on repeated occasions throughout this trip.
I have had to argue being me with several immigration officers around the world who neither recognized my country of origin (“Austria” – “Australia”!?) nor my photograph in my passport (“Yes, I look different now. Yes, that was ten years ago. No, we were not allowed to smile back then.”)
I cannot remember the last time I have been bored. Ever. In fact, I find myself always to be … inspired! (#ibinsoinspiriert – my very own hashtag given to me by my German speaking friends tells the story … 😀 ).
I have been called many things on this trip: A botanist. A nurse! A photographer. A writer. An inspiration. An angel. A darling. A cherry! A light.
I have felt the look of a woman in a Burkha on my shoulders, sitting on the beach in my Bikini, feeling suddenly strange.
I have shared at least a dozen Selfies in front of iconic places around the world, whose “Easter Island Moai Sunset” edition has inspired 130+ likes and 60+ comments on Facebook alone.
I have seen Buddhist monks taking Selfies at holy sites in Nepal.
I have carved a spiritual belief bone carving in New Zealand and never ceased to wear it since.
I have found (winter) tyres in Iceland to wear spikes and make a dreadful sound on the tar sealing.
I have surprised hotel staff in Santa Fe, New Mexico, by asking them for walking directions to a meeting point that was about 30 minutes away. “Miss … Are you sure you don’t want to drive?!”
I have let my hair grow the longest it has ever been in my whole life, discovering at least three new forms of wearing in the process.
I have cooked our nation’s (and my dear mum’s!) signature dish “Kaiserschmarren” many times in return for people’s hospitality all over the world.
I have delighted in eating with my hands in Nepal, and Sharjah. Life is better when you feel your food: You actually eat slower, and it is tastier, too. A very sensual experience I believe. I love it.
I have once more taken on saying “Dazz rite” (That’s right!), or “cool, ay!” in the old Kiwi fashion of my dear friends in New Zealand.
I have surprised a Nepali family wearing contact lenses as they had never seen or heard of anything quite like it before.
I believe in angels, simply because I met many of them all around the world.
I got asked to star in an Indian movie alongside a famous Bollywood actor in Sharjah.
I haven’t missed eating meat so much while travelling, but I do remember missing a good glass of wine with a great meal in Sharjah, where there is a total liquor ban in the entire state.
I have once made the cultural mistake of inviting a local of the same country to visit me in my wine district back home and enjoy a good glass of … oh well.
I have taken a #winelover Selfie with a Moai on the beach in Easter Island and posted it to the #winelover community on Facebook for Christmas.
I have received a diploma from the Icelandic Elf School on storytelling about Elves and the Hidden People.
I have enjoyed eating at London’s best fish & chips shop, New York’s michelin star Portuguese restaurant Aldea & Auckland’s top Depot Eatery seafood bar – all part of the many food tours I took round the world.
I have seen a Kiwi lady pour water into her shoes simply because it was “raining the whole day anyway”, and thus her way of preparing for the track ahead.
I have managed to go to a simple outhouse toilet in Nepal wearing a Sari in a Nepali wedding. I have astonished even the local Nepali wedding guests being able to do that.
I once got invited to a Thanksgiving cooking class in New York City simply because I turned around and asked the right lady (the owner of a cooking school) for the way to my Brooklyn Food Tour on the subway.
I laughed out loud over that circumstance, firmly believing that “the angels must be smiling at me, right now, having fun!”
I listened to Will Smith’ classic song “Miami” several dozen times while walking by the beach in Miami, feeling happy cheesy in doing so.
I assisted in flattening the tyres of our desert safari jeep because that means having a better grip on going wild across the sand dunes.
I think of my upcoming book writing & publishing project as giving birth to my first baby child.
Phew. Now you know me. 🙂
So, dear readers: When (and where to) is your next travel adventure starting? And … Is there anything I have left out that you would still like to know? Fire away!
Well nothing to fire 🙂 yet so happy to read through the article and so happy for your enlightened soul. One time it felt like” am I the one touring the world”
Will be eagerly waiting for the baby child.
Love it, great post Elena!! Definitely straight from the heart 🙂 Beautiful words and incredibly valuable experiences!! Good on ya mate. Looking forward to the next chapter!
I could single out many quotes but have decided to go for this one for what it represents:
“I have been the happiest, calmest, and most natural ME I have ever been in my whole life.”
Being in love with yourself. Consciously and happy about it. Nothing else matters.
Nice one Elena, pleasure to have shared our small part of the world with you, and shared your enthusiasm. Heather C, Zest Food Tours NZ
Wowow, Elena. You inspired me once again. Great job and looking forward seeing you in Slovenia. Hugs, Vesna