#StoriesOfMyReaders: “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook” in Kathmandu, Madeira & Tirol

The #StoriesOfMyReaders is a new series of blog posts based on the feedback I have received from readers all over the world, enjoying “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”. They are set to inspire you for your own creativity, take you on a trip around the world and naturally, make you want to read the book yourself – whether as a paperback or as an ebook!

In this post, I would like to introduce you to Rakesh Shahi, Sofia Vasconcelos, and Christina Leutner. Over the past couple of months and years, I have met all of them through either blogging, creative traveling and/or writing “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”.


Let’s start with Rakesh Shahi.

Rakesh and I share a story of a kind. From first reaching out to each other via Social Media, to spending 10 days together travelling his beautiful home country Nepal as part of my #CreativElenaRTW trip, to being invited to a Nepali wedding and reaching out to people and their communities across language borders, cultural backgrounds and belief systems, has simply been a most amazing and inspiring journey. Only weeks after the devastating Earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015, Rakesh agreed to me posting his tireless help efforts for his people in a unique interview-style blog post. He has since provided me with lots more inspiration to keep writing my book, cheering me on through publishing and promoting it and showing me once more, that distance is only relative in this connected time and age of ours.

Thank you so much, dear Rakesh, for inspiring my friends & me to go on and see the world through your eyes!

Rakesh Shahi, reading "The Creative Traveler's Handbook"

Rakesh Shahi with “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook” on his Kathmandu home rooftop terrace.


Here is what Rakesh has to say in his review of “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”:

“Words are not enough to express the deep memories and beautiful experiences I took from traveling with Elena for her creative travel research in Nepal. It is my absolute pleasure to have become a part of the creative travel movement, and I am thankful beyond words to feature in a part of ‘The Creative Traveler’s Handbook’. For me personally, reading the book meant opening up to a completely new dimension of travel over the conventional one; ‘life seeing instead of sightseeing’ really, as Elena justly mentions in her book. She has captured the very essence of what travel is and should all be about: A unique way to see the world, to explore, experience, and engage – to learn.

What I took away from it as a travel professional is to once more sharpen my community focus, to offer creative activities incorporating the most hardworking and genuine people at the lower end of the travel industry: The local shopkeepers, farmers, artists, craftspeople, or cooks & chefs. I think the travel industry needs it, what with the changing times at hand, as experiences are more valued and sought after than the conventional sightseeing in the past. 

Personally, the most touching aspect of reading Elena’s book has been the way I myself was engrossed over reading it. Every line has its own meaning, so very well expressed and interesting, that I often found myself completely submerged. Like when reading about creative travel in New Zealand, I had this feeling that I should leave my daily routine and business to go to New Zealand and experience it just the way Elena describes it in her book. Such is the joy and euphoria I got while reading. Divine magic !!! Connecting with people and communities with all sort of backgrounds, places and beliefs, is the result of Elena’s journey of creative travel around the world. A journey where she majestically weaves in ‘The Creative Traveler’s Handbook’ for me, for us, and all the people from around the world to read, to experience and to go out and look for the next travel level: Creative travel.”


Next up is Sofia Vasconcelos.

Sofia and I have been introduced by her partner Kash, also known as “The Budget Traveller“. I have only met her once, in a crowded room during ITB Berlin, but was able to squeeze out a few words in Portuguese to her, saying how much I admired her (bilingual) blog and all the activities she promoted in her stories “From Madeira to Mars“! We have since formulated a sweet promise, that I would come and teach Kash the secret to “fast forward learning of Portuguese”, while enjoying a first ever visit of creative Madeira Island.

We really must do that, my dear Sofia !! Meanwhile, Sofia herself has gone off exploring creative travel in her beautiful island home, and has become a proud supporter, and treasured fan, of the creative travel concept. Kudos to all your work and successes, Sofia!

Sofia after "all the inspiration" from reading my book in her beautiful summer garden, on Madeira Island - a place I shall go and visit soon !!

Sofia after “all the inspiration” from reading my book in her beautiful summer garden, on Madeira Island – a (creative) place I shall go and visit soon !!


Here is what Sofia has to say in her review of “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”:

“There are certain people in the world who you meet briefly in life but who leave a great impression on you. This was my first impression when I met Elena. After reading her book, ‘The Creative Traveler’s Handbook’, I got to know her a little more to realise that my first impression was right. My thoughts about her book are: 

  • This book is not for the common traveller.
  • This book is not for people who enjoy trooping through cathedrals and museums with hundreds of people they don’t want to meet.
  • This book is not for ordinary people.
  • This book is for people who are looking to engage with the local community, to share, learn, and to take it slow.
  • This book is for passionate people.
  • This book is for people who want to offer a creative experience to their visitors.
  • This book is for the curious traveller, looking off the beaten track for new ways to experience a destination.

So why should you read her book?

  • You’ll understand why travelling is not just about sights; it is mostly about people.
  • You’ll also get lots of ideas about different ways to experience creative travel all over the world.
  • You’ll learn how to choose the creative travel package that fits you; where to go, when to go, what to pack, how to budget and what to be aware of.
  • You’ll understand the joys of travelling creatively.

It definitely inspired me to embrace different ways of travelling, now that I know what I’ve been missing …! After reading Elena’s book, I was looking for a creative tourism experience in my island. I have since joined a Madeira embroidery workshop and loved it. You can read more about it here: http://frommadeiratomars.com/madeiraembroidery-workshop/. To finish off, let me quote Elena by saying: ‘And now, it is your turn. To go. To create. To celebrate. Around the world or around the corner …’ Go on and embrace Creative Tourism!”


Last but not least, I am happy to introduce you to Christina Leutner.

Christina and I have met through several blogtrips in & around Austria. We share a love for nature, and becoming creative with the locals together – such as making herbal vinegar, baking bread, producing soaps and different nature-based products. Thanks to her, I have discovered a part of her home country in Ausserfern, Tirol, that I haven’t ever seen before. It’s beautiful! In order to take the below photograph reading my book, she has specifically requested to be sitting at her favourite lake in Tirol. What a lovely gesture, dear Christina!

Christina mit meinem Buch, "The Creative Traveler's Handbook", an einem ihrer Lieblingsseen in Tirol.

Christina with “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook” at one of her favourite lakes in her home country Tirol.


Here is what Christina has to say from reviewing my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”:

“If I hadn’t met Elena three years ago, I might never have become a ‘creative traveller’ myself. Together, we have already forged our own nails with a traditional locksmith, baked our own apple strudels, as well as made some herbal peelings and vinegar together. I am a very creative person myself, however often find myself stuck on my own during everyday life. It is therefore a lot more fun to explore different ways of doing things creatively thanks to the local people I meet on my travels. Elena’s book is the perfect instruction manual as to how to do so. Thanks to her round the world trips, she has really got to know the hot spots to go for in terms of creative travel. I especially found her list, ’10 Tips to Go Creative’ as well as the resource section of the book, very useful for my own travels.

“Life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: There’s hardly a better way of expressing what creative travel is all about. I am so happy to finally hold the book in my hands. Dear Elena, I am proud of you. You show all of us that each and everyone can, should and will become creative!”


And you, what’s your take on creative travel? 🙂

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