Home Interviews @elonatheexplorer: I think that it’s important to be vulnerable

@elonatheexplorer: I think that it’s important to be vulnerable

Hi Elona, how are you? And most importantly, where in the world are you right now?

Hi! Better than ever – I just returned to my home in NYC for a few days. I wrapped up a recent trip to Thailand and Barma.

Your story is incredible. A cancer survivor, charity founder and a business woman. All before you even reached 30 – do you still have any dreams for the future? What would your ultimate goal be?

Thank you! Yes, believe it or not I am nowhere near where I want to be but where I want to be seems to change quite often. In a perfect world, I want to be able to get more and more people out of their comfort zones and into different pockets of the world in ways that are both cost effective and exciting. I believe that I will have many more businesses throughout the course of my life that will ultimately enable me to dedicate the latter portion of my life to charity work within the pediatric oncology space.

On your Instagram you talked about being invited to the Influencers Awards in Monaco and what an honour that was for you. When you started your blog 3 years ago, did you imagine this will be your life one day?

When I started my blog three years ago, I didn’t think it would ever be more than just a hobby. I was writing for fun and hoping that others would follow my footsteps. I knew nothing about this industry as a whole and all the opportunities that it would bring my way from simply doing what I love. Indeed, every award and every special moment feels like a blessing.

Do you consider yourself an influencer? If so, how would you like to influence your followers? Is it to inspire them to see the world and collect experiences? Or is there another message you would like to pass on?

I believe that the term “influencer” currently comes with a negative connotation. From a literal sense – I do influence people to travel to the same places I do and to see, do and experience the things I write about. I would swap the word influence for “inspire” because my goal is to simply get people out of their comfort zones and into exploration … whether they go to the same places I do or not. I believe that traveling teaches us the greatest lessons in life.

Your Instagram captions are very thoughtful and unique. Your writing style is original and sensitive as you don’t just capture a beautiful photo but also manage to pass on an important message. Where does your inspiration for writing these captions come from?

I spend most of my time on my captions and the ideas can come out of the blue! I always carry a small notebook with me and jot down ideas, words, images that I have in my head and then I re-visit them and formulate a storyline. I can be in the midst of falling asleep and if I think of something interesting I will quickly reach for my phone and jot down some notes. I think that it’s important to be vulnerable and relatable because that’s the best way to stay in tune with a loyal audience. Likewise, I always like to share fun facts: something short and sweet that will stay with someone that reads it and will eventually act like an ice breaker. I love starting conversations with new people by touching on a bizarre fact.

What is your ultimate destination? A place you have visited already or perhaps a place still on your wishlist?

Madagascar!

You see a lot on your travels – different cultures, different landscapes, local cuisine, local traditions. What is your favourite part about traveling? And do you have a favourite means of transport?

I would say all of the above. Nothing compares to the adrenaline rush when getting off the plane in a new destination, the feeling of uncertainty and inability to predict what’s to come. These feelings of sweet discomfort are unparalleled. Lately my favorite part of traveling has been the in-depth conversations I had with locals: understanding their day-to-day tasks, what they consider normal and abnormal, what they eat, and other cultural traits. Ultimately, the realization that we are all so similar is what drives me to keep exploring new places.

Where is your favourite place to relax? Is it on some of the beautiful beaches that you have visited? Or at home in Ukraine, surrounded by your family?

To be honest, I don’t remember the last time I truly relaxed. Even when I have the opportunity to lay down on a beach, I get antsy and itch to get some work done or to go out and do activities. Lately, roadtrips have been the most “relaxing” for me – in good company and with good music, driving between countries has really loosened me up.

Who is your favourite travel companion? Do you have a friend or family you travel with? Or do you prefer to travel solo so you can fully get lost in the experience?

I love traveling solo but I equally enjoy sharing experiences with my close friends. I have one friend who is a pilot and a seasoned traveler who is very similar to me in travel style: very down to earth and eager to explore the off beaten path – we’ve traveled to a dozen countries last year alone, including a roadtrip through Eastern Europe! Another best friend of mine who is also very easy going came to a few epic destinations with me and he takes great photos (win win for both parties!)

Tell us more about your jewellery line. What inspired you to design the beautiful pieces in your collection?

I started my jewelry line because I couldn’t find every day travel pieces that I liked. One day, I had a design in mind and I found a factory in Bali to produce it – the rest is history. I didn’t think I would end up selling it to the general public but since it fits so perfectly within the theme of my work – I scaled the project and it funded my travels for some time.

Tell us about your Charity – Checkmate, Cancer. Do you focus on children in specific countries or all over the world? How can your fans get involved and offer a helping hand?

I’ve been doing crowdfunding projects for roughly 6 years now. Typically families find me through word of mouth and I evaluate each case to determine whether or not I will be able to run a successful fundraiser. I help children with chronic illnesses all over the world – the idea behind crowdsourcing smaller scale fundraisers is that a few thousand dollars will likely not change much for a large organization, but it can single handedly change the life of a family who is struggling to pay medical bills. So far we raised over $150K in donations for individual families.

Thank you for your time! 

Source: Magdalena from InfluenceDot, Edited: Lucc, Petra, Ivo, Photo: Instagram @elonatheexplorer

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