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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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That Time I Learned I Can Travel and Not Have to Prove It to Anyone

Posted on March 18th, 2015

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All photos included here are from a later trip to the Swahili coast in Tanzania.

(Hey, it’s a blog, I have to be illustrative!)

 

His dark eyes twinkled like sharp, black diamonds nestled under an unkempt brow, his graying hair topped with a yellow kofia. I sat perched in the center of the ngalawa, locked in a discussion about angels, an unlikely exchange to be having with a Kenyan Muslim named Juma.

 

As we spoke, I noticed he was sporting a raveled San Diego Chargers t-shirt and generic African-print shorts, pitching the few inches of water that swirled around his feet over the side of the boat with a jagged plastic container.

 

“I like your spirit,” he said mid-scoop and smiled broadly, without any hint of flirtatiousness. “I think when we met, your angel knew my angel already. They must be old friends.”

 

A slightly nutty way to justify why, as a solo female traveler, I would have climbed aboard a strange fisherman’s boat earlier this morning, no less one with water trickling in from dozens of small cracks around the hull. It must have been my angel at work.

 

I nodded back and smiled at the pristine white line on the horizon that we glided towards, mostly due to the heaving efforts of the ship’s captain standing at the back and driving a 6-foot tall wooden stick into the mud below, his arms rippling with each movement. His Rastafarian dreads were tied back in a neat half-ponytail that framed his young face, which frowned slightly at our odd topic of conversation.

 

The breeze was warm and my toes tickled the turquoise waves below, my newly tanned legs swinging off the side of the narrow boat, taking in the Swahili shores with a contented sigh. Everything was picture-perfect and I was silently kicking myself for not bringing my camera along. Yet the unstable nature of our handcrafted vessel, seemingly prone to capsizing at a moment’s notice, assured me it was probably a wise decision.

 

Juma seemed to read my mind and purred in his East African singsong, “Sister, sometimes a photo is no good. The photo is here,” he beamed, tapping his wrinkled temple. “You can lose a photo, but if you paint this place on your heart, it is forever.”

 

I am the most amateur of amateur photographers, one who takes decent photos only because she has good subjects, those found in corners of the Earth too naturally exquisite to have any other result. I like taking photos because it helps me peek under the rugs of God’s handiwork and get closer to the humanity around me as I travel, a humanity otherwise distanced by language and culture. I click and capture because a photo can be a classroom, and even if I have only one pupil, I consider it a class well-taught.

 

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Like many of us, I also like to take photos because it slows down the furious, rapid-fire passing of time and seemingly immortalizes small blips in my existence. I catch myself taking photos that shout, “This happened! This really happened!” and in those moments, it’s as if I’m confirming that the things that go unphotographed never existed, that what goes undocumented slips through the cracks of elapsing time, witness to our ultimately precarious existence.

 

The fact is, too often we smile, snap, and share like we have something to prove, to our social media networks and to ourselves.

 

Back on the ngalwa, with only a sarong and sunscreen tossed in a small bag at my side, I felt feather-light. There I was, on that beautiful hackneyed ship sailing along an ancient coastline, speaking about angels with a man who could have been my Kenyan grandfather in another life. I cradled that moment with my empty hands, a moment that was not any less real, any less worthy, or any less memorable for lack of capturing it for another person’s eyes. I grasped – and then freed – the feeling that I needed to prove this happened to anyone else, including myself.

 

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Do you feel the pressure to (over)document and (over)share your experiences with others? How and when were you able to truly be in the moment? Please comment and share below.

 

Like the article? Please share with your family and friends on Twitter and Facebook!

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

Instagram

Elaina on Instagram