BeNicoMa Feature: Introduction of Chelletravelfoto Blog & Photography

The second BeNicoMa Feature is played and I have the honor to introduce Michelle from Kentucky to you who can be found as @chelletravelfoto on instagram and via for the blog. Get in touch with the American way of travel, in a narrow shedule. As you will see, if there is a will there always is a way!

In case you read this blog from time to time and use the sources, you have already heard of the opportunity to be featured on the instagram feed and here, when you won the overall voting in the follower voting. It is the second time that the BeNicoMa Feature was played and this time I want to introduce a nice traveler lady from the USA to you. This opportunity is not just interesting for me, since I get insight into the travel habits of other colleagues – it might also be interesting for your own inspiration and help to connect with like minded hobby artists.

The second Winner is Michelle and in the following interview you find some points that keep her going, some motivation, how you can do it yourself although you might face a tough shedule and of course, some of her outstanding photography, she used to document her adventures with… And this is the winning photo, that received the Feature!

BeNicoMa: Hi Michelle, congratulations on the BeNicoMa Feature (Click to view the other winners). A well deserved victory with so many impressions from all over the world. How did you get infected with the travel virus, at what age and what was the first experience, that you can remember, that got you hooked?

Chelletravelfoto: Thank you so much! As for the travel virus, I have always been very interested in history and nature – and I think these are two things that one gets to experience in depth while traveling. As a child, I was always fascinated with reading “National Geographic” magazine and watching all the nature documentaries that I could, and I think these contributed to my dreams of traveling. When I was 13, I had managed to save up about $700 from babysitting jobs that I put in a shoebox labeled “travel”, and I presented this to my mom and asked if I could buy a plane ticket to England. She generously allowed me to indulge in my dream, and that was my first international trip. I would say that trip was the first one that truly got me hooked, and it all began because I wanted to see where my favorite childhood stories had taken place!

BeNicoMa: You have seen Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas… What was your favorite travel so far and why?

Chelletravelfoto: It is so hard to pick “favorites” among locations, but I think I am most inclined to say that at this moment South America has my heart. I studied Spanish in University, and am now working on my Master’s degree in Spanish Education. I think my sincere curiosity and interest in the language, peoples, and culture of Hispanic countries has me most intrigued in these destinations. Each South / Central American country I have been to is so vibrant, colorful, and full of friendly and lively people – it definitely has me hooked.

BeNicoMa: Nice to hear that, although I haven’t seen those 5 continents so far, I can agree, that the Latin American life is very beautiful – Pura Vida! I for myself am not interested in shopping anymore, although it’s great to restock the closet while in the USA. It’s the culture and the experience you find with people from different cultures that keeps me going. I experienced that one has to leave the comfort zone to experience a travel that remains on the memory. But we are all different in this regard. What keeps you going and what is your motto while you travel?

Chelletravelfoto: Initially, I wanted to travel to see beautiful sights, historic landmarks, or stunning natural settings. Over time though, my goals shifted a bit towards wanting to experience cultures and the “real” part of the destination, not just the places that make photos look beautiful. I agree that leaving your comfort zone is great for not only personal development, but for broadening your viewpoints and understanding of the wider world around you. There have definitely been many times while traveling that I have felt sad, angry, confused, and uncomfortable, but I think that is all part of what it truly means to travel.

What keeps me going is knowing that I can truly experience different cultures by interacting with the people and environments, even though I may have to leave the “comfort zone” to do so. I don’t know that I have a motto necessarily, but I do know that I try to visit at least one “off the beaten track” city on each trip that I take. Going to Italy and only seeing Rome for example would not truly allow one to experience Italy for all that it is.

BeNicoMa: Well said! In your personal description I saw that you are from Kentucky. How is life in the middle of the USA and what is special about it? When I’d go there one day, is there anything that I would need to see? Please feel free to advertise your home as if you’d have to give an interview to a tourists office 🙂 I believe the storm-chasing might be interesting in the Midwest, have you ever done that?

Chelletravelfoto: Life in the Midwest is generally great. While there are times I get bored or annoyed with my surroundings, I think traveling has made me have a greater appreciation for what we do have here. I live in a clean, safe, and family-centric area, and have access to all of the creature comforts in the world. It is easy to complain about all the little things, but overall it is a great place to work and live.

Living in Kentucky specifically, I have a large amount of pride for my home state. It is essentially the “gateway to the south”, and has several things about it that are quintessentially American. The rolling fields (i.e. wide meadows or cornfields), the horses, the white picket fences, the southern hospitality – all of these things work together to make Kentucky awesome.

Kentuckians definitely have a lot of pride in their state, and I can understand why! If you come to visit I’d definitely recommend visiting the city of Lexington – “the horse capital of the world” – going to a horse race at Keeneland, visiting a few distilleries on the Bourbon Trail, and then heading up to the Northern part of the state to try some goetta and learn about the history of the Underground Railroad in the area. I’d also definitely recommend a visit to Mammoth Cave (the world’s largest cave system), and Red River Gorge for some hiking and rappelling with incredible views!

Storm chasing is more common in the prairie or central states- I have not done that but I am scared of tornadoes!

BeNicoMa: Many thanks for all the advice, I checked your recommendations and obviously never heard of it, but it sounds pretty cool, for me it is the caves, the Bourbon and the Hiking, and the next morning the special German-American breakfast… 🙂

What destination claims the top spot on your bucket list of places that are still to discover for you and what activity would you like to do there?

Chelletravelfoto: Argentina is the main place that is on my radar right now. Seeing Iguazu Falls has been on my bucket list for years, and I would love to be able to go there, visit the city of Buenos Aires, see the Perito Moreno glacier, and then journey down to the southernmost town in the Americas, Ushuaia.

BeNicoMa: Sounds like a great plan, it’s on my list as well, plus snowboarding in Patagonia. As far as I know, Americans do not have lots of vacation. How do you manage to get around like you do? What is your profession, that allows you to travel and how long is your average journey?

Chelletravelfoto: It is true, most Americans have just 10 days of vacation per year, if they are lucky. The way I have been able to travel has been from a combination of things. When most people look at my travel photos for example, they do not realize that they have been taken over a period of about 8 years. Essentially though, I work, save, travel, repeat. There is no “magic formula” really, just a strong desire to explore this world.

Studying Spanish has also opened a lot of doors for me too. I went to Europe in the summers during my time at University, and in one of these instances I studied abroad in Spain. After graduating school, before I found a job, I backpacked through South America for 30 days. I then worked for two years in an office job, and lived with my parents to save money for traveling. I then left my job, moved to Spain for the rest of the year, and did a lot of traveling from there. While I worked in corporate America, I was able to take a 20 day trip throughout Asia by combining two different calendar years’ worth of vacation days, and then this past summer I studied abroad in Costa Rica for 2 months. I would say my average trip is 20 days. If I’m going to spend the money to fly there, I want to stay in the place as long as I can afford to be away. Most people are surprised to know that I have never had a free flight from miles, I have never worked for the airlines, and I have never had a scholarship. All of my trips have been funded by me simply making travel a priority 🙂

BeNicoMa: I really like your spirit and honestly I do it pretty similar. I always try to combine the work at a certain place on earth with the traveling and so far it always worked good – but there is so much more to see. I didn’t start with 13, but this is pretty decent and cool!

This last part is solely for you. You can tell a story or give information about you, that you’d like to share. Many thanks for your time and effort. I am happy to have you around. Have a great week!

Chelletravelfoto: I am currently working on starting up a new travel blog, called Chellexplore please check out my new website and let me know any questions or feedback you may have! Thank you!

BeNicoMa: Many thanks for this interview Michelle, I enjoyed it a lot and your a likeable colleague 🙂 – Guys check out Michelle’s Travelblog via Chellexplore it”s well structured and you will find worthy information on your planning of your own journey there!

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