My name is Anika Mikkelson, a woman on a mission to visit every country in the world! I’ve visited over 70 countries so far, including every country in the EU, most of the Middle East, North America, bits of South and Central America, and a growing number of Asian countries. The majority of my travels are done solo, though as most travellers will agree – we’re never really alone, are we?! I’ve met hundreds of inspiring friends along the way!
I began documenting my travels during a holiday with my brother as a way for family to easily know where we were. After some time, I decided to turn up the heat and expanded my blog to reach a larger audience. Currently, I have published over 200 pieces on my self-run blog : Miss Maps. Some are word heavy, others are photo heavy, and all are created with the intent to share the world with the world!
Soon, I’ll be branching out of the traditional blog market and emerging in new outlets. Stay connected and stay tuned to all the latest happenings with any (better yet, all) of your social media accounts. Stop by, take a look around, and say hi at MissMaps.com, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram
1- What inspired you to decide to live this nomad lifestyle?
After years of attempting to live a ‘normal life’ – work a full time 9-5 job, fall madly in love, buy a house, live a stereotypical Leave it to Beaver life… I decided that while many of these habits were right for me, several were not. I traveled to visit family around the country and around the globe as frequently as possible. Each time I returned home, I was reminded by an invisible pull that I was not meant to be in one place for an extended amount of time. After years of fighting the nomadic lifestyle I finally gave in to its strong seduction.
2- Is a travel lifestyle as glamorous as people think?
Yes and no. Life is what we make it, and everyone’s definition of a glamorous lifestyle varies. Most of my friends and family are content living in one place with that picket fence lifestyle I touched on earlier. They’ve created beautiful families and work incredible jobs which they each enjoy. They live their own type of glamorous lifestyles.
For me, this is the be-all. I get such a rush from exploring a new place, from meeting new people, and from sharing the world with people who might not take the opportunity to see it for themselves. I look at the lives of friends and family back home with admiration, but I know it is not for me. For me, this nomadic life is irreplaceably luxurious.
3- What keeps you motivated to keep on travelling?
This is my calling, I have no doubt. The day it turns undesirable, I’ll settle down in one place. For now, I must go. Much of the motivation is brought on by the thrill and the newness each moment brings.
4- What do you love most about long term travel and what do you dislike most?
I love most the fact that my life is ever changing. Each day is new and exciting. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t walk down a different street, try a different food, see a new face, and have a new sort of realization. It’s really incredible!
The major issue of long term travel is the disconnect and yearning I have to be with family. Many days, I wish I could be sitting in my mom’s kitchen, my dad’s living room, or on my grandparents’ porch relaxing with them and listening to their priceless ramblings. I want them to know how much I love them, even though we are so far apart. If anything brings me back home, it will be family. Luckily, they are each more understanding than I could ever ask them to be and I still feel their supportive vibes from half a world a way.
5- Have you had any major troubles on your travels?
Of course. There have been many unfortunate incidences I’ve encountered. Several, I have no doubt I could have avoided had I not been a female traveling solo. But then again, so many positive experiences wouldn’t have occurred under different circumstances either. Each moment is an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s important to constantly make adjustments to travel styles and even interactions with others (Should I smile? Should I make eye contact or avoid it? Say hello or ignore?) in an effort to avoid encounters of an escalated level.
6- How can you afford long term travel?
I saved immensely before going. Living that ‘picket fence’ lifestyle, I was working between 50-70 hours each week for much of it and bought a house and car (which I could later sell). Had I been planning all along to ditch my ‘normal’ life for a nomadic one, I wouldn’t have made those insane purchases, but by selling them throughout my travels, they’ve acted as nice reserve accounts.
Additionally, I’ve always lived on an extreme budget. Whether on the road or at home, I find myself at second-hand shops much more frequently than at malls, opt for home cooked food or street food rather than restaurants, and walk whenever possible. Hitchhiking, volunteering, and Couchsurfing took good care of accommodation and transportation costs throughout much of Europe as well.
I went 14 months without work, but have found teaching abroad and volunteering in exchange for room and board to be extremely supportive sources of income/stability! (I’ve several posts about the incredible volunteering experiences I’ve managed, like teaching English and learning Russian in Ukraine, working on a permaculture farm in Cyprus, and living for a month on a Romanian monastery! Can you imagine!?)
7- Where are you now and where are you going next?
I’m currently teaching in Yangon, Myanmar. I’ll be here for a total of six months, but am taking advantage of school breaks whenever possible. There’s much to be explored yet in Southeast Asia, so I intend to stick around these parts for a while!
8- Of all the places you’ve been, which one would you recommend for digital nomads and why?
Romania or Ukraine. The cost of living in these countries is phenomenal when compared to many other European cities, the internet is one of the best in the world, food is fresh and delectable and the Carpathian Mountains provide endless thrills when a getaway is needed.
9- What item/gadget don’t you travel without?
I’ve got to name three: My MacBook Air (with a cute pink keyboard cover to protect it from spills when I can’t pull myself away from work to sip a steaming cup of coffee), an external hard drive (back that thing up!), and my Canon PowerShot SX60 HS (this camera is KING! No interchangeable lenses, but a 65x optical zoom which takes impeccable shots)
10- What advice would you give to someone who is about to start long term travelling?
“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” -Roald Dahl