Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps
Occupation: Travel Blogger and Photographer
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Residence: Full-time traveler currently in Yangon, Myanmar
College: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
College major: Master’s of Mathematics Education (my, how we change!)
Short bio: Anika Mikkelson—Miss Maps—is a woman on a mission to visit every country in the world. As a full-time traveler, I have visited over 70 countries and truly do not aim to stop until I’ve experienced life in each one. I’ve experienced life in the Middle East, Venezuela, Iceland, Kosovo, Russia, Bangladesh, and so many more. I’ve lived in Kuwait, learned Russian in Ukraine, lived on a monastery with nuns in Romania, and have seen my life flash before my
eyes while canyoning in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a travel blogger and photographer, it has been my aim to “bring the world to the world” through original photographs and stories shared on various outlets. While the majority of my
travels are done solo, most globetrotters will agree that even a single traveller is never truly alone. I have met so many spectacular people along the way. These folks help make the journey what it is!
How often do you fly? I prefer overland travel, so months may go by without a single flight, followed by months of continuous jet-setting.
How many countries have you been to? 72
How many continents have you been to? 5
Earliest travel memory: As children, my brother and I frequently flew together to various corners of the United States to visit family members. The first trip I remember was to Texas to visit our dad. On the flight, we were invited to meet the plane’s pilots and given those classic plastic airplane wings to pin on our backpacks. We felt like superstars!
Favorite American city: Boulder, Colorado. You can’t beat waking up with a view of the Rockies, strolling barefoot
downtown, or biking to yoga classes in the middle of winter. Everyone is there for a different reason, but with an equal goal in mind: to find balance, enjoy nature’s splendor and escape from the traditional rat race without going too far off the grid.
Favorite international city: Bangkok, Thailand blew my mind. In three words: color, chaoticness (yes, chaoticness), culture.
Least favorite country: Kuwait—only said after living there for nine months! After a string of unfortunate events there, it is the only place I actively dissuade others, especially females, from visiting.
Friendliest people in the world: Hands down, the residents of Lumbini, Nepal were the friendliest people I’ve met. From young to old, everyone greets each other with a bow and “Namaste.” A young boy in charge of his family’s bicycle shop there told me it was the first word he learned.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Meteora, Greece. The peacefulness and serenity envelops you as you walk around sky-high cliffs and perfectly balanced monasteries. Greeks traditionally travel there three times in their lifetime: Once as children, once as parents, and once as grandparents. When you visit, you wonder why they don’t find more reasons to return!
Favorite airline: Air India: chicken biryani, dosa and masala chai for an in-flight dinner? Dessert of gulab
jamun? Scores of Bollywood films at your fingertips? Yes please!
Favorite international airport: Amsterdam: stands selling fresh tulip throughout the terminal are only the beginning. Just wait until you find the yoga studio!
Favorite cruise line: St. Peter Line—They’ll take you from Helsinki, Finland to Saint Petersburg, Russia visa-free. They arrange hotel and transportation for you at a very reasonable cost. On board, options include Finnish Saunas, classical pianists, children’s shows with pirates, and eccentric dance troupes. Food selections are plentiful with a wide range meant to satisfy pocketbooks of budgetconscious and luxurious travelers. The views aren’t so bad, either. I was able to travel with them this past May, and spent my 29th birthday in Russia with three friends I’d met during my travels. Quite possibly the best birthday to date!
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: The Tap in El Paso, Texas. The jukebox runs all night with locals’ favorites, and the bar staff is the most consistent I’ve (be prepared to speak in Spanish). A single order of the nachos will leave a party of five ready to be rolled out the door. Other than these loaded chips, cold drinks and a ratty old pool table are the dive’s main attractions.
Favorite food: It’s a tie between cevapcici of Bosnia and Herzegovina and borsch of Ukraine and Russia. (Note: Though next door neighbors, Croatia’s cevapcici is drastically different and disappointing in comparison to B and H’s. Save your tastebuds and try the real thing!).
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): I have three staples: water, black coffee, red wine.
Favorite travel show(s): An Idiot Abroad—Karl Pilkington will help you remember that we’re not all perfect, and neither is every moment of travel. It reminds you to keep a light heart and laugh even in the least idilic situations.
Favorite travel book(s): “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho inspired me to search for the unknown with confidence and an open mind. I frequently look to Coelho and his books for continued inspiration.
Right now I am reading: Emma Larkin’s “Finding George Orwell in Burma.” It has taught me a shocking amount about the history of the region, something I’m invested in learning more about as I’m currently based in Burma (Myanmar).
Favorite travel website(s)—besides Hundredbacklinks.com, of course! Aw man, really? If I can’t say Hundredbacklinks…Atlas Obscura lights up my inbox with tons of fun facts and entertaining travel-related bits. There are so many travel bloggers I actively follow as well: Teacake Travels and Journalist on the Run in particular have motivated me to push myself
in my travels and in my blogging career.
5 things you bring on a plane: Book, notebook, pen, scarf to wrap up in, and earphones.
What do you like least about travel? Adapting to new toilets. Now, when I find a clean, odorless toilet with paper and a proper dry seat, I feel like a queen on her throne. Otherwise, it’s squatty potties, plugged noses, or my other favorite: Mother Nature.
Favorite travel app(s): HEREMaps—AMAZING, really. Before leaving for your next trip, download the map for the
country and/or region you’re visiting. When you arrive, you’ll have data-free, Wi-Fi-free access to the maps. They are astoundingly accurate and often offer routes for pedestrians, cars, and public transportation.
Favorite travel charity: A friend I met briefly while in France runs the non-profit The Wandering Samaritan. The idea is that when its travel ambassadors meet someone in need, they will the organization for donations to cover the cost of that item, and help provide it in a timely manner. He’s helped people all over the world obtain goods and services they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.
Best travel tip: “Go Do”—Jonsi.
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