My love letter to the United States of America 

Personal

It all started in Florida, but quickly grew its way into East Coast road trips, Route 1 adventures and a trip that brought me halfway across the country. We zigzagged a few states here and there, and before I knew it I needed more than my fingers and toes to count the States I had visited. By the time I was 15 my family and I had travelled to the country 19 times. When my 16th birthday came around my roots were torn up from the familiar Danish ground and relocated to what was to become my 2nd home.

When I turned 21 I had been to 33 states. Some I passed through within hours, others I spent days exploring and a selected few I lived in for years. I grew up traveling the U.S. in the back seat of cars.

I fell in love with surfing on the beaches of Hawaii. I got a picture with Minnie Mouse at Disney World in Florida, not to be confused with Disney Land in California where I met Pocahontas and almost peed my pants on the Indiana Jones ride. I had my first New Years kiss to the sound of the ball dropping at a high school party in Connecticut. I drove two hours with college girlfriends to shop at Trader Joe’s in Orlando. I survived a category 4 hurricane in the basement of a hotel that was falling apart in Florida. I stood on all four in the famous cross where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet, the only place in the country where you can be in four states at once. I ordered room-service in Las Vegas with my sister while my parents were trying their luck in the casino. Forever the biggest piece of chocolate cake I have seen. I danced the day and night away at a music festival in New York City.  I considered eating my way through a meat challenge in Virginia. I flew over Grand Canyon in a helicopter. I got to see my then boyfriend win the national championship running the mile at Harvard University. I slept through the fireworks over Niagara Falls. I graduated high school and got to throw my cap in to the air. I gazed out over Manhattan with my best friends from a rooftop terrace. I spent a weekend learning the ins and outs of snowboarding in Vermont. I got asked to prom spelled out on cupcakes in the middle of calculus class. I saw shooting stars on the beach in Cape Cod, skinny dipping with a Corona in my hand and some of the best people surrounding me. I met a little girl in Central Park that wanted me to teach her how to do cart wheels. I got a tattoo of an airplane in Tampa. I swam around in one pool after another, always pretending I was a mermaid. I got to experience a true Hamptons weekend, and everything that comes with it. I got stopped by a police boat in the Gulf; “According to Florida State Law its against the rules to be outside the railing of your boat.” I drove 1,300 miles down the East Coast to get to my college. I experienced a different world in New Orleans. I watched my first meteor shower on Compo Beach. I drove thorugh Death Valley and was amazed by what I saw. I got a glimpse into space in Houston. I went on endless amounts of walks and was always greeted with smiles and hellos. I met some of the most amazing people I will ever know.

I could continue that list for days, but I bet it got pretty boring after 5 memories, unless you were one of the people that I got to share them with. I have had countless amazing and unforgettable experiences. Many of them I can thank my parents for, but even more I can thank the beautiful people of this country and it’s mind blowing scenery, nature and cities.

What is really interesting (and most of all sad) is that I’ve met quite a few people arond the world who doesn’t have the United States on their bucket list. People that wants to see the whole world, except for the states. The reasons are always political and stereotypical.
Whenever I get asked a question ending with “isn’t it like that in the States?” or people state that “that’s how it works in America” I always make a very clear point about how the country (in term of stereotypes) should really be viewed as 50 small countries, and that because your cousin experienced one thing with an American in Oregan 5 years ago, it doesn’t automatically mean that the 20 million people living 2,800 miles away would’ve have acted that way or said those same words.

Please don’t leave the United States off of your bucket list because of the stereotypes, because of what you have heard, because of what you have seen on the news or because of the election that turned Donald Trump into the president..

The United States is an incredible, beautiful and diverse country. For what it is and for all it has yet to become. Yes they have some serious issues, but what country doesn’t.

Open up your mind; there’s so much you don’t know and so much you have yet to see and experience.

// Annika

Traveling solo

Personal

Edit: I can see that I started writing this post December 19th 2015. This was after my first solo trip traveling to Portugal. I remember feeling almost embarrassed back then to say that I was traveling on my own. Oh how things have changed. I then continued writing almost three years ago before I headed to Sri Lanka on a five weeks solo trip. Lastly I edited the post after returning from my solo trip to Turkey last summer. For some odd reason I never posted it, but now here it is. 

“Who are you going with?” Time after time this is one of the first questions I get asked when talking about a new trip I’m planning. “Myself” I answer proudly.  An answer that’s usually reciprocated with a nervous smile. Some people flat out ask “Why!?”
Others say something like; “Oh… but.. you’re going with a group right? .. Or an agency?” When the answer to that question is “No,” the nervous smile turns into a weird look, and so the explaining begins..

To me traveling solo is the feeling of complete freedom, strength and independence.

Each time I feel happy when traveling alone it is a different kind of intense happiness than other people can give me. It’s happiness completely created from within, and experiencing that I am capable of feeling that kind of happiness solely brought upon by myself, brings me the strongest feeling of content.

The happiest of campers after completing a challenging hike all on my own through caves in Cappadocia, Turkey

Solo traveling is done by many, but questioned by even more. Nonetheless it is something I have come to love. I might even say I’ve gotten addicted to it.
Each trip is a growing experience, and every time I connect with a foreign stranger I get an exhilarating feeling. In the strangest way, traveling alone makes me feel more alive. This feeling is mostly derived from becoming friends with people holding a different nationality. It makes me feel both wildly excited and incredibly calm to know that all around the world are friendships waiting to be had.

When I travel alone I experience everything more intensely, and I get to know myself better. I push boundaries, move outside of my comfort zone and each time I reach a new destination, I start over from square one.

Every solo trip start out with me being nervous. “What have I done?” “Why am I doing this?” are just few among the many questions that runs through my mind when I am at the airport, waiting impatiently to board the aircraft.
Traveling alone is not easy peasy flowers and butterflies. There’s no one to hold your spot in the two hour long service desk line you’re forced to wait in when you missed your connecting flight and you’re two mili seconds and a rain drop from peeing your pants. There’s no one to help you out when you’re five minutes from the airport and realise that you forgot your passport at the hostel you were staying at (yes, this really happened…). There’s also no one to look after you late at night when a person is following you on the way back to your hostel, somehow appearing at every corner even though you continuously make the weirdest turns. These are few among many issues that you potentially have to deal with all by yourself. There are lonely moments and moments when things go wrong and I’d do anything to have a travel buddy by my side, but they are few and far between.

Another question I often face is “aren’t you going to get sick of your own company?” To be quite honest, I think I am the only person in the world I could spend 24/7 alone with for five weeks without getting sick of my own company. I kind of have to be able to do that. And truthfully, each time I travel alone, I find myself being surrounded by more people than if I had been traveling with a friend. You meet so many new people – new friends – from all over the world.

I’ve come to know incredible souls from Canada, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Russia, Holland, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Turkey, Germany, Spain and so many other countries. These might not all be people whom I stay in touch with on a weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis, but if I ever visit their country I’ll be sure to stop by to give them a hug and share a bottle of wine. Just as they all know that if they ever come across Copenhagen, they’ll have a place to stay and a tour guide at their disposal.

“Those who fly solo have the strongest wings” said a quote I once read. Now, I believe that nothing is stronger than the bond two people, whom have chosen each other, share, but to further strengthen that bond, I truly think that it is paramount to know that you are able to “fly” on your own, without having someone ready to catch you if you break a wing. If you ask me, traveling solo is something everyone should do at least once in their life.

I don’t intend to always fly solo, to always travel alone, but for now it is undoubtedly my favorite way to explore, experience and grow. Little by little. Trip by trip.

So please don’t make me explain.

// Annika