What makes a person want to spend their whole life traveling? It’s a question I’ve been asked before and thought about often, especially when I meet people like Mila, for whom travel is a lifestyle rather than an event. I suspect the answer is different for everyone but I have noticed a trend: when wanderlust is sparked in a child, it’s near impossible to squash it. This week I’m eager to share an interview with Mila Whitman, a woman who has spent most of her life wandering the globe.
Thank you so much, Mila, for sharing your inspiring journey with us!
CONNECT WITH MILA:
Name: Mila Whitman
Hometown: Too many!
Current residence: Travelling
Job title: Digital Business Owner
Place you’d visit again: Italy!
Destination on your bucket list: Antarctica, New Zealand and Japan
Tell Us About Yourself.
I was born in St Petersburg, Russia in the gloomy eighties, and moved to Kazakhstan, where I learned to ride camels. I strongly suspect that this is the time I caught the travelling bug – I was four.
A few years later, after completing my schooling in Lithuania, I moved to Britain and graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in languages.
My love for languages helped kick off my career in intergovernmental marketing and encouraged relocation, first to Amsterdam (JWT), then to Berlin – my urban love! – and later bringing me back to the bustling London.
There I met Mark, and we moved to Saigon together, before travelling across the globe for years – South East Asia, all of Europe, parts of the USA, South and Central America – we’ve experienced it all together. And I don’t see us stopping any time soon!
Why Do You Travel?
I travel because I couldn’t stay put in one place for more then a few months at a time. It just wouldn’t work for my life aspirations. I want to experience everything this world has on offer that I’m cable and interested in experiencing.
I travelled continuously before the term ‘digital nomads’ existed. My mum used to call me ‘travelling gypsy’, which had a hippy vibe to it.
My imagination always took me places from as long as I can remember. Now I’m lucky enough to be taking my imagination places.
I also travel with my husband and this is the very foundation of our relationship – to endlessly discover the world outside and inside ourselves to learn as much as we can handle.
Explain what you do for work.
We have a few adventure travel sites, my favourite being Mountain IQ, I love what it represents and how it helped hundreds of people to step outside their comfort zone in a responsible and safe way.
I also support marketing efforts of a master programme at the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School, because I believe the university has so much to offer the world, and it needs all the help it can get.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Naturally, I’m very lazy: I wake up early but read in bed with a cuppa for an hour or two, so my morning routine is definitely an example of what productivity gurus would call ‘what not to do’!
But I’m a strong believer in keeping some free space in my mind – without it new ideas would never have enough room to flourish. This is why starting the day with a beauty of literary world accompanied by a warm sensation of coffee, is what I use as my rocket fuel for making every day just a little more creative professionally.
If there is a trick for a clearer mind (not that I’m an expert!) I’d recommend staring out of the window at least once a day. For me, this kind of momentary tranquility allows for imagination to take hold. This is why, wherever I work I have my computer in front of a window – I need to see the world in order to truly be part of it and be inspired by it.
I work about 3-4 hours a day; to break it down – I do an hour on a site, an hour on social networks, and then use the other two hours to improve existing methodologies and routines in my work.
In the evenings, I dedicate an hour to languages and classical literature – I practice my German, am currently learning Italian and reading Nabokov’s lectures on Russian literature.
However, if we have a big trekking adventure planned out, then the whole schedule falls on its face!
Are you able to easily balance work and travel?
My work is travel, so the answer would be – ‘hell yes!’
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from your travels?
To use my imagination and believe in the impossible: I never could have visualised my life as it is today; yet, it’s a reality I’m very proud off.
As one of the Instagrammable-wisdom quotes goes: ‘We travel not to learn about other places, but to learn about ourselves’. Although I’m suspicious of its simplicity and egocentrism, I quite agree with the notion of the statement.
Share one of your favorite travel memories?
Machu Picchu would be at the top of my list. We went down a very difficult route called Vilcabamba Trail, and this tough trek had tested a lot in me – from the loss of both of my large toe nails, to considering leaving Mark right there on a side of the mountain!
But it also created beautiful memories from the moments in the ancient jungle where palm trees haven’t changed since the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, with the clouds of butterflies of the size and colour I’ve never seen before or after; and of course, the glory of the infamous Inca ruins – I will always cherish that adventure.
If you could share one travel tip with other women on how to be more sustainable travelers, what would it be?
I’d suggest considering taking trains instead of flying when distances aren’t too long. Understandably, when you are travelling from the States to Europe it’s common sense to fly, but inside the continent, avoid travelling by plane – you’d be reducing your environmental footprint and enjoying some of the most spectacular views Europe has on offer. The same is true about many other places.
Also, please stop buying drinking water in plastic bottles!
THANKS FOR READING MILA’S STORY!
Looking for more interviews? Head to our Woman of the Week archives for the full library.
I’ve also created three freebies to help you plan your next adventure:
- 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF)
- 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist)
- and 30 Jobs to See the World.
After you join the mailing list up, you’ll have access to all the freebies, AND get the password to the Global Directory! The directory will connect you to my recommended resources for each country and tons of travel topics. All blog posts I recommend are written by traveling ladies. From logistics to inspiration, the Global Directory will help you find the info you need no matter where you’re going.