Marina is a long term traveler and a digital nomad. Born in the Soviet Union, she has traveled and worked remotely across 4 continents over the last 6 years. Marina enjoys all things outdoors and adventure, trying and learning new things while surrounding herself with a crew of beautiful people pursuing their craziest dreams. Professionally, she is a User Experience designer and the founder of What’s It Like, a travel app that helps travelers determine the best time to travel. Tweet at her!
I’m Marina Janeiko, and this is How I Travel.
What do you love most about traveling?
I want to say it’s the people I meet and it seems quite obvious, but I just realized that there’s actually something else and it’s finding the scenius. Scenius is a kind of genius that is possessed not by people, but by places and communities – scenes.
It’s what makes Bali such a magnet for digital nomads, it’s what makes Silicon Valley the place where brains power is the currency, it’s what makes Vilcabamba in Ecuador a place of gathering of extraordinary people. You get to these places and you immediately sense in its vibe that something’s going on here. You might not get it right away, but it teases your curiosity and makes you fascinated with the place and the whole scene. That’s the kind of scenius I enjoy a lot.
How has travel changed you as a person?
I’ve definitely become more humble. Seeing all the different ways people live their lives, do their craft and care for each other left a big mark on my sense of humility and awe for others.
I think I’ve also become more resilient and less fragile. One of my favorite recently-read books Antifragile has this example about anti-fragility as a quality. The author says that wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. The wind is the forces of change and uncertainty and we want to use them, not hide from them. When the wind comes, be the fire, not the candle.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through all your travels?
Self-reliance. We all need support time to time, but many of us become dependent on other people, possessions, opinions, external events and just let those things lead the way. Self-reliance has come as an eye-opening discovery to me in my hardest and darkest moments. That’s when I felt the spike in self-reliance and the sense that it’s all going to be alright, because I’m still here and I’m still in charge no matter what.
Seeking self-reliance came quite naturally and unintentionally to me. If I look back, the choices I’ve made were clearly exercises in self-reliance: I started living on my own at a quite young age, juggled 2 jobs while studying at university, went on 3000 km solo hitchhiking trip across Europe, found ways to do my work from anywhere, and married a guy who doesn’t see dependence as something attractive. Travel gave me a big push towards practicing self-reliance intentionally.
Being a traveler, you’re always more self-reliant than many other people and sometimes being a self-reliant individual among many chronically dependent people feels like you’re going against the current. It feels that you’re a weirdo unable to form conventionally dependent relationships with things and people. This can be a source of exceptional strength and a source of terrible feeling of loneliness. I found that the strength is worth it all.
What’s the one travel-related purchase under $100 that has had the biggest positive impact on you in the last 12 months?
A shower curtain with the US map on it. My husband turned it inside out so that when you’re outside the map makes no sense, but when you’re showering, it’s a lot of fun to think about travel.
Marina’s 6 Favorite Travel Items
This travel bag has traveled with me to 4 continents and has seen incredible variety of places from remote islands in the Philippines to surreal landscapes of Atacama Desert in Chile to misty highlands in Scotland. The wheels have been replaced several times, but other than that – it’s been a great travel companion for a long time.
This is a travel must-have for me. Coconut oil can be used for anything – from treating sun burns to hair conditioning to cooking to oiling zippers to getting rid of parasites when a doctor is not available (yep, I had to do that in the deep jungle of the Amazon). [Editor’s Note: Mishie won’t leave home without her coconut oil either!]
No matter how digital is our age, sketchbook is still the best way to draft out ideas and thoughts for me. My sketchbooks change and go into oblivion once in a while, but I definitely always have one with me.
I love these! I got them in Seoul, South Korea, at a street fair where an artist was hand painting white Converse type shoes and selling them for $25. At that time coming from a year in Southeast Asia $25 seemed like a lot of money, but I fell in love with these and just had to have them.
Acquired in Bolivia 2 years ago, this bag has been with me literally everywhere I go. This is the single most attached-to-me thing I possess. At first when I got it in La Paz it seemed like a weird shape and size, but it reminded me of those funky vintage mailman bags, so I thought I’m getting it just for fun. The shape and the size turned out to be one of the most convenient combinations a bag can have.
My husband got me this sweater in NYC 5 years ago and it has been traveling with me since then. I have to admit that by now it’s barely wearable as it has been accumulating everything from curry stains to traces of soil to mild scents of salt flats, jungle humidity and bonfires. These days I primarily use it as a baseline for my clothing size
Marina in 60 Seconds
Fav Place to Travel I can’t choose just one!
But if I have to: Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Cambodia, California, Portugal
Ideal Trip CompanionAyn Rand
Good conversations guaranteed
Next Travel PurchaseVan + Hexagon Dome for Burning Man
Next DestinationAll over USA, or the Middle East