Hi. I’m Monique.
Cultural anthropologist, continual traveler, and professional blogger.
I help people travel authentically using my skills as a cultural anthropologist and expert traveler. I am passionate about the advantages of travel – it can transform your life if you travel with your eyes wide open. How do I help people travel authentically? I break down and decode destinations and teach you how to look at a place ethnographically, publish content, and help plan your next itinerary. It’s important to me that you know how to look for the right deals to travel longer, deeper and more authentically
What Anthropologists Know
Cultural anthropologists go to the parts on the map that says, ‘Here Be Dragons.” We go to the creases on the map. In fact, anthropologists have traveled to the furthest, far-flung parts of the world – from the Arctic to the Amazon, to the African plains. We have looked, learned, listened, and participated. And what have we learned from 150 years of finding and living with the world’s most remote peoples?
This is what we have learned:
No matter how far and how wide we travel, we return home eventually only to find that there is nowhere stranger, more different, or more unique than our own culture! And that is the value of anthropology and of authentic travel. There is no greater way to gain perspective upon both our amazing world and our own lives and selves. The prize of returning home from each incredible adventure is a new level of contentment and peace with ourselves and our own little corner of the world.
I have always had an insatiable curiosity about the richness and diversity of the world’s cultures and places. I love discovering new things – things that people make, build, cook, fear, and celebrate! My travels have taken me to many of the remotest villages of the world as well as to its greatest global cities and ancient wonders. As an ethnographer I have lived, worked, studied and written about Burma (Myanmar) since 1994. I have written many books and articles about the country, its people, its beauty, its terrible history of authoritarianism. I have written most about the bottomless wells of courage, hope and dark humor that Burmese people have possessed during moments of severe repression, fear, and self-censorship.
The spirit of the Burmese and their mystical landscape has become a part of me. Have you ever that that feeling when you return home and you think that perhaps you might be never quite the same? That you’ve grown or changed, for the better? I once met a middle-aged Burmese ponycart driver. She had 13 children. I was young and childless and couldn’t understand why she chose to impoverish herself in that way. She looked at me with a quiet smile and fingered an imaginary necklace around her neck as she said, Because, children are like jewels. There is a word in Burmese yadana, that roughly translated means “to hold all of the wealth in the world in your hands.” People sometimes make a scooping gesture as they say the word to mimic scooping up gemstones from the earth. That’s what children are to the Burmese: all the wealth in the world condensed into these little bodies. Burma (Myanmar) is an impossibly scenic land but it is the wisdom, courage, and dignity of the Burmese people that has changed me. (You can watch some of the national television news interviews I have given on Myanmar below as well as view links to some of my academic books on Myanmar).
Authentic travel is about all about having unforgettable experiences like these (well, maybe without the fear and repression parts) by immersing yourself in the local worlds of the people and places you visit. It’s about taking home not just selfies but memories of adventures and experiences that transform you and that way you see the world and your place in it.
How can you do that? By using me as your anthropological guide you’ll know what’s going on, where, and when – what to see and why it’s so fascinating. The history, culture, art, and architecture of peoples, villages, cities, and nations bewitch me. Anthropologists are trained to observe, to map, to have the right gear at the right time, and to be fearless and real with all the people we meet in the field. But travel is also about chilling out, putting yourself in a completely different zone to your normal work/life, and coming back home full of life and energy. Travel for me always involves getting lost and becoming absorbed in things that interest me. You can plan and schedule your trips to an amazing degree but if you know where to go and what to look for, you can remain open to all kinds of weird, one-off, spontaneous experiences that create forever memories.
For each destination, you will learn a little about the history and culture or the art and architecture of some of the world’s most fascinating locations. You might find local maps, cycling and running routes, playlists of local music, history, culture, art, food, traditions, rituals, and celebrations. I’ll be adding podcasts and a whole lot more. Let me know what you’d love to know about and the places that are on your bucket list. As Susan Sontag said, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
And I’d love you to join the TripAnthropologist tribe by signing up for my tips and travel resources so that you can get my latest posts from all over the world! Your privacy is important to me and your email details remain completely private.
You can also head over to the Travel Tips and Resources page where I’ll be placing all the travel essentials like insurance that I’ve used for many years and have come to rely upon.
At TripAnthropologist you choose the kind of travel you like – laid back, frenetic, energetic, culture, or nature, food or nightlife, art, architecture, history, music, or literature. But whatever you choose you can be sure that you’ll get to see and experience what is really going on with people in their local worlds. So don’t be a tourist! Come with me and be a trip anthropologist – immerse yourself in the local sights, sounds, smells, cultures, and histories of the places you travel. In other words, travel authentically and come home transformed!