No Place Is Too Wild or Too Far for Maggie Shipstead

In her travels, the “New York Times"–bestselling novelist has found comfort for grief and inspiration for writing.

Portrait of author Maggie Shipstead

Maggie Shipstead hiked 220 miles alone in northern Sweden.

Courtesy of Maggie Shipstead

Revenge travel is out (in fact, it never really felt “in” to us). Instead, this year we’re all about reconnection travel, which is proving to be the top reason for travel postpandemic. After a tough few years, people are going out into the world again with real excitement—and purpose. So we interviewed 11 globe-trotting celebrities to find out what “reconnection” means to them, whether that’s hitting the road solo, feasting through Italy, gallivanting with old friends, paying tribute to loved ones who’ve passed, or making an all-important visit to mom.

New York Times–bestselling author Maggie Shipstead found inspiration for her novel The Great Circle on a ship in the Arctic, and she found solace from grief on a long solo trip in Sweden. Below, she talks about her travels and the places that are calling her back now.

What place is calling you back?

I went to Africa for the first time right before the pandemic—a desert lodge in Namibia and a horseback safari in Botswana—and I’ve been thinking about returning ever since. My desire to stare at wild animals is pretty much bottomless, and there’s so much more to be experienced on that massive, wildly diverse continent.

What place feels like home, even if it’s not where you’re from?

I really feel at home in Scandinavia. My paternal grandfather was the child of Norwegian immigrants, and those genes are strong in both my brother and myself. We like orderly cities, rugged landscapes, and cold climates.

Are you planning trips to reconnect? If so, how?

In August and September of 2022, not long after my mother died, I hiked 220 miles alone in northern Sweden on a trail called the Kungsleden, and it helped me find myself again, both within the experience of grief and also after a period of intense change in my life. Now some part of my brain is always noodling about how and where I can get back on a trail. I live in Los Angeles, and hopefully pretty soon I can find a few days to hike the 40-mile length of Catalina.

Maggie Shipstead, author whose works include The Great Circle (Knopf, 2021) and the short-story collection You Have a Friend in 10A (Knopf, 2022). Shipstead has also been a guest on AFAR’s Travel Tales podcast, on the episode “Searching for Inspiration in the Norwegian Arctic.”

Read more from our Reconnection Travel series.

Kaitlin Menza is a Taipei-based writer who covers lifestyle, politics, pop culture, and social issues. You can find her work at
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