About Me


Hello and welcome to Miles of Smiles To Go. I’m Ilyanna (*Hiiii Ilyanna*) and I am addicted to traveling, soaking up new cultures, and experiencing life to its’ greatest capacity. Born and raised in the dry and sunny desert of Tucson, Arizona where you probably think we stare at cactus for fun, I decided a couple years ago that it was time for me to change up the scenery and lifestyle that I had been used to my whole life. What better place to do that than China, right? Long gone were my precious forks and mountainous landscapes. Chopsticks and smog-filled cities had replaced the former and everything I thought I knew about myself, the world, and simply living was harshly flipped upside down. Despite the smell of stinky tofu, my irritating inability to communicate with 97% of the Chinese locals, and the frequent lack of edible-looking food, I fell head over heels in love with China and with traveling… and thus my unrelenting longing to travel more began.

Since my first international experience in China in 2015, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to step foot a few new countries as well as a handful of new states within my own sweet country. Getting food poisoning in the Philippines, sweating my face off and eating all the Mickey waffles at Hong Kong Disneyland, and sharing kisses with a dolphin in Mexico have been some of my most unforgettable international travel moments.

Volunteering to teach English in China for a semester was without a doubt the best decision of my life– so much so that I decided to do it again in Mexico. By actually living in each country for an entire semester at a time, I was able to fully immerse myself in the country’s unique cultures and ways of life. I now have homes in Changzhou, China and Celaya, Mexico; in just two months, I’ll be making a new home for myself in Phitsanulok, Thailand. I’m more than ready for all the pad thai, fruit smoothies and Thai culture!

So why do I even have this blog? The purpose of Miles of Smiles To Go is firstly to my share my own travel experiences; the good and the inevitable bad, from both my domestic and international travels. I’ll share the good things I go through that I totally recommend, as well as the mishaps that I experience so that you can hopefully learn from my mistakes. The second purpose is to give to whatever readers that come here tips and advice about all things travel: packing, budgeting, cheap airfare, etc… everything I currently know and everything that I’ll continue to learn about traveling will be on my blog. Thirdly, I want to inspire others to travel more. By traveling more, you will learn things you couldn’t have ever possible learned if you had stayed within your toxic comfort zone. By traveling more, your mind indubitably opens up to the different cultures and ways of life around the world.

Here’s your invitation!

Who: You!

What: A new blog post.

When: Weekly/Bi-Weekly. (With full-time work and full-time school, it’s hard for me to make a specific time commitment for posting, but I’ll do my absolute best to post at least once every week or two)

Where: milesofsmilestogo.com

Why: To read up on the experiences I share here, to get inspiration for your next adventure, to open your mind, and to check out travel tips & advice.

Following this invitation, I offer you a challenge: I dare you to get away from your own comfort zone and I dare you to travel somewhere new. Immerse yourself in a completely foreign and uncomfortable situation. Get away from what you’ve been used to your whole life. The best things in life are on the other side of fear.

With all the love,


Upcoming international travels:

Thailand (August-December 2017), Finland (April 2018)