A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Nomad, Swiss Alps Edition

by Gigi Griffis

Every few months, I document an average day in my not-so-average life. Last time, I told you about assuaging my financial fears in Mexico. Today, I’m going to give you a glimpse of my newly minted full-time travel writer + part-time hiker lifestyle in my favorite place in the world: Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley. 

Without further ado, then…

9 a.m. : I’ve got my sweet, milky Chai tea and two warm croissants and am settling down at the small black kitchen table that doubles as my desk.

It’s a bit dreary this morning, so I’m working inside, though on sunny days you’re more likely to find me sitting cross-legged in a big, blue chair on the balcony. On those days, I split my time between working and staring breathlessly at a view of the imposing cliffs, charming church steeple, and many waterfalls that snake down the walls of the valley.

Today, though, I’m inside. I can still see a little view of the town through the window, but the majority of my view is the warm, wood-paneled walls of my temporary living room.

View from my balcony

10:30 : This morning, I’m working on two things. The first is finding American expats living in Europe who would like to be interviewed for a magazine article. I’m sending out feelers all weekend, trying to catch a great story.

The second is my book proposal. I’m working my way through Your Big Beautiful Book Plan with its example proposals (so useful) and simple organization, putting together the first draft of a proposal for The Good Girl’s Guide to Living a Badass Life. Today, I’m tackling chapter summaries, my own bio, and a few nice little touches that the program didn’t recommend, but I think will give my proposal the personality and me-ness that I’m looking for.

11 : I rush around the house tying my sneakers, filling my backpack with snacks and water bottles, and harnessing the dog for a hike up the mountain. I’m supposed to hike up and meet my BASE jumper friends at a cliff-top train station called Winteregg around 1:00. Usually it takes two hours to get there, so I worry that I’m going to run late and miss them.

noon : Luna and I climb the steep cliffside trail at a breakneck pace, stopping only once to refuel on granola bars and water. I don’t have a clock on me, so my only option if I want to make it to the station in time is to go as fast as I can and hope to beat the group there.


Luna is thrilled with this new, quicker pace and races up the trail, pausing to wait for me every time the trail curves out of sight.

12:30 : I am shocked to discover that what normally takes two hours at a decent pace has only taken me one and a half. I’m at the Winteregg station way before the group and have time to sit on the large outdoor patio with a hot chocolate and another granola bar, alternating my time between staring out at the foggy expanse beyond the cliffs and reading a book about the first man to walk the entire Amazon river (because you know I love me some adventure memoirs).

Book and mug

1:20 : The BASE jumpers arrive and Luna and I follow them down the trail to their exit point (where they’ll jump off the cliffs). It’s a steepish downhill climb and with several days of mist and rain, it’s become a bit of a mud pit. One of the guys wipes out down the trail in the first few minutes of the hike. I go slower in order to keep my footing.

Luna, apparently feeling the high energy levels of everyone in the group, runs madly up and down the trail and then (when I leash her to keep her from tripping anyone) proceeds to make a horrible high-pitched whining sound that only gets worse when we get to the bottom of the trail and everyone starts gearing up for their jumps.

1:45 : “I’m so sorry, guys. She’s not normally this noisy.” I apologize, a bit embarrassed.

“She probably just feels all our high energy and is responding to it,” suggests Lucia wisely.

I snap a harness around my waist with a little help from Lucia’s boyfriend, a speed-flyer who will be hiking back up the trail with me after the others fling themselves from the cliff. The rest of the way down is a little more dangerous and if you fall, well, there’s nothing to be done for you.

We clip our harnesses onto ropes and make our way down. I find a high spot on the rocks, still clipped into the rope, and stand out of the way to watch the jumpers. Luna stops whining and starts eating grass to calm her nervous stomach.



2 : The first jumper dives off the cliff. Luna panics and tries to run after her (“I’ll save you!”). We hear her parachute open after a few seconds and see her weave the parachute to a field for landing. I can feeling the adrenaline humming through my own body. We’re so high.

2:15 : Everyone has jumped, safely opening their chutes and weaving in for a landing. The two non-jumpers start to pack up our things and make our way back up the trail. Luna stops whining and, once we’re away from the cliffside, I let her off leash to burn off some of that nervous energy making her way up the trail ahead of us.

3:15 : We reach the top of the trail. Luna has mud up to her belly and I’ve got a streak of mud on my face from where she kicked me when I tried to pick her up and comfort her during the whining. Patrick, the speed flyer, heads to the train, making his way to the next stop, where he’ll speed-fly off the cliffs. I decide to hike down (hey, I haven’t bought a train ticket yet today…why start now?). If it took me an hour and a half up, I figure I could be down in an hour.

4:30 : I always forget how tough the downhill can be on your knees. Uphill is all good pain – muscles straining, getting stronger – but downhill doesn’t feel so productive. My knees and ankles feel a bit misused.


That said, the downhill is beautiful and now I’m home. My muscles feel good. Luna is doing her little we’re-home-and-I’m-so-stoked-about-it dance ahead of me on the road.

5:30 : After a long, hot shower and a small snack, I head to the local pub to catch up with everyone. About half of my friends are leaving the valley in the morning, heading back to California and Australia and New Zealand. So I go to the pub for some dinner and drinks and goodbye laughs, wondering what the valley will be like with only a handful of us left.

9:30 : I am home again, getting ready for bed. Long hikes almost always mean early nights for me.

I turn on my favorite radio show (via computer), snuggle up with Luna under the covers, and quickly fall asleep.

Goodnight from Switzerland, darlings. See you tomorrow.

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Jonathan Welford October 14, 2013 - 12:26 am

Your day sounds more exhausting than my soak in the bath with a book then a movie marathon, only venturing out for a few beers. I feel like a rest just reading about your hiking!

gigigriffis October 14, 2013 - 3:20 am

Man, I am jealous. The perfect end to my hiking day would have been a long soak, but, alas, I’ve only got a stand-up shower.

A Day In the Life of an Honorary European | The Ramble August 18, 2014 - 12:32 am

[…] few months, I document an average day in my not-so-average life. Last time, I told you about watching BASE jumpers and hiking in the Alps. Today, I’m still in the Alps…this time living here full-time while writing travel […]


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