A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Traveler

by Gigi Griffis

Welcome to a Thursday in April 2013 in Sayulita, Mexico.


7:30a: I’ve learned over time that no matter where I am in the world my productivity is highest in the mornings. It’s still quiet (excepting the sounds of birds wildly twittering, roosters crowing, and some sort of bug humming in the treetops). There’s no ranchero music blasting from the cantina down the street. And there’s no movement in the shared courtyard. Even the dog is still stretched out, napping.

I tackle web page revisions, email marketing project review, new project timelines, and estimates, finishing before 11 a.m., which is lovely, particularly after a few very long workdays earlier in the week.

10:42a: I’m still in my pajamas. A large fan (appropriately called Cyclone) is blowing in my general direction. And I’m feeling productive, relaxed, and happy.

This is a huge departure from the anxiety I was battling yesterday. You see, after the whole London thing (which seriously needs to stop haunting me), I ended up spending about $2,000 of unexpected money and a whole bunch of unexpected time. And holy crap was that stressful. $2,000 is a lot of budget overage for the month—and when you combine that unexpected spending with quarterly taxes, recent medical bills, and quarterly charitable contributions, it creates a perfect storm of financial drain.

So last night I lay in bed and stressed about money, trying to figure out how to get things back on track. (Should I stay put in Mexico for a few months, even if it gets ridiculously hot and sticky? Should I go to Pennsylvania and visit friends where I’d likely have places to stay for free?).

It was in the midst of all this anxious planning, while I was re-reading a Forbes article where I was featured a few months back, that I had a realization:

When I quit my job and dedicated myself to the business full-time (two years ago this week), I had 10 months of expenses in the bank. Today (granted, before some of the payments that are looming), by those same monthly standards, I have over 20.

In just two years running my own business full-time and 10 months traveling the world, I have more than doubled my savings.

Holy crap, you guys. I didn’t realize.

I guess the lesson here is that you can’t judge yourself by whether you’ve just had a loss or a bad month or a bad couple months. You have to look at the whole picture.

Suddenly, I was bathed in gratefulness and relief. Everything is going to be okay. That $2,000 is gone, but that’s okay. I’m resourceful. I’m booked up for months. And one loss doesn’t cancel out all the hard work and big wins. Life isn’t pass-fail.

Fishing boats in Sayulita

Noon: Back to the present day, I happily wander through the dusty cobbled streets of Sayulita and down to the beach where I eat pizza and drink strawberry lemonade and pass the next two hours chatting with a well-traveled Canadian couple. We exchange immigration horror stories (the poor man was flagged once, like me, and now it takes him at least four hours to get through immigration even if he’s just got a connecting flight through London). I make a note to not ever have a connecting flight through the UK.

We also talk about creativity and writing, Canada, the US, their upcoming trip to Asia, and her very interesting job at a video game company in Canada. I find them utterly delightful.

Once the heat of the day strikes, Luna and I head back to the house to escape the direct sun, enjoy an afternoon nap, and work on the blog.

Dogs playing in Sayulita

5:30p: As the heat of the day passes, we walk down to the beach, picking up a few random dogs along the way (this always happens when I walk Luna here; random dogs will join us on our excursion for a while before, presumably, heading home again to whoever their owners are). Luna runs madly across the sand with her new puppy friends, which is pretty much her favorite thing in the world to do.

8:30p: Finally, we head home where I start a much less panicked travel planning process that involves drawing a chart, and picking friends’ brains. After an hour or two of this, I turn in early.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

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Gary May 6, 2013 - 4:30 am

Well Gigi….often my day is exactly like yours without the furry friend!! others find me investigating the locale or just walking mindfully with thoughts on the next post or article…it isn’t such a bad life eh?

gigigriffis May 6, 2013 - 9:02 am

Not bad at all! :)

Sarah Li Cain May 6, 2013 - 5:34 am

Lovely blog! The weather is a bit crappy here in China, or else I would be enjoying more walks in the sun. I wake up early, write, call business prospects. In the afternoons I learn to cook new recipes which I LOVE and either read or catch up on my favorite shows.

I love traveling. I don’t think I will ever stop!

gigigriffis May 6, 2013 - 9:05 am

Oh, I love that! A morning of work and an afternoon of cooking. Sounds like the perfect way to pass a less-sunny day.

Marin May 6, 2013 - 10:14 am

Hola, this is Marin, we met in Sayulita the other week in passing and talked about freelancing/world traveling! I’ve been continuing to wrap my brain around the idea and get a plan in motion. Exciting/scary!

Your post reminds me of something a fellow traveler on a Europe trip a few years back told me when I managed to get a bit swindled by a peddler on the street and was upset about it. He said 80% of the time things come out pretty clean – people charge what they should, you pay what it’s worth. Then 10% of the time you get a stinking good deal, and 10% of the time you get ripped off…in the end, it’s generally a wash.

A $2000 hit feels like it hurts, but it looks like you’ve come out better than a wash in the end!

Keep enjoying Sayulita!

– Marin

gigigriffis May 6, 2013 - 11:32 am

Hey there!

Yes – exciting, scary, wonderful! You’ll have to keep me posted.

And, yes, I think your friend is right. It all breaks even in the end, particularly when you’re hanging in Sayulita spending $1.50 on lunch. :)

Rebeca May 6, 2013 - 11:00 am

For me it depends on the day and the month. Usually I am up by at the latest 7:45 am. Feed my furry friends, make sure the rabbit is in her run for a bit of free time. Make coffee and eat breakfast all hopefully before 8 am. Then I either “work” or clean a bit of my house or run errands. If it is a sunny day I try and take my daughter to the park for an hour or so. Lunch by 11 or 12.
Work some at my computer if I did not accomplish it in the am.
5:30 feed my fuzzy friends. 6pm eat dinner.
I will either read or watch a bit of TV and then off to bed usually by 10 or 11 at the latest.

gigigriffis May 6, 2013 - 11:27 am

Sounds very non-traditional and lovely.

Rebeca May 6, 2013 - 11:27 am

Just wanted to add a post that I just read that might help you in the future with your travels.
Hope it helps.

gigigriffis May 6, 2013 - 12:32 pm


Rebeca May 7, 2013 - 1:44 pm

Your welcome and here I thought my life was somewhat boring. lol. Not lovely and nontraditional.

gigigriffis May 7, 2013 - 1:57 pm

Really? I love that the day begins and ends with fur-babies and the in-between sounds like a flexible schedule with time made for important things like taking your daughter to the park.

Andrew May 6, 2013 - 12:19 pm

My days are inconsistent now. I have been out of work for a little over 2 weeks and I don’t have a rhythm (yet). I am still running around for one-off errands and scowling at the gray clouds. We leave for travel in a few days, which is looming in a good way.

I am more than happy to be out of that job (though I will be back as a Freelancer soon enough), but I do miss the structure of it. This trip will be my chance to build a structure. I will make time for two blogs and a novel. I will have time for sightseeing as well as spending time with Ali. It just needs to be organized.

I like the morning times, the quiet and the sun. Hoping to use them for novel writing and early mornign photography.

What I am learning is that once I get into a task, my productive flow is there. It has not been crushed and stripped out by so many years in a corporate environment, it is still there, just needs to come out. Now I just need to find the focus and discipline to get it going in the right direction. Again a task for the trip.

gigigriffis May 6, 2013 - 12:29 pm

So exciting. I think one of my favorite things about my first longer-term trip was just that–figuring out my natural rhythm and the most productive schedule to fall into.

Maria May 6, 2013 - 7:31 pm

“you can’t judge yourself by whether you’ve just had a loss or a bad month or a bad couple months. You have to look at the whole picture.” Spoken like a veteran. :-)

gigigriffis May 6, 2013 - 7:36 pm

I think I need to write that part on my bathroom mirror.

Greg May 7, 2013 - 3:58 pm

My day is exactly like yours! Except I’m in a white cube from 8 – 5 pounding my head on the desk wondering why my life can’t be more like yours.

I do have a confession to make. Next month I’m heading to St. Vincent for three months, then to Spain for three months. No more cubes for me… Ever again… Retirement will be good…

Keep up the entertaining stories!

gigigriffis May 7, 2013 - 4:37 pm

Haha! Congratulations – you’ll have to let me know how St. Vincent is.

Rob May 7, 2013 - 8:15 pm

Amazing how a quick realization can so completely change one’s mood. For better or worse, actually. I’m glad you discovered 20 months worth of expenses in that bank account, not 5!

gigigriffis May 7, 2013 - 8:29 pm

Oh, if there were only five in there, I’d have been acutely aware.

Rob May 7, 2013 - 8:31 pm

And there would be no sighs of relief in sight!

Seriously, I’m glad that it’s working out for you despite being smacked down by the Brits. Fortunately there are many nicer places in the world than the UK!

Rob May 7, 2013 - 8:38 pm

I wish I could wrap my head around the idea of endless travel, and successfully work in my field, too..

For one I could then sell my house and all the (minimal, I’ll admit) crap in it. But, sadly, I like being able to “come home” after a trip. I love travel, and this will be another busy travel year with 10 trips either planned or done, but there’s something about returning “home”, if only for a little while.

Of course, if I could work anywhere I might be able to deal with not having a home to return to!

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