Four Years on the Road…And No Longer Alone

by gigigriffis

Today is my four-year anniversary of leaving my little rental house in Denver, with its white picket fence and nearby park, behind for a life of full-time travel.

Since then, I’ve hopped around Europe and Latin America, I’ve become an expat in Switzerland (and then stopped being an expat in Switzerland), I’ve written seven (and a half) travel guides, and, most recently, I’ve picked up a man-friend who is now traveling with me.

It’s been a wild ride, these four years, with plenty of ups and downs. And am I still glad I made that leap, started traveling, minimized my things, changed my life? Yes. A thousand times yes.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides to this lifestyle (there are downsides to any lifestyle choice and anyone who tells you differently is selling something) or that it is for everyone, but it does mean I’m content with my own choices, happy to still be on the road, happy to have met so many incredible people and seen so many interesting things and been forced into a constant state of learning and contemplating and recognizing my own humanity in the face of a massive, wild world full of people who are simultaneously nothing like each other and everything like each other.

And so I’m grateful for these years. And grateful that this road still stretches ahead of me. And particularly grateful that I’m no longer traveling it alone.

Kissing at the Grand Canyon

I’m also grateful for so many specific experiences along the way. So I thought I’d pause in the travelogue today to share some of those.

The most interesting, beautiful, and incredible experiences of the last four years (including some that were difficult, but endlessly worth it):

:: Living in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland (and particularly hiking Schilthorn and Mannlichen and staying overnight in the high Alps)

:: Visiting the hilltop castle on Lake Thun in Thun, Switzerland

:: Drinking a brand new wine created in a tiny Swiss winery

:: Glamping at Slovenia’s Lake Bled and then hiking in the Soca Valley

Gigi and Luna in Slovenia

:: Riding down Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast on the back of a motorcycle

:: Walking Edinburgh’s Water of Leith Walkway through the city

:: Falling in love with Ghent, Belgium’s artistic community

:: Hiking the dim paths of Germany’s Black Forest

:: Starting my first fiction novel

:: Publishing that first travel guide

Gigi with her travel guide

:: Spending a winter in Paris’ artsy Montmartre neighborhood (and eating my first real Parisian pastries with my lovely friend Dani)

:: Trying real balsamic vinegar in Italy

:: Eating artisanal gelato in Rome

:: Drinking hand-whipped hot chocolate in Bayonne, France

:: Exploring Rome on the back of a scooter and eating the famous Roman and Jewish artichokes

:: Living in a farmhouse in Switzerland with goats

Gigi in Arizona

:: Cycling across France from border to coast

:: Being chased to Arizona and swept off my feet by my now-boyfriend (after seven years of singleness)

:: Having tea (several times) at Mariage Freres in Paris

:: Hiking one of Northern Arizona’s slot canyons

:: Staying at the Bentwood Inn of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and 25Hours Hotel Zurich West in Zurich, Switzerland

Gigi and Luna in Sedona

I’m also grateful for all the people I’ve met along the way. They aren’t always mentioned here, but I adore them all the same. Including you, readers. Knowing you’re there and reading makes the journey all the better.

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15 comments

Montecristo Travels (Sonja) May 30, 2016 - 7:04 am

and the one constant companion through it all … little Luna. What a blessing. I am so grateful that you put yourself out there and shared your adventures with us. And I can’t wait to get that selfie of US! Love that you are no longer travelling alone as well. YAY!!!

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gigigriffis May 30, 2016 - 3:45 pm

Yes!

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Bobbi T May 30, 2016 - 8:41 am

Love the pics, the stories, the updates, the adventure and most of all, the gal doing it all plus the new companion, such a great year!!!

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gigigriffis May 30, 2016 - 3:45 pm

So true!

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Bobbi T May 30, 2016 - 8:43 am

Love the pics, stories, adventures, updates, and most of all the gal doing it all and the new companion!!!

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Tahvory bunting May 30, 2016 - 10:49 am

I just love reading about your travels!! You go girl! Congratulations on creating the life you want.

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gigigriffis May 30, 2016 - 3:45 pm

Thanks!

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Penny May 30, 2016 - 11:07 am

Wow–so happy for you that you have found a “kindred spirit” with whom to share your adventures! Luna is probably enjoying the extra attention as well. Just checked out your Black Forest photo essay, and am getting really psyched about doing some hiking there this September! We are staying on a farm outside of Staufen for 9 days. We’ll also be staying in a winemaker’s house in Colmar, France before we hop over the border to Germany. Any pertinent info that you can pass along about those areas would be great! Happy exploring, Gigi!

Penny from Ohio

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gigigriffis May 30, 2016 - 1:10 pm

Hi Penny! I only spent a little time in Colmar (which is soooo gorgeous!) so I don’t have a lot of specific recommendations, but I do highly recommend the city center. It’s so pretty.

As for the Black Forest area, definitely check out the fresh market in Freiburg, as well as the super cute old city (not the central street where all the shopping is, but the streets behind the cathedral).

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Penny May 31, 2016 - 8:58 am

Thanks! I’m especially looking forward to the Thursday textile markets–It’s right behind the Dominican church in Colmar. We plan to be in Freiburg and will check out the fresh market area you mentioned.

Penny from Ohio

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Lauren Bishop May 30, 2016 - 1:49 pm

Lovely round-up of all your adventures! It’s wonderful that your hard work and dedication are allowing you to live a life of your choosing.

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gigigriffis May 30, 2016 - 3:45 pm

Thanks!

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Kathryn May 30, 2016 - 3:37 pm

Smiling, smiling, a thousand times smiling with you.

Happy anniversary Gigi.

You deserve all the happiness, love and laughter in the world!

With your brave, warrior, tender soul.

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gigigriffis May 30, 2016 - 3:46 pm

Thank you. :)

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Kenza May 30, 2016 - 4:16 pm

Happy anniversary, Gigi! Super inspiring to see you enjoy your time on the road. Thanks for your advice on travelling with a pint-sized puppy — picking up Cooper is one of the best decisions I’ve made.

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