My Life In a Backpack (What Now, 2015?)

by gigigriffis

In late 2014, I started feeling a shift.

After a year of living in Switzerland, digging into this little community, and traveling very little (by comparison to past years), I was itching to be on the road again. Not necessarily to leave Switzerland behind for good or give up my residence here, but to fill my life with movement and change again, to have a new adventure, to see something different, to do something I’d never done before.

So, I started considering the possibilities and asking myself the eternal question:

What do I want my life to look like?

First, I decided that, yet again, I wanted to be untethered. I want the freedom of renting month-to-month back. The freedom of cutting the financial and physical ties of a long-term lease and moving through the world at my own pace again.

This doesn’t mean I’m leaving Switzerland, just that when I’m here I’ll rent furnished places on a short-term basis. Maybe I’ll even spend a month or two in various different nearby towns.

And so I’m back to something like my first two years of full-time travel. Living out of a backpack. Constantly changing my backdrop. Having the freedom at any moment to go or to stay.

Ironically, as I was deciding to pull up my roots, I was forced to move out of my apartment. It was too soon and facing that change before I was ready for it was really hard on me. But the end result is that I’m free, which is ultimately what I wanted for the new year.

With this shift—this untethering of myself to apartments and possessions yet again—comes another longing. Not just for travel and newness and change, but also for wilderness, for movement, for human-powered travel.

I started imagining myself walking across a country.

What would it look like to walk Switzerland from end-to-end? What would it be like to take a pilgrimage to Rome? Could I walk from one side of Malta to the other?

The idea of biking also appealed to me. A little faster, but still human-powered, still spending hours and hours outside, soaking in a new countryside. And so I wondered…Could I bike across Corsica? Or the coastline of the French Riviera? Or from the south to the north of Ireland?

Plans are just starting to take shape, but the more I think about it, the more I’m certain that this year is the year to try something new—a quest, a human-powered, slow, outdoor journey. Walking or biking across something significant.

Of course, all this travel, this motion, this compulsion to do something new and different, feeds perfectly into my business plans for the year as well.

Those plans? First, I’m writing (at least) two more 100 Locals guides. I’ve already started and I expect both guides to be out before the summer season hits.

The first, as you’ll have guessed, is Switzerland: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Hike, & How to Fit In. I’ve already got interviews from Switzerland’s top chef, a Swiss history writer and professor, and, of course, outdoor experts of all kinds (mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, etc.). Plus, this is the first book where you’ll find an interview from me—about my little home base, the town of Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland.

Switzerland: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Hike, & How to Fit In

The second book that I’m working on for a spring/early summer release? France: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, & How to Fit In. This one includes interviews with cheese experts, ski shop owners, and one very cool couple who has been walking France’s pathways, trails, and pilgrimages for many years.

France: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, & How to Fit In

And that isn’t all the big business news…

The other incredibly exciting development is this: in late 2014, I officially became a correspondent at International Living Magazine. This is the magazine that gave me my start. And I’ve loved working on them off and on for the past few years. So when they asked if I wanted to become a correspondent, I responded with a resounding yes. This means more articles and some consulting. It means a consistent baseline of magazine work. And it means that this experiment—being a full-time travel writer—is starting to really look feasible.

I also decided very late in the year that this blog needs to be a sustainable part of the business, too. And so I introduced two options for readers to send donations and help me keep The Ramble ad-free and support the many happy hours I spend tracking and sharing budgets, writing blog posts, taking, editing, and selecting photos, and answering reader emails. Want to be a part of it? You can send a monthly donation (and get a little thank-you gift) here or send a one-time donation to via PayPal.

Finally, one more big change: In late 2014 I quietly introduced an affiliate program, which means that other bloggers and websites can now sell my books (at least the electronic versions) and get a commission of 50%. (Interested in becoming an affiliate and helping me sell the 100 Locals guides? Find out more here.) I’m hoping this means getting the word out to more audiences and (of course) selling more books.

And so begins 2015.

With two books well underway and scheduled to launch as spring turns to summer. With a fancy new title (Central Europe Correspondent) at a magazine I love. With an affiliate program that is (hopefully) a win for everyone. And with an untethered life, a world of wide open travel possibilities, and a longing for movement, nature, and a quest.

What’s coming for you in 2015?

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Ali January 1, 2015 - 11:15 am

I think your 2015 sounds incredible. You have a lot of good things going for you despite the rough end to 2014, and I think being a bit more untethered will do wonders for you. Looking forward to hearing about your upcoming adventures and hopefully meeting up with you somewhere!

P.S. Super cute picture of Luna!

gigigriffis January 1, 2015 - 11:58 am

I definitely hope so. Here’s to being untethered and hoping for miracles!

Brianna January 2, 2015 - 11:50 am

As always, you inspire me with your guts and subsequent glory! Can’t wait to travel Europe again and buy up all of your books to help me along the way :)

Congrats on the magazine correspondent gig–you have worked a long time for that, and completely deserve it.

Have you looked into partnering with Samantha’s start-up Project Travel for your books or affiliate? Not sure if there’s any leads with it, but worth the ask!

gigigriffis January 2, 2015 - 5:01 pm



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