Alice Griffin - A Traveling Life
I have to say, when you're writing about and exploring the world of travel, you meet the coolest people. One such traveler we recently met is Alice Griffin. Alice and her family are doing what many of us long to do - take off and LIVE while traveling. We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Alice about her life, websites, travels, and more. Here's what she had to say...
We are Scott (36), Alice (33), our almost-2-year-old daughter, Isabella and our friendly dog, Milla. In February 2008 we sold our UK house, moved into a camper and headed off to travel Europe in search of adventures and possibly, - eventually - a new home! So far we have travelled all over France where we cooked on the beach, walked in the hills and volunteered on a small horse-farm. We then headed over the Pyrenees to Spain for fiestas, siestas, olive picking and life in a rural village in the Andalusian mountains. We are now back in France where we will be living in a small village for 3 months working in return for a house to live in. After that we might settle or we might head off on the Eastern European road-trip we often talk of doing.
WE: Please tell us about your websites...
Living the Rural Dream is my blog where I write about our day-to-day life as a family. It charts our travels, our journey into learning about other lifestyles and it is also a place where I like to share things I pick up along the way; this could be books, recipes or planting tips! I see it not only as an outlet for me to open up our travels and search for a new life to old friends, new friends and family, but also as a way for me to keep a diary, which most importantly I want to give to my daughter in years to come.
I also have writings from my previous blog, which charted our move from a house in a UK city, into a camper and then onto the roads of Europe. This is now kept as a private record for my daughter and my intention is to give all my writings to her when she is old enough so that she can understand why we made our decision and also find out what she got up to as a baby!
moving and our camper
Although a continuation of my previous blog, Living the Rural Dream also encompasses another part of our dream: to find a new home. Ultimately we would like to live in the country, keep animals, become more self-sufficient and give our daughter a life experience richer in nature and freedom.
This is my on-line portfolio where I showcase my published work as a freelance writer.
WE: You and your family made a huge change in the last year - can you please share that with us?
AG: We were feeling trapped in our life in the UK. Scott was working long hours as a printer inside a factory all day simply to pay the mortgage on a house we were not overly enamored with. We lived in a city and as much as we loved being near to our family and friends, we dreamed of open fields and a more rural way of life. To achieve this kind of lifestyle in the UK is hard for several reasons: you need to have a lot of money in order to afford a country property and in addition, truly rural areas are on the decline.
Once we welcomed our daughter, Isabella, into the world we knew that we would have to make some big decisions and see if we could find (and like) the way of life we dreamed of for our growing family. We decided the time was right to go in search of it and we decided that travelling freely and in some ways leaving our destiny in the hands of fate was the best way to do it.
It was very scary for us to make the decision. We gave up our home, our primary income and all that we knew, however we believe that life is about taking chances so we tried to be as fearless as we could be. Before I settled into family life I had travelled the world solo writing for a travel guide and had lived in Japan so I have always had a passion for travel and always felt hugely inspired by experiencing new destinations and cultures. Scott felt the same and we just knew that this was what we wanted to instill in our daughter - the ability to acknowledge and learn from other cultures and communities and to not be afraid to experience the gift that is the world.
Alice with Basil - small horse farm, Toulouse, France
Scott turning hay with Isabella on his back!
WE: What has been your favorite part of this journey?
AG: It would be so difficult to think of a favourite part because we have loved it all, but the opportunity to spend so long together growing as a family unit is something we will always cherish.
We have also enjoyed the opportunity to live within different communities. Last year we spent 4 months living in a rural Spanish village in the Andalusian mountains. To feel so welcomed into such a community was truly an amazing experience, one that we will never forget. I think that is the beauty of long-term travel; where normally you might only be passing through for a week, this way you are able to take up longer-term opportunities. I believe that really this is the only true way to understand a culture or experience a place because you begin to really know people and understand their life.
Alice in the Andalusian mountains
WE: What advice do you have for others who are contemplating a sea-change in their life?
AG: I don’t know if I’m really the best person to give advice because I would always tell someone that if they feel something in their heart then they should just do it! However, for something so life-changing I would definitely suggest that you spend a long time talking about a plan and once you’ve thought seriously about it for a good length of time and have made firm plans as to how you can achieve it, then you should go for it. But then again, sometimes if you think too much, you talk yourself out of it!
Really I am surprised every day at how when you start taking the attitude of just going for it and believing there will always be a way; things do seem to happen. I suppose a lot of it is having the right attitude too, though. If something doesn’t go to plan, you have to make another decision and focus on that. We find it fairly easy to be positive about most outcomes even if they are not exactly as we had ‘planned’.
WE: You and your family are intercultural learners - what have been your largest lessons, while traveling, in learning about other cultures and people?
AG: My personal belief is that all people, especially children, can learn an awful lot by being exposed to various cultures. For my husband and I, our travels and time spent learning about different ways of life has given us a much more relaxed attitude. The biggest thing for us is realising how little we need to get by, which in light of the current economic situation, can only be a good thing. We have met people who are so poor in material things, yet rich any so many other ways. It really has brought it home to us that many of the things we thought we ‘needed’ in our previous life, were not necessary.
Olive picking, Extremadura, Spain
Ultimately I hope that from every person we have met and will meet and from every experience we have, we will take something with us and incorporate it into our own life. Whether it’s foods, a way of living, practicalities of working the land - there is such richness in travel and culture that I feel can be of great benefit to anyone’s life.
Most importantly we hope that our travels will enable our 22-month-old daughter to grow into a well-rounded woman with an appreciation of the many different cultures that form our world. We all learn every day and for me there is no better way to learn than from each other.
Isabella contemplates life!
WE: What are the most difficult parts - and most joyous - of constantly traveling?
AG: Difficulties came when we were in our camper and it rained relentlessly. I was trying to work, my husband was trying to occupy our daughter and our dog and we had no way of drying our clothes. There were a few moments of thinking ‘what are we trying to achieve?’ but ultimately you bolster each other up during these times. Sometimes we wonder what will happen next, can we continue? will we ever find a home? but mostly we try to ride through these moments. I think that if we were not as committed as each other to our travels, we might experience more difficulties. The good thing is that in between travelling on the road we have also lived in houses. We lived in a house in Spain and now we have just started a 3-month stay in a small French village where we have negotiated a job for my husband in return for a house to stay in. We are aware, though, that we might not always want to make friends, become ensconced in a community and then up and leave again, but I guess that essentially that moment of waking up and not wanting to leave is what we are waiting for.
Joyous moments are plentiful. Moments where we sit and think about how glad we are that we took the plunge, times where we think ‘wow – how amazing was that!’ and of course, watching our daughter Isabella mix with so many new people and get involved in so many different things … that brings a smile to our faces every time.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
AG: I’m not sure if there is anything left to share! I just hope that our story will inspire others to take the plunge in life - in any kind of way - or simply to travel a bit more! I believe that travel can bring so much to your own life. Whether you want to learn new things or simply realise how much you like your own life just the way it is!
WE: Thanks so much, Alice. It is inspiring to read of your travels, life, and intercultural experiences. You're such an excellent writer that it is a joy to read your work.
Alice blogs about her family’s daily travels and experiences at:
She is also a freelance writer and editors can view her on-line writing portfolio at: http://www.alicegriffin.co.uk