This is the beginning of a new empowering movement.
Welcome to the world where strong female travelers don’t give a damn. They don’t give two
shits if their hair’s a mess while scaling Yosemite to slackline across its threatening cliffs or try to touch up their makeup while they’re tackling the waves in Bali.
With the rise of a new era, this interview with Michelle Griffith was so blatantly honest and refreshing. Here, Michelle shares her true personal struggles and triumphs around living a life of full-time travel, as well as some heart-felt tips for other women who want to do the same.
Michelle is a registered Yoga Teacher and educates her students in everything from Yoga-Slacklining to AcroYoga. Since August of 2014, Michelle has dedicated herself to traveling and experiencing the world. Though she feels a desire for home from time to time, if you ask Michelle where she lives, she’ll tell you that home is wherever she is at the moment.
How have you been able to create a life of travel and adventure for yourself? What made you take that first step?
When I first wanted to travel a lot and create that life for myself, I would ask people “How?” Every answer was so different and broad, and I would be so frustrated when I would ask how and someone would tell me that you just have to figure out how to make it happen for yourself, for your unique situation. Truly everyone has such a unique situation in terms of finances, schooling, skill sets, family life, health, and more, that for each person their solution for how to travel will look very different than the next.
For me, I am lucky enough that I graduated college and was able to pay off my student loans quickly and while in school. I worked a lot in college, and had full-time research positions and business internships over the summer. I saved up a good deal of money. I could have gotten some highly sought after jobs or graduate student positions, but I realized slowly over time that I wasn’t happy with that lifestyle and it really wasn’t what I wanted to do.
When I graduated I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I decided to play and travel… For a “little bit.” I bought a ticket to Europe, and I just went by myself. I had no idea what I was doing. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and it wasn’t always fun, but I learned a lot and when it was fun, it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had.
When I was traveling over the summer and in Europe in the fall, I met so many people who had made travel and working while traveling a lifestyle and way of life, and I guess I actually began to believe it was possible, and that it was specifically possible for me.
When I got back, the thing that really made me take the first step was a breakup. I got back to Colorado and my boyfriend and I split, and although I was in a pretty low place, it was exhilarating because I realized that I had nothing to lose and nothing to hold me back so WHY NOT? I took off in my car and traveled for the rest of the winter in a series of poorly planned and sometimes very stressful road-trips. I learned what worked for me and what didn’t, how I wanted to live, what I wanted to do, and how to take care of myself. It’s been a long process.
What has been the most challenging part of full-time travel?
The most difficult part of being a full-time traveler is feeling ungrounded. Most people I feel underestimate the profound level of deep safety and comfort the place they call home brings to them. Sometimes when I am tired, and confused, and even sick, I just want to ground somewhere to re-center for a few days, but no where feels like home. I’ve had to learn to create that feeling of home inside myself more rather than finding it in an external circumstance. It’s still a big work in progress.
What advice would you share with other aspiring wanderers who would like to travel full-time, but are afraid to take that first step?
Just do it. Just make it work. Set a goal date for you to leave, start getting rid of your stuff, phasing out of your local commitments, and either save up enough money to start getting your feet wet, or if you are able, try and set up a passive income stream (a way that you can make money without actually doing any work). Don’t underestimate how draining and stressful it can be to travel full time at first when you’re just getting used to traveling and also working full time. I haven’t found that full balance yet, but I notice that when I’m traveling full time and working full time, I don’t have enough time or energy to commit to either fully.
Other big advice: If you’re afraid to take that first step, start small. Start with 3 months, just the summer, fall or just the winter. Then come back. Process. Re-ground. Decide what your next adventure is. It’s impossible to plan at first your “Eureka” way to travel and live well, but if you start small and just do it, you’ll meet people and learn new things along the way about how to do it and yourself, and you’ll start to find the model that works for you. If you know how to listen, and take everything you hear with a grain of salt, everyone can be your guru.
What has been your most life-changing experience while traveling?
That is literally impossible to decide. If asked this question I think I’ll always choose the most recent life-changing experience because it’s the most potent in my memory.
But, I suppose being in Yosemite and high lining and climbing there would have to be one of the most life-changing and spiritual parts of my journeys I’ve ever had. It’s literally like a church. You can FEEL the immensity of God, or the Universe, or whatever higher power anyone believes in.
Hawaii is the same way. You feel the significance of God or the Universe or bigger power just within the small things there, the synchronicity, the conversation with a homeless shaman on the corner, or a rainbow that magically appeared over the ocean the moment you got to the top of the train overlooking the next few deserted valleys. It’s magical, and everything there is alive.
Tell us the story behind the travel partner you’ve chosen for yourself (your truck).
My truck came to me in a literally completely synchronous way and time. In a way that there’s no way it could have been chance. My other car broke down in Southern California, and couldn’t be fixed. I posted on Facebook about it and a friend messaged me saying that his sister had just moved to Hawaii and was trying to sell a truck that was in San Diego. He asked me to call her. I called his sister, and she was actually about to get on a plane back to San Diego to visit. It was perfect timing. She was willing to work with me to buy the truck. It has a bed in back, a green truck topper, and a roof box for all my toys plus storage under my comfy bed. It’s truly “home” for me.
What are the key attributes you consider when choosing your next destination? What makes you want to go?
I don’t really know. It feels more like the destination chooses me. Based on what’s going on there, or where I stop accidentally and then want to stay longer.
How has traveling changed your outlook on life?
Oh man… Travel has changed my outlook on life in that I now realize how many different valid ways there are to exist. There is no normal. It’s not “normal” that I went to college and was going to get a job right out of college, it was just “normal” in the box that I was living in. I can choose what I want my path to me not by what’s valued by my friends or family or teachers or colleagues or society, but instead by what makes me feel really GOOD and happy and like I’m existing responsibly in the world and hopefully giving back somehow.
What is next in your Journey?
I am currently in Bali. I finished a yoga training, and I am about to get on an airplane tonight to go to Hawaii for another Acro-Yoga teacher training and then to play for a bit. After that I’ll head back to the mainland United States, for at least a bit!! I am planning retreats and workshops for Colorado at a hot springs and workshops in FL. Details to come!