Gigi Griffis: A Candid Talk With the World Traveler, Entrepreneur & Travel Guide Author by Sheri B Doyle
With so many travel guides on the market it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. Recently, I discovered Gigi Griffis, who has written a series of informative and unique travel guides. Each one is based on recommendations from locals for each country. Not only do her books offer a more authentic look at destinations, they support the local culture of each country. I asked Gigi more about her guidebooks and her motivation behind writing them. Here’s what she had to say…
Q. Your travel guides are so unique. What prompted you to write them?
"My best travel experiences have almost always come from local recommendations. So, at some point I started wondering if there was any way to bring those types of local recommendations to a wider audience. My first thought was to start interviewing my friends around the world about their towns – and the first interview I did (a blog post I published on Verona, Italy) immediately became the most popular thing on my blog.
"It was so popular that I realized that I really had something here – something people were interested in. From there, I decided I'd write a book full of these interviews – 100 of them (since that's a nice round number) from all over Italy. That's where it all began."
Q. How did you find the locals to interview?
"I started with my own network and then expanded from there. I reached out to bloggers who seemed to know their towns well and have interesting things to say. I emailed interesting people I found in online groups. I asked for introductions from friends and tourist organizations. And I reached out to experts – the top chefs in Italy, people who ran tour companies, people who were known for being wine experts, etc."
Q. What is your favorite destination?
"Depends on the type of trip I'm planning! I love the Okavongo Delta in Botswana (southern Africa) for its unique landscapes. I love Italy and France for their food cultures. And if I'm planning a hiking adventure, you'll find me in Switzerland or Slovenia."
Q. Where can people purchase the books?
"You can find them at GigiGriffis.com and on most online book-selling sites, as well as a handful of physical bookstores in places like Interlaken, Switzerland."
Q. Seeing towns through locals’ eyes can offer such a different perspective on travel. Why do you think it is important?
"Well, in addition to finding the most interesting things a place has to offer, a local perspective can help you make deeper connections with the people and culture and avoid any major cultural faux pas. One of the questions I asked all my interviewees is, ‘How can we better fit in with the culture? And what kinds of things do tourists (often unknowingly) do that irritate of offend locals?’ Basically, how can we all best enjoy a place and also not be irritants to people who live there."
Q. If you had one piece of travel advice what would it be?
"Ask locals! The first thing I do in any new place (even if I'm not writing about it) is ask any locals I meet for their favorite restaurants, off-the-beaten-track places, hiking trails, etc."
You can follow Gigi’s travels and freelance career on her blog, The Ramble.
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