Hey, thanks for visiting! We are a husband and wife team pursuing wild dreams of slow and immersive travel, after leaving a very fast life behind.

For most of our “adult” lives, we followed a traditional and certainly privileged path…you know, college, careers, overwork, stress. Then something happened that changed everything.

In 2004, we were on a three-week trip in Thailand. On the morning of December 26, we were floating in a long tail boat off the coast of Krabi when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit. Needless to say, we are very fortunate to be here today. (If interested, you can read more about that experience here.) 

When we returned to the US from Thailand, we didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves or how to understand our existence. We only knew the path we were currently on wasn’t the path for us.

Shortly thereafter we made a decision: In 10 years we will quit our jobs, sell our stuff, and see more of the world. It was that simple.

In that time, we worked to save money, bank courage, and acclimate family and friends to the leap. Then in May 2015, we set off on this grand adventure and became full-time nomads.

So far, we’ve had the privilege of visiting and living our lives in Italy, France, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Morocco, England, Thailand, and Myanmar.

But, for us, the magic and beauty of travel is much less about destinations and sights and more about the people we meet along the way. And, oh…are those people grand. In every culture, in every country, grand beyond measure.

With this website we hope to share some of the journey and maybe even inspire some of you to chase dreams of your own – whether those dreams involve travel or something totally different. And, we hope to hear about your journey, places you love, and what inspires you as well.

We would be tickled – seriously “tickled,” (We are originally from Alabama where we use words like that,) if you would reach out and say hello.

Thanks for taking the time to visit this page. Hope today finds you running fast toward a dream and living a life of no regrets.


Here’s the message you will hear echoing throughout aGypsyGene:

Travel need not be far-flung to be meaningful. Grand discoveries await around every corner, even tucked into seemingly familiar nooks of an oft-overlooked hometown.

To travel is a privilege.

The opportunity comes with responsibility. A willingness to separate yourself from daily life. A willingness to embrace people of all backgrounds. 

To allow curiosity to lead. To seek and embrace the unknown.

To respect tradition and culture. To elevate the importance of different ways of thinking.

To happily move the lines of entrenched comfort zones. To connect with those not normally along your path. To soak in the world’s beauty through new eyes, if only for a short time.

To leave a place unaltered or better than you found it.

To travel in search of connection and meaning.

And, to quote words of revered writer and intrepid traveler Paul Bowles…

“To live while alive.”

This is the essence of having a gypsy gene.

Here’s more about us, individually:

Jess Simpson
Lover of a colorful story & good margarita. Believer in curiosity’s grand value. Professional writer chasing a dream. Runner and yogi. Jess is a frequent contributor to Paste Travel, UAB magazine, Birmingham magazine, al.com, and Bustle Email me!

Matt Simpson
Cycling fanatic and pro cycling guide. Rider of 10,000+ miles a year. Lover of all things Italian, especially his Pinarello (“the third entity in this marriage,” says Jess.) Email me!