Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Festivals Abroad, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Republic of Georgia, USA

8 Years of Independence Abroad

This year makes the 8th year in a row I’ve been out of the United States for the 4th of July.

Honestly, today I probably had the least exciting Fourth of July of any yet. I had a two-hour Spanish class, I ate lunch alone, I did some work for a hot second, I met with my personal trainer for the first time, and I did laundry.

Fitness test and typical inspiring gym goal setting
Salad, pork, and rice for my lunch

After getting my ass kicked, I returned home nice and sweaty to an apartment with no water.

Nothing says “freedom” like vino and Harry Potter y el prisionero de azkaban


Since I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, here are the last seven years of Fourth of Julys, mostly in photos, because who wants to read on the Fourth of July?:

2010: Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica

In 2010 I hung out in Costa Rica for a week with an old boyfriend and his family. I can’t actually remember what we did on the Fourth, I think we snuck out to a hotel for a cocktail and took a bunch of amazing photos.

Working Remotely
I honestly can’t believe I used to eat pizza everyday and looked this good.


2011: Trim, Ireland

I had just arrived in Ireland to spend a month on an archaeological excavation in a little town named Trim. The week before my friend from Germany, Lena, came to meet me and we toured the country.

Not Trim. Not the Fourth.
Archaeological Excavation in Trim. Also not the Fourth

2012: Bevanga, Italy

In summer 2012 I was working my first job out of university as an English teacher in summer camps in Italy. On July Fourth I was stationed in a little town named Bevanga in the provence of Perugia (if this sounds familiar it is where the whole Amanda Knox thing happened). Honestly, this was one of my favorite locations in Italy. I really loved my team of teachers that week and I was staying with a super sweet Italian family. After teaching that day, I spent a few hours with the family’s grandmother who spoke no English, standing in a shed of broken pottery helping her bundle onions.

Me with my kids
Bevagna, Italy (July 4th 2012)
Bundling onions with grandma


2013: Tbilisi, Georgia


What can I say? The Republic of Georgia is still one of my favorite countries. I came for five days and stayed for a month. It’s the perfect hidden travel gem. This was also one of my favorite Fourth of Julys. I went to the lake with a group from my hostel, had a few drinks, and spent most of the afternoon crushing on a cute Iranian guy from my hostel in a total Edward Snowden move.




2014: Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut is also still one of my favorite places I’ve been. That summer was a rough one; 8 hours of Arabic everyday is just way too much. 

Lebanon but not Beirut (and not the 4th of July)


Also Lebanon but not Beirut (and not the 4th of July)


2015: Gili Islands, Indonesia


Had a beer and watched the sunset

2016: Dubrovnik, Croatia

At the time I was living in India still, but I decided to fly in for the wedding of an old friend. Me and Lena (the same German from 2011) met up a week early and went to Dubrovnik.



Having a U.S. passport is one of the things I am most thankful for. It’s an immense privilege, and definitely nothing I have earned by my own merit in any sense of the word. I think it goes without saying that traveling is something that I’m addicted to; its something that has taught me more than any of my other life experiences, yet it’s not really something I’m that proud of. I’m happy I’ve done it, but its the product of a complete luck that I was born in the U.S. and that I could afford to do it.

So, here’s to an 8th year celebrating freedom to travel day!


  1. Mom

    Your last 8 years of Independence were an improvement over the ones of your youth. As I recall you didn’t like all the fireworks noise. Glad you have the freedom to go and do what you like to do! Happy 5th! : )

    1. Gwendolyn A Bellinger Author

      Yes, I have a vivid (though very early and potentially incorrect) memory of standing by a car at Grammie’s house completely freaked out and wanting to go inside.

      I’ve still never lit a firework. I think I was blown up in a previous life.


    Crabs are always what the 4th means to me with Harris and Annie. This had an added bonus Tessie, Annie’s sister, made sticky toffee pudding.


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