As I finally decided to travel slow, I was able to start getting deeper into my inward travel and what was happening within. My story started from when I was a kid and my slow realizations of why it was become absolutely necessary for me to pump the brakes, be more gentle with myself, and witness what is going on within.
What is Slow Travel?
Slow travel also known as slow tourism or Slow Nomad travel aka “Slowmad” has become a hot term and topic within the travel community. As I have been settled in Koh Lanta, Thailand in my Tiny House, I’ve watched people come and go. There has been a shift of people coming and staying for weeks at a time. The houses are being filled with longer term travelers and we have started building a community. Couples arrive on sabbaticals, working remote, retirement scouting, property purchase decisions. The theme, everyone coming through are reassessing their life and wanting to make new choices.
We all have come to slow down, plant for a while in a house with a kitchen & ocean front. There is no better way to reboot, rethink and enjoy the here and now than where I have chosen to take a travel pause.
Moving around as a child
I’ve been backpacking since I was 7 years old. This occurred to me the other day that during my formative growing up years I was going back and forth from my parents’ houses after the divorce. I realized I moved to 8 different houses all within the same 10 mile radius during my childhood. With the schedule being Monday & Tuesday, Moms, Wed & Thurs, Dads, every other weekend we switched. I got comfortable uprooting 2-3 times a week. So comfortable that staying still was uncomfortable.
As I got older, moving around got shorter, but I was either not committed to rooting or always thinking about what was next. In my adult years, the place I’ve lived the longest has been my studio in Los Angeles. It’s been my cocoon , my nest, my home base. But even when I’m there I find myself squirming, plotting, planning, where to go, what to do, what to be. I’ve always wanted to explore, discover unknown destinations, channeling my “I can’t sit still” nature with my curiosity of the world around me and my own internal journey of growth, healing and self love.
Solo Trips & My Digital Nomad Journey
When I got brave enough to venture out into the world solo, I started with short trips that were 1 week, 2 weeks and 1 month. Slowly, my thirst for lengthy trips, more challenging destinations grew and my desire to reimagine my life got triggered while on the road opening my eyes to new ways of being.
I wanted to see more, do more, be more free, not be tied down to a job I didn’t love. I wanted to be a digital nomad! I set my intentions and started doing the work to exit the 9-5. After a storm of wild events, I collected enough of a nest egg, and freelance gigs to take off in realizing my dreams as a hybrid: part time traveler and part time paid digital nomad (depending on when my freelance contracts started and ended).
Long Term Travel as a Digital Nomad 1st Trip
My official trip as a longer term traveler, transitioning to a full time digital nomad, started when I took off for Europe in 2021 to fully design a remote lifestyle plan. I spent 6 months on the road traveling, then landing a part-time remote job teaching English 16 hours a week. Come December, my sister was having her 4th baby and I was feeling the call to return home. The trip back to the states was more to check in with family, while cultivating more remote work opportunities, more money to get back on the road. It was a planned pause in my travels, but I knew I wasn’t done with the “digital nomad” lifestyle.
However, during this break, I might as well still have been on the road, as I was living out of my backpack for most of it, hopping around from house sitting gigs, to temporary stays at my moms while a good friend was living in my apartment that I wasn’t fully ready to take back because I was planning on leaving ASAP.
Long Term Travel as a Digital Nomad 2nd Trip
When August came around, I got all my ducks in a row to venture back out on another one way ticket, except this time it felt different. It was heavier, I was scared for reasons that had nothing to do with going into the unknown as a solo traveler, but of what I was even doing or trying to achieve by keeping this digital nomad choice going. Was it still what I even wanted? Was I running away from becoming an adult and getting a “real career”? Was traveling even fun anymore? These were just some of the questions. I didn’t have the answers, so I continued along the road I carved out.
I decided to venture to Asia, ½ with the conscious idea of ending in Vietnam to explore teaching English, ½ with my curiosity about Bali being one of the biggest hubs for digital nomads and wanting to meet my coach from a course I took on digital skills, my desire to know how everyone appeared to be living their best lives in villas and claiming they were making 25K+ a month as a digital entrepreneur. That life was way too enticing for me not to peek behind the curtains of OZ.
Secret Reasons I Chose to go to Asia
Subconsciously, I was in denial of a desire of wanting to get closure with a past relationship who moved to Singapore (unclear if he was actually still living there or not). I had no intention of actually reaching out, I mainly wanted to understand what he loved about it so much that made him seemingly choose it over me. I had an embarrassing cliche interest in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, love journey and wanted see Bali just like everyone else. It all added up to wanting to understand why everyone was so obsessed with living in Asia?
Once I made it to Bali, I found myself moving accommodations a lot. While in Europe, I was staying in one city , one country, for a month and preferred this over moving around. I just could not seem to sit still and get comfortable this time. I felt like I was scouting for a perfect place to land to figure this next chapter of my life out with a ticking clock to do it. From Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand to Vietnam in 4 months, I did not stay in one accommodation for longer than 2.5 weeks. The longest being in HCMC, my least favorite city of all time, but the place I was happiest in the 4 months, go figure.
I had swapped LinkedIn, Indeed, Bumble & Hinge for Airbnb, Booking.com, Kayak and Skyscanner. One addictive obsession to the next. With this one being all about where to live, where to go, to be comfortable, have peace, and work on “What’s next?”.
What I Wanted vs. What I needed
With the deeper ultimate questions of how to get all the things I wanted: a career I love, never worrying about money ever again, the romantic relationship, aka my husband and a home(s) I adore. What was my new passion and purpose? Where was the place I wanted to make home? Perhaps if I could just attract the first two, I’ll either be so happy I won’t care if the guy shows up and if he does, it will be because I “solved” Morgan first.
Vietnam was my last stop on the circuit of my initial questions that scratched the service. I had one foot in and one foot out of wanting to teach and since I was literally being pushed out with a 30 day visa time limit, until I found a school to sponsor a work visa, I had to act fast. What started as a visa run from Vietnam with the thought, maybe I would maybe come back and teach for longer than my couple day substitute teaching gig, it ended up being another one way ticket to finding a more gentle, slower rhythm where I could hear myself think.
I went back to Thailand, although I am not one to love visiting the same country more than once, I was drawn to an Island with an accommodation I was excited to live in and stay in. It was crucial that I be by the water, a place I always feel like home, no matter where I am. It was important to me to stay in Asia in case I returned to Vietnam. I wanted to be able to stay for at least 2 months in 1 city, 1 country since the game of musical cities had ended and I just had to stop for longer than 2.5 weeks in 1 accommodation, before my mind and body broke down.
Slow & steady, it is Not a Race, Go at Your Own Pace
Now I am in Koh Lanta, Thailand and learning how to slow down with my new soundtrack being the crash of the ocean waves, with songs that sound like “no worries, Hakuna matata”, what will be be, Que Sera Sera, let go, let god, bless it or block it. I surrender.” A lot less of “what to do, what is next, why am I single, where is my person, how come I can’t figure out this whole making a lot of money thing, or my purpose, what should I do, what is next, what do I do?”
Lead with kindness, Lead with Love, Have Your Boundaries, Rise Above – Me
All I know is, as of today, I had to take a travel pause. I had to go to nature, slow down, eliminate as many distractions as possible, digest the last 4 months, or rather the last years, to reconfigure my new dreams, tweak olds ones, and more importantly, enjoy the moment. To be grateful for what I created, be at peace with it all, and when I’m ready to start painting and coloring again what feels like the next step which will come, without the “figuring out” and more of feeling it through and flowing.
In the bigger picture, I know I am here to enjoy life, be of service, always come back to my wellbeing (emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically) as my grounding, my breath as my vehicle and my heart as my center.
So, maybe I won’t live in a villa, earn 25K+ a month (for now), teach english abroad for more than 2 days, reconnect with my ex (more on this later, so stay tuned), or have Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” Journey, but I am finding Morgan’s journey of: See, feel do AND stop, sit, listen. I am doing my best to trust the natural, organic unfolding of my trail as I embrace the slow paced, slowmad, new leap into the unknown adventure.