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The following post is written by me and brought to you by Abbott, who I’ve teamed up with to talk about living your best life.

Four and a quarter years of constant motion have shown me the world, trained me in the art of true independence, taught me more than any master’s degree could ever hope to and allowed me both the financial freedom and the content source to start and grow my travel blog into a thriving business. Four and a quarter years of conscious homelessness have made me, me. I have so much happy about, and to be grateful for.

Yet when I sit still with my thoughts I know that in some small ways, this lifestyle has also drained me, and lately when a friend asks how I’m doing – really asks, not just makes polite conversation – I find myself admitting through my smile, I’m tired.

I’m tired of rushing through each experience on the way to another. I’m tired of living out of a bag. I’m tired of never, ever feeling in control of my workload, and putting aside creative projects over and over again simply out of time constraints. I’m tired of waking up confused over what city or country I’m in.

Which is why I’m spending the next six months on Koh Tao. Last year, when I was on the brink of burnout, two months here brought me back to life. It was a beautiful time in my life. But I craved more. More stillness, more permanence, more more. And so, for my twenty-sixth birthday, I’m finally making the major transition from a fully nomadic wanderer to a travel addict with a home base.

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Why? I’ve realized that my interpretation of living fully is living simply, and being on the road constantly is stretching me too thin. I want to savor the small things. I want to live in the moment. I want to pay rent on the same studio apartment for multiple months in a row.

Koh Tao has always been the place I come to recharge. In 2009, I spent a summer here and fell in love with the charms of Southeast Asian living. In 2011-2012, I called the island home for the better part of ten months. In both 2013 and 2014, I returned here again for annual restore and refresh sessions. Yes, I’ve struggled with knowing when to slow down. But I’ve always known where.

Having a base again will allow me to focus on my health, nourish creative projects, and cultivate an in-person community again. Here’s a peek at what’s changing, and what I’m looking forward to.

I’m Settling In

This move won’t come as too much of a surprise to my longtime readers, who know I’ve been slowly trying to pump the breaks on my travels for over a year now — with mixed results. The thing is, once I’m on the road, I can’t seem to control myself. I talk big game about spending more time in less places, but then my wanderlust muscles in and takes hold and suddenly I’m stuffing six cities into a month and signing three major contracts on the side and agreeing to several familial and friend obligations in between because who needs sleep anyway? (Answer: humans do.)

I’ve concluded the only way I can force myself to settle down is to strand myself on an island with no airport and few access points, and start paying rent on a place so beautiful I won’t want to leave it.

And so I have. Since arriving in Thailand in late September, I’ve secured an apartment — the longest-term lease commitment I’ve made since I left New York in 2011. I’ve bought a motorcycle. I’ve rearranged furniture. I’ve started a new tab at an old bar that has my name on a plaque on the wall, I’ve printed out photos and put them into carefully curated frames and I’ve purchased passes to not one, not two, but three fitness establishments.

I’ve always loved challenging myself to go beyond the ordinary, and for a long time I resisted settling down as I saw it as at odds with that goal. But now, I see that traveling has become my ordinary, and the true trial for me at this phase is to live with some stillness. I wake up in the morning and I know that the pillow my head is laying on is the same one it will be laying on next month. And the month after that. And the month after that. And you know what? That brings me a lot of joy.

Sai Nuan Beach

I’m With My People

I’ve had this joke for a while that all positions are filled and I’m no longer accepting applications for new friendships. Try again next year. It’s funny because the truth is that I can’t help myself from meeting new people and making friends wherever I go – it’s just part of my DNA. Yet when I’m on the road 24/7 I barely have time to answer my own mother’s texts, let alone FaceTime with my college crew. And I’m usually on the wrong continent for a brunch date with my childhood best friend.

Five years of coming to Koh Tao means that one of my largest communities is here. I look forward to putting down FaceTime sometimes and putting in real facetime with the tribe right here in front of me. And the ones who aren’t? Staying put means time to Skype them, send them long emails, and keep in touch on a more consistent basis.

I’m Focusing on my Health

I’ve always been somewhat fitness focused, but now that I’m in one place I’m fired up to take it to another level. I want to hit the reset button on my mind and body. Recently, I kick-started a DIY health retreat – stay tuned for more details in an upcoming post – that includes yoga, hiking, pilates and resistance training, as well as fresh healthy foods and regular massages.

After years of instability it feels like a blessing to have constant access to a kitchen and several nearby healthy restaurants, to have a gym buddy, and to get into a routine when it comes to my diet and exercise.

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I’m Learning

Back when I had a permanent address I used to love taking courses and classes and workshops. Once I started traveling full time, those kinds of things became impossible. Can’t sign up for a cake decorating class when you’re going to miss two out of four classes — those fondant flowers aren’t going to shape themselves!

And so I look forward to what I might learn while I’m here in Koh Tao. Already since arriving I’ve taken workshops on Thai massage and yoga inversions. What’s next? A freediving course? Thai lessons? A cooking class? I have so many hobbies and interests outside travel — I can’t wait to cultivate some of those, too.

I’m Working Differently

I’ve had a part-time assistant who helps me with social media scheduling and other behind-the-scenes tasks for over a year now. But as my business continues to grow, I’ve struggled with how to scale it — there’s only one of me, and a lot more opportunities out there than I can handle (what a blessing!) Having a home base is allowing me to experiment with outsourcing parts of my business that don’t need my personal touch, and might even benefit from another set of eyes (analyzing Google Analytics, for example, which is far from my own strength).

I’ve recently hired an extremely qualified part-time assistant here on the island and I can’t wait to see what we learn from each other. Restructuring my business so that it gives me freedom rather than ties me down is one of my major goals for this period.

Sunset in Bocas del Toro

I’m Writing Differently

Right now, I’m so behind on trip recaps that y’all might be reading about the 4th of July sometime around Christmas. Frankly, that pressure to catch up to “real time” means that I sometimes hold off on publishing other types of content, or breeze past certain points of interest.

Looking forward, I’m excited to bring you guys more inspirational and philosophical content that isn’t necessarily tied to a destination, as well as more in-depth posts about the trips I actually do take – for example, more packing lists, more planning tips, and more musings on my emotional takeaways from each trip. Oh and heck yes, there will be trips…

I’m Not Quitting Travel

Does having a home base mean I’ll stop traveling? Heck no!

  • In September, I visited Bangkok and Phuket on a very fun work campaign.
  • In October, a business trip brought me to Bangkok, followed by Trang and Satun Provinces.
  • In November, I’ll head to my neighboring isles of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan for an immigration-errand-turned-island-getaway (my visa needs to be extended in-country after sixty days, and restarted by leaving the country after ninety).
  • In December, a hop across the border will bring me to a visa run slash yoga retreat in Cambodia.
  • In January, digital detox trips to both Khao Sok and Khao Yai National Parks are in the works, as well as a weekend away in Bangkok.
  • In February, I’m arranging a tour of the Khao Yai wine region with a group of my favorite expat friends, followed by an international girlfriend getaway to Burma.

Oh, how I love this corner of the world! Right now, I’m attempting to limit myself to just five nights away from Koh Tao per month, with some exceptions here and there. I can’t wait to explore corners of Thailand and Southeast Asia both new and familiar.

I plan to actually take some of these trips off from work entirely. I know it looks like I’m on vacation all the time to some people, but the reality is I work almost every day no matter where I am. I’m hoping having these long periods at Wanderland Base Camp means I’ll be able to get enough work done beforehand to totally switch off while I’m on the road – I might even leave my laptop behind for some of them.

For someone who has spent the last few years on back-to-back multi-month epic journeys, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to my little weekend getaways. Some of my recent trips have been such whirlwinds that I barely had a moment to savor the planning stage, catch my breath while I was on them, or let them soak in once they were over before I was onto the next thing. I’m ready for some quality over quantity.

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What’s Next?

With every new opportunity comes new challenges. I have concerns over being able to sustain my travel business while, well, doing a lot less traveling. And there are things I’ll have to get used to – paying rent on an apartment that will sit empty for 1/4th of the time I’m living in it, retraining my overstimulated brain to slow down and savor sitting still, and overall turning down my wanderlust meter a few notches.

I see this next six months as a trial period for the future. In April, I’m contemplating a six-week backpacking trip to a new country that’s long topped my bucket list (one I’d have plenty of time to plan and prep for!) and in May, I plan to return to North America for the summer as usual. But in the fall, if all goes well, I hope to either return to Koh Tao or try a new base elsewhere. It’s time for a new chapter.

I’m ready to live more by doing less.

I’ve partnered with Abbott to talk about the different ways I live fully, something I’m looking forward to sharing with you all over the next few months. Abbott knows that people all over the world have their own unique ideas on what living fully looks and feels like, and they even have a quiz to help you figure it out. Take the quiz—and then tell me what you live for using #fullosophy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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122 Comments...
  • Dominique
    November 6 2015

    Your new plans sound awesome! I’m sure you’ll be able to relax fully in that gorgeous house of yours (thanks for the tour on Snapchat 🙂 ). Having a base is great and having it in a different part of the world is even better! Enjoy your time of stillness!
    Dominique recently posted..Thessaloniki – Wine and Dine

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Aw, thanks for watching Dominique! I need to get better at posting there more regularly.

  • Ellie Quinn
    November 6 2015

    Brilliant post!
    Sometimes you have to do what feels right and for people who haven’t travelled they don’t see it as being hard work and tiring, especially with the amount of work you do on top!

    Look forward to hearing more about your time on Koh Tao. X
    Ellie Quinn recently posted..The Little Town of Bethlehem.

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thanks Ellie! Yes, long term travel can be exhausting and I’m sure anyone who’s ever done it for a significant period of time can relate to the fatigue that settles in… even if it is a luxury problem. Looking forward to sharing all about my time here!

  • Wow, this is wonderful! So inspired by you and your travels and stationary travels. It’s all a journey! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thanks Haley! Right now, learning to sit still is a journey in and of itself!

  • Erin
    November 6 2015

    I love all of this… especially this: “Looking forward, I’m excited to bring you guys more inspirational and philosophical content that isn’t necessarily tied to a destination.”

    As a longtime reader, I know your voice and blogging style transcends travel, and while it is awesome to hear your take on different places, it is equally interesting to hear your musings about expat life, juggling friendships, health (thinking of that big yoga post in particular) and pretty much anything else that comes with having the courage to carve out a unique lifestyle that works for you.

    Super happy for you and excited to see what direction you take your blog! 🙂

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thank you Erin! That means a lot to me and is such great feedback to hear. I’m overflowing with writing inspiration, lately 🙂

  • Michelle
    November 6 2015

    Thanks for sharing! Although you’ll be doing less travel, I’m actually looking forward to reading your blog even more! I’m planning a year long backpacking trip through SEA. It’ll be great to see your take on things when you get to see the local way of life. I’m kind of tired of the same “ten things to do here” articles. It’ll be awesome to hear about off the beaten track stuff from someone who lives there!
    Best,
    Michelle
    Michelle recently posted..Day on a Dime- How to Spend a Day on the Upper East Side for under $30

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      It is amazing how much of Thailand I still have to see and explore… even in parts I’ve been to before! There are certain parts of this country (the national parks, for example) that I never would have considered on my very first backpacking trip here, but now years and a passport full of visas later I can’t wait to explore. There’s something special about returning to the same place over and over again.

  • Anca | Globaloud
    November 6 2015

    I think that each person needs to settle down from time to time. For some people it happens every 5 years, for some it happens after years and years of wandering, some (like my dad) cannot travel more than a week without craving for home, and for me it happens every time after a few months trip. And just as you mentioned, I need time to take care of myself, I need a creative time just for myself, and time when I just live the everyday life, drinking coffee with my friends, doing my everyday job. So I could totally understand how you feel and in which chapter of life you are in. And I think it’s great cause it finally puts you in the first place.
    Anca | Globaloud recently posted..From Khaosan Road to Chaos-On-Road

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      You are right, everyone has a different tolerance for the change and chaos and excitement that travel brings into our lives. Mine has been high for a long time, but I am looking forward to truly savoring the trips I have ahead, instead of enjoying them in spite of my stress!

  • KMunoz
    November 6 2015

    Ah, I loved loved loved this! I’ve been on the road for almost a year now and while I’ve really enjoyed it, I realized how much I prefer having home bases (just not AT “home”) — friends who aren’t moving to a new destination every two weeks, having a favorite coffee shop, a yoga studio I love. And a lot of the stuff I enjoyed about traveling long-term when I was younger, like meeting people in dorms/hostels, taking super long bus rides, etc., are now the things I actively dislike about traveling.

    It’s fun seeing you and other bloggers like Adventurous Kate feeling the same way. That said, I’m moving to Australia in a few weeks and I’m very excited to be in a new place for a year and explore the heck out of the city I’ll be living in. I’m really looking forward to these posts coming up! I tend to like your more introspective ones (although I used your Central America suggestions a ton!), so yay. 🙂

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      It is amazing how our preferences change, isn’t it? I definitely travel different than I used to, though I love to shake things up and pretend to be a carefree backpacker every once in a while again!

  • Andi
    November 6 2015

    You my dear are such an amazing young woman! I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with your life!!! Happy Birthday!
    Andi recently posted..Kiawah Island: Best Island In America

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Oh Andi, you always know how to make me smile. Thank you my dear!

  • Olivia
    November 6 2015

    Uhm…… Better not put down FaceTime for your sister!!!!!

    Happy 26. Wander on!!

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Speaking of, where WAS my birthday FaceTime?

  • Alexandra Eleni Rigas
    November 6 2015

    Great read. You’re so inspiring, birthday girl. And my trusty Birthday Alarm has let me know it’s today, sooo… Happy Birthday, Alex! I hope your day’s being filled with much love and sweet memories, and you celebrate to your heart’s content (though that seems to be a given)! May this next year be truly wonderful for you.

    All the Best,

    ~ Your fellow Alex in NY 🙂

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thank you Alex! Those are some lovely birthday wishes… and I so appreciate them. I have high hopes for 26… and a good feeling about them coming true!

  • Chelsea
    November 6 2015

    Having a base in one place and seeing the places around you can often mean that you get more of a grasp on a region as a whole. I can’t imagine how nice it must be to have Koh Tao as that base!

    My boyfriend doesn’t feel that weekend trips/trips to places that you have been to before are ‘travelling’. I’m always away at the weekends camping/hiking etc and he says that we have ‘stopped travelling’ whereas I don’t feel like we ever have stopped, we’ve just got a home base in a new country where there is still plenty for us to explore locally.

    Hope you’re having an awesome time back in one of your many ‘homes’!
    Chelsea recently posted..Vana-where-to? A week spent in Vanuatu

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Well with all due respect to your boyfriend, I disagree 🙂 Clearly, I LOVE going back to the same places over and over again. In the past I might have felt that weekends away weren’t enough, but lately I’m realizing that without attempting to juggle work and play I can do and see as much in a long weekend as I sometimes do in a week. I’m looking forward to putting that theory to the test this year!

  • Patricia
    November 6 2015

    I completely understand how you feel! Or, maybe not completely, since I’ve never travelled full time, but I understand all the reasons why you want to stay at one place for a while. I haven’t realized how many things you actually can’t do when you are on the go all the time, like the cake decorating course or going to a favourite fitness class.
    Patricia recently posted..Celebrating my first blogiversary with a travel giveaway!

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Yeah, there’s always a sacrifice to any lifestyle! Taking courses and classes is one of my favorite things, so I’m looking forward to enjoying some of that while I’m here 🙂

  • Angie Away
    November 6 2015

    Love everything about this except that Wanderland Base Camp is about a million miles from Angie Away Base Camp. Can we Skype soon?!

    Happy birthday, beautiful wanderer!
    Angie Away recently posted..5 Ways to Have Fun on Bonaire for Non-Divers

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      I would LOVE TO. Texting you now 🙂

  • Susan
    November 6 2015

    Happy happy birthday, Alex! I hope the next year ahead is your best one yet! I’m really impressed and inspired by your self-awareness, and how you’re able to recognize what you truly need in life AND to take action on it in a timely manner. Looking forward to reading more about your stay-put-but-wander-a-bit adventures!

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Well, I don’t know how timely it was as I feel like I’ve been talking about doing this forever 🙂 It was definitely a challenge to finally clear my calendar and make it happen though, so I am proud of myself for that.

  • Paul D
    November 6 2015

    Great post, Alex! I love your last line, “I’m ready to live more by doing less.” I can so relate! So often we’re running from one thing to the next we forget to take in what’s in front of us. Recharging on an island you love, with real friends in (for my money) the best country to visit in the world, sounds like a pretty great plan.

    Great meeting you at TBEX Asia, by the way. Enjoy Koh Tao!
    Paul D recently posted..My Grande Bangkok Oasis

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Wasn’t that a great conference? Loved having it in a city that feels so familiar. Hoping to make it to Manila next year!

  • Tammy
    November 6 2015

    That’s so awesome that you’re honoring your souls desire to slow down and enjoy the moment more and have a home base. Enjoy this part of your journey!
    Tammy recently posted..Banana Nice-Cream with Peanut Butter Cookie Crumble

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thank you Tammy. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to that little voice… but I’m excited to see how this goes and see if I can make it work for the future. The hardest part is saying no to a lot of opportunities and ideas, and retraining my brain to take in a lot less stimuli!

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Excited to read more about your life in Koh Tao.
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Renovating Our Master Bathroom: Tile Selections

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thank you Kristin! I think now that the next six months are sorted it’s time to start planning our summer adventures, no?

  • Kristina
    November 6 2015

    Love love love this post! You obviously are an amazing writer and businesswoman and that will not change with your change of pace! Can’t wait to see what’s to come
    And Happy Birthday!

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thank you so much for these amazingly kind words! You made my night!

  • Britt
    November 6 2015

    I almost think I prefer these type of posts to your trip recaps. It’s when we as readers get to know you a lot more!

    I think if I was to stay still in any country other than Australia it would be Thailand. It’s a very exciting home base; but I would say that for almost anywhere that has great weather and easy access to a beach. Except for the fact that something about Thailand just made me fall in love and I still can’t quite put my finger on how or why.

    I’m slowing down from my trip from April-June next year while I study in Florence, Italy. I’m actually looking forward to that downtime and actually getting to know a city more than the superficial five days!
    Britt recently posted..Fonda Mexican (Melbourne Food Review)

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      That will definitely be a nice time to recharge and travel a little deeper. And knowing you have that to look forward to will be nice when things get a little crazy along the way 🙂

  • Katie
    November 7 2015

    I’m excited for you Alex, it sounds like exactly what you need. I had 2 1/2 weeks back home after 3 1/2 months of solo travel and now I just started on another 3 1/2 months and I will say that 2 1/2 weeks was not nearly enough time – I am exhausted already. After this stint I will be back home for about 2 months and I think that will be more sufficient. Kinda looking forward to it already!
    Katie recently posted..Wild Alaskan Terrain along the Mount Healy Overlook Trail

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      I think having time to gear up for and wind down from trips is so important, and it’s something I’ve (for the most part) been lacking for a good long time. Excited to have that back now.

  • Robin
    November 7 2015

    Best of luck getting settled! All the changes you’re making sound super exciting. Living more by doing less is a worthy goal for all of us.
    Robin recently posted..Borrowed Dog Adventures: Pacific Spirit Regional Park, Vancouver

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Indeed. I’ve got a reading list to match it right now, too 🙂 Working my way through Essentialism right now!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    November 7 2015

    This was such a beautiful post, Alex! Knowing when to stop and make changes to a lifestyle that doesn’t bring you joy anymore is such a hard thing to do – whether we’re talking about travel lifestyle or any other lifestyle! – but just by reading your words, it’s easy to tell just how content and happy you are with your choice to settle down at a home base. I’ve always loved your self-reflective posts that go beyond the regular travel blog and so I am really excited to read more of these philosophical posts from you in the future. There was so much wisdom in this post already! Wishing you all the best! 🙂
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..The Last Day of October

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thank you Melanie! I think it will in some ways be a challenging transition, but knowing that this was a must for me right now at this phase in my life will help me through those speed bumps. So will all of your supportive and lovely words 🙂

  • Justine
    November 7 2015

    Happy 26th Alex!! I hope you had a wonderful birthday 🙂 And I think your new life/travel/work plan sounds like a great idea. And man, I can’t think of a more perfect home base than Koh Tao!!
    Justine recently posted..This Expat Life: Month 15

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Thanks Justine! I’m pretty pleased with this choice 🙂 I need to get back in the water soon, though — I’m not taking advantage of one of the key perks of Koh Tao, the ocean!

  • Rachel
    November 7 2015

    Good for you! Travel is so great, but there’s nothing like coming home to your own place at the end. Looking forward to reading more about your new chapter of adventure!
    Rachel recently posted..November Goals

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Pretty excited to have a home again, though I am struggling with the idea of paying rent on an empty place when I am out and about. I’m reminding myself that this is what normal people do every time they go on vacation, ha!

  • Hannah
    November 8 2015

    I was in Koh Tao for the first time a couple weeks ago and have completely fallen in love with it. I actually compare everything to the island now and have officially dubbed it my first ever ‘ I can live here ‘ place. i think I’ll give it a shot next year. If you are still around then we will have to get together 🙂
    Hannah recently posted..Traditional Thai Cooking in Bangkok