So I’m packing up my life and moving to Thailand for a bit. Clever? Stupid? Travel along with me and let’s find out. (And no, I’m not quitting my blog!)

If you follow me on social media you’ll know I’m about to embark on an extended trip to Thailand. It’s not so much a holiday as I plan to stay there for a while and work remotely. I’ve booked a flight that’s supposed to bring me back on the 30th of April but will most likely push that out once I’m there.

So, when do I want to come back? I’m not sure, actually. It won’t be forever, but I kind of just want to float around like an old Checkers packet in the wind, going wherever I want to on a whim. Being able to be so ‘casual’, however, requires a LOT of planning.

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Here I am in Ilsa des Mujeres near Mexico. This was my first ‘me only’ trip where a passion for solo travel was born.

Last year I ended up in Chiang Mai. For those who don’t know it, Chiang Mai is this gorgeously green, temple-dotted city in north of Thailand known for its amazing foodie scene. It’s a place where orange robe-clad monks amble around (always with a cell phone in hand) and you can indulge in delish Thai dishes for around 50 Baht (R19) a pop. It’s very safe, so you can walk pretty much everywhere, but if you do need a car you can hop in an uber. (A 20-minute trip will set you back less than twenty rand!)

After hanging out in Chiang Mai, I embarked on a gruelling two-day jungle trek on its outskirts and it was there, while lying on a dirty mattress in a little wooden hut, that I knew I’d come back, but I didn’t know how I’d make that happen. After my trip, I sat in a restaurant feeling bruised and broken but very happy as to what I’d just pulled off. I was also incredibly sad to leave. I have so much love for magical Thailand – it’s beauty, it’s people, the food, everything – and it’s become a bit like a drug that I want more of. I sat watching the ‘digital nomads’ (God, I hate that word!) around me. They were tanned and relaxed yet tapping away on their MacBook Airs in between sips of mango smoothies and thought ‘I could do this too. Couldn’t I?’

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This is the part of jungle trekking that makes the blisters and bites worthwhile.

Fortunately, the universe is generally very kind to me and a bunch of stars aligned in such a way that I could make it happen. For one, I work as a freelance writer for ads, mags and TV so I’m always juggling multiple jobs. One of them always requires me to go into an office for a regular briefing but, it just so happens that I currently only have fully remote gigs on my plate. Secondly, my lease ran out and my housemate and I decided not to renew as our rent got hiked up to crazy town. Travelling, which means paying to stay in hotels, while also paying rent would have been financially impossible.

I’ve now put all my stuff into storage (more details on that in my next post), have handed over the key to my now empty flat and am officially homeless. I’ll be staying with friends on the weekend and then, on Sunday (the 1st), I fly out to Thailand. I’ve booked two nights in Bangkok followed by a week in Chiang Mai. After that, I have absolutely no freaking clue as to what happens next. Can we get an OMFG?!

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Oh hey, Chiang Mai, I’m coming for you!

The first thing most people say to me when I tell them about my plans is ‘Oh wow, you’re very brave’ but I’d like you to know that I’m also terrified. Like, terrified! Like I said, I haven’t booked accommodation as far as my first week in Chiang Mai, I’m going all on my own and don’t have anybody there. This could be the best thing I’m done in ages, or the dumbest. While I’ve travelled solo before, I’m not a super savvy backpacker-y type of person. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t really know what I’m doing. But hey, you only live once, right? (Or possibly die, curled up in a ball outside a hotel that won’t let you in because you’ve lost your credit card. Or maybe inside the hotel. From choking on a piece of dim sum and not having a travel buddy to perform the Heimlich maneuver on you.)

Either way, regardless of how this turns out, I’ll be documenting it every step of the way, so no, to answer the big question coming my way, I definitely won’t stop blogging.

Again, my plans (or sheer lack of them) might sound a little insane but I know I’m on the right track. For ages, the idea just knocked around in my brain and I kept pushing it aside because it didn’t seem ‘rational’ and there were too many perceived obstacles that stopping me from going. But this year, my resolution was to do more of what I want and less of what I have to. And this is something I really want to do. So, I made a list of all the ‘big’ things that were stopping me and gradually found solutions to all of them. Then, when I finally gathered up the balls to book my ticket, all the little things started taking care of themselves.

Now, I hate to get all karma chameleon on you, but you have to know that it was only once I stopped being a big pussy and took those first few steps that the universe started meeting me half way. Suddenly, all these random little coincidences started occurring that have helped me on my way and now I feel stupid for not having made the first move a while back. You can’t sit back and just wish for something and expect the hands of fate to just hand it over. You’ve got to get up and walk towards your plan, even if you can’t see exactly where it’s leading because that’s when you start to get a glimpse of all the new doors that start opening. And they really do open!

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I’ll be spending time in the islands too. Snorkelling is one of my favourites things in the world.

After I booked my ticket, things didn’t really seem real, but then my beautiful Lipault backpack arrived. I wanted a tough yet mooi-looking laptop backpack specifically (not as easy to find as you’d think) to carry my MacBook and have a free hand to drag my suitcase around. I also love that it’s a zexy red, the colour of courage. It’s also the colour that’s most easy for rescuers to spot should I fall down a ravine. And the fact that it’s just as gorgeous as it is practical means I can easily trade it for tampons and a comb should I end up in an all-female prison for the packet of Adco-dol I plan on stuffing into it. (Codeine is illegal in Thailand.)

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Tell me, do I at least look like a (gag) digital nomad?

The moment I slipped it onto my back and looked in the mirror, I cried and cried and cried. WHAT AM I DOING?! And then I was glad for it. For the trepidation I can feel but won’t yield to, because biggest decisions I’ve ever made, the ones that turned out to be the best, where also the scariest.

If you’re currently in a similar position to where I was, sitting with a nagging idea but not acting on it, I urge you to get up and just fucking do it. I mean, think about the worst-case scenario. If things end up in a ball of fiery pooh, you’ll be better equipped for a second attempt or least get to give the world’s most horrible feeling, ‘what if?’ one helluva burial.

My dad, unknowingly, did a lot to help me get rid of the fear of failure as a kid. I was a fussy eater on the fast track to dying of scurvy because the only thing I ate was cereal. He used to say ‘Just try it. And if you hate it, spit it out.’ Today, I apply that to just about everything. I will try the intimidating new thing. And if I don’t like it, I’ll stop doing it. I will take on the job I’m worried I don’t have the skills for. And if I can’t cut it, I’ll quit and then find something else. I will pack my whole life into boxes to roam solo in a faraway country that pulls at my heart like a magnet until it no longer works out. Then I’ll just come back.

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Flash back to me exploring a cenote in Cancun. It looks like I’m having an introspective moment but I’m really just wondering if an eel has slithered into my vagina.

I do tend to live a little recklessly and occasionally screw up. (But boy oh boy, do I live!) Now, however, is the perfect time to do it. Screw up, that is. I’m 37 and still have my 40s… 50s… my 60s… my 70s… and those are all very, VERY long decades where I can be a very boring grown up and do damage control for anything that doesn’t go to plan right now. Those are the years where I won’t be as fit or capable as I am now and, when I’m lying in my bed at night and looking back, this very moment is a time I’ll want to revisit. So I gotta make it good! And you should too! Believe me when I tell you that RIGHT NOW is the very best time to go ‘screw it, let’s do it’

So let’s do it!

I’ll be putting up two ‘prep’ posts in the next bit, showing you how I put my stuff into storage (easier than I thought it would be) as well as the exact cost, cent for cent, of what it takes to bubble wrap your life and trek to Thailand. I think you’ll be surprised how inexpensive it really is and, once I’m there, I’ll actually be saving money. I’ll also be writing about my daily life, the good, the bad and the ugly, so this is me inviting you along. Like I said, I don’t exactly know what I’m doing but I’m going to show you what I do, regardless. It could work out fabulously. Or it could go down in flames. But either way, you’ll get to live vicariously. So here’s to taking a big ole’ motherfucking bite. (Remember, you can always spit it out!)

Love, love

Leigh

P.S. While you’re here, pop on over to my John Frieda post. I’m giving away a big ass haircare hamper worth R1 500 and entering is easy peasy.

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Editor of South African beauty blog Lipgloss is my Life.

25 thoughts on “So I’m packing up my life and moving to Thailand for a bit. Clever? Stupid? Travel along with me and let’s find out. (And no, I’m not quitting my blog!)

  1. I’m so excited for you and the adventures to come. I am severely jealous of this step you are taking in life but as mentioned before, i will definitely be living vicariously through you so make the absolute MOST of it 🙂 Here’s to safe travels and adventure blogs 🙂

  2. How amazing are these pics of you?! Truly awesome! Looking forward to sharing this adventure with you! I ❤ the red backpack; I must have one. Also, how do you stay so gorgeously tanned while travelling?

    1. Thank you chica! You can find the backpack (which I’m in luuuurve with) over here: https://www.houseofsamsonite.co.za/brands/lipault/ As far as my tan is concerned, it’s FAKE, FAKE, FAKE 😉 I tend to alternate between The Tan Lab in Dark (nice dark colour, takes forever to fade, doesn’t smell while it develops) and Skinny Tan Mousse (medium to dark colour, super easy to swipe on i.e. less rubbing than Tan Lab and also no stinky self-tan smell. Although it’s best to use it at night ‘cos the guide can go on unevenly so you look ‘dirty’ but when it washes away you’re totally streak free!)

  3. I am from Mauritius Island and 10 years ago, i packed and left for the continent. Dont ask me why, i just did. I had to. Scary move but so so worth it. I travelled accross the continent, met amazing people and learnt what they don’t teach you in universities! I finally settled in johannesburg. I am now 42, married with a 7 year old son. If there is one thing i am teaching my son is to trust his instincts. Follow your guts and if the unknown calls, go for it! Wishing you an amazing journey!

  4. Deep breaths and remember home is just a plane hop away! The world is out there waiting! And Thai people are so amazingly hospitable and generous of spirit, you will be ok! Good luck, LIVE all the moments! And let us know how you go- if we don’t see any updates we will start looking for you lol! And one day when you are old and grey and eating cookies in the ouetehuis you will think back and know that you did this amazing life-changing thing!

  5. This is AWESOME! I am so impressed and don’t worry, I completely get the “terrified” component of your head space. I’ve also danced on that fine line between brave and stupid. Go have a blast. I can’t wait to follow your adventures. If you don’t mind, I’ll just live vicariously through you for now xx

  6. Oh my gosh lady you are awesome! I think it is so great (and brave) of you to do this! Can’t wait to read all about it! I know that is going to be one exciting, crazy adventure and looking forward to reading how it all turns out! Hopefully you will meet a fabulously wealthy foreigner who will whisk you away to his mansion on an island somewhere 🙂 or you will collect enough great stories to write your own hilarious travel guide and make your own millions so that you can buy your own mansion somewhere 🙂

  7. I can’t wait to read every single post about this amazing adventure… from start to finish (if it ever does finish!)

    As you already know – I packed up my life 10years ago and moved to a new country on a new continent with the exact attitude of “if this doesn’t work out, I can always go back home and start again”.
    Guess what – there were definitely moments of “WTF??!!??” and wanting to get onto an airplane and return to normalcy, family and the stability of a culture (and language) that I could follow. But as the weeks turned into months and years, I found out that I loved my new existence, the weekend adventures to new European cities and with it came HIM, buying property and the little one.

    Thankfully I got a job before getting onto the first flight and it has been my stable income since day 1… but I also don’t have the brains, balls and beauty like you do to make the *nomadic* existence successful.

    I wont say Good luck… but rather *kick it in its moer!* and *ENJOY!!*

    Lots of love and remember that you can always come to the land of beer, frites and chocolate if you need to… we have a spare bedroom and we wont even make you do much babysitting in return… promise (sort of)
    xxx

    1. *Kick it in it’s moer!* I love that! Very wise words from an OG adventurer! It feels like just yesterday that you told me about your big move to Belgium and were all like ‘Now, I know this sounds crazy but…’ And look at you now! Also, and I know this is off topic, but I want you to know how often I think about the time I came to visit you and you’d basically JUST slid off the bloody operating table and yet you were still completely determined to show me around you new city. Serious props girl! Also, I remember feeling so proud of you, how you’d made all these friends, knew your way around and was just one seriously savvy cat making herself a brand new life in an exciting new place. I’m very lucky to have so many wonderful, fearless women in my life who’ve taught me what it is to just go for it and you are most definitely one of them. Guuuurl, I love you long time, ok?!

      1. You know the phrase “fake it, until you make it”… that was pretty much my first few years abroad!
        You are a true inspiration and I hope my little girl has half of your moxie!
        Love you lots too, you crazy chica…
        xxx

  8. Well jeez! Go on and jump Leigh and I will live vicariously through you because I don’t have such guts…I have a few but not the amount you do. I love that ‘if you don’t like it, spit it out’ motto.

    1. Thank you hun, I’ll jump for the both of us. But if you like that motto, think about applying it to a few little things so you can see how easy it is to be a little more brave in how we choose to live. Once you get used to nailing the baby steps, the big ones become easy as pie x x

  9. I’m so jealous! You have such lady-balls, and I so wish I did too. You’ll have the best time of your life, and I can’t wait to read all your posts, and catch up with you – wherever you may be! xxx

  10. Chic, you FRIKKEN inspire me!!! Go for it!! I am SO proud of you for taking the bull by the horns and riding it all the way to Thailand!! Do it for us Make the most amazing memories and do it for all your creepy blogger stalkers who will be watching your every move and wishing we were doing exactly the same thing!! Be safe ok! *Hugs!*

  11. Wow, it seems that you have a great adventure in between your whole Thai adventure trip. As like you have also a great experience in Thailand. You experienced such an unforgettable trip there. Thank you for sharing with us. Keep Blogging!

    1. I’m loving it! Thank you so much. I’m going to try and stay here for as long as possible. Or at least to avoid the South African winter x x

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