Our First Digital Nomad Lesson Learned: A Tale of Two Samuis!

As we have chronicled here, Lisa talked me/us into adopting a digital nomad lifestyle after a 3-week vacation to Southeast Asia last year. That trip ended in Koh Samui, Thailand where she closed the deal (coffee is for closers!) and I agreed to this crazy adventure.

That time in Koh Samui was VERY different than the time we have spent here the past week!

As we made our way across Southeast Asia last winter, we stayed at traveler hotels in Vientiane, Luan Prabang and Ankur Wat. But we made a deal with ourselves that when we got to Koh Samui we would go high end and do some luxury beach time. And we did!

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Travel vs. Vacation

We stayed at Sea Dance resort. It was high season around the holidays, so we paid a princely sum to stay in a private, all-glass bungalow on the beach with a private pool. The restaurant is top notch as is the staff. Which was lovely…for a couple days. Then we got restless. Sea Dance is a bit remote with no public access so it’s very private, peaceful and relaxing. And for that I recommend it highly.

Private and Exclusive View from our Villa at Sea Dancing Over a Private Pool Last Year

But after a couple days we found we craved a bit of action, so we booked a driver to take us to the typical sites on Koh Samui: Wat Plai Laem, Big Buddha, Wat Phra Yai, etc. We ended that day on a beach lounger in hopping Fisherman’s Village…and that’s where we realized our mistake!

Beach Scene at Fisherman’s Village

We kind of LIKE a crowd! We love ‘travel’ and variety, but ‘vacation’ tends to bore us…

Now don’t get me wrong; if it wasn’t for Sea Dance and, specifically, the ex-pats who work there who answered my millions of questions, this adventure never would have happened. So it’s actually a GOOD thing we stayed there – plus, as noted, it is lovely and beautiful and quiet. So, as we always say, things happen for a reason!

I think we always knew we loved ‘traveling’ over ‘vacationing.’ After all, that’s what we both fell in love with during our teens and twenties. But I guess once you have made a little bit of money you feel like you need to step up in luxury. That’s wrong…at least in our case. The luxury bored us and took the thrill out of a trip.

With this new-found wisdom top of mind and our decision made to become digital nomads, we spent 2018 ‘practicing’ being ‘travelers’ rather than ‘vacationers.’

We kept up our typical furious pace of ‘vacation’ travel but stopped staying in western chain hotels and started staying exclusively in VRBOs and AirBnBs or small local inns.

We got off the beaten path and, for example, stayed in Camden Town, Sheffield and Edinburgh rather than doing my typical birthday trip to London staying on Piccadilly.

We rented a downscale VRBO on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala rather than staying at a resort. In short, we became TRAVELERS again.

And here’s the thing: we LOVED it! We had rediscovered the joy of travel!

Fast forward to this week and here we are, staying in Chaweng Beach…an area we briefly visited by taxi last year for one dinner.

This time we are staying in the heart of it at a travelers’ hotel called P&P Resort for US$37 per night…and doing some math that’s about 7% of what we paid per night last time we were on Koh Samui. The room is not a glass-encased jewel with a private pool like at Sea Dancing, but it is clean, spacious and very comfortable. And we’ve never been happier.

koh samui chaweng beach
Public and Happening View from Shared Pool at P&P This Year

This time we ate in local spots including the night market, immersed ourselves in beach culture and got cheap massages on the beach every other day.

The life we have chosen would not be sustainable at Ritz Carlton or even Marriott prices. But at P&P prices, we’re not only going to be fine financially, we’ll be in our happy place!

And here’s a fun little bonus: P&P is directly under the flight path for Koh Samui’s airport, USM…so every day as we work on the business by the pool or lounge on the beach we get to watch airplanes taking off about 700 feet over our heads.

And pretty soon we’ll be on one of those jets heading to our next destination. Ready Jet Roam, indeed!

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