Fear of missing out, or “FOMO” has driven us to make many bad decisions on what to see and do while traveling. Our thought had been, “Well we’re here. We don’t want to miss it.” But was it really worth it to rally and go to that 15th temple? Probably not. We’re not even Buddhist! It wasn’t until immersing ourselves in the beach environment of Koh Tao, Thailand that Dan and I began to realize that we weren’t good at sitting still. At least not compared to the dozens of headphone-wearing, tuning-out-the-world backpackers lazily swinging in hammocks or vegged out on the beach. We’d be snorkeling and look around and see no one else. We’d be kayaking expecting to encounter other fellow paddlers, but find there was no one to wave to. We’d bike ride through town and notice everyone else was sitting in a cafe enjoying the views of US biking by.
It took some time, but we eventually came to terms with the fact that the FOMO mentality of trying to see and do everything in fear of regret is not sustainable in long term travel. We didn’t know how tired we were until we arrived to the island. We were struggling to wake-up in the morning, lethargic even after 8 hours of sleep. At first, I thought it was a bug – that maybe we caught something that was slowing us down. Then we realized, it was something a bit more embarrassing than that. It was our bodies telling us to slow down and GET SOME SLEEP. So we did. Four nights on the island turned into fourteen and it was one of the best decisions we made all trip.
So this is what we did (and didn’t do) with fourteen total days in Koh Tao, Thailand. It doesn’t seem like much, but that was the point!
1. Went on a snorkel tour.
Stopped at 5 different locations and saw pretty okay snorkeling. I even sat out the last stop! You’ve got nothing on me FOMO.
2. Didn’t get scuba certified.
Despite Koh Tao being one of the best (and cheapest) places to get a PADI certification, we didn’t.
3. Hiked to John-Suwan Viewpoint.
It was close by and an easy hike.
4. Didn’t rent scooters.
All blogs and Youtube videos say to rent and scooter and explore the island. Dan and I do not have enough practice on a motorbike to safely navigate the steep hills of Koh Tao. Maybe we’d be okay but I was okay exploring on foot and have no regrets unlike the many others we had seen around the island wrapped in bandages, in wheelchairs, or on crutches. Sorry for the graphic image. You’ll see this EVERYWHERE in SE Asia.
5. Swam to a couple beaches.
We could have walked on roads and hiked on trails to get to some of the beaches we visited, but in an attempt to avoid the oppressive heat, we decided to swim to them. Swimming was always the shortest route anyway. Instead of “as the crow flies” we got around Koh Tao “as the fish swims.”
6. Didn’t spend the day at the beach.
We sat on the beach to catch our breath after snorkeling or laid a towel on the sand and enjoyed beers but we never spent more than an hour or two at any beach. No biggie.
7. Snorkeled the reefs nearby.
We strategically picked our hotel location so we’d be able to have plenty of snorkeling opportunities nearby. We went out every day or two and explored the reefs in the area. We had an easier time calling it quits after a few hours of snorkeling knowing we could explore the reefs again the next day.
8. Didn’t eat out much.
At no point were we upset about missing out on any of the “gourmet experiences” Koh Tao has to offer when we were getting the BEST banana/coconut/peanut smoothies and baguette sandwiches from the Sandwich Lady street vendor. We also ordered room service a couple of times.
9. Watched a bunch of movies.
We love movies and we’re not going to stop watching them just because we’re traveling. Powering up the laptop and turning on our portable speakers to watch a show is one of the few things that makes us feel at home. Did you know the movies available on Netflix vary from country to country?
10. Didn’t go to any bars.
Our room had a fridge and our hotel had an AMAZING view. Plus, I got to DJ!
11. Read a bunch of books.
It’s the best! Reading while traveling is like double traveling.
12. Didn’t wake up before 8 AM.
For me, this is no problem. But Dan? If Dan is sleeping past 8 AM, he’s sleepy.
13. Spent many hours by the pool.
It was cleaner, quieter, and more comfortable than the beach. We could still see the beach though so no FOMO.
14. Didn’t make any new friends.
We love meeting new people when we travel but we kept to ourselves this leg of the trip.
15. Watched the sunset every evening.
But if we missed a night, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.
16. Didn’t leave the hotel for an entire day.
Don’t judge. You’ve gone a day without leaving your house before, right? Our place was located at the top of a super steep hill. Why leave if you don’t have to?
Koh Tao was the first time we really stepped away from our American-with-one-week-PTO “Go! Go! Go!” mentality and mimicked what we’d seen our European counterparts doing: really taking the time to relax and let-go. We can’t do it all and there’s no reason to try to. After sleeping in 17 different “beds” in the last two months (and 5 more since the last post), staying still for an extended period of time was good for us. When we first arrived to Koh Tao we were ready to purchase our plane tickets home but two weeks of true island life gave us the re-charge we needed to go a little bit longer. Next up, Vietnam!