One month in San Diego. Two months in Chiang Mai. A month and a half in Pai. Two months exploring Northern and Southern India with a like-minded, yogi friend. A month trekking alone in Nepal. This is what my life has looked like in the past seven and a half months.
Having a nomadic, gypsy heart means that the only constant is unpacking all your belongings just to pack them up again in order to take another flight, train, bus or ferry ride. It can be difficult to create deep friendships and bonds when you have less than 60 days to connect with someone— and half of the people you meet are tourists, travelers or wanderers like you choosing their path according to where the wind blows them.
I truly love this life and am grateful to live an unconventional path, one that makes my spirit and heart happy. It allows me to discover my true self and explore my personal relationship to the world around me. One where there is a possibility for me to meet someone at a hot springs in Thailand and then run into them months later on the streets of Guatemala, feeling like no time has passed between us.
That is the magic and beauty and art form of being a tiny dot moving around the planet, hopping timezones and crossing meridians, switching languages and changing climates.
The only thing “missing” from my current trajectory is a consistent and stable love life.
How can I expect to be in a relationship with someone when I don’t even know which country or continent I will be on in a few months time? Romance as a traveler is a continuous cycle of healing and heartbreak. I savor the moments of cuddling in a hammock stargazing with someone I had just met 48 hours prior, or telling embarrassing secrets from my childhood to a stranger while drinking chai because I know there is no room or time for them to really judge me.
I’m no different from anyone else — I want to be in love, I want to be in a partnership, I want to reveal all the layers of myself to another human being. I want to share sunsets and sneak kisses, make travel plans together, as well as navigate through jealousy, insecurities and emotional triggers. I want to explore the dualities of darkness and light within myself and another soul.
I acknowledge that there is no forcing or coercing romantic love. It takes time and energy to really get to know someone. As a traveler, plans and people change at a high speed velocity — I would rather savor three weeks of bliss with someone knowing it will end than expect them to follow me or me to follow them. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get attached, or feel hurt and disappointed after.
I honestly do.
This is because I allow my heart to crack open like a shell, until I can’t anymore. The more my heart breaks, the more room for love I have to receive and give. I change homes more often than a hermit crab. I am in a constant state of renewal. Somehow after, once I allow myself to let go, like a gentle, fluttering white butterfly I pick myself back up again and find unconditional self-love within me.
What does that unconditional self-love look like while traveling?
For me, it’s drinking herbal teas and writing in nature, finding depth and movement in sultry sunset hikes and nourishing my body with mango coconut smoothie bowls. One-way plane tickets to India and ecstatic dance on Sunday mornings. It’s staying present and having gratitude for the beautiful moments and lessons that each person I let into my personal, protective bubble brings.
I currently live in a tiny bungalow in a town called Pai in northern Thailand made of bamboo sticks and dried leaves. I have my own porch and a hammock, facing smoky mountains and abundant rice fields. My daily morning ritual consists of meditation, yoga, and drinking a cup of dandelion tea (as opposed to coffee.) I practice self-love when I wash my face with handmade chamomile & lavender soap, when I stretch my limbs after a well-rested night, and when I gaze into the rising sun, letting it awaken my body.
I listen to mantras and medicine songs, and read my poetry at open mic nights in cozy art spaces with fairy lights and people sitting on the floor. Self-love to me is picking up a ukulele and strumming a few chords I learned along the way. It’s writing in my journal about things I am grateful for, because the list is endless. It’s FaceTiming my best friends back home, the ones who have known me for years — and finding community wherever I go. I know it may sound silly or overly “hippie,” but even talking to the plants and trees, or sitting by the river helps me feel less alone. Being in nature allows me to feel more connected to my heart.
The good thing about traveling is that there are always people seeking connection — we all get tired of feeling and physically being alone. We are butterflies floating around, with unique imprints and patterns, leaving behind our cocoons, migrating to different parts of the world to share our light and beauty through different forms and expressions.
I find romance when I express my dreams to others and share my ideas, and bring my creativity to life through art, dance, music, poetry, self-study and play. I find love in the dragonflies that land on my shoulders, the unique curves and curls of a dragonfruit, and the reminders I hear in the voices and words of others while overhearing their conversations:
“Don’t take things personally.”
“Speak your truth and make your decisions from a heart-centered place.”
In the acceptance of constant change is where you will find stability and grounding. The continuous love for yourself and others is the groundwork and preparation for when love in a different form comes. It is as beautiful as it is challenging, but it gives you an opportunity to become more flexible and expand.
You can love yourself anywhere — at any time, in any place. In the mystical jungles of Bali, treks in the Sacred Valley, the enchanting forests of Galicia, along the pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago, in the ocean waves and cliffs of San Diego, and the vibrant streets of San Miguel de Allende.
Maybe someday I will meet someone who will align with my personal goals and plans, like a dance we create in the moment and flow into together. Maybe I will meet a man who shares the same dream of backpacking through South America and studying plant medicine in the Amazon Rainforest. Someone who is equally content with camping in the jungle fending off mosquitos and spiders as they are living in a luxurious treehouse villa in Bali.
Until then, I am happy for the pieces of myself I find along the way, the gift of learning how to love unconditionally, and becoming less attached to the idea of “owning” someone else — because at the end of the day the only person you have forever is yourself.