Welcome to Travel Money Diaries - where we're uplifting the broader travel community by talking openly about money and travel! Each month travelers around the world will track and share how they spend (and save) their money during a 7-day period.
This week: Trisa shares more about working remotely and exploring the southern islands of Thailand’s Krabi province.
Industry: Global Health / Non-Profit
Occupation: Program Communications Manager (full-time job, remotely based)
Based in: New York City, USA
Currently in: Southeast Asia (on week 4 of 5 here)
Paycheck Amount (2x per month, after taxes): $1682
Housing Costs: $1025 rent for my half of a two-bedroom apartment I share with one roommate. My roommate has the bigger of the two rooms so we split rent evenly but she covers the utilities.
Grad School Student Loans: $309
Credit Cards: $250 – over the last year I’ve paid off all but one credit card. Every time my autopay reminder comes in I kick younger me for being so irresponsible. Lesson learned!
Phone: $53-$68 – depending on data use. Reimbursed by work.
Health Insurance: $0 (100% employer-paid)
Subscriptions: Netflix $0 (because I’m on a family plan); G Suite subscription $5 (for my blog)
Retirement: $100 into 403(b), employer matched (yay for free money!)
Currency: USD (unless otherwise stated)
Day 1 – Railay Beach, Thailand / Koh Lanta, Thailand
6:00AM – Alarm goes off but I snooze for a bit. Today we’re traveling from Railay Beach to Koh Lanta by ferry, so force myself to wake up so I have time to check emails before we leave. We’ve loved our last few days here and I’m sad to be leaving.
7:45AM – Packing while catching up on Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Vanderpump Rules. Yes, I’m a sucker for trashy reality TV. As I listen to a discussion about whether Kourtney and Scott are getting back together, I try to figure out why it seems like we have more stuff than the last time I packed.
9:30AM – We check out of the hotel and walk over to Railay Beach West where our ferry is supposed to depart from. Because the ferries can’t dock on the beach, we have to take a long-tail boat to the ferry out at sea. It’s quite a process watching dozens of people and luggage shuffle back and forth across the water. Before we take off, I quickly run to a mini-mart for chips and water. 80 TBH ($2.33)
11:00AM – Our ferry is late (which apparently is typical for Thailand) but we’re finally on board. The boat itself is small and there are bags and people everywhere. We grab the last spot along the side railing that’s somewhat shaded and gets a bit of a breeze.
1:30PM –In total the ferry ride was about 2 hours. Nearly 45 minutes late, we finally arrive in Koh Lanta! The pier is a clusterf*ck of people (haha) but we find our driver and head to the hotel. We pay a small mandatory contribution for island clean up on our way out. 20 TBH ($0.60)
1:45PM – I organized our pick up with the hotel beforehand. It’s not included in our stay though. 800 TBH ($23)
2:00PM – After cat napping in the car, we arrive at the hotel. Our room is beautiful. On the third-floor with a balcony and sweeping views of the ocean. I don’t have much time to enjoy it because I need to hop online and start working.
3:00PM – Chas grabs lunch for us at a spot nearby. Two sandwiches with fries and drinks. I eat my food before my first call. 406 TBH ($11.75)
8:15PM – Chas brings me dinner – some kind of chicken and rice. Because of the time difference, most of my work calls are in the late afternoon and evening. So we’ve had to rely heavily on take out. Usually in home rentals we (I) always cook. Unfortunately it’s just worked out that this time we’re not cooking as much. Luckily I sublet my apartment out for the time we’re gone – so we have the extra budget to spend on expenses now. Plus, eating out in Southeast Asia is considerably cheaper than it is in NYC. 240 TBH ($7)
10:45PM – FREEDOM!! Hang up my last call of the day and put the finishing touches on my last assignment. Plop down into bed and fall asleep.
Daily Expense: $44.68
Day 2 – Koh Lanta, Thailand
7:30AM – Sleep in and wake up feeling good that I’m officially on leave! Koh Lanta is one of the quieter southern Thai islands – and I’m excited to explore it more!
9:00AM –We’re staying in an area of Koh Lanta called Ba Kantiang (Kantiang Bay), which is on the southwest end of the island. The area centers around a small main drag that has several great restaurants and a 7/11, with nicer-end hotels sprinkled throughout. Walk into “town”- which takes us all of 5 minutes to walk through and another 5 to get to the beach.
11:00AM – On the way back from the beach we pop into 7/11 for some supplies. Beer, chips, juice, and a hair tie (my last one broke and I seem to magically lose them all the time). 230 TBH ($6.65)
11:30AM – Relax on our balcony while deciding how we’re going to spend the rest of our days here. A snorkeling tour is at the top of our list because Chas has never been.
1:00PM – Lunch time. Walk to the place where Chas got dinner from last night. He thinks I’ll like the ambiance. He’s right. It’s a giant treehouse on a beautiful plot in the jungle. We’re the only ones there so it feels like we’re in a giant wooden playroom, fit with hammocks and Jenga. The place is run by two guys who have given it a very laid back island vibe (it’s called Chill Grill House). Chicken with rice, glass noodle stir fry, and two drinks. 290 TBH ($8.40)
4:00PM – Cool off in the hotel pool. It’s been a while since I’ve exercised so I force myself to do 10 laps. I’m surprisingly winded and tell myself I need to get back into shape. I’m not as comfortable in my body as I used to be so it’s time I do something to make me feel good again.
6:30PM – Edit photos and catch up on some reading before catching the sunset on our balcony.
7:30PM – Walk back into town for dinner. I have the chicken fried rice and pineapple juice. Chas tries a specialty chicken dish from southern Thailand, with a local beer. And we get spring rolls to share. 530 TBH ($15)
9:30PM – We walk around a bit to see what’s what. The one and only non-hotel bar on the beach is pretty popular so we make a plan to come back tomorrow night.
11:00PM – In bed. Catch up on social media and a few more readings before knocking out.
Daily Expense: $30.05
Day 3 – Koh Lanta, Thailand
6:30AM – Alarm goes off but I hit snooze because I am on vacation. But as I lie there half asleep I remind myself that I wanted to seize the day and be productive so I finally pull myself out of bed. Start by catching up on readings I’ve been leaving open in tabs on my browser and then work a bit on the blog. I sit out on the balcony while I work because the ocean view makes it more enjoyable.
8:30AM – Chas wakes up and we head down to breakfast. While we eat we finalize a postcard we’re sending to his mom – instead of buying one from here we decided to make one out of our own photo using an iOS app. It’s more expensive but the personal touch will mean more to her. $2.99
10:30AM – Today is all about relaxing and catching up on the things I’ve been putting off. Plus, we still need to arrange our snorkeling trip. Take a break to go to the pool and bust out my 10 laps!
1:00PM – Lunch time! We walk into town to this local spot that’s very popular with expats. It has these adorable hammocks everywhere which gives the place an extra beachy vibe. Massaman curry, sandwich with fries, and smoothie to share. Neither of us finish so we get a takeaway bag – I love how here they put soups and curries into small plastic bags instead of plastic containers. 410 TBH ($12)
2:30PM – Working on the latest project for my blog. I ask Chas to read it over and we talk through some ideas I’ve been mulling over. I appreciate that he doesn’t mind having lazy days like these occasionally – especially since I’ve been working lately.
5:45PM – After getting a bit more blogging done, we head back down to the pool for another swim. It’s so nice out and we enjoy the sunset from the pool.
7:15PM – After I shower I ‘heat up’ leftovers (hotel room trick: use your hot water boilers to warm food or bowls that have been sitting in the mini-fridge). With some of the chips we bought the other day, it’s enough for dinner.
8:00PM – We head to the best/only bar in town. Why Not? No – that is literally its name: Why Not? Bar. It’s an edgy but elegant beachfront spot. We plop down into one of their giant beach beanbags and order a round. Pina colada and Long Island ice tea. I also have a flyer that they were giving out yesterday which is redeemable for one free shot – the bartender is so nice and gives us one each. They have live music every night and I’m loving the singer’s set of eclectic American hits that stir up some nostalgia while we enjoy our drinks. 340 TBH ($9.80)
9:00PM – We’re front row to the bar’s nightly fire show. It’s so much fun to watch and I’m amazed that these guys’ don’t burn themselves more easily. There is one guy who is a little less sure handed than the others so when he gets close it is a bit nerve wracking. But that’s all a part of the show. When their hat comes around for tips we give a little something. 40 TBH ($1.16)
10:00PM – Back at the hotel. A little pillow talk before falling asleep.
Daily Expense: $25.95
Day 4 – Koh Lanta, Thailand
6:30AM – Alarm goes off. I really love waking up early and organizing myself before the day really starts.
7:30AM – We finally decided on a snorkeling tour for Sunday. The company emailed me the invoice for payment and I pay online. $181.90 For most trips, Chas and I divvy up who pays for what. It’s not an exact science but it generally works out to 50/50. We’re comfortable with this and since we generally operate on a what’s-mines-is-yours mentality, we treat our cash while traveling as communal. It’s generally how things work at home as well, where we take turns paying for things. Neither of us takes advantage of this and we’re cognoscente of how much we’re spending overall. It helps that we talk openly and honestly about money too, which I think is one of the great things that traveling does for a relationship in general. Even now that Chas isn’t working, we’ve cut back to accommodate for the fact that we’re operating on smaller joint income (though our finances are currently still separate).
7:35AM – As I check my bank account to make sure the payment went through, I see that the autopay for my student l0ans and phone bill hit my account, as does my bimonthly paycheck! Transfer $600 to savings.
8:00AM – Breakfast at the hotel. I sneak a few pastries on the way out as snacks for later.
9:00AM – Jamming out to Bruno Mars and the best of 2016’s top 40 while we get ready for the day! Just as we’re about to put our pinky rings to the moon, we get a phone call that the scooter we rented for the day is here. It’s a three-wheeler (because neither of us has ever drove a scooter before and Chas thinks we could use the extra balance support) so it’s a bit more expensive. A regular scooter would have cost us half the price. 550 TBH ($16)
10:00AM – We head out for the day. It takes us nearly 20 minutes to figure out how to turn the scooter on/get it started, and then another 20 getting acclimated to it. It’s heavier and not as stable as Chas had expected. After a bit of a rough start we finally get the hang of it. We drive around town for a bit and then stop for gasoline at a self-service pump. 130 TBH ($4)
11:00AM – Koh Lanta is pretty easy to navigate, as there’s one main road that runs north to south. It’s a beautiful ride along the coast. We head north.
"There is not one path. There is not even the right path. There is only your path." 💭 . Spent the weekend exploring more of beautiful #Thailand and reminding myself that life is about taking risks for your dreams, even if no one else can see them. Having the courage to do that is nothing short of inspiring. . What dreams are you chasing right now??
11:30AM – We pass through a few other towns along the way and make our first stop in Phra Ae Beach (also known as Long Beach). It’s a 4km stretch of beautiful white stand. Unlike the beach in Kantiang Bay, the beach is surrounded by woody pines. Even on a holiday weekend (it’s currently Thai New Year/Songkran), there’s lots of families out but the beach is so big that it doesn’t feel crowded.
12:30PM – We swim and lay out until we’re hungry. Chas read about a popular Greek food place in the next town over. After another 10 minute ride north, we find the place. Order a delicious meat plate to share and two juices. 500 TBH ($14.50)
1:30PM – There was so much food. We get the leftovers packed up and hit the road. We decide to head to the east side where Lanta Old Town is. We ride back south and then cut over to the east side. The cut over to the other side of the island is beautiful and takes you through the more rugged, mountainous interior.
2:15PM – Arrive in Lanta Old Town. Pop into one of the first restaurants we see and grab a quick drink to cool down. Two fruit shakes. 150 TBH ($4.30)
3:30PM – After walking around and doing a bit of window shopping, Chas buys a pair of sunglasses and then we head back home. 100 TBH ($2.90)
6:30PM – Sunset is beautiful again today from our balcony. We take in the colors and eat our leftover Greek for dinner.
9:00PM – Early night in anticipation of our snorkeling trip tomorrow.
Daily Expense: $223.60
Day 5 – Koh Lanta, Thailand
5:50AM – Alarm goes off. Ugh.
6:30AM – Our tour picks us up and we head to the pier at Ban Saladan (the northern tip of the island). Along the way we pick up a few other people. When we get there, we check-in and relax on the boat while the crew gets everything ready. There are about 25 people total on our boat, but they break us into groups of 4-5 people and assign a guide to each.
8:00AM – We set off for Koh Haa, a small group of five islands out west. Nobody lives there but it is one of the few popular snorkeling/diving spots in the area. It takes about 2 hours to get to. I take another anti-motion sickness pill, eat some breakfast, and fall asleep.
10:00AM – We arrive at our first snorkeling spot on Koh Haa. The water is pretty rough so I’m eager to get into the water and off the boat. It’s Chas’ first time so I’m also trying to make sure he’s set up. We jump in and start swimming around. Chas is immediately in love with what he can see but it takes both of us a while to get used to the snorkel because the waves keep flushing water down the wrong way.
12:30PM – We hop out of the water. Lunch is ready! After we eat, I proceed to fall asleep again. Lying down seems to help my motion sickness but I guess the pills are making me drowsy so I’ve been napping more than usual.
2:00PM – Our boat arrives in a beautiful lagoon on Koh Haa that is sandwiched between two isles. The water is lighter here, so we can see it’s shallow. We hop into the water and it’s amazing!! The coral is big and beautiful, with life all around it. It’s easy to forget there’s a whole other world below the surface of the water. One of the girls in our group doesn’t feel well (her motion-sickness is worse than mine), so they head back to the boat. Our guide (who looks like a Swedish Ron Perlman) offers to take Chas and I around some more. We swim off to another section of the lagoon, where we see puffer fish and clown fish (NEMO!).
3:30PM – We’re back on the boat and set off back to Koh Lanta. We snack on some pancakes and pineapples, and then I fall asleep (again). Chas chats with the other guy in our group who is from Sweden – they realized they’re both die-hard Arsenal fans. Football seriously is the sport of the world.
5:30PM – We dock, disembark, and get dropped off at our hotel. Since our hotel is the furthest south, we get dropped off last. The sun is starting to set so it’s a beautiful ride home along the coast through the different parts of the island.
6:00PM – Decide to walk into town to grab dinner before going back to our room. We finally try this pad thai place – it’s been closed the last few days because of the new year holiday. One order of pad thai, curry chicken and rice. 230 TBH ($6.65)
6:05PM – While we wait for our food, I quickly run to 7/11. I’m out of hair conditioner and pick up some other snacks while I’m here. The cashier thinks I’m Thai and starts speaking to me as such, until she sees the puzzled look on my face. We laugh. 100 TBH ($2.90)
6:30PM – Back at the hotel. Shower. Enjoy our dinner while watching the sunset from our balcony.
9:00PM – Fall asleep while watching the Liverpool match that’s on TV. I’m amazed that I can still fall asleep so early after all the napping I did today.
Daily Expense: $9.55
Day 6 – Koh Lanta, Thailand
6:30AM – Pop up like a daisy. Feeling great and motivated, I work on some blog stuff.
7:30AM – Chas is awake. We book a flight for his mom using our miles, as a birthday/Mother’s Day gift. She is going to California for a month in July to spend time with her sister. We luck out because the price has dropped from when I checked last night, so we use less miles than we anticipated. Win all around!
8:45AM – Tomorrow we’re heading to Koh Ngai, one of the Trang Islands off Thailand’s Krabi coast. Somehow I forgot to book our ferry there so I do it now. We research a few ferry companies and decide on one of the speedboats because it’ll get there faster. 1350 TBH ($40)
11:00AM – Lounge around by the pool.
1:00PM – Because sitting poolside requires a lot of mental energy, I’ve work up an appetite. We walk into town and decide to have pad thai again – because we’re in Thailand and it’s so good. This time I try the pad see ew and Chas has the signature dish. We have a fruit smoothie to share. 240 TBH ($7)
2:00PM – After we lunch we sort out the rest of the logistics for our trip tomorrow. Now that the ferry is sorted, we need to organize transport from the hotel to the pier where the ferry departs. We pop into a few tour agencies and find the best price. Plus, the woman is so nice and I’m cognizant of supporting local business run by woman. So another win all around! 500 TBH ($14.50)
3:00PM – Spend the rest of the afternoon focusing on the blog because I’ve officially launched my new series called Travel Money Diaries. Maybe you’ve heard of it? (Writing about the money diary series while writing a money diary feels like something straight out of #Inception)
5:00PM – Since it’s our last night in Koh Lanta, Chas wants to head to the beach for sunset. I take the opportunity to do some shooting.
7:00PM – After struggling to get a good shot, I feel a bit deflated. I’ve been struggling with my body image lately (my emotions about it yo-yo constantly) and seeing ‘bad’ photos of myself brings that up again. Chas understands. We ditch our plans to eat on a beachfront restaurant and get take out again. Of course we settle on pad thai (yet again) because at this point it feels like comfort food. 210 TBH ($6)
8:00PM – We settle in for the night with our take out and watch Truth. I’ve seen it before but want Chas to watch it because he loves historical entertainment. I am thankful that we can do stuff like this even when we’re abroad and it doesn’t feel like a waste. Remind myself that home isn’t where you are, it’s who you’re with.
10:00PM – Bed.
Daily Expense: $67.50
Day 7 – Koh Lanta, Thailand / Koh Ngai, Thailand
6:30AM – Wake up. I start my morning by sitting on the balcony and do some more blog stuff.
9:00AM – Check out of our hotel. Before we got here, I booked us an extra night (the other nights were pre-paid using my Hotels.com rewards points). So now I just have to settle the bill for the extra night. $190. The transport to the pier we organized yesterday picks us up and we’re off.
9:45AM – We check in with the speedboat company, get our bag tags and wait. The car ride made me sick so Chas buys me a soda to help calm my stomach and I take my anti-motion sickness pill in anticipation of the boat ride. 30 TBH ($0.90)
10:30AM – We load onto the speedboat with about 30 other people. We pull out of the pier and into the open ocean and I’m happily surprised by how smooth the ride is.
11:20AM – Arrive in Koh Ngai on the pier on the east side of the island. The speedboat said it only takes 30 minutes to get here but it took a little longer. We wait on the pier for our transfer by long-tail boat. Koh Nagi is inhabited by a handful of resorts and camping areas, which are mainly on the east side where we are. Because of its size and the way it was built up there are no roads. The only way to get around is along the coast by long-tail boat.
12:00PM – Check-in and settle into our cottage by the beach. I paid for the hotel online when we booked it months ago. I got a great deal thanks to comparing prices on TripAdvisor.
3:00PM – After swimming out to our hotel’s floating dock by the reef, I’m starving. Late lunch at the hotel. 550 TBH ($16)
4:00PM – Relaxing on the beach. We listen to the first episode of the new podcast I downloaded yesterday, S-Town. So interesting!
5:00PM – Back to our cottage to shower and relax until dinner. Listen to another episode of S-Town. I’m hooked already.
7:30PM –There are only a handful of resorts on our side of the island and our hotel has one of the better restaurants so we luck out. We walk 20 steps to the restaurant and have dinner. Red curry, vegetable fried rice, and two lime smoothies. 450 TBH ($13)
9:00PM – Another episode of S-Town! Fall asleep just as the episode ends.
Daily Expense: $219.90
Weekly Total: $621.23