To travel constantly while still holding down a full-time job to afford all those flights and villas is serious goals! For lots of us, however, it feels like an impossible dream.
Well, recently we caught up with Daniela Caccia, the fabulous content creator, during a trip to Koh Samui. Dani not only kills it as one of our favourite Instagrammers who is ALWAYS on the move (check her out on @explorewith_dani) but at her day job in the hypercompetitive film industry.
Read on to learn all about how she balances work and travel, what she loves about Koh Samui and her tips for the rest of us!
You seem to be travelling all the time! What drew you to Samui as a destination?
I have been living in Asia for a decade, and it was my first time in Koh Samui. I loved it!
The birthday of my best friend, based in Hong Kong, was the perfect reason to visit Koh Samui for the long weekend and it was a memorable one.
Thank you The Luxe Nomad for the impeccable organisation and beautiful stay. Your team rock!
Now that you’ve been there, is there anything you think that separates Koh Samui from the rest of Thailand?
The world is quiet here.
Koh Samui exceeded my expectations which were high at the time of the booking.
This island has reinvented itself as Thailand’s most luxurious barefoot holiday island. Here you can have it all: pristine beaches, a marine national park, world-class cuisine, beach clubs, chill cocktail bars, professional wellness and PEACE.
Despite its popularity, Koh Samui has the magic of a tropical paradise, and it feels still untouched.
What was the best part of your trip?
I have experienced lightness and inner peace during this trip.
Ban Kinaree, the villa where I stayed, is located on a hill overlooking Fisherman’s Village which is a concentration of narrow Chinese shophouses transformed into some trendy & low profile boutique hotels, eateries, cafes and bars.
“Warm vibes only,” was the mantra of the holiday.
We loved the content from your day trip to Ang Thong National Park. What did you do when you were there?
Ang Thong by boat is a MUST SEE! It felt like watching a live documentary on National Geographic. The shades of blue and emerald green, limestone cliffs, hidden lagoons and the sea creatures are a DAYDREAM.
I joined a group tour, @discoverygrandsea, from the Fisherman’s Village pier (just 10 minutes car ride from the villa) and it took about 1 hour by speed boat to reach the first stop. There we enjoyed swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear water with colourful tropical fishes, corals and fascinating sea urchins. After a beautiful 20 minutes of sea sighting by boat, we reached the largest island of the national park. There, kayaking is the main activity to explore the surrounding. The third and last stop was the icing on the cake – the view from the top of the Ang Thong National Park is breathtaking.
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The landscape is worth the effort. A short, very steep and hot hike will take you to the viewpoint, and suddenly everything is put into perspective: the scenery from the sea is a puzzle of wonders. From here you can observe the beauty of the forty islands and the integrity of the marine ecosystem.
Any absolute must-visits in Koh Samui regardless of how long you’re staying?
I am passionately curious by nature, and I tend to explore as much as possible, given the day has only 24 hours.
A boat trip is a must do. Plan for a full day trip (morning to late afternoon) with one of the tour operators on the island. It’s best to opt for a private boat for a flexible schedule. Ang Thong National Park is highly recommended as well as Koh Tao, but it might be crowded, especially in peak season.
Fisherman’s Village is the place to be with chill spots to enjoy some music and good vibes.
Sundays at Nikki Beach Club are uplifting with a buffet brunch (from 11 AM to 3 PM), good music and stunning sunset. For a mundane break, it is lovely walking along the club’s beach.
Shahda Yoga at The Hub will balance your energy and senses. Join a free half an hour meditation session at 7 AM followed by an invigorating 90-minute yoga class by Elysia. She will take you to the next level of mindfulness and flexibility.
You stayed at Ban Kinaree. What were your first impressions of the villa?
Once you enter the main gate, you feel a general sense of tranquillity. The tropical garden with its 19-metre infinity pool has a breathtaking view. The pleasant sound of the warm sea breeze and crickets is blissful.
This villa reminds me of summertime in the Tuscan hills, but the ocean here is an additional benefit that creates a truly magical setting.
The location too is perfect, just 15 minutes drive from the airport, which is suitable for weekend trips, and its just 10 minutes to the Fisherman’s Village.
The staff are the kindest. Expect freshly cut heart shaped watermelon and succulent mangoes smoothies served with purples orchids by the pool. The villa manager is very attentive and caring. Privacy is king.
What features stood out to you the most? Is it a great place to explore the island from?
Ban Kinaree is located in one of my favourite areas in Koh Samui. If you are seeking a relaxing venue with breathtaking views and lavish nature, this is the place.
The villa design is a balanced mix of traditional Thai style with a modern twist. The rooms are very spacious with high ceilings and dark woods, large bathtubs in each room. The outdoor shower in the master bedroom is the highlight.
Swimming after a long day in the infinity pool to the sound of the cicadas and crickets was joyful. The villa is great for entertaining guests or for groups too.
Was there anything you didn’t get to do on this trip that you would want to come back for?
I would love to go back after this unexpectedly pleasant experience.
There are lots of areas to explore more: the waterfalls, the view from the overlap stone and Koh Tao are among the TOP places to visit.
The Jungle Club sounds interesting for an aperitif in nature, and the Chaweng area offers a lot of good dining restaurants and wholesome breakfasts.
I wish to have more days for meditation, yoga and well-being.
There is never enough time…
You somehow manage to do all this travelling while still holding down a full-time job. How do you make it work?
I am blessed and grateful. My full-time job in the movie industry is THE DREAM job. It enables strategic thinking, creativity and storytelling focused on the Millennial audience. These elements match well with my brand @explorewith_dani which I created a couple of years ago. I am guided by the principle that BRAND is KING and consumers insights are gold. Acquiring knowledge that can be reapplied is a benefit for both my job and passion.
It might sound overused, but I work hard, I am extremely organised, I delegate when possible, and I reach out to experts when support is needed.
In 2019, people should easily work remotely. It is just a matter of being accessible and accountable. No matter where you are sitting, what counts is performing in a happy and comfortable environment. In my opinion, this strengthens the results and minimises conflicts at work.
Do you have any rules you follow for getting as much into your travels as possible?
Before travelling, I research extensively among multiple sources, and I select the best areas to explore spanning from nature, art and local food to shopping and wellness.
I am very picky and selective; hence I personally plan my trips. The first rule is to experience the local culture and traditions of the country visited. The activities should be well balanced, and most importantly, I wish to make memories and feel the magic.
Any other tips for the rest of us to travel as much and as well as you?
Curiosity should be the inner driver to see every place with new eyes. Don’t be afraid of the lack of time; it will never be sufficient. Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively.
On a pragmatic note, purchase smart flights and prioritise what you would love experiencing during your trip. For example, on my final day in Koh Samui, I woke up at 6 AM, went to meditation & yoga from 7 AM to 9 AM, had breakfast with my friend and got the flight home to Singapore at 11 AM. I managed to take a work call at 5 PM from home.
“The beauty of travel lies in the ease and willingness to be more open and aware”.
What’s your favourite way to relax when on the road?
Why shall I relax on the road? I want to be present and enjoy the ride.
Trips are fulfilling and surprising. There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.
How many places did you go last year?
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I don’t think in numbers when it comes to travels but in visuals and memories.
That being said, let me try to list the places I have been in 2018… Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Bali, Arizona, Hanoi, Ho Chi Min City, Jakarta, Manila, Milan, Bergamo, Eolie islands, Copenhagen, Positano, Paris, Hoi An, Western Australia, Norway, Seoul, Shanghai.
Where are you planning to travel for the rest of the year?
Odd but true – there are no upcoming trips planned yet.
If I dream big, I would love to go to South Africa and Namibia, South America, Mongolia and Russia.
I am a last minute traveller. I like being surprised by infinite possibilities.
The risk adds spices.