This week’s Wanderer of the Week is another friend I met while getting my yoga teacher training in India: Amy Baldwin of Pure Pleasure. While in Rishikesh, I was lucky enough to have Amy in my training and right down the hall from me. We often sat outside of my room together bonding over the wi-fi connection or laughing about our troubles with wheel pose. Amy even came to New York recently and we were able to reconnect over yoga with another friend from training.
Amy Baldwin is a Certified Sex Educator, Pleasure Activist, Sex and Relationship Coach, yoga teacher, and a proud, self-proclaimed travel addict. She has been all over the world to places including Thailand, Bali. Cambodia, India, Singapore, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Israel, Mexico, The Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, and more. She makes it a point to travel abroad at least once a year as a medicinal practice to teach her to be a more compassionate, heart-driven being.
What was the first trip you remember?
The first trip I remember was when I was around 11/12 years old when my mom took me to Disney World and on a mini cruise on The big Red Boat (which, compared to other cruise ships, as more like a small red boat). My mom was a travel agent at the time – back before the Internet boom when travel agents got a lot of free perks. We got to travel in luxury, but at the poor (wo)man’s budget. Discounted airfare and free lodging, plus free business/first class upgrades on flights. I was a lucky girl. I don’t think we went on any rides at Disney world. Instead we cruised around visiting all of the “countries” (they have some sort of building dedicated to various countries from all over the world). It was as if we were sightseeing around the world. Perhaps this is was my first introduction to the magic of world travel.
What’s your favorite way to keep busy on the plane?
Podcasts. I’m a Sex Educator by passion/trade, so anything related to sex-positivity. Sex Nerd Sandra, Savage Love Cast (Dan Savage), etc.
I know it’s hard to narrow down, but what are your three favorite places in the world?
Thailand – I’ve been twice, both trips with a different lady friend. The first trip was 3 weeks of cram-packed travel with a little bit of leisure. We went from Bangkok to Koh Samui to Koh Phangang. Once on Koh Phangang (not sure if this spelled correctly) we discovered a BEAUTIFUL bay called Hat Yuan that you can only access by boat. We thought we’d only spend a few days there as we were on an action-packed travel schedule, but once we arrived, we melted into the white sand and never wanted to leave. To this day, Hat Yuan is still one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Somehow we managed to pull ourselves off of the perfect beach and back into a boat to head to the mainland, eventually making our way to Chang Mai.
My second trip to Thailand was all about the Western Islands. Phuket (decent but crowded), Koh Phi Phi (beautiful but crowded), Koh Lanta (super laid back hippie vibes, which is so my style), and finally the Similan Islands (crystal clear turquoise water where you can see fishies 60 feet down).
Bali – I went to Bali in 2011 with one of my best lady friends. I thought Thai people were sweet, but WOW, Balinese people are the some of the sweetest humans I have ever encountered. They are very spiritual and heart driven. Every morning we would find a prayer offering outside our door (usually a banana leaf with incense and a flower). They were always smiling, chanting prayers a few times a day, asking “what’s your name and where are you going”. I felt very safe traveling there as a woman – probably safer than any other country, including that of my own. I only spent 10 days there, and feel like I need to go back for another 3 weeks minimum. Yes, Bali is calling tome again.
Hawaii, specifically Maui and Kauai – Upon my first visit to Maui, I got inspired to move there right after high school. It was an amazing experience. I went there with 2 lady friends, and we found jobs in restaurants + an apartment within 10 days. We lived right across the street from a beautiful beach in Lahaina. Sometimes when I woke up early with restlessness I would go to the beach and float in the calm water while watching the sunrise. We didn’t have a car, so we hitchhiked, walked, or biked everywhere. My life in Maui was short lived, however, as I fell in love with my first love right before the move (yes, the Universe works in mysterious ways). So I moved home for a beautiful 4 year love/relationship within 3 months.
Kauai is an ancient, magical island. You can feel the earth mother there. No joke, there is divine feminine power beaming from that island. I went there last year with my current love. We toured the entire island backpacking style (I like to rough it), and even did the 11 mile, occasionally dangerous hike on the Kalalau trail. Once inside the Kalalau, we drank fresh spring water right from the lava rocks without filtering it, and it tasted like flowers and purity. I’d go back and hike the 11 miles just for that water. Mmmmmm…Kauai is also calling me back…
Based on food alone, which country could you live in forever?
Thailand. Delicious tropical fruits, veggies galore, meats that are not processed or mass products in terrible conditions, spice spice spice. Mmmmmm. Or Maui on this communal living property where they grow and live from the land. My body would be so happy and pure if I lived like that!
Are you a light packer or a heavy packer?
I am a light packer. I used to be that badass girl who would refuse to check things in, packing so light that I could carry my luggage on the plane no matter how long I was traveling for. I think I learned this from my mom when she was a travel agent. Things have changed now as TSA won’t let us travel with more than 3.4 fluid oz’s per bottle, so I’ve had to succumb to checking my bags in.
If you could only explore one continent for the rest of your life, which one would you pick and why?
Asia. So much diversity. So affordable. Such different culture that that which I was raised in (the US).
If you’ve ever spent a holiday abroad, which was it and how did you celebrate?
I spent my 29th birthday in Costa Rica with my BFF Giulia. It was actually pretty challenging because my partner (boyfriend) was in the country at the same time, but we have differing travel plans, so I didn’t get to see him. Even though I spent the day traveling around the country seeing beautiful volcanoes and rainforests with my best friend, I was still caught up in the sad, anxious headspace that didn’t allow me to fully drop in.
What are the top three items you can’t leave home without?
Chapstick (I’m addicted), toothbrush/paste (dental hygiene is a must), money/CC/passport (how the hell am I going to hustle and bustle without it)
What are your tips for jet lag?
Be a badass and force yourself to stay up when you need to to balance out your sleep patterns (hello caffeine). Also, take a sleep aid to get you on your new destination’s time zone/rhythm.
How do you keep in shape and stay healthy while on the road? Do you have advice for others?
Walk EVERYWHERE you can, and do yoga every morning. You can do yoga anywhere! In a tiny room, an airport, on the beach, in bed. Get your stretch on and your body will love you for it.
What’s your travel style?
Roughing it. My favorite trips involve roughing it with backpacking, hiking, camping, hostels/tiny bungalows without a/c or warm water, and then in the middle of each trip, treating myself to a nice hotel with a/c, warm water, comfy bed, pool and hot tub, etc. This contrast really makes you appreciate all that you have. Talk about a good gratitude practice!
Why do you travel?
I travel because it makes me a more compassionate being. By seeing and experiencing other cultures I am in turn able to understand human experiences outside of my own. Travel makes me feel ALIVE, FREE, wild, and inspired. Travel makes me a more dynamic being. I grow more and more every time I pack my bags and travel outside of my comfort zone. Traveling helps me to appreciate the comforts and beauty of my own hometown (Santa Cruz, CA). Basically, traveling make me a stronger, happier, BETTER human being.
You can follow Amy and her adventures here, and if you find yourself in Santa Cruz, California, be sure to visit her and maybe even attend one of her workshops: