As the years pass, life makes it incredibly easy to come up with reasons to stay home. Surf trips become harder and harder to plan, excuses become easier and easier to make.
“My job is pretty good right now,” we say. “I’m afraid if I quit I’ll regret it. All of my friends are getting started in their careers. Will they achieve more success than me?
Or, “I just started seeing someone, what will happen to our relationship? How will I be able to afford my rent and travel at the same time? Where will I leave all of my things while I’m gone?”
I know I’ve repeatedly asked myself questions like these, and as life gets more complicated, it becomes vastly more challenging to convince ourselves that it’s ok to pack up and leave. After giving this dilemma some thought, I created a list of what I believe to be 9 worthy excuses of taking off for an extended surf trip.
1. Experience A New Culture
Coming from Los Angeles, I’m used to living in a melting pot. According to the United States Census Bureau, LA is made up of more than ten million people. I am surrounded by different cultures, and I have the opportunity on any given day to seek them out and experience them.
But I don’t. When I’m at home, I don’t stray far from my comfort zone. I stay near the coast where I’m close to the things I love: my family, my friends, and the ocean. It’s not until I leave the country and purposely immerse myself in another culture that I’m forced to pay attention, to learn, to broaden my worldview, and to participate.
For most of us, our cultural practices were decided by whatever environment we were born into, long before we had a choice. Assuming culture plays a meaningful role in one’s life, it’s worth it to get out there and taste some of the different flavors the world has to offer.
2. Help People/Environment
The mentality of building non-profit organizations to help people and take care of our oceans is becoming increasingly popular. People like Jon Rose have figured out that you can engage in surf travel and create positive change along the way.
I recently ordered a water filter from Wavesforwater.org, so that next time I encounter a remote village without much access to clean water, I can offer it to them in hopes to contribute something positive to their community.
3. Home Rarely Gets Good
In LA’s South Bay, there are only a handful of really good days each year. For me, that’s not enough.
My friend John tells me I’m spoiled and that I should try living in Virginia Beach, where he spends his winters waiting around for waves. And I’m sure my friends surfing in the Mediterranean in the South of Spain would say the same. This excuse is relative, but I think if surfing is what turns you on, it’s good enough.
4. Finding Yourself
This one may be a cliché, but every time I travel, I achieve some form of personal growth. It’s not always clear what the catalyst is that causes it, as it can be any little detail along the way, but it happens every time. Sometimes it’s a change in mindset, sometimes it comes from making a mistake (or several), and sometimes it comes from a conversation with a stranger. More often than not, it comes from interactions with new people, which brings up my next excuse.
In October of 2013, I made my first trip to the Mentawais. I met some really amazing people from South America, Australia, Europe, and even a guy not too far down the coast from me here in California. I still speak with many of these people on a fairly consistent basis, and one of them turned out to be my graphic designer.
After my stint in the Mentawais, I went to Bali and met a huge group of Spanish surfers who spend half the year working in Ibiza and half the year traveling. Two of them welcomed me to stay with them in their homes when I was in Spain about six months later. I took them up on their offer and experienced unbelievable Spanish hospitality first-hand.
Developing an international network can benefit you in personal and professional life. It’s easy to look at spending time away as potential for falling behind, but consider the possibility that you’re actually getting ahead.
6. Learning Another Language
I think this particular one is on most people’s bucket list. There is no better way to learn a second language than to go spend six months (or longer) in a country that speaks a language you’re interested in.
For those of us from the United States, Spanish seems to be the most useful second language. Imagine going down to Central America to surf and being able to have casual conversations in Spanish? How good would that be?
7. Studying Abroad
Studying abroad in Australia was what initially sparked my interest in travel. The feelings I had exploring Northern NSW were ones I decided would be good to recreate for the rest of my life.
The opportunity to experience a different style of education and see a new country at the same time should not be overlooked. You get to study during the week and do surf trips every weekend, and if you choose your location strategically you can surf every day.
8. Working Abroad
Chances are, with a little effort, you can find a job similar to your day job in a very different country – ideally one with a stunning coastline and incredible waves. While the internet and the transportation industry work together to shrink the planet, it is becoming more acceptable and even an attractive quality to have worked abroad. It allows you to network and build your resume while engaging in surf travel.
My friend recently finished up a year of teaching English in a remote part of Thailand, and although Thailand is not known for waves, Indonesia wasn’t too far away. By placing himself in that region, he was in striking distance of some of the most wave-rich areas in the world.
I have another friend who is teaching English in Spain right now, and my other mate recently scored some typhoon swell while teaching in Japan. All three of these people have told me that teaching abroad has been one of the best experiences of their lives.