So, how does a salt gypsy go about spending more than a couple of weeks holidaying in the tropics or other wave-rich, warmer-than-a-southern-hemisphere-winter, areas?
1/ Work and save up enough moolah to sustain a few months living in a cheap paradise.
2/ Work as a Surf Guide or Coach in any number of paradises.
A shining example of the benefits of Option no. 1, Kelly Clarkson of Raglan, NZ, ended up starting her own business after spending 5 months “laying down some whack Spanish” in Central America. Hammock-dwelling, conversing with other global hammock-dwellers and surfing good waves everyday lends itself to creative inspirations. So does having to adjust your ‘bits’ every 30 seconds in the surf, and hence the idea for KALi was born: swimwear for surfgirls that stays on and doesn`t make you look like you have a “nana bum.”Danny Clayton discovered Option no. 2 highlights the universal rule that, in life, it`s “who you know not what you know.” A random surf and camping weekend away for like-minded surfgirls was the perfect backdrop to a mutual friend introduction. New friend happened to be a surf guide in the Maldives. New friend knew there was possibly still a job going on the same island…would Danny mind being a snorkel guide on an island with a pumping left-hander out front? It took all of an afternoon surfing, talking story and sharing a meal to realise that, yes, Danny would be extremely interested. Goodbye job, goodbye family, goodbye life as I know it: hello Maldives.
Both options lend themselves to some really fun, soul-searching, and rewarding adventures and waves. Meeting like-minded people from all over the world is also part of the package and can lead you onto different paths you`d never planned or envisaged. This is all part of the amazing-ness of travelling. If you stay long enough somewhere you also get to know the locals, who are integral to the definition of getting to know a place. Language barriers are often overcome by interpretive-dance actions and if all else fails, a big smile and a chocolate bar goes a very long way.
Qualifications, aka. Pieces of Paper, are also extremely useful, if not vital, when trying to secure a seasonal job (and accompanying bureaucratic visas). Recommended is an ISA (International Surfing Association) Surf Coach Cert and/or NZ Surf Lifesaving Award (unless you`re heading to Britain where they have their own UK qualifications you need to complete), complimented by a current First Aid Certificate. Check out Surfing NZ, Surfing Australia, and Surfing Great Britain for upcoming coaching courses. Also your local St. Johns or equivalent for convenient workshops around your area.
A second language up your sleeve helps considerably with prospective Surf Camps/Resorts. Speak another language – emphasize your “excellent conversational skills’ in this part of your CV. You don`t have to be fluent in your chosen 2nd language or know much (or any) of a local language (employers usually have that sorted) but being able to communicate with international surfers/guests of varying or no English ability can be key to making you stand out from other potential candidates.
Where do you want to surf in this world? And when? Start researching the places of your endless-summer-dreams. If it`s a surf camp or school you want to work at, first decide where you want to go, then check out camps in that area. Some positions are volunteer, some are paid. Fully look through a company`s website to get a feel for the business and how it may operate to make sure you`d both be a good fit for each other. And try to have clear terms of employment or a contract before booking that flight…you don`t want to be relying on a salary when it suddenly turns out it was a ‘volunteer position.’
This type of research can be useful even if you don`t intend on working. You may find after x-amount of time surfing, hammock-dwelling, or partying in a particular spot, that you want to stay on in a place, in which case knowing where and what kind of existing surf camps there are can help you stretch precious $$ and experience a different way of living.
*Know of other ways to live in paradise for extended periods? We`re keen to share your story and advice so let us know here.