How to Travel and Surf the Globe for a Living: Interview with Chris Stevens

This excellent post is by Dena Levitz.

The ocean is Chris Stevens’ home – and not any ocean or beach in particular. For the past few years Chris has been on the move, trekking through Asia, Europe, Latin America, just to name a few regions on his itinerary. A surf lover, the Brit has made a living teaching others how to hang ten, taking photos of beautiful sights and blogging about his backpacking adventures. We asked about his globetrotting ways.

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First of all, how did this all start? You’re living the dream, traveling around, teaching surfing, taking photos. What was the impetus?

Well it all started back in 2009 when I went on my first gap year to Oz for a year. I’d always wanted to go and, after all my buddies didn’t get their act together, I decided to go solo. When my year was nearly up I decided I still wanted to travel more, so I returned home and worked for STA Travel for 18 months. During this time I also took some time to do my surf coaching qualification.

When I’d nearly saved enough I started job hunting, landed a job surf coaching in Ecuador and left! I’ve bounced a few seasons surf coaching now and it’s heaps of fun.

Since my first adventure I started blogging too. One of my buddies did the same and he started making dollars out of it (advertising and reviewing stuff) so I decided to rebrand and go the same way. I’m stoked to say Backpackbanter.com is now my full-time job and I’ve worked with some great companies including G Adventures, The New Zealand Tourism Boards amongst others, and it’s brought me some great opportunities.

I did photography as a degree too which has helped a lot along the way.

Run down the list — where have you lived and worked abroad so far?

Well technically I work wherever I go. But in the last 12 months I’ve covered Ecuador, The Galapagos, Peru, Morocco, Switzerland, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia. Not a bad year, eh?

Surf coaching wise I’ve worked in Ecuador and Morocco.

Where have been your favorite surf spots?

I’m torn between Byron Bay in Australia (where I’m currently based) and Mancora in Peru.

What’s on your bucket list still?

Well the great thing about my bucket list is the more I travel the more I add to it. It’s well over 100 items long at the moment but I’ve ticked a surprising amount off. The things I still really want to do are surf in Tahiti, live in New Zealand for a year and visit Central America.


How does someone drop everything and travel all over the globe? What’s your advice?

It’s easy: simply save, plan, book, quit and travel. People find too many excuses not to hit the road. If you really want to travel you’ll find a way; it might not be quick or easy but stick with it.

What usually prompts you to hit up your next destination – do you abide by a plan?

A lot of factors really. Money and surf are the main drives though. I tend to book a flight into an area (like south east Asia) and then make it up as I go along. It gives me a rough focus but enough flexibility to take opportunities as they arise. For example at the beginning of the year my buddy said he was going to be in Oz around the time I was looking to bounce from New Zealand. I was originally heading for Japan but met up with him instead and I’ve been here for over two months now.

Besides surfing what are the activities you’ll take part in when you’re traveling?

Anything! I’ve smashed out some dive qualifications, gone skydiving, paragliding, white water rafting. I’m game for heaps of things! I’m on holiday after all!

Which culture(s) have influenced you most at this point?

I think you take a bit of every culture you travel within. I’ve got lotsof Aussie slang in my lingo now which is rather amusing and confuses a lot of people. At the moment I’m currently sporting a Thai bamboo tattoo, a kiwi jade pendant and anklets from all over the world — I’m a mish mash.