An Interview With World Traveller and Surf instructor Chris Stevens
This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Stevens of Backpacker Banter and founder of Epic Gap Year, who left the UK for a life of travel, driven by his love of surfing, in some of the most remote corners of the world. After spending a year travelling in a campervan in Australia, and landing a job as a surf instructor in Ecuador and the Galapagos he set out to live a life of adventures some of which include hiking the Inca trail, freediving between the continental plates in Iceland and diving with whale sharks in Thailand! Learn a little bit about his journey and get inspired by his story:
What were you doing before starting your nomadic journey?
Before I hit the road I had just finished a degree in photography and ran my own wedding photography company. After I came back from my first year of traveling in Australia I worked for STA Travel UK for a year and then quit and hit the road long term!
So you’re not only a nomadic surfer, but a professional photographer, freediver and blogger. Which jobs were the most challenging? Which was most memorable?
Indeed, I’ve juggled heaps of stuff! Challenge wise I think diving was the most difficult — being a dive master isn’t the easiest job in the world but it is heaps of fun! As for memorable being paid to be an extra in a nudist movie is always a good drinking story.
Sounds like a lot of fun! What was the life changing trip that inspired you to travel permanently?
I went to Ecuador to shoot an eco surfing piece in my final year of university and it was my first real long haul solo trip — I barely even knew where the country was before jumping on the plane! I met so many epic people during that trip and had such a blast that it certainly planted the seed to bounce out of the UK ASAP after finishing my degree!
You also run a popular travel blog where you document your adventures. What is the inspiration behind Backpack Banter?
I guess I just want to show people the world and inspire them to go out and explore it for themselves. Tips wise people have heaps of reasons of why they think they can’t travel — but I want to show people that it doesn’t cost millions of pounds, it isn’t super difficult and help answer some of the questions they may have about planning a trip.
Some people find that “follow your passions” or “live your dreams” is just plain bad advice. Do you feel like you took a risk by leaping into digital nomad-land?
I’m a huge advocate of technology and if that allows me to work from a beach in Peru over an office in the UK then I’m totally going to make the lifestyle adjustments to make it happen! I have such a better lifestyle balance on the road and I’m far happier for it.
What were some things that worried you at first?
Getting a stable income was always a major worry and to be honest I didn’t set out to do what I did, I just kind of stumbled into it! There was no business plan, just a blog and an adventure which was meant to involve a working holiday visa in New Zealand…which STILL hasn’t happened!
What about work/life balance? Have you found a way to balance both?
I think the biggest learning curve was self-discipline on juggling work and play. I still haven’t got it right and surfing and exploring certainly wins out most of the time…but I’m getting there!
What your daily schedule usually look like?
8am wake up
8:15–9 breakfast, organize students
9:15 head to the beach!
9:15–4:30 surf lessons, surfing, relaxing on the beach, football, volleyball, sun tanning etc etc
4:30–4:45 wash down boards, wetsuits, pack everything away
4:45–6 go surfing for myself
7:30 BBQ on the roof terrace with everyone
8pm few cheeky beers
What were some of the advantages of choosing this type of lifestyle?
The biggest advantage is the flexibility — I work when I want but more importantly FROM where I want — if I fancy a few months in Asia I don’t need to book time off, as long as I have wi-fi its life as normal
What’s the hardest thing to you about being a digital nomad?
Again it’s finding the balance — there are some days where I have to force myself to sit down in front of my laptop for the entire day to catch up! One of my most productive times is on long haul flights and trains though — I guess they’re almost like my office space now!
What are some accomplishments you’ve had while traveling and working abroad?
Launching my online travel agency — EpicGapYear.com — was a huge goal to achieve, I built the whole thing myself and I’m stoked with how well it’s doing already. It took nearly a year of blood sweat and tears to get it up and running but I’m so glad I stuck at it!
Finally, what advice would you give to those who want to follow your footsteps?
If you can see a way of earning on the road take the leap — worse comes to worst you go home and start again!
A big thank you to Chris! If you like this piece please hit recommend to share it around. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to share your story!
Visit us online to start your nomadic journey! #LiveTheAdventure