This post has been sat in my drafts for a while now – I guess I’ve just not been sure when was the best time to share everything, in a weird way I guess I was a bit confused about the whole thing.

The blunt summary of it is that I spent July and August in the UK, in an office.

Yeah let that sink in for a moment – I’m as confused as you are!hahaha!

But I’m back on the road again now so what the hell happened?!


Back With Best Intentions

chris stevens travel blogger surfer returning home

From Surf Coach To Sales – With The Best Of Intentions!

Whilst surf coaching in Portugal I got a job offer I couldn’t really turn down – as the head of sales and marketing for surf company Ticket To Ride (who I’m actually out working with in South Africa right now!) – on paper it was a pretty perfect job for me and the culmination of all my experience in sales, blogging, surfing and travel.

So I jumped on a plane and left the beach behind to get stuck into the surf industry working for a solid company with some great products all over the globe – including Indonesia, Costa Rica and South Africa.

The plan was to stick at least 12 months, get heaps of awesome experience, make some new contacts and of course save up a solid pile of cash for my next stint on the road.

I could stick this, it’ll be nice to have a solid base and my family would be pretty stoked to have me around again – well in theory they would anyway!

However that plan soon turned into 6 months, then 3 months…and before I knew it after 3 weeks I’d handed my notice in!

To be honest pretty much all my buddies and family saw this coming – maybe not as quickly as it happened but I should’ve really seen the red flag judging everyones reactions to me moving home and taking a 9-5 office job!


So Why The Change Of Heart?

Now I have nothing against Ticket To Ride, or the guys I was working for, in fact the office was pretty good fun – a small team of surfers and I got to wander around the office barefoot which is always a sweet deal.

I’m still on heaps good terms with them and I now offer their products over at Epic Gap Year too which is awesome!


returning home from travel ticket to ride

Some Of Team TTRide Hard At Work!

However I quickly began to realise I’m no longer cut out for office work or to be honest the UK in general!

I was sending people out on amazing surf holidays with a massive taste of jealousy in my mouth that I was suddenly no longer on holiday myself!

I setup a blogger on one of their South Africa trips – (which actually turned out to be a bit of a mistake and I wish I’d chosen a bit more wisely, however their loss was my win as TTRide sent me out instead this month!) all the time thinking;

“I’m the perfect blogger for this trip, I surf, shoot and blog what the hell am I doing sending someone else!?”

Then there was the job aspect. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t go in completely naive but I guess there were some rose tinted glasses about getting involved properly in the surf industry. Unfortunately once you strip the surfing out of it it was simply another marketing and sales job!

It sounds obvious in hindsight but I thought it would be slightly more different than it was.

Despite the fact I’ve ended up being heavily involved with marketing and sales that’s not my main passion by a long way and spending all day doing it turned out to be a lot tougher than I expected.

I also realised how much I actually enjoy working for myself too and although it’s a heavy responsibility I’m actually far more motivated working on a handful of my own projects. I stumbled upon a quote which sums that up pretty well;

If you don’t work towards your own dreams you’ll spend your life helping build someone else’s.


Money Isn’t Everything

surfing cape town ticket to ride chris stevens

I’d Much Rather This Than Heaps Of Dollar!

One of the biggest things that made me take the job actually turned out to be one of the biggest deciding factors about chucking it all in for the nomad lifestyle again.

Everyone loves pay day right? It’s the best part of the month and people are always stoked about it, however upon seeing my first steady pay cheque drop in over 3 years drop into my account all I thought was “well that wasn’t worth it”!

The fact that it was by far the highest paid job I’ve ever had made no difference and I suddenly realised how much I truly value freedom over money. Blogging made me less than half the amount of pay (at best!) per month but it affords me heaps of freedom to travel, surf and enjoy life.

The more I analysed it the more I came to terms with the fact money no longer really motivates me, sure I need it to travel, but I don’t need a crazy amount – I’d much rather be life rich and cash poor.

I’d rather scrape along with enough money to get me from place to place, with few material possessions than splurge on mindless purchases, counting down the time when I can take my next 2 week holiday.


Too Easy To Settle

I also realised how easy it is to slide into a routine too. I was only home for a short stint but I quickly found myself caught up in an extremely monotonous routine. I was peppering work days looking at the surf cams and realised I’d confined myself to a box! I was spending my evenings not really being heaps productive, just trying to unwind and detach myself from the office.

I suddenly lived for the weekend again – the only time I could surf – and got increasingly frustrated by seeing rubbish swell reports and rubbish weather. Sure I cam back to the UK during a surprisingly hot summer but there’s no point it being 25 degrees outside if you sat inside the entire day, waiting until you can catch an hour or two of evening sunshine after the drive home.

Although I was in a routine I was simply caught in the motions, increasingly frustrated and watching the days pass me by. 

I also became very aware of how most of my buddies now live outside of the UK – how the people I talked to on a day to day basis were sprinkled across the globe. Some traveller like myself, others who I’ve met on the road who are now living in the likes of Sydney, Bangkok, Montanita…in fact during my time back in the UK I hung out with about 6 people.

It was another awakening to the fact I’ve spent the last 3 years making my life on the road, not in England.

I was chatting to people who were scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, surfing in Ecuador and building their blogs in Chang Mai. For the first time in a long time I was heaps jealous…and that always leave a bitter taste in your mouth!


Time To Hit The Road Again

table mountain ticket to ride epic gap year

On Top Of Table Moutain On My TTRide Trip

With all these thoughts running through my head I decided the only real option I had wasn’t to simply see if it would get better, nope in true Chris fashion I handed in my notice and started figuring out where to head next on the road, on my terms. Yup I hadn’t actually figured out the plan before quitting, I decided to have blind faith in my ability to adapt to the change in circumstances!

After all planning adventures is what I do best!

I left Ticket To Ride on good terms which I’m stoked for (they’re a great company to work for so go check them out) and I’m enjoying my time out in South Africa with them heaps – you’ve only got to check out my Facebook Page and Instagram feed to see how awesome their trips are!

So what’s the plan after blogging my way along the Garden Route from Cape Town to JBay?

Well my new site Epic Gap Year is gaining heaps of momentum which I’m massively stoked for and I’ve sent people from all corners of the globe on some incredible experiences that I’ve sourced during my time on the road, so I’ll be concentrating heavily on that.

chris stevens tara povey travel bloggers

Bring On Adventures With The Povester!

I’ve also still got a good backup fund in the bank account (I’m still not too close to the minimum panic level I set when I started a few years ago!) so I’m all good for another long stint on the road…hopefully!

And of course my blogging, surf coaching and photography are still good streams of income on the road which I can utilise as needed.

But the first plan of attack is joining forces with the girl as we head into Asia for a few months (I’ll divulge the details and locations pretty soon) and then the rough plan is that we’re New Zealand bound, but as always this is always subject to change!hahaha!

For now I’m embracing my return to life in the backpacker bubble, soaking up the sites and sounds and with a renewed vigour to sustain it for as long as possible.

The suns on my back, the sands under my feet and I’m stoked to see where my renewed direction takes me!

See you on the road!

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27 Responses

  1. Anna

    Oh my god. This is exactly how I feel right now! I’m just back in the UK for 2 months to see family, renew passport and get a bit of money together. 3 weeks into an office job and it’s worse that I remember before I left 2 years ago and that was unbearable. I can’t stand wasting my time working for someone else, none of it makes sense any more but 2 months money will last 6 months in Asia and the road will feel all the sweeter once I get back out there soon! Loved reading how someone felt the same as me and well done for having the courage to live your dreams. Good luck :)
    Anna recently posted..Australia’s Great Ocean RoadMy Profile

    • Chris

      hahahaha good on you Anna! Totally get where your coming from on the cash front though, sounds like you’ve made a good plan and at least you’ve set a short time limit before bailing again! You’re right too – the road feels sweeter after the confines of an office!

  2. Lina @ Divergent Travelers

    I can relate to what you said about just slipping back into the routine…. we have been on the road for 7 months and just made a surprise trip home and it is actually scary how easy it would be for us to just stay here, get jobs and resume this life again. EEEKKKK! Has us squirming and anxious for the typhoons to pass in the Philippines! Great article though, what you say is so true on many levels.
    Lina @ Divergent Travelers recently posted..Best Monasteries in Lhasa TibetMy Profile

    • Chris

      It’s super easy hey Lina! I’m heading out to the Philippines in November actually, where are you guys based?

  3. Wes

    Great post Chris! I agree with all of the above. Failing is the most important thing to do in life sometimes, because it helps us learn so much.

  4. Katie

    After almost a year working in hostels… I made 3 months behind a bar in my hometown. Everything you said here hit me before I finally quit last week! Friends at home have no idea and unwinding with the same people after every shift turned in to constant hangovers at work the next day! And the money was definitely NOT worth it. I love your blog & that fact you were so honest about everything in this post! It helps those of us stuck in similar situations! Enjoy getting your lifestyle back!

    • Chris

      Seems a lot of people share the same thoughts hey Katie – stoked to hear you’ve taken the plunge too! Let me know how you get on and chuck me an email if you need any help!

  5. nomaderhowfar

    Just found you via backpacks and bunkbeds!

    Wow, we hate the 9to5 with a passion too and we don’t leave it behind until march 2015! It just does not suit us at all. Although we do both work part-time and are self-employed thankfully so are avoiding the office job right now!

    We both have come to see money as a means for adventure and experiences over the past few months, as we are saving hard for a RTW trip – it’s also a trap though, a steady pay-cheque. It’s great to many, but if all you get in return is a 40 hour work week, a weekend and your bills paid, what’s the actual fun in that!?
    Your upcoming adventure’s sound awesome!

    Hannah and Taran

    • Chris

      Hey guys,
      Awww Neils blog is awesome hey?
      Stoked to hear you’re heading off – what’s the plan?
      Indeed I agree, the steady life suits some but it’s not worth the 40 hour week!

    • Chris

      hahahaha yeah it was never really going to work hey?! Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

  6. Micamyx|Senyorita

    Good for you, Chris! In my case, I want to go back to the UK. I stayed there from June to November. My family is now based in the UK and I really want to reunite with them even if that means I have to work in an office. If only the visa thing is not a problem.

    I’m back in the Philippines now with a full-time job. Luckily, my boss gave me the freedom to work on my own terms as long as I deliver the results they expect from me. Let me know just in case you and Tara decide to visit the Philippines :D
    Micamyx|Senyorita recently posted..Batanes Solo Trip: North Batan Tricycle TourMy Profile

    • Chris

      Cheers Micamyx! Stoked that your boss is so chilled about the freedom you want, more bosses should be like that!
      We’re actually heading to the Philippines next month!

    • Chris

      Definitely, I’m so much happier in the sun by the beach with just enough cash in my pocket to get by!

  7. EbbsandFlows

    Hi Chris,

    Another excellent post and as always, honest and extremely inspiring. I just thought I’d share with you my thoughts, coming at it from a similar angle although, at the same time, polar opposites:

    I’m 33 and have lived in the same town all my life and worked the same monotonous IT job, for the same company for the past 11 years (that’s quite tragic). Finally last year I ‘awakened’ (for want of a better word)and finally decided to start living my life.

    long story short, in a few weeks I will be heading off on my first backpacking adventure to SE Asia. Am I excited? Hell yeah. Am I scared? A little, if I’m honest. But do you know what scares me most of all? Coming home. Coming home to a job I no longer enjoy and a life and social circle I believe I’ve now outgrown. That in itself sounds sad but people like you inspire me to make that leap, make changes to my life and just LIVE. Follow your passions, follow your dreams and never let money be the ultimate goal.

    I’m quite sure those changes will be made when I return to the UK :)

    Keep up the top work buddy, it’s appreciated.


    • Chris

      Hey Jon,
      Stoked that you’re heading out to check out some more of the world and that the site pointed you in the right direction to some extent! I’m sure you’ll have a blast! Coming home definitely sucks but you’ll have a different view on the world and I’m sure you’ll find yourself a better situation that you enjoy more and can be happy with.
      Let me know how you get on!

      • EbbsandFlows

        Cheers Chris, I’ll keep you posted on any epiphanies I have when I return ;)

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