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Why My Gap Year Travel Plans Have Changed…Again!

I have a nice habit of changing my travel plans at the drop of a hat. That’s one of the joys of backpacking, keeping your plans loose so you can embrace opportunity, spontaneity and live the dream in ways you couldn’t have imagined when you were at home putting your trip together.

And once again I’ve given the second part of my RTW a major shake up – a fun shake up that will see me extend my time in Thailand and hopefully postpone my arrival in New Zealand…so what is this plan?!


A Slight Hiccup

As you all know surfing is the epi centre of my life – and when I scored my dream job surf coaching in Ecuador I was stoked!

But travelling around the world can be problematic as a surf – massive board charges on airlines, huge flat spells and a limit on the countries I can score decent swell in and remain on budget!

It has also proved more difficult than I first thought to bounce around the globe teaching the sport I love. There’s heaps of surf instructors out there and it’s hard to break into a job where alot of companies have the same people working each season.

It was looking like I may actually have to go back to an office in NZ – what a bummer!

Until I looked into a new career opportunity…


The Perfect Compromise

Having met up with the lovely @AllyToullec on Phi Phi where she works as a dive masters for Barakuda Dive School I got thinking about another way to bounce around the globe, soak up the sun and enjoy the ocean – why not take my PADI course right through to DM?!

A New Adventure?

It sat in the back of my mind for a while so during my time on Koh Tao I got chatting to some of the Dive Masters and Instructors there and looked into it a bit more.

Now I like diving – but it’s not at the same level of passion as my surfing, it just doesn’t give me the same kick.


But I LOVE to travel.

I LOVE warmer climates.

And I certainly LOVE the ocean.


Being a DM or Instructor open up a whole world of world travel where I can work, play and keep living the dream. By all accounts from the people I’ve talked to its heaps easy to bounce around seasons and sample many countries I couldn’t afford or consider otherwise.

And if you go all the way to instructor the pay aint too shabby either – especially when you’re living somewhere like Koh Tao. I’m viewing it almost as the office work of the ocean, but way more enjoyable!


A Hit To The Bank Balance

But as with everything there’s a bit of a cost consideration. Becoming a DM is expensive – like heaps expensive. With course fees, crew packs, PADI fees its about £700.

My New Suit?!

The equipment I need jacks that up another £600+ minimum.

The instructor course…well that adds about another £800 + $1100AUD PADI fee.

Now that’s an epic investment to commit too!

Having established a pretty good working relationship with the guys over at Davy Jones Locker on Koh Tao I decided to see if I could cut a deal in exchange for reviewing the whole thing and also shooting some images for them along the way.

That combined with some money shuffling and budget analysis is just about do able at this point on my trip – but it’s a risky maneuver, so I’m hoping it pays off!

I’ve also decided to bring my photography skills into practice and do a course alongside the whole thing to become a qualified underwater videographer – a good sideline which would allow me to potentially make some extra money and make my dive CV look that much more appealing to a potential employer.


The New Plan

So the new plan is as follows;

I’m currently in Bali for a month of serious wave therapy – including a week on the Dream Weaver Surf Charter Boat – before heading back to Thailand in early August. From there I’m bouncing around the gorgeous Phi Phi Islands again for a couple weeks before going to Koh Tao.

The plan from there is to do my videography course before starting my DM – allowing me to film the whole thing, the whole thing should take about 2 months to complete.

After qualifying I’m hoping to get settled into a videography and freelance DM job on Tao (whether this is with DJL is down to them…hint hint!) and clock up some serious dive time and network through the other dive schools over the following few months.

Leave Only Bubbles…

Now here’s where the whole plan gets rather fuzzy…

If I’m making enough money to comfortable live and even save a little I’ll tick over that way before eventually flying to Oz for a few weeks and onto NZ.

However, if I’m really enjoying it and the money situation is stable I may well bite the bullet and do my Instructor course.

The theory in this is by this time I’ll have networked the island nicely, proved myself as a DM and clocked up a solid number of dives, so instead of graduating the course as a fresh faced Instructor I’ll be nicely placed to jump into some good paying work!

…lets hope that it all pans out!

So exciting times ahead and there will be heaps of awesome videos and pics from my dives coming your way, as well as my experience of becoming a DM to inspire you all. I’m also hoping that I can sort out some more promo codes for you guys and girls to save you some dollar – and of course if I’m working on Tao I’ll be more than happy to show you around underwater!

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