Pro Tips | Living and Paddling on the Road

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Photo: Seth Warren

Pro Tips | How To Live and Paddle on the Road

Mike Tavares was born for the road. The kayaker turned standup paddle maniac has been living on the road for years, chasing river waves, ocean waves and competitions all over the United States, the whole time taking his home wherever he went. "Over the years, I've lived in about a dozen different towns, five different vehicles and experienced life on the road at its best and worst," he says. Whether you want to do a weeklong road trip or head out on the road for the entire year, here are Tavares' tips for life on the road.

Pick the right rig. It's a huge part of the equation. Over the years I have gone from a station wagon (think National Lampoon's "Vacation") to fully functioning RV (24-foot, Class C), but it's all about time and needs. If you only have a few weeks to travel a year, an old, stripped-down mini van with a bed will do. Over the years, I've sacrificed a place to call home and that's why the RV is nice. The majority of my possessions (minus all my shredding accessories) will fit in there and the creature comforts such as the kitchen, bathroom and bed make life much better. See what functions and amenities you absolutely need and build from there.

Support the dream. Funding life on the road can be one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. This can be a never-ending battle, but has great rewards along the way. I started by working seasonal positions in the paddling industry and taking large chunks of time off between jobs. That's evolved to making travel, events, marketing and road life a permanent job. Pick something that makes you happy and, of course, allows you to paddle as much as possible.

Keep it simple. Less can truly mean more when living the road life. Let's be real, having a big quiver of boards and toys on the road is the most important … so besides having too many boards on the roof, keep everything else neat and simple. Spending time reorganizing your rig on the road can turn into big stress and will lead to less time shredding.

Go with the flow. The beauty of road life is you never know what will happen next. One day you can be surfing the best ocean (or river) wave of your life and the next you can be stranded on the side of the interstate without a town for 100 miles. Plan on things going wrong and embrace them when they do. Some of my best stories and experiences occurred when the unexpected happened. Plus, the people and paddling destinations you discover when you take a wrong turn or go with your gut instinct can make the trip a whole new discovery!

Join the community. My passion for the sport of SUP and traveling comes from the experiences I have on the road. Those experiences wouldn't be anything without the family this sport cultivates. Being immersed and connecting with the different paddling communities around the country is one way to experience the bigger picture of the sport. Attending events or stopping in local shops is my favorite way to connect and get insider information into the local paddling spots and vibe. Every year I build my travel schedule based on the events, gatherings and communities of SUP. I've never been disappointed!

Stay balanced. Paddling takes up the majority of my thoughts and time, but balance is key. I always travel with another activity to keep me fresh, such as a Onewheel, bike or skateboard. Also, travelling with my best friend Shredder (AKA Shred Dog) has been an amazing experience. He literally keeps me on my toes and leads me into unexpected places and adventures.

Camp free. Finding free camping or a secret spot to park your rig can greatly extend your road trip funds. Google Maps is my best source for scoping new towns and places before going on an epic hunt for a place to rest at night. Being low profile, quiet and respecting your surroundings goes a long way.

If you can get used to the constant moving and uncertainties of the road, your quality of life will not only improve dramatically but your paddling time will increase as well. Shredder and I will see you on the road! —Mike Tavares