Ever wondered what it would be like to quit your job, sell everything and go on a surftrip for the next ten years? Well, Faab Snip decided to do exactly that!
I don’t know whose face looked funnier when I run into Faab as I was about to enter the water in Bingin, Bali, last June. Faab and I had met in Raglan back in December 2018: same situation, different location. I was about to go for a surf, he had just gotten back from the water. We had a quick chat. I told him that I was going to travel New Zealand for two weeks, he told me that he was going to travel the world for the next ten years. That was it. And, to be honest, I didn’t think I was ever going to see him again. But there he was: tall guy, long, sun- and ocean-bleached hair, big beard and an even bigger smile. Casually walking out of the water, looking a bit like Jesus, but with boardshorts, and a surfboard under his arm. Until today I’m convinced that 25-year-old Dutchy must have some kind of superpowers. He’s survived too many gnarly adventures, sharky beaches, silly accidents and: he just makes big wave surfing on a 5’6 twinny look way too easy… Anyway, here’s his story.
How did you get into surfing?
As far as I can remember I’ve always watched surf movies, and I always wanted to learn how to surf. It wasn’t until I was 19 though, that I actually started. I was in Uni and had a few weeks of a light workload, so I decided to book a ticket to the South of Portugal and hitchhike to the nearest surfcamp at the west coast to get some surf lessons. I was stoked straight away but after six days I got injured again, so I had to go home early. About one month later I decided to join my parents for a holiday in the southwest of France for two weeks. There were tiny little summer waves, but even that was fun back then. After two weeks, my parents and sister went back home, but I decided I wanted to keep surfing, so I bought a little backpack on a day trip to San Sebastian and started hitchhiking further down the French coast and all along the Spanish coast for the whole summer. I slept mostly on the beaches and rented a surfboard whenever there were waves. That trip was so awesome, I decided to do it again the year after, so when Uni finished, I had my mom drop me off at a gas station at the highway close to the Belgium border and hitchhiked from there to the South of France, bought my first surfboard and then hitchhiked along the coast all the way to the South of Portugal, where I had started surfing, to say hi again to my old surf instructor and show him my progress.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a surf nomad?
The downside about both trips was that they only lasted for 2-2.5 months, and every single time it was the worst to have to go back home and start Uni again or work. I just wanted to surf, and surf, and surf even more. So, I saved up a little bit of money, and then, a bit over two years ago, I just sold everything I had, booked a one-way ticket to the other side of the world and started my permanent surftrip. The trip has been really great and by far the best choice I made in my life.
Where did you start your adventure?
I started off at the east coast of Australia. Since I hadn’t saved up that much money, I needed to work along the way, and, lucky me, got offered to give a surf instructor course somewhere ten hours north of Sydney. I did that for a few months and moved up to Byron Bay after, where I started my own little surfschool out of the van I was living in, advertising it through tinder and facebook. That went pretty well and before I knew it I had quite some budget to make my big Australian trip, starting off in Noosa, heading South along the coast, all the way to the West, and even up the west coast to about ten hours north of Perth. I sold my van on the way to Sydney and bought a big four-wheel-drive, which had still enough space for me to sleep in the back, but made it possible to go to more places. That trip was amazing, I scored some of the best waves in my life and even managed to pet a wild koala.
Places and surfspots you’ve visited so far?
After a year in Australia my visa ran out, so I had to move. I quite wanted to go to Indo, but my budget was too low, and it was not the surf season yet. Thus, I needed to find a place close by where I could make a bit of money and ended up heading over to New Zealand. NZ had never been part of the big plan, but I haven’t regretted going there for a second, what a gorgeous country. I moved to Raglan straight away, stayed there for half a year, working a little bit, surfing a lot, until I had enough money to fund my Indo trip. At the end of my trip there, I found myself taking a few too many trips around, almost trying to escape Raglan. It’s quite hard to stay at one place for that long, so I decided to pack up all my stuff and start moving around again. I drove down to Taranaki and scored a couple waves, but I didn’t like that area that much, so I ended up going up North, which I also didn’t really love. During a night out in Auckland, I got a little bit silly and believed I was a free runner. I thought it was a great idea to jump off a balcony, ended up spraining my ankle pretty badly. I couldn’t drive anymore, so I sold my car and started hitchhiking south to Wellington. Then, I arranged my Indonesian visa and decided, since I was already close, that I still wanted to see the south island. So, I took the ferry over and hitchhiked for three more months all around the south island. The good thing is that that country is so intensely beautiful, even waiting for a car didn’t matter, because there was so much to see.
When my ankle finally healed up, I booked a ticket to Indo and flew pretty much straight away. Started the trip with staying three weeks in Bali, to get a bit used to the country and spoil myself with two new surfboards. Then I had to fly to Sumatra because my parents and sister came to visit me and I had told them that I was already going to be there when they booked their tickets. It was great seeing them again after two years. They stayed over for a month, which was quite intense, especially since we hadn’t lived together since I was 17, but in the end, everything was all good.
Sumatra was really rainy, so after two weeks I decided to take them to Bali, treat them with some sun. After they left, I stayed there for another two weeks by myself, and then I went on a trip with some friends I had met during another trip. Quite a scooter-trip, but so much fun. So many good waves everywhere, I still can’t believe it. Then halfway through that trip I got a call from the owner of the guesthouse I was staying at in Sumatra, asking me if I wanted to manage a surfcamp in the Mentawaiis for a little bit. The Mentawaiis is like the dream destination of every surfer, so it didn’t take me long before I got everything lined up — and that’s where I am now. It’s a real paradise here, but pretty isolated as well, although sometimes that is a nice thing, too. My visa will be running out soon, half a year is gone already, and I decided that I wanted to surf some more big waves, so I’m heading back to Australia at the end of October and will go back to Margaret River.
How much longer do you want to be on the road for?
With the plan I have in my head, I think I will be on the road for at least another ten years.
Whats the overall goal?
My goal is to surf a wave in Fiji, Cloudbreak — as big as it gets. Then I want to head over to Africa, starting off in Mozambique, heading south along the coast till the bottom of South Africa and then travel along the west coast, all the way back to Europe to say hi to the family. Then I want to fly over to Brazil, kinda doing the same, heading down the coast till the bottom of Argentina, crossing over to Chile and then head up the coast towards Mexico. The ultimate goal of this trip is to surf as much as I can, and find a place or wave where I want to settle down and start a small surf resort.
What do you love about your lifestyle?
The freedom. I can do whatever I want, don’t have to think about anything, get to see the most beautiful places in the world and get to surf the best waves in the world as well. Also, surfing that much keeps me fit and healthy and that is good for my mind as well. You meet a lot of new people, sometimes you feel like it and sometimes not, but you get so many different insights and you can learn incredibly much because of that. The fun thing about surfing is that there is no age-restriction. Ten year old grommets share the line-up with seventy year old pensionados, and all are having fun together. I don’t see that with many other sports around the world. Also, if you just go with the flow, you end up in so many nice situations. It’s something unique to this lifestyle, and comes forth especially with hitchhiking.
What do you hate about it?
The one thing I don’t like about my lifestyle is the fact that sometimes you gotta let something go because it’s not within your budget. It’s only a minor thing though, you always find a creative way around it, but it would be easier not to have to think about the financial side of it all. It makes it more challenging, although I like a challenge. I don’t need a lot of money, but I wouldn’t say a tiny bit of extra wouldn’t be nice haha.
Is there anything you are missing about your old life or about having a «normal» life?
Except for seeing some of my friends and family more often, I don’t really miss anything from back home. Maybe the opportunity to play more piano, since that instrument is quite difficult to take along your travels…
Has there ever been a moment where you considered to quit surfing? If so, what made you continue?
I never got bored of surfing, but I sometimes get frustrated when the waves are small, then I’m missing the thrill and adrenaline I get on the bigger waves. I’m sure I’ll never quit surfing, I’ll keep going until my body can’t keep up with it anymore.
What does surfing mean to you?
Surfing is my greatest passion but also addiction. I get the most joy out of it compared to anything else in the world, but it also took away a part of the joy I got out of normal everyday stuff. I can’t just lay on a beach anymore for example, then I’m getting restless and just want to surf, and if there is no waves I’ll go a bit nuts sometimes.
What are the biggest insights/learnings that you’ve taken from this trip?
One of the biggest insights I’ve learned from this trip is that everything is possible if you just go for it. Be creative and you can get anywhere. It was surprisingly easy to just stop following the usual stigma, and a lot of fears other people have about this lifestyle (like not building up a pension for example), just washes away after your first wave. I wouldn’t mind working a little bit every now and then, so I can keep surfing as much as I do, even when I’m 80. This way of living brings more joy than anything else.
What has been your best moment? Best wave? Best encounter?
Best moment.. hmm, hard one, there were so many haha. Okay I just have to pick one. So I was in South Australia, near Streaky Bay, suiting up to go surf onshore granites by myself, when this old bloke showed up in a big truck with his dog. He looked at me and started laughing; asking me if I was seriously going to paddle out in those crappy conditions with that many sharks around. I told him that I just wanted to surf, so he invited me over to come surf a spot close to where he was living which was offshore and better conditions.
I got stoked straight away so I put my board (a 6’3 twinny) in the back of his truck and jumped in his car. We needed a boat to get out there, he told me, so we drove to his house and got his tinnie out. The dog jumped in and he told me to wait a minute for him to grab his boards. Next thing I know is that he is walking out with a 9’8 big wave gun and gives it to me, «here, you won’t need your own board, use this thing.» I’ve never surfed a board like that before so I was quite surprised, and got a bit anxious about the wave we were going to surf. He grabbed his own gun and we jumped in the boat with the doggie. He told me that he had seen me surf a few days earlier at a spot a bit north of Port Lincoln and figured I would be able to handle this wave.
So we navigated the tinnie around the headland and there in the middle of the bay, quite far out to sea, was this insanely big bombora wave. I told him that he was nuts, but he just kept laughing and paddled out. Then he gave me the option to either paddle back or take a wave and take the boat back, so I jumped in the water as well. When he took the first one of the set, I didn’t know how quick I had to paddle out because the next wave was a monster. But then I heard him screaming behind me: «go go go go go!». I figured I would get the next one on the head if I didn’t go for this one, so I turned my board around and went for it. That feeling dropping down a 20ft bomb like that, and actually making it, made me happy for the next few months. I can’t even describe how good it was. I went for a few more waves, had quite some heavy beatings, too, but at the end of the day, this experience was something that definitely pushed my boundaries in a good way.
What has been your worst moment? Wave? Encounter?
My worst moments would be the moments my ankle was sprained and the two months I spent in Sydney trying to sell my van. I took off on a wave at Shark Island, fell pretty bad, hurt my back on the reef and couldn’t move for a while. They had to carry me out of the water, and I was lying flat in my van for the next month. I still have pain from that, but well, everything for a reason I guess.
If there was a genie offering you three wishes, what would they be?Three wishes? Pretty easy. Firstly, a pain-free body (maybe one that can’t get injured as well). Secondly, perfect surf conditions anywhere I go and thirdly, an unlimited supply of surfboards and surf gear so I can keep surfing! Oh wait, I forgot fourthly: world peace, so I can go everywhere in the world without my mum having to worry too much.
I hope I can keep going like this for as long as possible. If any of the readers ever thought about doing a similar thing, then stop thinking, start doing it. It will be the best thing you’ve ever done! And also, if you can’t or don’t want to, but would love for me to keep going and you want to help me, sponsoring is always welcome!