Surf and travel go hand-in-hand, but the reality of scouring the globe for waves is far from easy. Conditions don’t bend to your itinerary, and at some point you’re bound to get skunked. The Gudauskas brothers are seasoned travelers, and have been skunked more times than you can imagine. But as you can tell from their new web series Down Days, they know how to make the most out of a dry spell abroad.
1. Do Your Homework
Dane Gudauskas: It’s good to do a little research about the area you are going and see what it has to offer besides surf, because you can’t expect to score waves the whole time. Never underestimate what you can find in just a few minutes on Google. Before we went to Japan to film Down Days, we did a bit of research and found all these weird little themed-out bars and restaurants that tie into these funny Japanese subcultures. That’s how we found the Maid Café, which was this bar where everyone is dressed in maid outfits. There’s no way you’ll find something like that unless you start Googling “weird things to do in Tokyo.”
Tanner Gudauskas: YouTube can actually be a big help too. Before we went to Germany, I came across a video of this guy Carl, who was a musician making this German folk/punk fusion music. Through his YouTube channel, we actually managed to track him down and meet him. He was awesome and lived up to everything you would hope for from a YouTube sensation.
2. Stay Flexible
Dane: It’s definitely good to have a plan, but you don’t have to stick to it. You don’t want to miss those random little opportunities that pop up to do something spontaneous. Before phone GPS systems were really refined, we’d always get super lost on surf trips through Europe and end up finding the coolest stuff. In Spain we ended up stopping at a random restaurant that served squid cooked in its own ink. When you find something like that, even if you don’t think you’re going to dig it, you should just go for it. You might not love the food, but you’ll end up appreciating the experience more than you think. That’s the stuff you really remember.
3. Make Friends
Tanner: Surfing is like an icebreaker, where you end up making friends with people you’d otherwise never encounter if not for surfing. We went to Dubai to surf the wave pool and met this guy Muhammad Almehri, who is really into surfing and falcon racing. It sounds crazy, but the guy has a pet falcon that he races against other falcons for things like cars. He actually gave us a ride to the airport in a Mercedes Benz truck that he won in a falcon race. Apparently racing falcons is fairly popular in Dubai. They have a long course and on the far end is some kind of token that the falcons have to get. It makes The Fast and The Furious look like child’s play.
Dane: Locals are your biggest lifelines wherever you go. A few years ago when we were all doing the QS, we were traveling with people from all around the world, and hearing them talk about their hometowns always inspired us. We lived on the road with these people, and they became our family pretty much.
Tanner: That’s what inspired us to make Down Days. Guys like Adam Robertson, Aritz Aranburu, Adur Letamendia, and Kepa Acero are friends of ours from the QS, and we wanted to see these amazing places through their perspectives. Like in Japan, Masatoshi Ohno took us to Shibuya, which is this really intense commercial district in Tokyo, and showed us things that you would never find without a local.
Dane: We turned a corner and suddenly were surrounded by these little makeshift buildings, almost like a shantytown. The streets were only about 4 feet wide, and there were all these Izakayas, which are little bars that could only sit two or three people. There were hundreds of them, but they each have their own specialties. We never could have found that stuff without Masatoshi. You can get lost in Tokyo just crossing the street.
4. Get Weird
Tanner: There are a lot of ways to kill your downtime on a surf trip, but it’s good to make the most of where you are and try to do something unique to that place. Like in Japan, we went to a geisha house. We didn’t even know what the geisha culture was, but it’s basically like these really extravagantly dressed women with this customary makeup, and they play music and drinking games with you. They are basically like the ultimate hostesses.
Dane: Our geisha kicked Pat’s ass in drinking games. Another example is when we went to Melbourne, we knew that was the only place you can grab a beer fresh off the line at the VB factory. We used to travel around there all the time for contests and stuff, and everyone loves that beer—it’s an Australian national treasure. So we went to the factory and got to meet the brew master who came up with the recipe for their Pure Blonde ale. It was so cool to meet the man responsible for your favorite beer.
5. Stay Positive
Dane: When the waves go flat on a trip, you can’t let it bring you down. You’re already there, so you might as well make the most of it and think of it as an opportunity to do something else. When you look at it like that, the possibilities are endless. When you travel and live in your own little bubble, just surfing the waves and not opening yourself up to the other side of it, then trips just become interchangeable.
Tanner: Working on Down Days has been really interesting because it’s been more about interacting with cultures than scoring waves, and that kind of changes your perspective on traveling. Swells come and go, and that’s totally out of your control. We all love to get epic waves, obviously, but going out on a limb and experiencing a new culture makes any surf trip that much more memorable.
Watch Down Days below:
Episode 1: South Oz
Surf City & The Great Ocean Rode
Episode 2: South Oz
Bowling For Melbourne
Episode 3: Northern Spain
Bilbao & The Basque Coast
Episode 4: Northern Spain
Episode 5: Germany
Munich By River
Episode 6: Germany
Soaring Over The Alps In Search Of Cheese
Episode 7: Japan
Taking On Tokyo
Episode 8: Japan
Kyoto To The Coast