Sometimes to experience the full remote-work lifestyle you have to hang in there; other times you just have to hang 10. I recently had the chance to do the latter. Let me explain.

I just got back from a week of remote working and surfing on the California coast, and I never spent more than $60 a day (including my accommodations, food, and gas).

Before I go into the details of how I made this remote-work surfing adventure possible, you’ll need some context.

mike, wife & car

  • I have a remote job that is full-time. That means I can work from home, a coffee shop, a co-working space, or wherever I can get an internet connection. It’s generally difficult to get one while riding the waves, so, yeah, there’s that, but not a problem in most other areas of the world.
  • I am married and have a dog, and both of them came with me on my working adventure.
  • I have a car that can fit surfboards on top.
  • I love to surf, if you haven’t figured that out yet.

You’re probably wondering how I made this remote-work adventure work. I’ll tell you: it took some planning.

The first thing I needed to figure out was where I could work.

My destination was Santa Cruz, and before I left for this remote-work surfing safari, I surfed the web to make sure there were places where I could work that had Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, and were dog friendly.

I checked out Workfrom.co, a site that allowed me to locate great places to work while traveling in Santa Cruz. I cross-referenced these places with Yelp to see which ones were dog friendly, and I found a few locations that were ripe for working remotely.

Out of all the options available to me, the remote-work spaces set up by the folks from Outsite topped my list of places to go. It has gorgeous co-working/co-living spaces just blocks from the beach. Also, its staff is super friendly and knowledgable about the area and can give you tips on which beaches to check out. It is definitely worth reaching out to see if they have space for you.

surf_house

Not only were they knowledgeable, but they didn’t make waves—they surfed them!

I got to go surfing with their community manager and a few other international remote workers who were traveling through. It’s always more fun (and safer) to have buddies in the water.  

I found two other locations that were great prospects for remote working. They were coffee shops called Verve and Caffe Pergolesi.

Luckily, the cost of working from these coffee shops was just the price of some coffee and some snacks while I was there.

Helpful tip: If you don’t want to feel like you are overstaying your welcome at a coffee shop or cafe, I have found that as soon as you arrive, talk to the barristas and ask them if it’s cool to work remotely at a table for a while. Let them know that you intend to buy some coffee and some snacks, and if there is ever an issue, they should just let you know.

They are so used to remote workers coming and squatting for hours that they will appreciate someone who respects their space and asks for permission. I have found that they will take good care of you and make you feel welcome.

Second on my list was figuring out where I was going to stay.

My wife and I love to camp, so we looked for an affordable campsite near town. Since this was peak season, almost all of the campsites were taken. If we had planned further in advance, we would have reserved a campsite at New Brighton State Beach; however, it was full. So we found a smaller, lesser-known campground in town called Bob’s Pine Grove Campground.

The accommodations were minimalistic, and fires weren’t permitted, however, there were bathrooms and showers, which was enough for us. We stayed there for $35 a night. Not bad, right? Plus, the campsite is close to town, which meant we could wake up at dawn and get to the beach quickly.

Third on my list was figuring out where to surf.

I checked out some of the surfing beaches in Santa Cruz on Surfline.com, which offers surf reports and live video feeds to look at the waves. I wanted to surf Pleasure Point and Steamer Lane, and, as it turned out, conditions were pretty good for longboarding, so that is exactly what I did.

surfing santa cruz

Also, because I got to hang out with a few locals at Outsite, they told me of another surf spot just north of Santa Cruz that I would have never considered otherwise.

So what did my day-to-day look like during this remote-work adventure?

5 a.m.: Woke up, loaded the car, and brought the family to the beach.

5:30 a.m.: Took the dog for a walk on the beach and let him play in the water.

6 a.m.: Went surfing.

8:30 a.m.: Started the workday.

12:30 p.m.: Took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood.

1:30 p.m.: Continued my workday.

5:30 p.m. Ended my work day and headed to the beach to take the dog on a walk.

6:30 p.m.: Surfed until sunset.

8:30 p.m. Headed back to camp for some R&R and went to sleep by 10 p.m.

If you look at this itinerary, it might seem a bit exhausting. It was. Although, because I was only in Santa cruz for five days and because it was on my terms, I felt enriched, energized, productive, and fulfilled. All great things that help me feel well-balanced, and, in my opinion, are some of the benefits of being able to choose when, where, and how one gets work done.

What did I learn?

  1. Because I was surfing every morning and night, my wetsuit never got a chance to dry. Getting into a cold and soggy wetsuit is not the most inviting thing at 6 a.m., but after you are in the water, you forget about it quickly.
  2. If you can, try to sync up your trip so you can meet other co-workers in the area. One of my co-workers lives 30 minutes away from Santa Cruz, which gave us an opportunity to have lunch. Since we work remotely, this was a nice chance to spend some face-time and build on our working relationship.
  3. Long battery life for your laptop is key for sitting outside with your dog. Not all coffee shops have outlets outside, so there were times when I would have to put my dog in the car for an hour (windows down, of course) to go charge up.
  4. Bring nice headphones. Working in public places will always expose you to unknown noises and distractions out of your control. Wearing headphones will help you stay focused.
  5. If you have to be on a call or have a video meeting, go check out the coffee shop before you get there. It might be reviewed as being quiet online, but there could be loud music or construction happening outside that aren’t conducive to getting work done.
  6. Plan your work day. This is true regardless of where you’re working, but is an extremely valuable exercise to help you feel accomplished in spite of potential distractions while working remotely.
  7. Demo a surfboard. I found myself working right next to board shops where I could demo as many boards as I wanted for 24 hours for a total of $35. I took out a six-foot-one-inch fun board with lots of float, and then we exchanged that so my wife could try a stand-up paddle board, something she had always wanted to do.

Remote working is a way to access things you enjoy.

If you have a remote job that allows you to work from wherever you want, why not take advantage and work from places that give you access to things you enjoy? For me, that is surfing. I could never have accessed the waves in Santa Cruz at 6 a.m. on a Monday morning if I was tied to a desk in San Francisco.

With a bit of planning, you can maximize your productivity and enjoyment from some amazing places.  

Have you been remote working while doing something you love? Tell us about it in the comments below.