How I Travel: Holly Beck

Holly Beck: Adventure Addict

Holly Beck lives the life that most people can only dream of – and she appreciates that fact with the sunny optimism of a true “life artist.” Beck is a pro surfer, model and spokesperson for Body Glove, Rusty Surfboards, Sector 9 Skateboards,, Bravo Condoms, Dakine and Her travels have taken her to the far reaches of the world – Gabon, Sao Tome, Seychelles, Maldives, Australia, Tonga, Ecuador and Haiti, among dozens of other wave riding hotspots.

We’re excited to feature Holly in the second article in our new “How I Travel” series.


Give me two days notice and I’ll go anywhere, no questions asked.

The more far out, unexplored, unexpected the better. I am nearly incapable of saying no to an opportunity to travel. Where? When? Cool, let’s go!

I love it when things go wrong.

When the airline refuses to take surfboards last minute, when the boat breaks down in the middle of nowhere twenty minutes before dark, when the bugs are so bad you have to spend 24/7 in your mosquito net and everyone in the group has diarrhea – you really get to know the true nature of the people around you. I thrive on chaos and I love studying others’ reactions to bumps in the road. It’s a great time to spread the word that every problem is surmountable with the right attitude.

I’m too lazy to read guidebooks or do research before a trip.

I’m not interested in the standard tourist stops and while I’m sure there is good information about places to stay and eat, I’d rather walk around and choose the place that looks best. As long as I have one contact to get me through the first night, I like to let the plan take shape on its own.

Holly waiting for a plane in Gabon

Holly waiting for a plane in Gabon

I don’t like groups, especially at the airport.

I love the anonymity of an airport. I like to tuck into my little corner, quietly watch the people go by, and not have to engage in small talk or pre-trip excitement. I’m happy to meet up with a few friends once I get to the destination, but I like spending the travel time solo.

If everyone traveled, the world would be a better place.

As Mark Twain said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness.” The more you travel you realize that people are the same everywhere and can no longer phrase the discussion in terms of us vs. them.

Making new friends wherever she goes

Making new friends wherever she goes

I’ll stay anywhere.

All the nights spent on a friend’s couch, sharing a bed in a hostel, or on the floor of an airport make that nice private hotel room with my own king size bed feel even better.

I pack the same amount of stuff whether I’m going for one week or two months.

When you live out of a suitcase you want the items inside to make you feel at home wherever you roam. I have a kit that goes with me everywhere. Simple first aid, mini sewing kit, travel pillow, lightweight sleeping bag, flashlight, scissors. With a pillow and sleeping bag I can sleep comfortably anywhere, I’m always tearing holes in my skin that need to be repaired, and scissors are something other people rarely think to bring but are always asking to borrow. I always use the same medium sized rolling bag, and when it’s full I’m packed.

Holly in Baja

Holly in Baja

My friends say I am solar powered.

I’m up, excited at dawn and nodding off not long after dinner. Unless I’m totally into the people around me, I choose to pass on a lot of interesting nightlife and can be a disappointment to my hosts when I’d rather crash out than keep partying.

I don’t do gyms.

Staying fit while traveling involves the same thing as staying fit at home. Skip the taxi and walk back from town – even if it’s far. Hike that trail to see where it goes then run the whole way back. Jump from rock to rock instead of circumnavigating the headland. Take the path of most resistance.

Holly with kids in Nicaragua checking out new puppies

Holly with kids in Nicaragua checking out new puppies

If good Southern California style Mexican food was available all over the world, I might never come home.

After about ten days all I’m craving is a big carne asada burrito with chips and salsa.

I’d like to go back to New Zealand.

The last time I was one girl in a huge campervan with eleven boys for a surfing photo shoot for my sponsor Body Glove. In ten days we drove from Christchurch to Raglan, never pausing long enough to take a breath (not that breathing was safe with all those un-showered boys packed into the van). Next time I’d like to be one girl in a campervan by myself with at least twice the amount of time to explore and breathe.

A surfboard trading partner

A surfboard trading partner

Embrace the moment.

I have maybe too firm a grasp on the concept of being “in the moment” and easily find myself completely enthralled with whatever I happen to be doing and whoever I happen to be with to the point that whatever is right in front of me seems the only place in the universe I need to be at that exact moment.

As a pro surfer I’ve sampled the best beaches in the world.

My favorite as far as raw jaw-dropping natural beauty was in the Seychelles.

At a Fijian Kava ceremony with friends

At a Fijian Kava ceremony with friends

It’s all about the people.

I like traveling with my boyfriend, but when I do we tend to keep to our own bubble. One of the most memorable and awesome trips of my life was the time I spent 12 days alone driving a campervan down the coast of Australia trying to not talk to anyone. But really, it’s the people you meet that tend to be the most memorable and meaningful aspects of the trip. Even the best experience can be soured by negative people, and worst case scenarios become no big deal when you’re with people you like. My favorite situation is starting the trip not knowing anyone, and ending it with at least one new friend for life.

I’m addicted to new experiences.

I haven’t spent more than five consecutive days at home in the last four months and while I was craving more time at home on that last plane flight, now that two weeks are almost up, I’m ready to be on the road again. It’s a serious addiction and I don’t see a cure.

Holly swimming with a whale shark

Holly swimming with a whale shark

Online she can be found at Currently, she is working on a book about her globe-trotting experiences as a pro surfer. She is also opening a surf & yoga retreat for women in Nicaragua (

“How I Travel” is a new BootsnAll series publishing every Tuesday in an effort to look at the unique and diverse travel habits of some of the world’s most well known and proficient road warriors. Got ideas for who we should talk to? Drop us a note.

You’ll find links to all the “How I Travel” articles on the How I Travel archive page, you can become a fan of “How I Travel” on Facebook, and you can follow the @howitravel profile on Twitter to get updates as soon as new features in this series are published.

photos supplied by Holly Beck and may not be used without permission


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Older comments on How I Travel: Holly Beck

Sean Keener
26 January 2010

My fav – It’s all about the people. Nick O’Neill – co-founder of BootsnAll said the same thing years ago. I agree. Thanks for sharing Holly.

William Wooding
26 January 2010

Yes, Boss. Wholeheartedly agree!

26 January 2010

I love it! The adventure, and the disaster. Always an amazing combo.

Stephen Bramucci
26 January 2010

I’m telling you, she’s the real deal– “wise beyond her years” is no understatement. And seriously, who wouldn’t want to travel with anyone who lives by the mantra: “I’m addicted to new experiences.”

Stephen Bramucci
26 January 2010

…I meant that “wise beyond her years” is no OVERSTATEMENT meaning it’s the damn truth!…And then some.

27 January 2010

Omg, I love this! Awesome lifestyle and attitude about travel and life. Would love to have lunch with her or better yet sit next to her on my next trip.

28 January 2010

I thought I was the only person who was like that…I don’t think I have ever planned a trip…and because of my spontaneous impulses…many people regard that as irresponsibility, and immaturity. It’s a shame…because i call that living.

Life is all about people and experiences.

29 January 2010

Heck yes! Too much planning leaves more opportunity for things to go wrong! Spontaneous and open is the way to go!