Sometimes it happens that what begins as an attempt for a simpler life becomes a lifestyle, a media gamble, and a real social movement. It happened for Foster Huntington, a young New York designer who in 2011 abandoned his job at Ralph Lauren, bought a 1987 Volkswagen Syncro van and began to travel, exploring and photographing his new adventure along the Californian coast. Instagram was at its dawn, but already promised to become one of the best social media platforms alongside Facebook, so the transition to success was brief. #homeiswhereyouparkit, #LiveSimply, and #vanlife are the hashtags that lifted him into a media frenzy that perhaps Foster himself didn’t even expect, and today, more than 1,200,000 Instagram posts have been tagged by #vanlife. Astonishing numbers. In 2013, Huntington used the crowd funding platform Kickstarter to raise funds to print “Home is where you park it,” a collection of his #vanlife photographs, now in its fourth edition, and will soon be accompanied by his second Van Life book, this time edited by Black Dog & Leventhal in New York (release scheduled for October, 2017).
Choosing #vanlife means choosing a state of mind, a search for an aesthetic and a lifestyle, besides being a trend initiated during the global economic crisis a few years ago. In fact, in a recent New York Times interview, Foster explained: “I think there is a sense of despair in my generation with regards to work, and it is cheap to live in a van.” Synonymous with precariousness, but also with flexibility and high adaptation ability, today this choice moreover wouldn’t exist without the enormous help of social media (media and economic). Perhaps drawing from the early Beach Boys songs, many people identify this culture, mentality and attitude with that of surfers. Even in its clothing taste. To demonstrate the ability to live that free, sporty, open-air lifestyle that so many people dream about while sitting in their closed, grey offices has proven to be a winning ticket, thus the number of followers grows. And with it, the possibilities of sponsorships from likeminded industry brands.
That was precisely the idea behind King and Smith’s Where is my office now, started by a young couple who decided to follow Foster’s footsteps after meeting him in Nicaragua. Their new and simple idea was dictated by the desire to blend travel with work: “We wanted to see if it was possible to combine this hippie nomadic lifestyle with classical 9-5 work,” Smith explained to New York Times From the start, they structured project not only as a naturalistic and lifestyle choice but also as a digital and commercial venture. After all, it wasn’t such a bad choice: a recent study estimated that the social media influencer market was worth $500 million in 2015 and that is expected to increase to at least $5 billion by 2020.
Begun out of necessity to fulfil a disappointed and discontented generation, like all the best marketing concepts, “vanlife” represents a fluid group of contemporary trends: a renewed interest for the Road Trip (no matter where), a culture of sporty hippies with a great passion for the outdoors, and a lifestyle free from the tyranny of the 9-5 office day.
10 not-to-be-missed places that make Portugal the Surfer’s European Paradise.
An ideal location for its mild climate, ocean winds and a great variety of waves: Portugal is the perfect destination for surfers of all abilities, so it is not surprising to discover that all along the coast you can find ideal spots, surf houses and seafood restaurants relaxing in the cooler evenings.
Perhaps the most famous destination for surfing, because the waves are perfect in spring, autumn and winter. Sagres, the queen of the Algarve, also offers visitors other interesting activities to choose from: if you like diving and the exceptional diversity of marine life, make sure you visit Divers Cape for a fantastic underwater experience. Whale- and dolphin-watching are also available in the area.
Here the strong currents and steep waves are the real stars, so Amado Beach regularly hosts international competitions and is very popular during the summer. It is easy to access and offers plenty of parking, perfect for vans or for staying the day to sunbathe or go for a swim in its clear waters. It is a very popular destination for surfing, so even out of season you’ll find people walking along the wooden boardwalks that run on the coast, but you can also safely walk along closer to nature.
This fishing village north of Lisbon allows you to choose from the best surf spot: S. Lourenço, Coxos, Pedra Branca or Foz do Lizandro. If you’d like to take a break from the ocean or keep your feet on dry land, it’s only 15 minutes from Mafra, where you can enjoy some great traditional pastries.
Praia do Norte became famous for its giant waves in 2011, after Garrett McNamara rode the biggest wave of the year during the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, which gabe Nazaré’s stormy sea an even more international notariety. While passing through, make sure to visit Miradouro do Suberco, an overlook from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of the coast and the sea. Also, try the regional cuisine: barbecue sardines or the traditional “caldeirada,” a rich, thick Portuguese fish stew.
It is these beaches that created Portugal’s reputation as the surf capital of Europe. The most legendary contribution is perhaps from that of Supertubos Beach, world-famous for its powerful waves, which many surfers call the “European pipeline.” Once a year the ASP World Tour hosts competitions in this otherwise quiet fishing village, bringing crowds from around the world to witness Peniche’s impressive waves.
It is the first part of a long beach just south of Lisbon. Sprinkled with fishing lodges and small bars just behind the dunes, it is a very appealing place to surf. When fishermen drag in their nets at sunset, thousands of gulls flock to the water and the sky. Magical.
The beach of this eponymous village is filled with bars and restaurants and great waves for surfers. Must eats are Restaurante O Sargo, or just further inland, Aljezur is outfitted with hostels, B&Bs and surf schools.