How To Couch Surf

Alex Gray's insights into being a good houseguest while chasing waves

Alex Gray has done his fair share of dishes at the Volcom house, but a front row view of these waves is worth the scrubbing. Photo: Lowe-White

There are two kinds of traveling surfers in this world: those who are perennially invited back to crash at a friend’s place, and those who were only invited once. According to Alex Gray, a man who’s always met with an open invitation while scouring the globe for surf, it all comes down to knowing the basic rules of being a good houseguest. If you want to leave your bridges intact, follow Alex’s tips below.

The number one rule is to always leave the place the way you found it. Whether it’s the house you’re staying at or the beach you’re surfing, always pick up your trash and never create a new mess.

You’re a guest, never forget that. Families and cultures differ from town to town and country to country. Observe, listen, and respect. See if you can’t learn something new and adapt it into your own life. It can never hurt to try and fit in a little more when you’re in an unfamiliar environment.

At the Volcom house it’s all about sweeping and dishes. There are no maids on the road. Clean up after yourself. Nobody likes to clean the dishes after a hearty meal. Of course you’d rather sit on the couch and relax right? Wrong. Be that guy. That guy is the person that is already doing something like cleaning the dishes or sweeping the porch when no one asks. It needs to be done right? Might as well be you. This is foolproof. It’s the simple things that go a long way.

Always share. Lend a board, sunscreen, wax, a few bucks, a wave, whatever. I don’t know anyone who likes to live with a selfish person. It just isn’t as fun when you’re not sharing the good times with someone.

Be thankful and show your gratitude for being invited into someone’s home and life. It’s a fact that most moms love wine. It’s a really simple and thoughtful gift that goes a long way. It’s also a good idea to always try and leave something behind: clothes, wetsuit, or even a board. It’ll only bring the cost down of your baggage fees for the flight home. Giving gifts of gratitude like that will go further than you can ever imagine. It doesn’t take much to make a friend for life. You can never have too many friends, especially ones that live at perfect waves.

Don’t take traveling too seriously. I promise you, it’s the hard times on the road that you will laugh about later in life and always remember. Now get out there, and enjoy. Everybody gets home sick, but home is always just a plane flight away. Hang out and wait for that next swell. That’s why you’re there, right?

What’s your tip for being a good houseguest? Leave your answer in the comment section below.

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