February 28


Work-Life balance: 13 reasons why you should learn kitesurfing

By Johannes Völkner

February 28, 2014

Everybody knows it. We need sports to keep fit and create a healthy work-life balance. However, when you work and travel this is a problem. It is very difficult to take part in team sports because you are rarely in one place for long enough. And if you don’t like running or going to the gym, it is hard to find something to keep you active all of the time (except surfing).

Then I found kitesurfing, one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world. I got hooked back in 2009 when I was living in Cape Town. You should consider learning it too. You can get your daily adrenalin fix and run your online business while you travel from paradise to paradise around the world.

Below I’m sharing 13 reasons why kitesurfing is an awesome sport for ANYONE (there are still many misconceptions about it) and why it’s perfect for digital nomads to find the perfect work-life balance…

1. Kitesurfing doesn’t require strength

Most people who have never attempted kitesurfing think that having a lot of strength is essential. Maybe you’ve wondered how those tiny people being pulled by huge kites can hold on! However, strength is not needed. The kitesurfer is only using their hands for steering. The kite pulls the entire body and once you have figured out the technique it is not exhausting at all. So, let’s put this myth to bed. You don’t need to be strong to kitesurf. It’s a sport for everyone! I met a 74 old professor in Brazil who just got into the sport. I am sure you can learn it as well!


2. Learning to kitesurf is much easier than you think

There is a joke amongst the windsurfing community: “What’s the difference between a kitesurf beginner and a pro?” The answer: “One week”. Obviously, it’s not that easy but with a bit of effort (some natural talent always helps as well) you can be kitesurfing and staying up wind within 10 days or less.

I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.

3. Kitesurfing is not expensive

One thing that puts people off learning this sport is the supposedly high cost of equipment. Sometimes I wonder why less people say this about winter sports. The costs of Skiing and snowboarding gear plus a daily lift pass can be astronomical.  If you buy new gear from last season you can get started with a board, one kite and a harness for about $ 1000. Not cheap, I know, but not overly expensive to get into a sport that can change your life.


4. Constant progress – No limits

A problem with a lot of sports is that you will reach a limit where it’s really difficult to learn something new. This is often the most exciting part of any sport. Not with kitesurfing.

You don’t need to risk your life if you want to do a backflip (backloop). You can just keep trying until you can do it, with hardly any danger at all. There is so much variety in the sport as well. Whether you want to surf 3 meter waves or start doing jumps, you can make small and continuous progress in every aspect of kitesurfing.

5. You can do it in the most beautiful destinations in the world

If you take up this hobby you can live & work online in unbelievable kiteboarding destinations all around the globe. In the last few years I’ve worked and kitesurfed in Brazil, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa and in Colombia to name just a few (Costa Rica next). With the right timing you could follow the windy season around the world all year long – making travel decisions easy for the digital nomad ;-)! In most of the top kitesurfing destinations there is great infrastructure to allow you to work just as well as in an office at home. Not to mention the value for money you can get on your kiteboarding trips as well.

Check out Boracay for example – where I went for my first work and travel trip.

I lived here for two months in 2010. This video convinced me to check it out:

Susi Mai, Boracay from karteldev on Vimeo.

6. Avoid beach laziness and stay active in the summer heat

Paradise destinations have hot and humid summers. Getting up and going for a walk or a run is the last thing you want to do when you are lying on the beach and catching rays. Kitesurfing, however, allows you to take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters and work out. It’s a great way to get fit while avoiding the sweat and heat of the sun.

Lazing on the beach every day gets boring very quickly, believe me. Kitesurfing is something worth getting up for.

7. Awesome networking opportunities and a great community

Kitesurfers come from all walks of life. In particular many successful entrepreneurs or business people love the sport. Everyone who has a passion for kitesurfing usually gets along with each other. There are no big rivalries or anything petty that you sometimes find in other sports. After all, kitesurfers need to help to launch eachother’s kites and to be there if anyone is getting into trouble on the ocean (never go out there by yourself). This creates a great vibe and a friendly community. There is such a great mix of people that good business opportunities are bound to come along. Kitesurfing is the new golf.


8. Kitesurfers are long-term travellers

Travelling slowly is important to staying productive. One of the great things about kitesurfing is that if you choose your destination wisely you will find many other kitesurfers who are staying  long-term. This will allow you to build a great network of people from all around the world within a short period of time. The ‘ordinary backpacker’ will travel much quicker than people in the kitesurfing community.

9. The wind starts in the afternoon

There are many locations in the world, where the wind only really picks up in the afternoon. This is great because you can focus on your work in the morning without having to feel bad that you can’t make it out on to the water.

10. Getting off the beaten track

Kitesurfing gives you the opportunity to  get off the beaten track and experience a new country. Often you’ll be the only tourist in some windy town somewhere in paradise.  Only known to other windsporting enthusiasts. I experienced this in North Eastern Brazil, an amazing part of the world, where many small towns are only visited by kitesurfers.


11. You can actually travel with kitegear

Ever tried to put a surfboard into a taxi? Not always easy and it can quickly turn into a Mr Bean episode.  It has to be said that kitesurfing gear is heavy, but if you pack it correctly (only bring two kites and one board) you will be fine. Sometimes you don’t even need to pay extra fees on airplanes and it always fits into a cab (just ask the cab driver to lower the front seat). I have to admit that it’s not always fun to travel with my gear (I’ve managed to do it for the last few years) but it is always worth it when you experience and get to another amazing kitesurfing destination for a month or two.

12. Kitesurfing is less dangerous than you think

There was a time when kitesurfing was an extremely dangerous sport. Of course there are still many risks involved. But the industry has developed many systems over the past few years that has made the sport a lot safer. Just be sure to stick to the rules e.g. don’t go out alone and be sure to know how to keep risks to a minimum if the wind gets too strong. Once you master the sport it’s really up to you how far you want to go and how much risk you want to take.

One thing to remember is to not let your friends teach you. Take a course with a reputable kitesurfing school so that you can start learning the most important basics on your very first day on the water.

Last but not least, don’t try to emulate the pros (at least not yet)! That’s when it does indeed become a bit dangerous. Check out this amazing video from the 2014 Red Bull King of Air contest held in Cape Town.

13. Awesome way to find a work life balance

If you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer, the chances are that your business won’t always be running perfectly. There are many ups and downs. It’s always good to have something that you love to do that has got nothing to do with your work at all. You will need to make quick decisions, riding the waves and focusing on what you are doing on the water. It is the perfect way to switch off and think about something else other than work. Not to mention the bonus adrenalin kicks that the sport provides.

It’s really a fantastic sport. Give it a shot, take a course and start learning. You’ll love it. And if you really take the time to learn it, it can change your life. I promise you!

Like this article and want to convince some of your friends to get into the sport? Leave a comment, like it, share it!

Johannes Völkner

About the author

Founder of WebWorkTravel magazine

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