Tom Rezvan works as a janitor and… surfs the world! Eight international trips a year! But, how?
In the dismal days of job automation, a hankering surf habit and a case of wanderlust are the kiss of death. Many are perfectly content with 14 days of freedom out of 365, but for us real adventurous mother fuckers. Staying put is a death of everyday truth.
We must runaway to remain sane, but international vagabonding costs a fortune and bouncing around within one’s borders just doesn’t quite have the same appeal.
So how does one go about funding such a life?
Do you hawk morality and skip out on youth, only to wash up on the shores of middle-aged existence, a flabby failure with pale cold hands gripping money hard earned? No, that would take too long. You need to leave right now.
What if I told you that Tom Rezvan, 40, has been pushing, on average, eight international trips a year since 2011 and contrary to rumors, he is not an heir to a trust-fund, a drug smuggler or a spy, but works part-time as a janitor for a school district.
If you pay homage to his Instagram or Facebook page, you’ll scroll through a dazzling feed rich with stories of travel and photographs from strike missions in the name of surf and culture. All of these jaunts across the globe however are done in three or four day hits, just enough to sedate the aesthetic voyager in Tom before he heads straight back to work on Tuesday.
You know those guys who invite you to go to Lowers and then has to stop to get coffee, a bar of wax, chats on the phone, and then wants to grab a quick burrito for when he’s down on the beach? Yeah those guys can’t do this.
But how does he afford to decorate his passport so extravagantly? BeachGrit called to find out…
BeachGrit: How do you get off work on a Friday and decide to go to Rome, or Egypt for the weekend?
Rezzy: I’m one of those people who can’t sit still and am lucky enough to be able to disappear whenever I want.
BeachGrit: So how do you do it? Do you buy an around the world ticket in the beginning of the year or do you have a sugar mama?
Rezzy: No, one of those tickets would cost way more then what I do and women slow me down. I am on a high-priority standby list courtesy of an anonymous employee of a major airline. I pay the taxes for the flights which comes out to be 10% or less of the ticket price.
BeachGrit: How do you navigate your way through new locales”?
Rezzy: I use this app called Navmii, it downloads the entire map of the country you are in. Every satellite view of every road that you need to know. It downloads a shit ton of data though but I have entire maps of most of Europe.
(Author’s note: I imagine Tom riding on a buddy pass in the middle seat with his knees drawn towards his chest, breathing like a Buddhist monk. Perfectly calm, harvesting his chi to unleash once the plane touches down and he clears Customs and Immigrations. He would then take out his iPhone on airplane mode, hail a taxi, and carry on with reckless abandon like an Indiana Jones in boardshorts.)
BeachGrit: How do you sleep on planes?
Rezzy: This isn’t a normal buddy pass, I’m fortunate to fly business class most of the time and with this particular airline, they have fully reclining beds. I sleep most of the flight and then only sleep three to four hours while I am traveling. Not everyone can do what I do. I have to map out and plan everything as much as possible because getting stuck at an airport or a train station means the strike mission is over”.
BeachGrit: What kind of person do you have to be to pull this off?
Rezzy: You know those guys who invite you to go to Lowers and then has to stop to get coffee, a bar of wax, chats on the phone, and then wants to grab a quick burrito for when he’s down on the beach? Yeah those guys can’t do this.
BeachGrit: No laggers allowed, got it. Do you always travel solo?
Rezzy: Yes, I have too. Nobody I know has this buddy pass so I would get bumped off the flight as well. Most of the time, I’m the last guy on the plane. How this works is that my golden ticket allows me to fly direct to major airports that the airline is headed too, but the connector flight I book and pay for myself. Sometimes I have multiple flights reserved at once, like when I went to Egypt I had five flights reserved at one time with destinations heading in every direction to avoid getting stuck and missing out on the experience.
Beach Grit: Tell me. Highlights?
Rezzy: The greatest aspect of what I’ve been able to do is score waves that rarely break. I’ve scored Mundaka and Desert Point absolutely flawless by tracking a swell a few days in advance, and spending countless hours investigating what was the best and cheapest way for me to get there. I flew from Lax to Singapore and straight into Lombok to surf Deserts. Most people hang out in Bali for months hoping to score Deserts, and they have to slug it out on a ferry with flies and no sleep. I bypassed that whole part of the journey and arrived ready with my tent and bug repellent.
There was the last swell of the winter in northern Peru a few weeks ago and I’ve always wanted to go to that area and surf those lefts. I’m also super into archeological stuff as well so I wanted to see Machu Pichu and Nazca Lines (geoglyph portraits of animals handcrafted by the Nazca circa 500 B.C). Most people do that in two weeks and I was trying to do it in five days. The goal was to get there in time for the strike and then get south as fast as possible and do the ancient ruins. I had to take nine planes in total, two trains, and two busses, leave boards at the airport in Lima, and get my boarding pass 24 hours in advance. I thought I had thirty minutes to board the plane from Cusco to Lima, but I actually had no time at all. So I paid a taxi driver double to pull off the impossible and get me there before five pm and he did it. I was picked up from my hotel in Lima the following morning and saw the Nazca Lines.
BeachGrit: What have you done to fund these travels? You don’t have to tell me if you’re 007.
Rezzy: (Laughs) Everybody thinks that I am a spy. I was being paid professionally to surf two years ago and had a decent career in the 1990’s and 2000’s and once scored a back cover in a surf magazine as well. I have had four different ways of obtaining income and that has varied in the recent years. I used to have a travel company called “Rez Charters” that took pro surfers to the Mentawais islands (Wilko, Eric G, Tonino, and Simpo included) , and have traded stocks. I’m not from a rich family. My father is retired and in a nursing home. The whole short trip idea started because I was looking after my dad’s health. He suffered a major stroke and I couldn’t be gone for long periods of time for fear that he wouldn’t get the health care that he needed. So after six months of visiting the hospital two times a day every day of the week, just totally burnt out and exhausted, I thought I would go to Egypt for three days. I made some phone calls, looked at flights and accommodation, booked it and made it work. From the success of that first trip, I knew that with this buddy pass, I could leave the country, and get back home to work and take care of my father.
BeachGrit: You’ve ridden the world’s best wave pools far before the surfing media even knows they exist. How do you have your finger on the pulse of these machines?
Rezzy: I have surfed Wadi in Dubai, Wave Garden, and Snowdownia. The trip to Dubai was my most successful surf trip ironically. I caught three hundred waves in four days and returned home with a hard drive full of images.
Tom tells me that he has to get off the phone because that he is packing for a swell headed to Desert Point. His board bag weighs exactly 50 pounds and he’s going to be back to work on Tuesday. He’s a genius, a magician of the system that keeps wild men rooted in their location. I am envious of Tom and the way he seems to teleport across the globe.