In general, Australians have a reputation as being well-traveled folks. Sally Fitzgibbons, a native of Genoa, is no different – but the 20-year-old has an enviable reason for globetrotting: her career as a professional surfer. The Roxy-sponsored athlete recently claimed her third win of the 2011 surfing season with the trophy at the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour in Huntington Beach, CA, becoming the youngest and fastest surfer – male or female – to ever qualify for the ASP World Tour.
Here, Fitzgibbons speaks to ShermansTravel about her favorite surfing spots around the globe and some of her travel secrets.
As a pro surfer, how much do you travel?
I spend most of the year traveling in two-week blocks. I would say it would be eight to nine months of the year on the road. At times it can be like The Amazing Race, which makes it so much fun.
Where are your favorite surfing spots throughout the world? Any places you haven't yet been but are on your list?
There are so many great waves to surf around the world – it's pretty hard to narrow it down. A lot of the time when I'm asked where my favorite spot to surf is, I say, “Wherever I can catch a wave." To name a few, I would say Mexico, Caroline Islands, Rincon in California, France, Indonesia, Maldives, and home in Australia. I haven't yet surfed at Fiji, Tahiti, or Barbados and would love to soon.
What are the things you can't live without on the road?
I can't live without my fit ball and roller on the road to stretch out on. I also travel with my pillow, camera, and iPod to keep entertained during the long hours in the airport.
What travel tips can you share with our readers?
You can never get to the airport for your flight too early. Doing the last-minute dash always makes things way too stressful and you get all sweaty before you get on your flight. Traveling with the same airline if you fly frequently is a good idea, so that you can build up points to buy free flights or get upgraded. Always put a spare pair of underwear, toothbrush, and set of clean clothes in your carry-on because more often than not the airlines will lose your bag, and you're stuck with the same clothes for days.
What should newbie surfers consider when catching their first breaks?
When you first start surfing you want to find a beach break that has small rolling waves. Nothing that is too hard to paddle out to, and you can catch plenty of waves and fast-track the learning process.
Surfing-centric vacations, with lessons and instructions included, are becoming extremely popular for beginners to get a taste for the sport. What should one consider in choosing a trip?
Surfing-centric vacations are such a great holiday choice. Everyone loves the beach and surfing provides that fun activity that's suitable for the whole family. When choosing a location it's best to go somewhere that revolves around the beach culture and most of the people in the town or city love to surf. It helps to motivate and inspire you when you're just starting out, and you get to watch great surfers and pick up tips whilst in the lineup with them. Warm water places are better to start with as it will allow you longer time in the water
Besides surfing, are there any other types of outdoor adventure-type activities you love?
I love playing or watching all other sports, no matter what it is. I really like skating, bush walking, fishing, and canoeing up beautiful rivers.