Social media has made many of us talk about giving up our day jobs, buying a van and hitting the road. For most anglers though, the “ideal schedule,” fishing all day, every day and hanging out with friends in beautiful places all night is pretty much an unattainable dream. Very few anglers actually make the jump into road tripping full time.
Mark Vlaskamp (CanoeVibes.com) is one of those very lucky and brave anglers that had the guts to quit his job and live the life many dream about. For four years he was the Marketing Manager for Yak Gear, a company that sells kayak fishing accessories, as well as the man responsible for managing the company’s ambassador team. “I was watching their social feeds and thinking that they were living these awesome lives,” Vlaskamp said. “I wanted to live that life every day, instead of just posting a few photos from one trip over the course of a month,” said Vlaskamp. He has a rule to post only one photo per day, so each new post on his social media feeds shows off a new adventure.
The Life Of A Road Tripper
“Every day starts off with a catwalk in the morning and at night, otherwise Cammi gets restless,” Vlaskamp said about his canoe-trained cat. While the Internet is full of fly fishing dogs, not many can say they have a boat cat. That, paired with Vlaskamp’s killer ‘stache, is why his trip is already gaining ground on the Internet. “There’s a lot of working in the car in Starbucks parking lots stealing their WiFi, mostly because I can’t take the cat in there.”
His trip is also balanced between fishing and driving. Not balanced as in 50/50, but the way an angler would balance it–heavy on the fishing. “A normal day has a lot of fishing, I normally spend five days on the water,” said Vlaskamp. “I always drive at night and I’ve planned out my drives so every drive is no more than 5 hours.”
Life On The Road Is As Good As It Sounds
“The best part is the complete freedom to do whatever I want when I want,” he said. “I wasn’t planning to go to Savannah, GA, but I stayed there three days.” That freedom can be dangerous if you’re not good about keeping to a schedule. It’s smart to add in a couple of days here and there to account for unplanned trips, but if you properly plan as much as you can, the rewards are great. “You grow up with your mom telling you what to do and then you get older and your boss is telling you what to do; not out here on the road.”
That same careful consideration with your schedule should also be taken with your gear. Vlaskamp says it’s all about minimalism. “I have a car full of gear, but I really only use half of it,” he said. “I have a packed suitcase with 30 t-shirts, but I only wear four. It’s amazing to see how little you really need to be content.” While there are some things Vlaskamp can live without, Internet is not. Vlaskamp spends as many nights as he can sending out photos and articles to various outlets for publication, including here on the Postfly Blog.
There’s something else that might top the complete freedom, but Vlaskamp wouldn’t divulge anything more. “I’ll just say a cat on a leash is the best conversation starter in the world,” he said, “especially sitting there at the bar, walking around the trails in the mountains or by the campfire; people stop you and want to talk, give you a beer and hear your story.”
It’s not like road tripping is all sunshine and rainbows, though. That meticulous schedule Vlaskamp worked so hard to create and carefully organize sometimes isn’t his own. “It gets tough always being on everyone else’s schedules,” said Vlaskamp. “I’m always working or trying to read at weird hours because, when you’re traveling and meeting with people, every night is Friday night; there are no off nights.’” When you show up, even though you’ve been driving for hours or you’ve been on the water all day long, you’re meeting someone for the first night, so for them, that’s exciting. “But if that’s my biggest problem, then I’m so pumped,” said Vlaskamp.
First Step To Get The Job: Clear Your Debt
“Honestly, the biggest tip is getting out of debt and getting that timeline in order,” said Vlaskamp. “No one wants to hear that, but that’s super important.” Clearing his financial calendar and getting everything in order before he hit the road allows Vlaskamp to fully enjoy his road trip, especially since it’s not a long-term trip. Vlaskamp plans to travel for six months, visiting every national park he can in the country, then he’s visiting Europe. After that, it’ll be time for a real job again, but until then, keeping the trip on a low budget helps better his time on the road. “Having someone to stay with everywhere I go is also a big help,” he says, “it helps keep it low cost.”
Another great thing about living the dream life so many people think of all day long inside their cubicles is that everyone that Vlaskamp meets wants to do what they can to help. “Everyone wants to be a part of it, they all want to help and live vicariously through you,” says Vlaskamp.
While those people can’t come along with Vlaskamp on the trip, his companion and fishing partner Cammi the Canoe Cat helps to keep him sane on the many lonely nights of car camping. Before you think road tripping with a cat would be tough, Vlaskamp said it’s much easier than you’d guess. “I can’t believe how awesome Cammi is; we’ve fallen into a routine and now she’s closer to a well-behaved dog,” says Vlaskamp. “She’ll walk on a leash every night at camp, but by morning she can walk off the leash and she’ll just follow me.” Vlaskamp didn’t spend a single minute training Cammi, but she’s adapted to live on the road so well that many would guess it’s what she’s always known, much like Vlaskamp himself. He says, “She definitely gotten used to it.”
This is part two of a series on the best jobs in fly fishing. Stay tuned for a full look into A Day In The Life Of A Fly Rod Designer and find out if you have what it takes!