The Travelers – McIntyre Interview

Shayne and Shannon McIntyre are searching for a home.

In an age where borders are closing and ideologies seem to be stratifying, the McIntyre family is moving counter to the mainstream. Seemingly unaware of the over-the-top headlines on the nightly news warning Americans of the dangers abroad-wars, mad cow disease, the avian flu, the IRA, the PLO, Islamic jihad, earthquakes, tsunamis, a weak U.S. dollar, and a general feeling of anti-American-ness-Shayne, 30; Shannon, 30; and Banyan, eight months, spend more than half of every year on the road.

Shayne and Shannon met as teenagers and within a year had already embarked on a three-month journey through Asia. In the decade that’s followed, the San Diego-based couple has traveled to a substantial percentage of the coastal world, including the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Trinadad and Tobago, Tortola, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, Russia, Oman, Australia, Indonesia, Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, India, Mauritius, Reunion Island, South Africa, Italy, France, England, Vanuatu, and Japan.

At first they funded these expeditions, which often lasted months, by waiting tables and doing odd jobs, foregoing the expensive things friends around them accumulated in favor of the next dot in the atlas. Eventually Shayne got sponsored by Quiksilver’s QuikSilverEdition line, and Shannon got sponsored by Roxy and took a job as a stewardess for American Airlines, which helped the travel funds, but it wasn’t until a year ago, when their own TV show, On Surfari, debuted on Fuel TV, that they became official professional travelers.

In late 2004, Shannon gave birth to their son Banyan, but becoming new parents was little more than a speed bump on the couple’s road to everywhere. On Surfari is in its second season on Fuel, and if anything, the McIntyre’s travel schedule is expanding. But as the realities of parenting set in, Shayne and Shannon find themselves trying to answer the ultimate brain-twister for any true traveler, “When and where will you eventually settle down?”

You guys just got home from a two-week surf trip to Italy, so tell me what Italian surf’s like?

Shayne: It’s got everything.

Shannon: I think the Italian surfers have it down to a science-they know exactly when the swell will come. And it’s really windy and stormy the first couple of days and super junky beachbreak conditions, and then it cleans up like the very next day and picks up and drops off.

Shayne: It’s short, predictable one-day wonders. What’s so neat about Italy is that there are three coasts, and they have two major islands as well as a scattering of smaller islands-they actually had so much potential fetch. With all their coast, they might have more surf potential than what we have here in California.

Tell me each, one at a time, your earliest travel memories?

Shannon: Probably loading up in the camper with my family and making the drive up to Washington State. We had a lot of family in Washington, and our parents would load us up.

Shayne: My earliest memories would be of Mauritius (a small island in the Indian Ocean off Madagascar). My parents were surf hippies, and having me wasn’t going to stop them from traveling. I remember walking through little tide pools with my mom, picking up starfish, and waxing my dad’s board for him.

What’s the point of traveling for you guys? Why do you travel?

Shayne: I think it’s …

Shannon: An addiction. I get stir crazy if I’m home for a couple of months. I want to get going again.

Shayne: You want to say it’s all about the education you get from travel and how it helps you grow as a person, but really it’s like an itch. I don’t know if it’s from traveling so much when I was young, but I don’t really feel at home anywhere. Except maybe now just recently in Puerto Rico. Another reason we travel so much is sometimes Shannon and I will be looking at a point on the map and wonder, “What the heck is right there?” I just want to divento the map and see how someone else lives.

Shannon: It really humbles you a lot to see how the rest of the world lives. It makes you realize you don’t need as much as you have.

Shayne: Shannon and I live in a pretty small place, really simple and spartan, but it’s kept things simple in our life, and we’ve learned to do without a lot of stuff. I see kids who are addicted to video games and sometimes they don’t seem happy at all, but in places like Indonesia you see little kids playing with rocks, or a boy with a little crab with a string attached to its arm, and they are so content. Experiences like that are teaching me how to raise my son.

Shannon: I think travel just gets in your blood.

Was wanderlust the reason you were attracted to each other in the first place?

Shayne: We met at a Bible study … I was eighteen, she was nineteen (laughs). My attraction to her was that she knocked me over in a mosh pit at a Bible study that had a disco band playing, and I turned around and said “Wow, she’s beautiful and tough.” You know. And you have to ask yourself when you’re traveling with a girl, do you want a girl you’re going to have to defend or a girl who can defend you (laughs)?

Shannon: Then we traveled a lot. We went to Tahiti and Indonesia right away.Shayne: We spent two months together in Indonesia after knowing each other for about a year, and that brought us close.

Shannon: He proposed to me after we’d been lost at sea for three days off the island of Bawa (part of the Hinako Islands) in a little tiny fishing boat. So when we got back to Bawa, he carved a coconut shell ring and proposed to me. I guess after that he thought I could handle any experience.

Shayne: It really did bring us together. There were people in the boat who thought they were going to die, and we just knew we were going to live. I thought if we could go through that, we could go through anything.

If all you knew about the world came from TV news, you’d think the world was a really scary place. What’s your experience with that?

Shannon: We don’t watch TV. We only have two channels.

Shayne: Wait … don’t say that (laughs).

It’s cool to have a TV show but no TV.

Shannon: When you travel, you learn that most of the crazy news is happening within the United States. When I’m outside the United States, I feel a little safer.

Shayne: Watching the news does scare you. We really wanted to go back to the Middle East to go surf more of the Arabian Sea, but the news we’ve watched in the past has scared us. We get e-mails from people in Oman saying, “Come back, it’s so safe, and we’re sorry that it looks so bad to you.” There are people in every country who would want to kill you for being an American or for being a Christian, but the chances of you running into them are so slim. Maybe stay out of Iraq right now. Otherwise, you’re okay.

What place in the world do you think everybody needs to see before they die?

Shannon: I love Bali. It’s my favorite place. I just love the culture and the people.

Shayne: Indonesia as a whole-I really think every island is different. It’ll fascinate you, it’ll humble you, and it’ll change you if you really open your mind to it. There are people who go there and just get blind drunk, sleep, and surf, but if you really spend time in Bali, the whole experience can change you.

Shannon: I know it seems kind of played out to say Bali, but it’s one of the places I never get bored of. I can always go back there and be fascinated.

Shayne: In Indonesia there’s so much juxtaposition of life. You’re sitting there watching someone drink hot water with coconut shavings, and you’re thinking, “That’s so gnarly-that’s your dinner!”

What’s the worst airline?

Shannon: Oh, the Russian airline …

Shayne: Aeroflot-they’re the Russian airline. Super-cramped seats, and the planes are 1960s PSA rejects. There are even painted-over PSA logos on the sides of the plane. Nightmare. Aeroflot has the most crashes of all the airlines.Shannon: Smac, too.

Shayne: That’s the Indonesian airline that flies from Medan to Nias. You’re basically in a hotbox, and they let people smoke.

Shannon: Air Geruda was my worst flight ever. Coming back flying from Bali over Borneo, we suddenly dropped and people hit their heads on the ceiling. And then they showed the movie Outbreak, which is about monkeys who spread this terrible disease. I was sweating bullets the whole time.

How is travel different for women?

Shannon: When it comes to conservative countries, I always make sure my shoulders are covered, or I wear a long skirt or a long dress. Latin American cities are very conservative, so I try to make sure I’m dressed appropriately, ’cause I don’t want to be offensive to anyone. I don’t want to seem ignorant.

In Muslim countries, do you wear a burka or something?

Shannon: Well, I wore one once. A girl made it for me, so to honor her I wore it while I was hanging out in her village. It was kind of fun, like wearing a Batman mask. It was kind of funny, as soon as I put it on, the guys from the village were like, “Looks good, looks good,” like it was a high fashion item or something. As I put it on, they were staring at me (laughs). That was a neat experience.Travel is expensive. How do you guys make a living?

Shayne: We used to pay for travel by busing tables and working at a flower shop.

Shannon: We just put our heads down and work, work, work.

Shayne: And when our friends would show us the coolest new CD player or whatever, we’d be like, “Oh that’s great,” but we’d spend our money on traveling. Yeah, we don’t drink or smoke, and I wish I could cut soda ’cause that would save me another 200 bucks a year. Shannon and I tried to cut out a lot of things, that way we could just focus our money on traveling. Then two things helped out-Shannon became an American Airlines flight attendant, and we moved to New York, and all of a sudden New York needed the surfer look, and I got to do some modeling. So I would make a couple thousand bucks, Shannon would have the free plane tickets, so we could go-boom.

We wrote a few surf articles, and then Bluetorch TV approached us about making a TV show. I had almost never touched a video camera before, but they said, “Just shoot your trip.” In 2000 Oman was our first trip for TV, and I fell in love with making TV shows. I love reaching viewers who would never watch a surf film. Now we make a living making On Surfari. Fuel really took a chance with us. They let us make our shows in our own funky style, and it’s been a real dream to work with them and have this opportunity.

You guys are new parents. How is Banyan effecting your travel?

Shayne: Pros and cons. Pros: he can get you through any border checkpoint, and he can get your boards on the plane for free. Negatives: you just had a long day of driving and he slept the whole way in the car. Well, now it’s 1:00 in the morning, you pull up to your hotel, and he’s wide awake and ready to play. So you’re up ’til 4:00.

Shannon: For me, I’ve been able to see the world through his eyes. We’re always just rushing rushing, rushing on our trips, but in Italy we just went on a walk and stopped under an olive tree, and he grabbed one of the branches and started shaking. He was really studying the tree. He helps me appreciate the simple things. Oh, and one of the biggest cons is we don’t get to surf together so much anymore. One of us has to be on the beach.

Do you have a plan for your son? Will he grow up on the road with you guys, or will there be more settling down that eventually occurs because he needs to go to a high school?

Shayne: We’ve been thinking about that. Probably more settling down. I was studying to be a school teacher before … Not sure, really unsure. We’ll cross that road when we get there. For now we have like five years until he has to start kindergarten. No matter what, though, we’re always gonna travel-most crashes of all the airlines.Shannon: Smac, too.

Shayne: That’s the Indonesian airline that flies from Medan to Nias. You’re basically in a hotbox, and they let people smoke.

Shannon: Air Geruda was my worst flight ever. Coming back flying from Bali over Borneo, we suddenly dropped and people hit their heads on the ceiling. And then they showed the movie Outbreak, which is about monkeys who spread this terrible disease. I was sweating bullets the whole time.

How is travel different for women?

Shannon: When it comes to conservative countries, I always make sure my shoulders are covered, or I wear a long skirt or a long dress. Latin American cities are very conservative, so I try to make sure I’m dressed appropriately, ’cause I don’t want to be offensive to anyone. I don’t want to seem ignorant.

In Muslim countries, do you wear a burka or something?

Shannon: Well, I wore one once. A girl made it for me, so to honor her I wore it while I was hanging out in her village. It was kind of fun, like wearing a Batman mask. It was kind of funny, as soon as I put it on, the guys from the village were like, “Looks good, looks good,” like it was a high fashion item or something. As I put it on, they were staring at me (laughs). That was a neat experience.Travel is expensive. How do you guys make a living?

Shayne: We used to pay for travel by busing tables and working at a flower shop.

Shannon: We just put our heads down and work, work, work.

Shayne: And when our friends would show us the coolest new CD player or whatever, we’d be like, “Oh that’s great,” but we’d spend our money on traveling. Yeah, we don’t drink or smoke, and I wish I could cut soda ’cause that would save me another 200 bucks a year. Shannon and I tried to cut out a lot of things, that way we could just focus our money on traveling. Then two things helped out-Shannon became an American Airlines flight attendant, and we moved to New York, and all of a sudden New York needed the surfer look, and I got to do some modeling. So I would make a couple thousand bucks, Shannon would have the free plane tickets, so we could go-boom.

We wrote a few surf articles, and then Bluetorch TV approached us about making a TV show. I had almost never touched a video camera before, but they said, “Just shoot your trip.” In 2000 Oman was our first trip for TV, and I fell in love with making TV shows. I love reaching viewers who would never watch a surf film. Now we make a living making On Surfari. Fuel really took a chance with us. They let us make our shows in our own funky style, and it’s been a real dream to work with them and have this opportunity.

You guys are new parents. How is Banyan effecting your travel?

Shayne: Pros and cons. Pros: he can get you through any border checkpoint, and he can get your boards on the plane for free. Negatives: you just had a long day of driving and he slept the whole way in the car. Well, now it’s 1:00 in the morning, you pull up to your hotel, and he’s wide awake and ready to play. So you’re up ’til 4:00.

Shannon: For me, I’ve been able to see the world through his eyes. We’re always just rushing rushing, rushing on our trips, but in Italy we just went on a walk and stopped under an olive tree, and he grabbed one of the branches and started shaking. He was really studying the tree. He helps me appreciate the simple things. Oh, and one of the biggest cons is we don’t get to surf together so much anymore. One of us has to be on the beach.

Do you have a plan for your son? Will he grow up on the road with you guys, or will there be more settling down that eventually occurs because he needs to go to a high school?

Shayne: We’ve been thinking about that. Probably more settling down. I was studying to be a school teacher before … Not sure, really unsure. We’ll cross that road when we get there. For now we have like five years until he has to start kindergarten. No matter what, though, we’re always gonna travel-that’s super important, even if has to be summer and Christmas break. I want to make sure my son surfs Russia. He’s going to go to all these great places we got to go with a surfboard under his arm. I can’t wait ’til he can start walking and eventually carry Mom and Dad’s board bags (laughs).

What’s the scariest situation you guys have ever been in traveling?

Shayne: Probably the boat ride from Nias to Bawa. We were lost at sea for three days in the Indian Ocean off Sumatra on a six-by-twenty-foot boat that was taking on water.

Shannon: We had to sleep outside.

Shayne: There were sea snakes trying to crawl into the boat, and our anchor wasn’t hitting bottom. I thought we were going to end up dead in west Australia in a couple weeks. Eventually, we used one of the floorboards as a mast and made a sail out of our rain tarp. We made our way against the current back towards Nias. We stopped at a reef, and this village came out in canoes and took us in.Shannon: And we rode on the back of a coconut truck with pigs to get back to Lagundi Bay.

Shayne: I don’t know if it was that scary, but it was like …

Shannon: Surreal.

Shayne: Frustrating, surreal … even peaceful in a way.

Where do you still want to go?

Shannon: I always wanted to go to Kenya. I’ve never been anywhere in Africa. I had an aunt who was a missionary there, and she used to send us carved wooden giraffes and toys. I just always wanted to check out the wildlife, and they have a nice coastline there.

Shayne: I would love to travel through Africa, through the whole thing. But with certain realties, like malaria and real civil wars, it really saddens me that I don’t feel comfortable traveling there myself or bringing my family into that environment.

Shannon: No, there’re places …

Shayne: You want to go to Togo? Sorry, huge civil war. You want to go to Mozambique? More land mines than people and really strong malaria.

Shannon: There are places you can go … This is where we battle sometimes.Shayne: Being a husband and father, the number-one concern is safety. I’m usually the trip planner, and am I going to bring my son into a war zone or risk exposing him to malaria just for some surf and an experience? No.

How do you react to that, Shannon?

Shannon: It’s ridiculous, because I know that it’s just like any other place we’ve been. It’s so traveled and has been for hundreds of years of Western travelers going to Africa. How many stories do you hear of tourists getting abducted in Africa … not many.

Shayne: It’s the malaria. It’s interesting how Banyan has changed the map for us.

Shannon: We’re going to way more cold places (laughs).

What travel secrets have you learned? What little things no one tells you?

Shayne: Put Roxy stickers on your board bags. If you don’t want your boards messed with in certain places. If guys see a Roxy sticker, they’re a lot less likely to purposely damage your boards. I’ll give that one away (laughs).Shannon: I always pack light.

Shayne: Pack your bags and then rip half of them out, including your boards. I’ve traveled with pros and can’t believe how many boards they bring and never end up using. Just bring two boards, unless you’re going to a place that needs a big-wave quiver. I can’t believe how people break their backs over stuff. Don’t pack three hats, pack one. Two pairs of trunks, that’s it.

Anything else?

Shayne: Never stay out past 10:00 p.m. Any nightmare story you ever hear from people on trips, it’s taken place after 10:00 p.m. That’s when the freaks come out … at night. Especially if you’re getting hammered.

Has being Christian ever hindered travel at all?

Shayne: We thought it was going to in Oman when the first visa question was, “What religion do you practice?” and then the next question was “Have you ever been to Israel?” We were like, “What should we write? Should we not say we’re Christians?” But then we thought, if they’re going to persecute us for beingg Christians and not let us in the country, then we don’t want to go there. So we wrote Christian, and they let us in. I thought that was cool. It was great on that trip to share our faith with Muslims, and they shared theirs as well, which helped us to better understand Islam.

In India this Christian church took us in, they fed us and we taught Sunday school. Things like that happen. I guess another travel tip would be to represent whoever or whatever you’re representing, and do it well, because people will remember you.t’s super important, even if has to be summer and Christmas break. I want to make sure my son surfs Russia. He’s going to go to all these great places we got to go with a surfboard under his arm. I can’t wait ’til he can start walking and eventually carry Mom and Dad’s board bags (laughs).

What’s the scariest situation you guys have ever been in traveling?

Shayne: Probably the boat ride from Nias to Bawa. We were lost at sea for three days in the Indian Ocean off Sumatra on a six-by-twenty-foot boat that was taking on water.

Shannon: We had to sleep outside.

Shayne: There were sea snakes trying to crawl into the boat, and our anchor wasn’t hitting bottom. I thought we were going to end up dead in west Australia in a couple weeks. Eventually, we used one of the floorboards as a mast and made a sail out of our rain tarp. We made our way against the current back towards Nias. We stopped at a reef, and this village came out in canoes and took us in.Shannon: And we rode on the back of a coconut truck with pigs to get back to Lagundi Bay.

Shayne: I don’t know if it was that scary, but it was like …

Shannon: Surreal.

Shayne: Frustrating, surreal … even peaceful in a way.

Where do you still want to go?

Shannon: I always wanted to go to Kenya. I’ve never been anywhere in Africa. I had an aunt who was a missionary there, and she used to send us carved wooden giraffes and toys. I just always wanted to check out the wildlife, and they have a nice coastline there.

Shayne: I would love to travel through Africa, through the whole thing. But with certain realties, like malaria and real civil wars, it really saddens me that I don’t feel comfortable traveling there myself or bringing my family into that environment.

Shannon: No, there’re places …

Shayne: You want to go to Togo? Sorry, huge civil war. You want to go to Mozambique? More land mines than people and really strong malaria.

Shannon: There are places you can go … This is where we battle sometimes.Shayne: Being a husband and father, the number-one concern is safety. I’m usually the trip planner, and am I going to bring my son into a war zone or risk exposing him to malaria just for some surf and an experience? No.

How do you react to that, Shannon?

Shannon: It’s ridiculous, because I know that it’s just like any other place we’ve been. It’s so traveled and has been for hundreds of years of Western travelers going to Africa. How many stories do you hear of tourists getting abducted in Africa … not many.

Shayne: It’s the malaria. It’s interesting how Banyan has changed the map for us.

Shannon: We’re going to way more cold places (laughs).

What travel secrets have you learned? What little things no one tells you?

Shayne: Put Roxy stickers on your board bags. If you don’t want your boards messed with in certain places. If guys see a Roxy sticker, they’re a lot less likely to purposely damage your boards. I’ll give that one away (laughs).Shannon: I always pack light.

Shayne: Pack your bags and then rip half of them out, including your boards. I’ve traveled with pros and can’t believe how many boards they bring and never end up using. Just bring two boards, unless you’re going to a place that needs a big-wave quiver. I can’t believe how people break their backs over stuff. Don’t pack three hats, pack one. Two pairs of trunks, that’s it.

Anything else?

Shayne: Never stay out past 10:00 p.m. Any nightmare story you ever hear from people on trips, it’s taken place after 10:00 p.m. That’s when the freaks come out … at night. Especially if you’re getting hammered.

Has being Christian ever hindered travel at all?

Shayne: We thought it was going to in Oman when the first visa question was, “What religion do you practice?” and then the next question was “Have you ever been to Israel?” We were like, “What should we write? Should we not say we’re Christians?” But then we thought, if they’re going to persecute us for being Christians and not let us in the country, then we don’t want to go there. So we wrote Christian, and they let us in. I thought that was cool. It was great on that trip to share our faith with Muslims, and they shared theirs as well, which helped us to better understand Islam.

In India this Christian church took us in, they fed us and we taught Sunday school. Things like that happen. I guess another travel tip would be to represent whoever or whatever you’re representing, and do it well, because people will remember you.or being Christians and not let us in the country, then we don’t want to go there. So we wrote Christian, and they let us in. I thought that was cool. It was great on that trip to share our faith with Muslims, and they shared theirs as well, which helped us to better understand Islam.

In India this Christian church took us in, they fed us and we taught Sunday school. Things like that happen. I guess another travel tip would be to represent whoever or whatever you’re representing, and do it well, because people will remember you.