Both a visionary and a connector, Travis James Bays has been greatly influential in developing Bodhi Surf + Yoga into what it is today: the world’s first B Corp certified and 1% for the Planet member surf and yoga camp. Travis was ostensibly born to be a leader, that much is clear from anyone who has been around him. Over the years, he has displayed a steadfast demeanor through a myriad of challenges inherent in running a small business — and one that aims to be responsible, at that. Furthermore, his love and respect for Mother Ocean — made evident through his remarkable wave-riding abilities — is highly contagious to all he encounters. His high level of stoke for both surfing and business attracts people to him, and makes them want to become better versions of themselves.
The OG founder of Bodhi Surf + Yoga
There’s no question that Travis was the catalyst and driving force behind the founding of Bodhi Surf + Yoga. Looking back at his life, it’s almost as though he was destined to do so. After coming to the community of Bahia Ballena in 2006 as a Peace Corp volunteer, he fell in love with the magic of this place, and started scheming ways to stay, make a living, and do so in a way that was both harmonious with and and beneficial to the community of Bahia Ballena. He really did pull together the players that would become his co-founders. And as his wife and fellow Bodhi Surf + Yoga co-founder, Pilar Salazar, summarizes in the anniversary video which interviews co-founders puts nicely about the beginnings of the business: “It didn’t seem optional to me, he said ‘we’re doing Bodhi’, and that’s it. He never said ‘would you like to join’”.
Travis is a force to be reckoned with. He displays an ambition that is truly off-the-charts, and thank goodness that it’s for good: to create a positive [social, cultural, environmental] impact on the world, to take care of all of those who are fortunate enough to enter into his realm, and to push his peers to become the best versions of themselves. Most recently, Travis has set his sights on helping to make the not just Bodhi Surf + Yoga’s home community a better place, but also the global community. He pursues various verticals and is involved in many different networks in order to put this into action. He’s a mover and a shaker, a connector and a doer.
Recently, co-worker Anki summarized it nicely with this message to Travis on his birthday:
“Thank you for being the ambitious, driven and inspiring leader that you are. Bodhi Surf + Yoga would not exist if you wouldn’t have followed your intuition 10 years ago, and passionately pursued it ever since. You push us to our max and are leading with a strong example yourself, holding everyone around you — including yourself — to a high standard. And we are better people because of it!”
Interview with the man himself
Looking back at what you have accomplished since founding Bodhi in 2010, what are some of your proudest moments as a business owner?
I am most proud of where we are now. Bodhi Surf + Yoga serves as a unique platform to launch from, and our team is as strong as it has ever been in terms of communicating with each other and sharing our passions with the world.
What are the best aspects of raising your daughters at Bodhi?
Bodhi is a perfect playground for Maya and Clea because they are constantly exploring and connecting with nature — the best kind of education. What is more, they get to interact with people from all over the world and learn about different cultures and languages, which will ultimately make them more sensitive to people’s differences.
When it comes to running a small business, what has been your biggest challenge?
Parting ways with a partner that co-founded the business was a very difficult challenge that we had to overcome. However, through that loss, we’ve become stronger and closer than ever.
Who do you look up to most in the business world?
Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia (who calls himself a reluctant businessman).
What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” ― Stephen Grellet
In other words, you only get one shot to do good. Don’t be afraid to awaken purpose.
How have you changed as a surfer over the past decade?
My attitude toward surfing has really matured, especially over the past six months, and I now have a much deeper level of understanding and appreciation for the ocean than I did at 29. I am more grateful for the opportunity to ride waves, and I make sure to say thank you to mother ocean before paddling out. I have been focusing on surfing without much effort by working in unison with the wave and letting my board do the work — just dancing on a liquid stage and having a lot more fun.
What is your favorite surf break in the world?
I can’t choose just one because every surf break is so different, and every wave offers a new lesson. That being said, I do really enjoy surfing at Playa Chaman — mostly because I know the break so well, but also because of the amazing jungle backdrop. There is something special about surfing inside a marine sanctuary with abundant wildlife and no hotels or development of any kind on the beach.
What is your favorite surf movie of all time?
What three books should every Bodhi Surf + Yoga guest read?
- Ishmael (novel) by Daniel Quinn
- Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher
- The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand
Looking ahead at the coming decade, what future Bodhi initiatives are you most excited about?
I’m really excited about our new partnership with One Percent for the Planet, whereby every new guest that stays at Bodhi Surf + Yoga will become an individual member. Because of this partnership, we are now putting each guest on a very clear pathway to becoming an environmental steward.
From the whole Bodhi Surf + Yoga team: It’s been a wild ride, an epic journey. We are beyond excited to be here, standing at the brink of a new decade — both in time, and in our own history. To the next 10 years — we are so excited. We invite you to book a vacation now and come celebrate with us in person in 2020, and remember — 10% off vacations booked and taken in 2020 — “Take it or give it”!