The life of a professional beach comber

I get asked a lot if I find my glass while ‘on vacation’. When I do these sea glass trips every year it is technically work. It is part of what I need to do in order to maintain my business. I could buy my glass to supplement what I could not find at home like I used to before my children left the nest. Now that my kids are grown and gone I can travel as I always wanted to with the added bonus of being able to write it off as work!

I feel that I should explain further though, while combing beaches abroad sounds like the best job ever….and it is…it is also a lot of work. I don’t get up in the morning, throw on my flip flops and grab a thermos of mojitos and head for the beach, there is lot of prep work to do.

When I travel like this I usually spend 2 -4 days in one place before on the the next location, usually a half day of travel away. This alone requires a lot of planning since I do not typically rent a car. There is the coordination of getting from one place to another by plane, train or bus…..sometimes all three. So there are time tables and maps to scour. I usually stay in private homes through Airbnb, so that means coordinating arrivals with the host and yet more maps. I usually spend a few hours every few days just planning the next leg of the journey.

I don’t know how the world functioned without Google Earth, because it is my greatest tool when I travel. Once I pick a location, I get online and look at satellite maps of the area to determine where the beaches are, how close, how to get there. Since I choose coastal towns there are usually several beaches to choose from. Then I consult the tide charts, can I get 2 good combings in one day? How early do I need to get started….and most importantly, where do I find coffee in the morning?

Once all of that is planned then it is time to prepare. Keep in mind that I am doing this all in winter…January through March, so the bathing suit stays home and my beach wear equates to several layers, fleece lined pants with cargo pockets, several pairs of socks, gloves, hat and scarf. I have plastic baggies and wet wipes, water and food enough for the day.

And I have to mention the work out I get from beach combing 4-8 hours a day! You all know what it is like to walk through a sandy beach or a gravelly one? It can take a lot out of you! After 6 weeks of this I have to brag that my legs have never been in better shape!

I often feel like that road-weary rock star who gets on stage and has no idea of what town he is in! I wish I could have my own roadie who updates me every morning….”Good morning Ms.Hoffman, today you are in Barcelona, the language is Spanish, the currency is the Euro, today’s low tides are at 9am and 4pm, here is a map of the area, the current time is 8:30, here is your piping hot latte…aaaand go!”


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