Above all else, Thayer Janes prioritizes something that all of us may take for granted: freedom. He has crafted his life and work around what he refers to as “The New American Dream,” traveling the world, surfing, fly fishing and running his self-started online marketing business Mapped Social. To Thayer, the importance of traveling domestically or internationally is paramount because of the inherent way it forces a new perspective, grows a deeper sense of purpose, and re-defines what’s possible. We caught up with Thayer about how he got to be where he is now, and the challenges and glories of living the dream.
When did you first get the “travel bug”?
I’m from Bozeman, but I went to school at the University of Montana in Missoula, which was the best decision I ever made. I studied abroad in Australia through the university, and the experience was a total gateway to everything I’ve done in the past five years. I bought a van and drove around the country for an entire year. It was my first experience in getting out and seeing the world on my own. Growing up, my parents used to take us to all these crazy places on adventures. They took us to remote parts of Mexico to sea kayak, fishing trips in Guatemala and Belize and sailing in Hawaii. Since the beginning, I have always had a sense of adventure and longing to explore the world.
Did you take off right after you graduated?
No. I had a job directly out of college where I had done an internship as a college student. It never felt right and I knew there was something more. So one day, I got up and quit. I never looked back. I moved to Bozeman and became a ski bum, working hard and skiing harder and saving money. I did that for a season and then bought a ticket to travel around the world. I traveled to Africa, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. It was the first time that I was like, ‘Oh damn, this is really great!’ and I started to build the business I have now when I was living in Bali, Indonesia. And that’s actually when I first started working with Recover, right in the beginning.
Why did you choose to reach out to work and partner with Recover?
I love the sustainability aspect behind it, especially because of my love of surfing and the massive problem of plastic pollution in the ocean. Really getting to know the people at the company, Bill has been awesome; I love his vision, and he’s super cool. It’s a unique product that’s good for the world and good for everybody. Hopefully we see more trends of recycling plastics in clothes. Plastic pollution in the ocean is such a bad thing that I’ve seen first hand in some of these countries, where they don’t clean it up and literally don’t have a place to put it. I’ve been in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of nowhere and there’s plastic everywhere. I have a deep connection with the ocean, and it’s tough to see, but seeing the work that Recover is doing is really going in the right direction…. When I started up in Bali, Recover was the first company that sent me a big box of product that I picked up in this little post office shop. I was surprised Bill sent it all the way to Bali for me, and I still have and wear a lot of those clothes.
What’s your favorite piece of Recover gear?
I like their tee shirts because they’re lightweight and breathable. They’re different material than most tee shirts I wear and I definitely wear the Sport to play soccer all the time. I also like the BikeTube backpack and Recover’s upcycled wood bottle openers always seem to come in handy.
Tell us more about Mapped Social...
Mapped Social is a digital media and marketing company that specializes in digital marketing, social media management, targeted ad campaigns, content creation and content-based marketing. I have shifted gears even since my initial idea came to fruition in Bali. We offer packages based around photography, content creation, video, marketing, social media and brand storytelling. This last year, I traveled around Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Hawaii, Bali and last summer did a road trip through the National Parks in Canada and the US.
How did the road trip to the National Parks work out?
Well, the plan was to go all the way from Bozeman, through Canada and then all the way to tip of Baja. We made it all the way through Canada, surfed a lot on Vancouver Island, drove through Canada and the Pacific Northwest, camped a lot and hung out. When we got to Portland, a buddy I was supposed to meet to drive down to Mexico with got a bad infection in his feet. At the same time, I started to think about what was ahead. Life on the road is romantic, but really challenging at the same time. I was with my girlfriend Emily and our dog living out of a Subaru, and realized that I had been travelling for the past 5 years straight. We did visit a bunch of National Parks, which we definitely need to protect, but in the summer there’s a big question of how to manage all of the people and still protect the place- a lot of the National Parks are really crowded. So many people are coming and disrespecting the land and animals. A big question is where does it stop and where is the balance? We also shifted to looking for a home base and decided on San Diego. The freedom and all is really great to a certain point, but there’s also a lot of challenge that comes with going through that process of figuring out “What do I really want?” Sometimes, I still just want to buy a plane ticket.
Did you grow up getting out in public lands a lot?
Yes, Montana is amazing like that. Open land is a huge debate there right now. They’re trying to take away swaths of land and a lot of people are up in arms in Montana about it. To me, open lands are everything. Since I was a little kid, I’ve gone with friends, and continued to in high school and in college. My dad has been taking me to places camping and fishing as long as I can remember. One of the most important things for me growing up was the opportunity to experience those places. Now, freedom is everything for me, whether going camping on the weekend or being able to work from my computer. To me, freedom, whatever that may mean to a person, is success. Success isn’t a lot of money. Travel is so powerful to make us start looking at the whole world in a different light, including this idea of success.
What else is important and powerful about travel?
Exploring different avenues of life, experiencing some new things in open lands, getting outside or travelling to the middle of nowhere in Southeast Asia, whatever. It helps people step out of their comfort zone and go do what they really want to do. Seeing how other people live, seeing other cultures, to go help out even just a little changes perspective on everything from sustainability to happiness to what joy really is in life.