There is nothing better than an awesome surf trip where everything works out: all your flights are on time, none of your bags/surfboards get lost or damaged, you score awesome waves, you don’t get sick, and all those other things that make a great surf trip. But these kinds of surf trips don’t happen by accident - you have to put some planning in to make them great. Here are 5 tips I’ve found in my travels that help make a great surf trip!
1. Know your destination. Before anything else, spend a good amount of time doing research on the destination you are planning to travel to. Know what the weather will be like, average swell size for the season, water temp, how to get to all the spots, etc. It also helps to get to know a little bit about the culture and people of the area. Try to memorize or at least write down a few key words in their local language such as please, thank you, restroom, beach/waves, and of course beer!
2. Less is more. At least for tropical surf trips this always has been the case for me. I always end up bringing much more than I actually need. Just make sure you have the essentials: towel, wax, fins, sunscreen, extra leashes, boardshorts, and mosquito repellant. I usually end up wearing the same hawaiian shirt every day, when I have to wear a shirt that is, and end up bringing home some clean clothes I never wore.
I like to travel with just my board bag and a backpack. It makes it easier to get around the airport and lessens the chance of getting a bag misplaced or stolen. Keep ALL your valuables in your backpack! Security are often underpaid and would love to have that new camera or speakers that they see as they are inspecting your checked bag.
3. Consider wave type. What will you be surfing? Beach break? Reef? Hollow? Mushy? Sometimes you will surf a wide variety of waves on a surf trip, so you should be prepared with the equipment for all conditions. I generally bring three boards (varies on the destination) but one step-up for bigger swells, one to two standard high performance shortboards so that if one breaks I still have another, and usually one small wave board which can make even a knee-high day worth surfing. The goal is to surf every day on a surf trip, so bring the right equipment that will allow you to!
4. What airline are you on? If you have already booked your ticket, all you can do is pray that they have decent surfboard baggage fees. These days with the airline industry losing so much money they will charge for EVERYTHING! A few are even charging to use the restroom as absurd as that may sound!
Before booking a flight the first thing I look at is their surfboard policy. Many factors may affect the price you are charged such as length of your board bag, weight, and how many boards are in there. Most people checking you in have no clue about surfing, they only know their company’s policy. Always refer to your board bag as singular, don’t let them know you have multiple boards unless they force you to open your bag. Example: “I’m here to check in my surfboard (NOT surfboards)”. Here is a great link that gives you a general breakdown of surfboard policies for various airlines, but it is still good to call the airline yourself to double check as they can change their policies at anytime. Airline Surfboard Fees
5. Make reservations. It seems like it would be really fun to go on a trip with no plans of where to stay or how to get around, but in reality not so much. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Get some hotel arrangements and either transfers or rental car reservations. ALWAYS remember to bring tie down straps or surfboard racks so you can get a cheap taxi or rental car and put your board on the roof and won’t have to pay a premium for a van or SUV. You will often get better deals on hotels and cars when you book in advance, or through a registered travel agency that has negotiated rates. If you are looking for a good travel agent try San Simeon Travel. I use them for all my trips and they do a great job!