A thirst for travel seems to go hand in hand with surfing; whether that’s simply driving up and down the coast exploring, or journeying down here to Costa Rica in search of your perfect wave. Unfortunately however, traveling with surfboards can be a cumbersome, expensive, and stressful process to the inexperienced traveling surfer. Making the decision to even bring your favorite board along with you can be a tough one. You have to weigh up airline baggage charges, potential damage and the fact that you have to drag it around everywhere with you, against; the cost of renting instead, whether you’ll even find a decent board and that feeling in your stomach when the waves are perfect and your favorite board is gathering dust back home..
Depending on your proposed destination, renting a surfboard can be a very good, and reasonable idea. Down here in Costa Rica, there is usually a good selection of rentals to choose from (although they
are definitely not always in the best condition…), or if your coming down to us at Peaks ‘n Swells you can benefit from access to a wide selection of quality surfboards of all dimensions. A bit of pre-trip research can give you an idea of how easy it will be to rent a board at you destination, websites such as wannasurf.com, globalsurfers.com, magicseaweed and surfline are a great place to start.
For me, if I have a magic board, it’s the first thing I pack after my passport. No questions. The problem is however, flying is becoming more and more expensive, and the same is true for surfboard baggage charges. HERE is a list of airlines, and their charges for carrying surfboards. This list is a guideline and fees can change, depending on the weather and the ticket agent’s disposition. So it’s always a good idea to call your airline before you fly/book to make sure of the potential charges.
You hear lots of horror stories from fellow surfers about their beloved surfboards being damaged during transit; personally, I have only once had a board damaged whilst in the possession of an airline, and I have traveled on A LOT of flights with my boards. I do obsessively pack my boardbag though…
Here are 5 tips that have helped my surfboards survive numerous journeys…
#1 Make sure you have a good quality board bag. I would recommend brands such as; Creatures of Leisure, FCS, Ocean & Earth, Curve, Channel Islands or Dakine.
They come in a variety of padding thickness, length, and quantity of boards they will hold.
2# Pack it properly. Removing your fins (if you can) not only reduces the risk of damage but also means that your boards will fit in the bag better. Stack your boards so that the rockers fit together (longest on the bottom), with a towel or jumper in between each board to protect them. Make sure that your boards are snug in your bag, most damage happens when the boards and all of their contents rattle around during the flight or transit.
#3 Bubble Wrap. It’s light and offers good protection, especially for the deck and bottom of your board. Either line the top and bottom of the bag, or wrap it around your board then tape it.
#4 Protect the nose, tail and rails. These are the areas that usually get damaged the easiest, so pad out the nose and tail with extra bubble wrap, towels or clothes. Using foam pipe-insulation is a great way to protect the rails of your board, it’s cheap and easy to pick up from any hardware store.
#5 Be nice to the airline staff. Being polite and friendly to the people who will be looking after your boards should be an obvious one. Maybe a little sweet talking will help them relax the charges for you, or at least ask them to put some fragile tape and tags on your bag.
What experiences have you had traveling with surfboards? Any baggage handler damage? Extortionate fees? Or packing tips?