What to pack for a surf trip
Laura Ramage - 13th December 2016
Hurray!! You are going on a surf trip. How exciting it is to be off on an adventure, to surf somewhere different and gain new experiences. Surfing a variety of waves will encourage you step outside your comfort zone and improve your surf skills. However before you get carried away dreaming about long peeling waves and your salty locks, make sure you plan your luggage wisely.
You don't want to be lugging around too much, especially if you are taking a surfboard with you. However time in the water is precious, so be well prepared to avoid wasting time shopping when you are there! From experience, we recommend you think about taking the following items with you.
What you take with you to wear in the water will all depend on where you are going and what the temperature of the water is going to be. If you are heading to the tropics the likelihood is that you will mainly surf in just a bikini. However if you're an early bird who likes to avoid the crowds and watch the sunrise from the water, you may want to consider taking a neoprene swimsuit or shirt to keep off the chill in the air. You might also consider reef boots to prevent your feet from getting cut up, especially if you are planning on surfing over sharp rocks or coral. If you're heading somewhere in the winter months, you will need to consider a wetsuit with thicker neoprene. When choosing a wetsuit to take with you, ensure it is a decent one that is of good quality. Pick a wetsuit that fits you well, has stretchy material and is soft and comfortable to wear. After all you will be spending the majority of your trip wearing it.
Make sure you do your research before you go, the last thing you want is to be too hot or cold in the water so that you can't surf properly. It may be that you have to take a variety of surf apparel so you don't get caught out. See GlideSoul’s full women's 2017 collection here.
First aid kit:
It can often feel silly buying first aid items to take away with you, when it only adds to the weight of your luggage. However there are a few items that can be harder to get hold of or are poor quality in some surf destinations. Therefore it's worth taking a small first aid kit with you. If you are going to be surfing reef breaks there is always a risk that you may scrape or cut yourself on the reef. Iodine or antiseptic wipes will prevent an infection, however it’s always best to seek medical help if it's serious.
Taking a surfboard on a surf trip seems obvious, however it can sometimes be a lot of hassle. In many locations such as Hawaii you can't take a surfboard on the public bus and if it's a big board it won't fit in a taxi. In some countries taxis will refuse to let you put them on the roof which leaves you with little choice but to hire your own vehicle. There is also often the option to rent a board whilst you are away.There are advantages and disadvantages to both options depending on where you are going, who you are going with and how you plan on getting around.
Hiring a surfboard - Hiring a surfboard gives you the opportunity to try out and match different boards to suit the conditions without lugging a quiver around. Before you head to your destination, check out what the options are in the area and whether there are decent surf shops and schools that will let you rent a board. When hiring the board make sure that you are thorough when inspecting it. It is worth checking that it hasn't snapped before, the fins are secure and fixed in correctly and that the renter is aware of all the dings. Most hire companies will expect you to leave them a credit card or ID and some will even require a deposit. It's probably best you take a credit card for this sort of thing because you are more likely to be protected if there are any issues.
Taking your own board - If you plan on taking your own board, make sure you check which airlines will take surfboards; especially if you plan on taking domestic flights somewhere like Indonesia. Some airlines will take them if they have room but it's normally at an extra cost. With the bigger airlines you can sometimes get away with just being charged for one board even if you take a coffin board bag with a couple of boards in. Therefore if you are traveling in a group it would be worth putting all boards together. When packing your board consider wrapping it in towels, wetsuits or place some card board around the tail and nose to prevent it from getting damaged.
If your destination is going to be really hot, neoprene tops & jackets are great for sun protection. The last thing you want to do is ruin your trip because you are burnt to a crisp. Make sure you also take some decent sun cream and zinc to protect you from the sun and UV rays. It's not unheard of that in some countries you can be sold watered down versions of a well-known sun cream brand.
Maps and surf guides:
It may be that you are going on a surf trip where everything is already planned out for you by a surf camp. However if you are travelling independently it's really important to buy and take appropriate surf guides and maps. Not only can you use them to find the spots, but it will also help you to be a bit more imaginative than just following the crowds.
- Travel Documents - Passports, tickets, booking confirmation documents, insurance documents etc.
- Camera's - Water proof camera, charger, spare batteries
- Toiletries - Shampoo, shower wash, leave in conditioner, moisturiser, make-up, hair brush, hair band
- Currency & credit cards
- Clothing, underwear, hats, footwear
- Towels & a sarong
- Surf wax, leash, soft racks, fin key, leash, ding repair kit
- Yoga mat
- A good book
As much as surf trips should be spontaneous, it's still important that there is a little planning involved so you can maximise the time in the water. A little planning upfront will mean that you can truly relax and become a free spirit when you are away.
Laura Ramage lives in Cornwall and has a lifestyle blog Cocktails and Wanderlust, that focuses on sharing new and exciting ways of leading a well-balanced healthy lifestyle.
Photo credit Serge Shakuto