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5 Great Tips for Traveling with Your Surfboard (from a Pro)

by Andrew

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If you’ve been to an airport you already know this – airline baggage handlers don’t care about your luggage. Their goal is to get all the bags onto the plane as quickly as possible, and whether your bag is dropped, thrown, flipped upside down or smashed into other bags doesn’t matter to them. 

This is a big problem for surfers, whose bags are filled with expensive surfboards that they need to get to their destination in one piece so they’re ready to rip. Nothing can kill the stoke of a huge surf trip than getting to your destination and realizing that your favorite board is damaged, and you’ll be spending more time with ding repair than you will in the water.

Packing your surfboards carefully and smartly goes a long way to your surfboards arriving at your destination in one piece. Here are five essential tips for packing and traveling with your surfboard on your next trip that will guarantee they stay safe.


Get the Right Surfboard Travel Bag


surf travel tips

Image source: StoreYourBoard,com

It goes almost without saying that to keep your surfboards safe when traveling for a surf trip, you need the right surfboard bag. It’s a must-have item – you can’t expect 2 surfboards smashed into a surfboard day bag to survive an international flight.

There are lots of different types of surfboard travel bags, so you can find the one that fits the dimensions of however many surfboards you’re traveling with. But beyond that, you need a bag with thick padding (7mm minimum) to protect your boards. Really a 10mm padded surfboard bag is the place to start when packing for a big surf trip.

Additionally, most bags have add-ons that work to protect your surfboards. Many come with nose or tail inserts (see below for more about that) to protect those areas of your surfboards particularly susceptible to damage on a long flight. Other bags come with built-in board separators to act as padding between multiple boards, which also serve to keep your wax from rubbing off on adjacent boards.


Board Placement in Your Bag


surf travel tips

Image source: StoreYourBoard,com

Most surfers are taking multiple surfboards on big surf trips, or packing surfboards together with their buddies, so their bags end up holding 2+ surfboards. With multiple surfboards, it’s vital to stack your boards in your bag properly. Otherwise, with boards smashing and knocking into each other in the wrong places, you’re bound to end up with a snapped nose. Start with your largest surfboard and place it at the bottom of the bag, with the board facing down. Then stack the second-largest board on top of that, and continue stacking in order of largest to smallest surfboard.

When lining up your surfboards, all tails and noses should be facing the same direction. It’s not advisable to alternate your noses and tails; you want all the reinforced tail strength in the same spot and all the noses in the same spot. This is also somewhat intuitive because the rockers of the surfboards will line up this way, strengthening the overall travel package.

To ensure that your boards don’t shift around in excess space in the bag, it’s wise to strap them together – with straps, tape, rope or something similar. This is no different than tightening the straps on your roof rack as you don’t want your surfboards jostling around against each other; that’s only asking for damage to your boards.


Protect the Danger Zones - Nose, Tail and Rails


surf travel tips

Image source: StoreYourBoard,com

Most frequently, when surfboards get damaged during travel, it happens to the nose, tail, or rails of your board. Maybe your bag gets smashed into something (nose and tail damage) or your bag gets dropped (rail damage). So it’s a must to provide additional protection to these areas particularly vulnerable to damage.

As mentioned, some surfboard bags come with add-ins like nose and tail guards or rail protectors. If not, you can find these for sale separately to add to your board bag. Of course, you can always “make” them yourself out of bubble wrap, any type of foam packing, or cardboard. Next time you get a package in the mail, save the inserts for your surfboard bag. Your surfboard will thank you for it. If you don’t have any of this stuff handy, a quick trip to a packing or office supply store should do the trick. Don’t forget extra rolls of duct tape!


Fin Care


surf travel tips

Image source: StoreYourBoard,com

Fins used to be a much bigger problem in surf travel when they were glassed on and not easily removable. Today, it’s easy to remove your fins from your surfboard and stow them in your bag to ensure your fins are broken on arrival. But, if you’re traveling with a glassed-fin board, you’ll want to take extra care of your fins like you would your nose, tail or rails. Find packing material to wrap around your fins. You can find a foam fin protector for sale, but a great travel hack is to slice open a tennis ball and place one over the tip of each fin and secure it in place.


Use Your Clothes as Padding


surf travel tips

Image source: StoreYourBoard,com

One obvious but often overlooked way to get additional padding for your surfboard bag is to use your clothes as padding. It’s pretty easy to wrap your towels around your rails or at the bottom of your bag, set your board shorts into the nose and tail of your bag, and insert your flip flops strategically to help protect your boards. This double to make your suitcase lighter, although take care to note whether your airline has weight limits on your surfboard bag!


Inspired to do some surf travel now that you’ve got the right tips? Check out BookSurfCamps.com and find the perfect surf camp or surf vacation for you! 

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