So you’ve finally decided that you’re taking your surfing talents global. No longer will you be confined to your local break that only really works once in a blue moon. You, Mr. or Mrs. Worldwide, are going on a surf trip. You have probably already encountered the toughest question that you’re going to face: where you’re going, and provided you’ve got that sorted out, you’ll arrive at your next hardest question: what to bring – or not to bring. That is what I’m going to very elegantly lay out for you.
Bring your board with you
The ideal scenario in terms of choosing a surfboard for your surf trip would of course be taking the board you use at home abroad with you. You know how to surf it and you know which waves its best surfed on. However, if it was that simple, everybody would do it. You will, unfortunately run into a few complications. The first and foremost of those complications being the airlines and how they handle surfboard check-ins. Airlines have quite the monopoly over this aspect of the market. Essentially, you either pay their sometime exorbitant prices or you simply cannot bring your board. The majority of fees range from $50 to $150 for one board and certainly much more if you’re bringing a whole quiver of boards.
However, horror stories resonate around the whole of the surf community surrounding the treatment of boards once they’ve been checked in. As surfers we realize that our boards are the vehicles that connect us to the ocean, and therefore we should take great pride in them. We know our boards are extremely delicate and must be treated with care. Unfortunately airline workers don’t always share that point of view. There have been far too many instances of surfers discovering that their boards have been completely destroyed in transit.
While the risk of this actually happening to the same extent as John John and Kanoa, is actually very slim, it certainly is a possibility, and one that some choose to completely avoid by finding a surfboard once they reach their destination. This choice is often very ability oriented, with the more advanced surfers more willing to pay fees so they can bring their performance surfboards that they’re accustomed to.
Rent a board
If you’ve decided it’s not quite worth the $100 and the risk of bringing your own surfboard on the plane, you still have lots of options. The most common of these is the option to rent; at practically every resort with waves, there will be somewhere to rent a surfboard. This is generally a very good option to explore if you are staying somewhere for a short amount of time, offering rates that are cheaper than if you were to buy a surfboard. There are, however many downfalls to the traditional rental system. The first being that quality is not always ensured. Many resorts and surf schools accommodate thousands of guests per year, thus the boards that they do have tend to degrade rather quickly. There is no guarantee (in fact it is very unlikely) that you will find a surfboard similar to your shortboard at home. Secondly, when you think about it, surfboard rentals are really expensive, with most places charging at least $20 per day for an often uninspiring board.
There are some exceptions to this rule with several shops and websites such as Awayco allow you to reserve performance surfboards before you get to your destination, ensuring quality and lending assurance.
Buy Second Hand (then sell)
Another very useful tactic to try to employ, and my favorite ‘hack’, is the purchase (and sale) of second hand surfboards. The second hand marketplace can be one of the best, value-for-money places to look for a good, high performance surfboard. The economics of the surfboard itself is actually very interesting since, as soon as it is used for the first time, its resell price depreciates, and over time it drops exponentially, by often more than 50%. That means that you can often get a pretty high quality board for under $250 when the original price was closer to somewhere north of $600.
Advanced surfers are an insatiable species, always looking to buy the newest professional board. However, luckily for us, they are often strapped for cash, meaning that they have to sell their older boards (perfect for you and me) to buy themselves a new one, often lowering the price to make sure it gets sold.
The beauty of the second hand market is that almost regardless of the condition of the board (unless it has several holes and is broken in various places) its resell price hardly ever drops below $150. So, if you wanted to sell your board at the end of the trip, your net cost would actually only be somewhere around $100 or even less than that. Compared to renting a poor quality surfboard that hundreds of people have likely used, buying and reselling a very good board seems like a no brainer – that is if you can find a halfway decent shop that sells them.
Now that you’ve successfully decided what you’re doing about your board, you probably need to have a look at how you’re going to transport it. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if you carry your surfboard around without any kind of protection, it’s going to take a beating. Fortunately there are three main types of bag that you can put your board in to avoid that.
How should I transport my surfboard?
Board Socks - A lightweight fabric sock that you slide your board into to protect it from minor scratches and bumps. They are cheap, easy to store and are perfect for the car or bike journey to and from the beach. Also, if you’re feeling flashy, some come in different patterns and colors.
Board Bags - Certainly more robust than the board socks, board bags provide much more protection due to extra padding. The more expensive models can have pockets and zips to hold your fins, leashes and any other bits and bobs you might have. Some have temperature regulation (fancy!) and are ideal if you just want to hit the beach but want more protection than their sock counterparts provide. For extra security, there are various products that you can use in addition to your board bag. Flexi-Hex, a cardboard sleeve you can slide your board into, is what we use here at Wyve to ensure that our boards arrive in mint condition.
Big Board Bags – These are the bags you’re going to want if you are going abroad with a few boards. They are designed to hold between 2-7 boards – and some of your clothes too if you’re looking to economize. The travel bags often have rigid padding around the nose and tail ends of the surfboard to try to minimize the potential damage done in transit. Some of these bags are made easier to travel with by the addition of wheels and handles.
All in all, I hope my attempt at explaining some of the various solutions to this issue has helped you form a decision in some way or another. Different options are going to suit different people and while the majority of surfers out there would obviously feel more comfortable on the boards that they ride at home, it may not always be the best option. There are, however, a few ways to get around this problem: one of those is riding a more durable board. Certain boards, like our HEXA boards at Wyve have a much stronger core and rails that make them far less likely to be damaged during your travels.
If you were to bring one of our HEXA boards with you, abroad on your travels, which we very much hope you do, you may have a few extra questions. Due to the air pressure regulation valve we have at the bases of all our boards, you really have nothing to worry about when you fly. The air pressure should open and equalize as the plane ascends and descends. We do recommend that you open the value manually before your flight so this process takes place with maximum efficiency.