You’re all booked and confirmed and paid in full with your surf experience company, and now the time has come to pack your bags – you’re going on holiday! But a surf holiday is different to just any ordinary holiday – there’s so many more things to keep in mind. If you’re a veteran surf traveler, you’ll already know all the tricks… but these can take years of trial and error to learn. We want to save you all the trouble and give you the best surfers tips and tricks to make your next surf trip a breeze.
First, the essentials… the things you can’t or shouldn’t even get on the plane without. Passport, airline tickets, travel or accommodation vouchers, and travel insurance policy. Other than your passport, all of these should have been provided by your surf experience company. You will be confident knowing that you will be looked after should anything go wrong on your trip, i.e. flight delays or cancellations, natural disasters, or in the case of sickness or injury. Make sure you have policy numbers and 24-hour emergency assistance contact numbers for your travel insurance in case of emergency.
Regarding your passport, make sure it has at least 6 months validity from the date you are due to return from your trip and at least 2 full pages empty in case you need a visa at your destination. You should always take a couple of copies of your passport with you as well – keep them in a separate place, in case you lose your passport…this may help at the embassy. You may also be required to give copies to your accommodation or boat charter operator.
It’s a good idea to have taken a copy of all of the above and left it with your spouse or a close relative at home in case of emergency. Travel itineraries will normally have accommodation/contact phone numbers and they will show dates of where you will be and when – should anything happen at home while you are away.
Money – you won’t survive long without this. Options will differ for each destination. Local currency cash is the obvious choice, but you don’t want to be carrying around too much cash for fear of getting it lost or stolen. Best to just take enough to get you by for the first couple of days, unless you are going somewhere remote with no ATM or credit card access. An additional essential you might need for your surf trips could be an International Drivers License, although most countries will let you hire a car just with your normal drivers license from home. Best to check before you leave though as it needs to be obtained from your home country.
Health and medical history records are a good idea if you have any health issues that might be a problem on your surf holiday, particularly if you are required to take specific medications with you. Some countries also require to see your vaccination certificates – especially yellow fever. Check these out with your doctor.
Next – carry on luggage on the plane. Generally most airlines will let you take about 5-10kgs carry on luggage (check with your airline or travel agent). You should always pack all of your valuables in your carry on bag, as you do not want these in your checked luggage. They will not be covered by your travel insurance if anything happens to your luggage in transit, and lost luggage is very common! As well as any jewellery, keep cameras and video cameras, laptops and i-pods with you. You should carry a pen for filling out forms as well as reading material in case the movies are boring or your flight gets delayed! And don’t forget your munchies/lollies for the plane!
Check in luggage can be anywhere from 15 – 30kgs in economy. Some low cost airlines don’t even include any checked luggage – this has to be added onto the ticket price or prepurchased at the airport, again check with your airline or travel agent. Suggestions on what to pack here will depend on your destination – but generally for most surf holidays you will want to take: boardies/bikinis, t-shirts, sarong, hat, sunnies, thongs, other shoes for when thongs are not appropriate (i.e. the plane, hiking, remote villages), a fleece for areas when it can get cold at night, a waterproof jacket for boat charters when it can get rough and wet, a pocket knife, ear plugs (in case of snorers), sunscreen, and your toiletries. If you are heading to surf areas with Malaria, it is a good idea to also take light cotton long pants and long sleeve shirts to keep the mozzies from biting. Don’t forget to see your doctor regarding any medications suggested for Malarial areas or areas which might have other vaccination requirements.
With regards to surf gear, again what boards you should take will depend on the destination for what will be best. You’ll also need to check the airlines as to any limitations on lengths of boards they may have. If you are going on a surf boat charter, you should also check with the boat or your surf travel agent as to any limits on the number of boards you can take – due to storage limitations. It’s a good idea for most destinations to take reef booties, and depending on expected wave heights and heaviness, you might want to think about a helmet, especially if you are going to be surfing bigger/heavier waves than you are used to. Standard items to remember are spare leg ropes, wax and wax comb, Vaseline for chafing, long and short arm rash vests, duct tape and a ding repair kit, snorkel, mask and fins, and spare board fins and fin key.
Generally, most surfers are also keen fishermen, so if this is you, don’t forget to take your favourite rod and lures etc. Don’t rely on existing equipment that might be at your destination as it is generally well used or not enough of it to go around when there is a number of people wanting to access it from a resort or surf boat charter.
Last but not least, a first aid kit. It’s a good idea if you are travelling in a group to get 1 person to arrange this for the group. It is generally unnecessary for each person to have their own and it can take up quite a bit of room. You should consider: insect repellent, pain killers, diahorrea tablets, gastrolyte rehydration tablets, seasickness tablets, antibiotics to fight infections, betadine for reef cuts, bandages, waterproof bandaids, hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds, aqua ear eardrops, tweezers and scissors (make sure you pack these in your checked luggage as you will not be allowed to take them on the plane in your carry on luggage), after sun gel, stop itch cream, thermometer, cotton buds/wool, antiseptic wipes and safety pins… We at The Perfect Wave have organized a professionally-made surfers first-aid kit that has all of the above + more – ask us for details or check it out HERE.
Most of all – pack your sense of humour, sense of adventure, respectfulness for the locals and make sure this is the best surf trip you have ever been on!