Eventually in your surfing life you will get bored with your home break. this is bound to happen so no use in fighting it. You will start looking at the pictures in the magazines with envy and curiosity. Your ears will perk up in the line-up when you hear tales of far off lands, empty waves, exotic foods, cheap beers and the thought of surfing somewhere new.
Surfing can and will take you to places that you never thought you may end up, places that you never looked twice at on a map. Now you’ll start looking at seasons, swell directions, plane tickets, travel deals. My heart races just typing these things making me want to stop and look at flight deals this very instant. A successful surf trip can be monumental in your life, changing you forever and giving you memories of waves that you can take to your death bed. At the same time, a failed surf trip can sting worse than a good punch in the face. Here are some tips on what you can do to make your surf adventure one that keeps you dreaming wet each night of foreign waves.
- Pick the right location: Know your limits as a surfer. This goes across the board for choosing when to travel as well. If you are new to surfing don’t go to Pipeline or Indo during big wave season. Make sure where you are headed meets where your expertise is. In the end, it will only make your trip better. Look to see where you are going has beginner waves, or has waves that you know you can surf. I recommend choosing a place that has many options.
- Pick the right time of year for your location: This is a no-brainer, make sure that where you are going will have the waves that you want. Off season is good for plane tickets, but when you get there will you get skunked? Read up on what’s the best time of year for your destination and then ask people if they have been?
- Bring the right board or make sure they have what you want to rent: Oh now this is where it gets fun. Picking out the right stick. Are you gonna get a brand new board just for this trip? Or are you gonna take the trusted best ever board you have owned for the past two years. Being well equipped is an essential part of being a great surfer. Sometimes buying a new board for a surf trip can be very risky, what if you don’t like it? I suggest getting something that you know for a fact is gonna be stellar on your vacation. Ask people who have been there before what you should bring. What kind of waves are you gonna be surfing? Make sure not to make any drastic changes from what you surf at home. If you are gonna travel without a board, make sure that where you are going is gonna have the right boards for you to rent. There is a big difference between quality rentals and broken down junk!
- Bring some ding repair! Well, it happens, and with traveling it happens more often than at home. But don’t let it bum your day. Bring some uv cure/solarez. Planes, trains and automobiles love to take bites out of your craft. It’s a common occurrence. Also, maybe do not bring the most expensive board you can get with you.
- Pack accordingly: If you are bringing your board, I suggest padding your board with pool noodles then tapping them to your rails. Put some beach towels on the deck and bottom, clothes work fine as well. Don’t over pack if you are gonna be moving around a bunch, you don’t want to be the guy/gal moving a 4 ton roller bag through the El Salvador jungle. Check the water temperature: prepare yourself for the worst. It may be worth dragging a shortsuit to Hawaii or a 5/6 to France if it means longer sessions. Bring the essentials, sunscreen, plenty of the correct temperature wax. your fins, fin key, and extra leashes. Anything you don’t use you can always give away to the local kids. Make a list and check it off the night before you leave when you are packing.
- Learn the language: Try and learn the native tongue, especially the water essentials. “Good morning,”and, “Nice wave,” can only vamp up your experience. I promise that the locals will love your effort and the next time you ask, “You want this wave?” he or she may say, “No, you go!”
- Have an alternate plan if the waves suck. You aren’t guaranteed waves on your surf trip. You can’t blame anyone for that either, but on the off chance that you get skunked make sure there are other things for you to do. Like yoga, hiking, waterfalls, or even a soccer ball. Something to take off your mind that you’re getting skunked. It hurts, we know, everyone has been there.
- Make new friends: It’s awesome that you were able to get everyone in your crew to cruise with you but don’t let that shun out newcomers to your tribe. Traveling is about new experiences and the new people that you get to meet. One of the best parts about seeing the world is seeing the people in the world.
- Don’t let the surf trip be too built up. This is a hard one to handle but as someone who has worked in the surf travel industry for some time, this is something that can ruin trips. Let things go with the flow. Building everything up and having crazy expectations can really dampen your time. Plus it adds unwarranted stress to something that is suppose to be stress free. So the place you are at doesn’t have the exact board you wanted to rent, you’re already there, don’t let it ruin your vacation. Learn on a new board, find another place to rent from, share a board, do something. Not only does this only hinder your own happiness but it makes you not enjoyable to be around others who are looking to have the time of their life.
- Be Respectful: To the locals, to other travelers on their adventure as well, to everyone in the water. Know and understand the universal rules of surfing as well as the laws of the land you are in. Don’t go sit at the top of the point first thing. Don’t hog waves. Don’t speak in your native tongues about how the locals aren’t acting as you would like them to act. You are in a foreign land, make the natives happy you chose to come to their homeland. Having respect for places and the people is a given in this life. But sometimes you see the surf travelers who are so wrapped up in themselves that they can stink it up for everyone else. If you make some friends out in the water with locals, it never hurts after a session to say “thanks for sharing your waves with me!” Watch what happens next. You can get invited to things you didn’t know existed in far away lands, you can get more waves, and learn about other secret spots. Showing gratitude may be the most important thing that I can express for your surf travel escapades.
I hope this helps you out on your next surf adventure. A notable mention that didn’t fit nicely into the ten point list above is: Airlines. Make sure you check with your airline what kind of baggage fees you will get with your board bag, or they will take boards at all. You don’t want to be surprised at the airport and start your trip off on the wrong foot. With few exceptions, most airlines are out to nail the surfers with fees. So just know that comes with having the trip of a lifetime.
Play it safe out there and get in the water!