You may be going on a 4 week surf trip of a lifetime, but you do not need to stuff your bag with 4 weeks worth of clothes and half a dozen hard-back autobiographies that you got for Christmas.
Use this as a guide to packing small when going on a big trip and not only will your feable traveller bank account thank me, but you will too when you’re trying to literally jump on the bus from Colombo to Hikkaduwa that barely stops to let you on.
1. Know before you go
LOOK before you BOOK. Baggage fees from skanky airlines can put a downer on the start of any surf trip if you’re not expecting the fee. Check out our Surfer’s Airline Baggage Fee Guide so you’re in the know of what you can take. Number one airline has to go to SriLankan Airlines for sure, with a huge baggage allowance of 32kg, multiple boards allowed and very pleasant staff.
2. Get a good hand luggage bag
As you’re probably traveling with a surfboard or four, most of your luggage weight allowance will be tied up in those babies. So cram towels and boards in your board bag and get yourself a good ‘hand luggage’ bag as your main luggage companion. I’ve got this beast from North Face and it’s perfect as it holds a whopping 42litres, is waterproof and is the right dims for hand luggage on all (I think) airlines. I fill it with as much as I can using the following techniques:
3. Fold and roll
Cramming folded clothes into a cabin bag is pointless as they will get creased and you will be using up valuable space. Lay your clothes down with the largest items on the bottom, pile them up, fold them once in half, then roll them into a tube. Fold and roll. That compact little tube of deep V’s, beaters and boardies should sit in one third of your hand luggage nicely.
4. Three is the magic number
Most cultures throughout the world have figured out how to wash stuff and clean boxers are usually just a few hours away. Worst comes to worst, you can buy some soap powder and scrub your pants in the sink. So this is where we come to the universally agreed travellers trilogy of clothes: Three pairs of socks, three pairs of pants, three pairs of shorts (two boardies, one normal / evening), three shirts. Wear one, wash one, dry one. If your clothes take up more than one-third of your bag, you’re taking too much and if you’re anything like me you will appreciate the lack of choice!
5. Tricks of the trade:
There are a few little tricks you can do to ensure you take more away with you, without exceeding your luggage limit:
1. ‘Wearing is not carrying’. My friend Will took this to the extreme and wore all of his underwear, two pairs of shorts, a pair of jeans, a couple of vests, four tee shirts, two jumpers and a jacket on a flight to the Canaries once (long story that ties in with this one) but wearing is not carrying. So stuff your pockets, wear your jacket, wear your stupid hat, don your boots and pack your flip flops.
2. ‘Carry on plus one personal item’. Have a camera bag (for your camera if you have one) or a smaller backpack for all that tat that you’ll no doubt be bringing home for your family.
3. ‘Duty-free doesn’t count’. If you can’t fit it in your bag, buy something from duty free and put it in the duty-free bag. Or do what I tend to and buy all your ‘presents’ from duty free.
6. Surfer’s pack list
I’ve assumed you’re going to a tropical/ warm destination and here’s a list of pretty much exactly what I would take on such a trip:
- Jogging bottoms, (light) Jacket and light but comfortable trainers to travel in (Converse are my normal choice as they are light enough to wear whilst away and the black Chuck Taylors look pretty Gangster and tie any outfit together nicely)
- Passport (in zipped jacket pocket)
- Surfboards in triple coffin bag: This usually consists of at least two boards, a smaller board for smaller days… you get the drill. The board bag is packed with two towels protecting the boards and I usually put a ding repair kit, duct tape, fin keys, wax, wax comb and leashes in the side pocket
- Backpack (as above)
- Three tee shirts / vests/ pairs of shorts (two boardies, one jean shorts) / pairs of socks / pairs of boxers (see above)
- Cap (keep the sun off your face whilst covering up any bad hair days)
- Good sunglasses
- Flip flops (I usually buy a cheap pair when away and leave them there, but they are essential)
- One set of sleeping clothes
- One set of yoga clothes
- Sleep kit: eye mask and ear plugs are a must for me
- Shower kit: I keep it pretty small including organic mosquito repellent soap, organic disposable toothbrush, aloe vera toothpaste, moisturiser, zinc and suncream
- Camera with spare batteries and cables
- Macbook in waterproof box
- iPhone and headphones
- Pad and pen
- Basic first aid kit
That should just about cover you for any long haul tropical trip. But basically if you doubt whether you need it, you definitely don’t. Pack light because you can alway buy or borrow it.
These are just some tips that I have learnt from my own personal surf travel. Obviously things differ for girls/ short haul flights/ cold climate trips.