Women are notorious for packing too many clothes for just about every type of travel. While girls who surf are generally a bit less frivolous than others, we still have a hard time cramming all of our gear, suits and cute clothes into a small piece of luggage. There are tons of published articles on what guys should pack, but we’re left to fend for ourselves (perhaps because everyone thinks we’ll pack too much anyway). The fact is, us female surfers are equally as cheap as our male surfing counterparts, so we still need to fit everything into a carry-on backpack and a board bag to avoid paying any baggage fees in addition to board fees.
Use a Backpack
Backpacks may not be adorable, but they’re more useful than most bags. When you land in a foreign country you don’t want to be carrying your board bag over one shoulder and wheeling a floral piece of luggage around just because it’s cute. Backpacks are useful for treks to deserted waves and much more convenient on long bus rides. Despite their small size, backpacks can fit absolutely everything you need.
Choose a Warm Destination
Although you’ve seen photos of perfect waves in the heart of an Irish winter, unless you’ve got a friend to carry your three bags of wetsuits and winter gear for you, you may want to consider a warmer surf destination. Winter surf gear takes up way too much space; you can fit one down jacket in your bag versus all the gear you need for a couple weeks in Panama.
Wear Your Warm Clothes
If you’re headed anywhere with a moderate climate (hopefully you are) it’s best to wear your heaviest clothes on the plane. Your pants and a hoodie, which are probably the heaviest clothes you’ll need in a warm climate, can take up a lot of space in your bag, so wear them and toss them in a drawer when you get there. You’ll be happy you brought your hoodie for cool nights in Peru or even that chilly plane ride to a warm destination.
What to Pack: Clothing
Guys have it easy. They wear their boardies in the surf and all around town, while we’re forced to throw shorts over our suit and add luggage to our bags. One perk of women’s clothing is that our short shorts take up very little space, so toss a few pairs of them in your backpack. Two or three bathing suits are essential too. I usually bring three, because they pack super tightly.
For a nice dinner or night on the town, a sundress is light and packs easily. Tank tops or t-shirts are perfect for nearly all warm climates, so pack a few and wear one when you travel. You never know when a rainstorm will hit in many tropical destinations, so I always toss a rain jacket in my bag or strap it to the outside if there’s not enough room.
Travel Au Natural
While you may want to bring all of your makeup and hair dryer for a big night on the town, don’t even think about it. Minimal toiletries are needed for a surf trip, and you’ll be perfectly bronzed from the long days spent in the water anyway. Since you’ll be carrying all of your gear on the plane with you (aside from your board bag) you need to limit your toiletries. Think airplane bottles, not the ones behind the counter at the liquor store, but the ones at Walgreens . Pack travel-size shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and sunscreen (which can be very expensive in some countries). Razors have been controversial in carry-ons lately, so toss one into your board bag or scoop one up when you arrive. And whatever you do, don’t forget your toothbrush.
Pack your iPod , a good book, your cell phone (mostly for photos because calls and texts will be outrageously expensive), phone/iPod charger, Suncure ding repair , wax, two fin keys and some first-aid supplies. Whatever you do, don’t forget your passport, ID, a credit card and plenty of cash to get you by until you can hit an ATM.
Pack Your Board Bag
Packing your board bag is the most important part of surf travel. Nothing’s worse than opening your bag to see serious dings and cracks in your board that need more than a simple Suncure repair. The best way to protect the edges of your board from serious dings is to wrap all of the edges (nose to tail) with foam tubing.
If you take two boards, stack the smaller board on top of the bigger board and scrape the wax off. If you’ve got some bubble wrap laying around, use it to pad the board as much as you can. If not, this is a perfect opportunity to take some of the clothes from your pack, wetsuits and towels to pad the boards. This can really free up your backpack in case you need to take a laptop or other bulky items, but don’t use it as an opportunity to pack more than you need. A heavy board bag is worse than a heavy backpack because you’re forced to lug it around over one shoulder. Don’t forget your leashes (you can actually wrap them around the boards to hold them together). Slide the fins in the fin pocket (always pack an extra set of fins), and start praying they only charge you for one board.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Don’t freak out if you get on the plane and realize you forgot your leash or phone charger. It’s likely you’ll be able to buy anything you need in the airport or at your final destination. The most important parts of surf travel are your passport and your board, so keep them safe, and everything will be OK. If we’re conscious in our effort to keep clothing and toiletries to a minimum, we can get by with the same amount of surf supplies as the guys.
And if you’re planning an adventure trip that’s not surf-oriented, check out this post about travel workout gear for women on FlightNetwork.com , to make sure you always pack the most travel-friendly workout gear. If you’re not one of those of those girls who dream of baguettes under the Eiffel Tower and shopping excursions in London, these packing guides can help you get by in off-the-beaten-path locations on a tight budget.