The thrill of heading off on a windsurfing or surfing holiday abroad to Portugal, France, or Madeira may be slightly dampened by the thought of having to hire second-rate equipment at your destination. But taking your own surfboard or windsurfer with you on a flight doesn’t have to be the headache some people make it out to be. In fact, as long as you make a little investment in time and packing you’ll be able to get your toes on the nose of your very own board anywhere in the world!
Remember: One Size Doesn’t Fit All
If you’re planning on taking your board or windsurfer with you on your surfing safari, the time to check excess baggage charges for oversized sporting equipment is before you book your flight. Costs and restrictions can vary greatly from airline to airline: some may include it as part of your baggage allowance and some may impose charges by weight or dimensions or both. Some airlines even refuse the carriage of surfboards altogether at certain times of the year. It’s impossible to list them individually here so it’s vital to do your research. This is not the time to adopt a ‘que sera sera’ attitude (unless money is no object). If you’re not fully informed about your chosen airline’s policy, you could end up paying a lot more than you need to. For windsurfers, particularly, checking size/dimension restrictions is imperative, as you have to transport not only the board but also the mast and sails as well.
Travelling Arrangements Don’t End With the Flight
To make a smooth transition to your accommodation when you’re travelling with a board or windsurfer, you’ll need to book appropriate airport transport. Don’t worry, this can be the easiest part, as long as you:
- a) book in advance – as soon as you’ve organised your flights is a good idea and
- b) make sure you advise your transport company what extra luggage you’re bringing in order for them to dispatch an appropriate vehicle.
Boarding With Your Boards
You can’t leave the responsibility of delivering your surfboard or windsurfer in pristine condition to the airlines and baggage handlers. Ultimately, the survival of your equipment is going to come down to how well it’s packed for the flight.
Packing Your Surfboard
You’ve got a few options when it comes to surfboard bags – from thinner, lightweight for a single board, to heavyweight bags that can accommodate more than one. Lightweight bags usually have about 5mm foam padding, while heavyweight bags are finished with around 10mm padding. It’s also a good idea to have a board sock or stretch cover for your board as well, before packing it inside the bag.
Before packing you should remove the fin of your board in order to reduce chances of damage. If you want to be extra vigilant, you can slit a couple of pieces of pipe insulation and use lots of packing tape and bubble wrap to give extra protection to the rails. Once it’s in the bag, if you have room you can pack in the fins and leashes and use towels and wetsuits for even more padding.
Packing Your Windsurfer
For a windsurfer there’s a lot more equipment to contend with than a simple surfboard, but specialised bags make the task pretty straightforward. It should go without saying that the windsurfer will obviously need to be dismantled for travel!
You’ll need a board bag, and then either a separate mast bag and sail/quiver bag, or a ‘combi’ bag, which can accommodate both. You can also buy separate fin and boom bags (or pack them in with the board and masts respectively). It’s a matter of personal choice and budget (the cost of your bags should probably reflect the cost of your windsurfer) whether you pack the equipment separately or in a combi bag, but the important thing is to ensure it’s well padded and no sharp edges are protruding.
At the Airport
The advice ‘get to the airport early’ can actually be taken one step further, and if you’re worried about hold ups when travelling with your boards or windsurfer you can check in online so then you need only head for the bag drop queue. Some airlines will even let you check in your oversized luggage on the previous day.
Shuttle Direct Supports Surfers
At Shuttle Direct we’re happy to accommodate any of our clients’ baggage transport needs – whether it’s a surfboard, windsurfer, or any other kind of sporting equipment. Simply utilise our easy online booking system and you can arrange for airport pick up and drop off to your accommodation (and back again) wherever your destination may be.
Don’t Let Us Be the Last to Know
It’s very important if you’re bringing a surfboard, multiple boards, or a windsurfer with you on your flight, that you advise us when you make a booking with us. This enables us to make sure an appropriate vehicle is dispatched to transport you and your equipment with no hassle or delays. If you need any kind of advice or assistance to complete your booking, our Customer Care team can help.