1. Before leaving on an international flight, scan your passport and email it to yourself so that if it were to get stolen, you would have a copy.
2. Hide extra cash and/or an extra credit card in a place other than your wallet (i.e. the sole of a shoe, a side pocket of a bag).
3. Don’t fly Delta.
4. Don’t leave anything valuable in your car…ever.
5. For the greatest chances of a free upgrade, at the check-in counter, go to the employee of the opposite sex who’s most likely to find you charming.
6. Get to the airport early. Sitting around relaxing reading a book is preferable to sweating through security while your flight taxis to the runway. You also have a better chance of getting a good seat.
7. Take vitamins. International flights are breeding grounds for viruses.
8. Don’t drink alcohol. While it may make the hours pass, it severely dehydrates you. The goal is to be surfing at your best when you get there.
9. Purchase a good set of noise cancelling earphones. Drown out the engines and the crying kid in 51G. And you don’t have to pay for the crappy airline headsets.
10. Get an aisle seat.
11. Get a good board bag with padding. Protect your assets.
12. Always bring an extra set of clothes to put inside your carry on bag in case the airline loses your baggage, which happens too often.
13. Sympathy stories help for seat upgrades—sick grandma, recent knee surgery—but the best way to get good service from airline employees is to be as nice to them as you’d like them to be to you.
14. You can always drink the beer. Even if the water in a country is sketchy, alcohol and a twist of lime kills all bacteria.
15. Don’t waste money taking a fish to Hawaii.
16. Exchange your cash. Even in countries that take American dollars, you’re less likely to overpay if you have local currency.
17. Always bring duct tape.
18. At the check-in counter, when they ask what’s in your board bag, use the number-indefinite response: “Surfboard.” Then its up to them to ask how many.
19. Always factor that everything (whether that’s security, traffic, customs checkpoints) will take at least fifteen minutes longer than you’d think.
20. Speaking of customs: Smile at the guy/lady with the stamp. But don’t over do it.