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On the Fly

Rob Gilley's tips on getting the most out of your surf travel dollar

| posted on May 07, 2013

Efficient packing will save you in bag fees and headaches alike on your next surf trip. Photo: Gilley

Chapter II: Packing

This is where a trip starts to become real and pre-trip excitement enters the picture. There’s a general rule of thumb—now almost a cliché—that once you lay out all your stuff for your trip you should cut that amount in half, and then cut that amount in half. The point, for a variety of obvious reasons, is to not to over-pack. People seem to forget that you can get your clothes washed in a foreign country, and that it’s possible to wear the same pair of board shorts for days on end. Yvon Chounaird, the legendary Patagonia founder, has been known to rock the same pair of pants for more than seven days in a row on surf trips…making his otherwise figurative praise for dirtbags also literal and self-fulfilling.

With modern board bag fees, it’s never been more important to limit the amount of surfboards in tow. That’s why I strongly recommend investing in an epoxy quiver, specifically EPS. If you have board thickness dialed in, these boards surf just as well as regular foam boards, and are much, much less likely to break. Instead of four boards, you can now bring two—if you’re selective. And don’t forget it’s better to be a little over-gunned than have a board with you that’s too small.

Ok, to cut to the chase, below is a warm-water destination packing list of my own with parenthetical comments. It’s not to be specifically copied to the “T”, but is intended to be used as a guideline. Please feel free to add anything that I might have forgotten.

The Essentials:
Passport
Visa (If required)
Money (No big notes, and be sure to bring some $5 bills for tipping)
Credit Card (Remember to call your bank and let them know about your trip)
ATM Card (Ditto)
Driver’s License (Check if you need an International one)
Surfboards (Including at least one Epoxy stick, if possible)
Leashes
Leash Strings
Surfboard Fins
Fin Keys
Wax
Flip Flops
Tennis Shoes
Regular Shorts
Board Shorts (Stretchy kind is highly recommended)
T-shirts (Darker tees hide stains but will be hotter)
Socks
Long pants (For the plane and for air-conditioning)
Hooded Sweatshirt (Ditto)
Lightweight Rain Jacket
Underwear
Tie Down Straps
Toiletries/Medicine/Sunscreen/First Aid (Pack together)
Camera Equipment
Book
Notebook
Lightweight towel
Hat
Sunglasses
Pens
iPod
Ear Buds
iPod Charger
Deck of Cards
E-Ticket Printout
¼ Roll of Toilet Paper
Headlamp

Optional items:
Laptop/iPad
Laptop Charger
Waterproof Backpack
Energy Bars
Monopod
Inhaler
Wireless FM Transmitter/Converter
Lightweight Travel Speakers
International Power Converter

And lastly, some words about what to bring on the plane versus what to check in as baggage: With the allowable weight of checked-in baggage shrinking all the time, it’s a good strategy to put heavier things in your carry-on. It’s also a good idea to keep the more essential items with you. So, for example, I carry almost all of my camera equipment with me on the plane, and in a side pocket of that same photo backpack I have my passport, wallet, sunglasses, iPod, earbuds, pens, gum, and a good book. I’m also wearing my warmest and heaviest clothes, including tennis shoes and a hooded sweatshirt or beanie. Also, it’s a good idea to have the ‘big-three’ with you at all times: Antacid, Ibuprofen, and throat lozenges.

Stay tuned.

Click here to read Chapter I: The Flexible Itinerary.

  • FigumJones

    Never ever forget to bring imodium, saves a trip to the pharmacy when the bacteria in your stomach doesnt match whats in the local cuisine.

    Item two is to always bring a good snorkel and mask as that can beat the flat days with ocean goodness.

  • lkirk

    That’s a lot of stuff! I brought to Ausralia (month long trip) enough clothes for the week, one board that is pretty good all arounder.

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