How to Pack for a Sunny Surf Vacation
They say the journey is half the fun of getting there. Well, I say packing is a large part of that fun. After decades in the surf travel business, I’m naturally looking for ways to streamline the process.
Following are a few of my favorite tips on how and what to pack for a surf trip, along with on-line sources for surf-worthy gear.
When traveling, you’ll enjoy a more en-lightened travel experience simply by letting go of a few things on your packing list. Your baggage handler and bellhop will thank you, too.
Read on and I’ll share how I do it.
1. Start early & choose wisely.
A week before lift-off, I start selecting nominees for Wardrobe Most Likely to Travel. I hang the contenders out in my room, so I’ll see them every day. By trip-time, I know who makes the cut and who stays home.
Yoga tights always make it into the suitcase. Or better yet, I save space in my bag, and wear them on the plane. They work well for yoga classes, knocking around and surfing. Yes, you can surf in yoga tights! They keep your legs from chafing on the surfboard and they look pretty cool.
I organize all my clothes using packing cubes in different colors so I can easily find my shirts or dresses, socks or underwear. I go for the most comfortable, easy to pack fabrics and roll my clothes burrito-style to avoid wrinkles. If you use a wheelie, put the heaviest stuff closest to the wheels. That way it will stand up at the airport and hotel lobby.
I also love to bring a few wet bags for returning home with wet swimsuits and laundry.
Leave your fancy shoes at home. Wear comfortable shoes on the plane, but flip-flops are the shoe of choice for dusty roads leading to the beach. Beach towels are bulky to pack and most resorts will provide a fresh one every day. Pack a lightweight sarong instead. These do the job well and can double as a tablecloth or lightweight cover-up. A sun hat is a must-have once you reach sunny weather, but if don’t want to hassle with it on the plane ride, choose a flexible hat like that can be packed into your carry-on.
And save a little room in your bag for purchases you make while on surf safari. You never know what you might find.
PRO TIP: Make sure there’s ID on all your bags and remove baggage claim tags from your last trip. Imagine– you at Las Olas and your luggage in Atlanta? Why chance it?
2. Pack for sunny days & casual nights
Most basic cosmetics and toiletries are available at your destination, so don’t fret it if you forget toothpaste. Go light on cosmetic choices for a tropical location where minimal make-up looks best. Do take a double supply of any special medications, contacts or extra eyeglasses, naturo- or homeopathic remedies, etc. and take those items with you in your carry-on. Sunscreen is a must! Apply before surfing, early and often. We have plenty on hand at the Las Olas clubhouse.
Remember, any liquid containers over 3.4oz/100ml will be confiscated at airport security regardless of how much is left in the bottle. (I recently had that experience.) Get travel rated containers and transfer your liquids before your trip. Check here for a complete list of no-no items. We like to consolidate all of our toiletries (and a few extra bars of surf wax) into cosmetic bags or a clear hanging case.
PRO TIP: Pack a tiny water spritzer for a quick facial pick-me-up after the flight. Refreshing!
3. Wrangle your tech
First and most important– back up your data before you leave!
You can access free, reliable wi-fi via your smartphone almost anywhere, so it’s easy to keep in touch without lugging around a computer. Check with your phone carrier for their best travel plan, but you may opt to switch out your SIM card at your destination for even cheaper cellular data rates.
Your phone camera can do more than take pictures of your favorite tacos. Use it to snap and store images of itineraries, important information, the spider in your bathtub to show the front desk…
Put your chargers and adapters in a packing cube or clear zippered pouch for easy retrieval in your suitcase. I find colorful packing cubes to be the best invention since wheelie luggage and use them often. And don’t forget a waterproof bag to stash your smartphone, hotel keys, and any other essentials you don’t want to get sandy or wet on a boat.
Oh and did I mention to back up your data before you leave? Ok then.
PRO TIP: Put a sticker on your tech with your contact info in the event it gets left behind at the cafe.
4. Packing a surfboard? Think twice.
I’ve hauled enough surfboards to know they’re big and bulky and the airlines have it out for them, They’ll charge at least $100 each way and there’s a good chance you’ll get a serious ding. Las Olas surf safaris has a complete quiver of boards available for our guests, but if you’re bringing your own board, check with the airline and airport shuttle first. Some shuttle services may not accept boards.
PRO TIP: If you decide take your precious surfboard, purchase pipe insulation at your local hardware store to cover your rails and guard against dings. You can also use your wetsuit and sarong for extra padding.
5. Sources for Surf-Worthy Gear
Ebags – For packing cubes, backpacks, bags, and more.
Swim Outlet – One stop shopping for affordable surf and beach wear.
Seea – Supreme style for lady sliders, Seea suits are a locally crafted, 100% Californian product. They offer recycled fabrics using post consumer plastic bottles. You can see I’m happy to be wearing one below.
Carve – Founded in 2003, our Nor Cal surf sisters have grown a complete beach lifestyle brand; offering gear for surf, swim, yoga and more.
Salt Gypsy – Salt Gypsy uses 100% regenerated nylon yarn made from discarded ghost fishing nets and other ocean and nylon waste.
Yoga Outlet – For comfy, affordable, yoga and travel gear.
WDLK – Sonja and Mauricio Palma, a wife and husband duo, are creators of Woodlike Ocean, a sustainable (stylish) brand for surfer girls.
Patagonia – Founded more than 40 years ago, this pioneering company stood for sustainability long before it was popular.
Athleta – With the resonating slogan of “Power to the She,” this long standing company has offered women’s active wear since 1997. Did you know Las Olas coaches were featured on their catalogue covers for three years running?
This is a short list, but I hope you found something in there helpful.
See you in the waves,