Packing the sunscreen is easy, but traveling with your paddleboard equipment can be a logistical nightmare. It can be such a hassle that many forgo carrying their paddleboard gear altogether.
Paddleboards and their paddles are cumbersome in size. If you’re flying, many airlines have strict restrictions you must adhere to when packing something shaped differently than a suitcase or duffle bag. Renting at your destination is one option, but what’s the point of owning your own gear if you can’t enjoy it?
Using your own gear is important for serious sports enthusiasts and athletes, alike. If you can’t stand the idea of taking on a downwinder with a piece of rental property, here’s how to keep your paddle safe while traveling.
Traveling by Air
Before booking a flight, find out what your airline luggage policies are, as well as charges for excess baggage. There can be a weight and/or length restriction for sports equipment. Many airlines usually allow paddleboards of up to 9.5ft. Generally, it is cheaper to pre-book baggage.
Many airlines charge fees for these paddles as a general guideline. Other gear such as fins, screwdrivers, tapes, cable ties and board valves must be checked, as they aren't allowed to carry on.
Packing the Board
Packing your paddleboard for the trip is the biggest hurdle to overcome. It’s important to secure your board with protective material, being sure to pack the nose, tail and rails well. Some recommend using foam, while a more economical solution is to use towels.
Invest in a bag that is larger than your board to make room for the stuffing or padding. A bag that is durable can withstand traveling conditions and rough handling at the airport. It may be a pricey option, but it’s worth it.
How to Keep Your Paddles Safe While Traveling
A 3-pc paddle set is easiest to bring, since you can place the pieces into separate bags. If you must bring a 1-pc paddle, make sure invest in a paddle bag.
Hornet has numerous accessories to help keep your paddles safe while traveling, from board bags, to paddle bags, for all of your travel needs. Don’t forget repair kits, in case (god forbid) the board gets damaged in transit.
Aside from making sure your board is safe, make sure you can carry your bag! Using an airport cart or hiring a porter can ensure the safe passage of your paddles and paddleboard.
Board Alternatives for Easy Traveling
If carrying a full size paddleboard proves to be too cumbersome, there are alternatives available. Other boards you can bring are:
- Surfing SUPs
- Flat water boards (for calm waters)
- Inflatable SUPs (iSUP) - If you're going for an iSUP, invest in a complete package like Hornet’s, which comes with a bag, pump, fin, lease and repair kit.
Traveling by Land with your Paddleboard
If you’re road tripping, SUVs or vans provide ample room to carry your paddleboard. If you are driving something smaller (like a sedan), here are some tips to consider.
Take care not to damage the surface. Travel with the boards facing down, with the fins facing up, on top of a car. Slide the board, so the fins are near the back of the car. This will prevent your vision from being blocked while driving.
If stacking multiple boards on top of each other, place towels in between boards to protect surfaces. Don’t forget an extra set of straps! Neverbored shares a step-by-step tutorial for how to put a board on top of your car.
A paddle bag is a great investment for traveling by land, as well. Invest in a board rack and straps. Some cars come equipped with soft racks, which make it easier to put boards on top of the car. If your car has none, investing in a mounting system will prevent your board from being damaged during transit.
Last but not least, keep an eye on your board throughout the drive! Despite all protective measures, it could still fly away before you reach your destination. Check the straps when making pit stops on the road for your best chance at success.
Before You Go
Don’t let the size of your board and paddles prevent you from carrying your own equipment along. With proper planning and a couple small investments, your paddleboard will arrive in one piece at your destination, ready for anything.
Do you have any tips for how to keep your paddles safe while traveling? We’d love to hear your insight in the comments!