I’ve learnt quite a lot over the years since I usually travel alone – and I’m that kind of person who tries to be minimalist EVERY time and ends up with way more luggage in the end. ALWAYS. I plan quite well but then, naively, think things will just work out or don’t even think about certain situations until I’m there all by myself and can’t change anything about the situation.
So here are my favorite hacks on traveling with kite surf gear which will make your travel smoother and more easy-going. This article is more focused on the traveling itself. Check out these articles for tips on how to pack your kite gear smart and how to find flights that are suited for kitesurf travelers to avoid crazy sports luggage fees.
1. Always have some cash with you
Sounds so easy but I had already minor meltdowns (e.g. at the airport in Venezuela because of no cash). Dollars are best since you can often tip with 1-Dollar bills but also Euros will do. I had countless situations where I forgot to take any cash with me and then I was standing there like an idiot.
If you’re going to a country you’ve never been to and want to feel a bit safer and more calm you can also exchange some money in the local currency at home at your local bank.
2. How to transport your kite luggage easily
Ever felt like dragging a dead person’s body behind you when carrying your kite bag? I feel you! I would arrive totally exhausted after a 5 minute walk from my home to the subway which took me to the airport and my hands would be aching.
The miracle solution: 4-wheel trolley + kitebag with wheels
Until I found this little hack: simlply take a lightweight trolley with 4 wheels and “hook” your kitebag with wheels on top of it. Depending on the journey I’m doing this would either be a trolley which I can use as hand luggage or a bigger one which I would then check in. Not all kitebags have the handle at the front so check beforehand.
Note: if you travel with a trolley that has hand luggage size, check beforehand if this works as well with longer kitebags. I’ve only tried it with the 135 cm board bag and it works perfectly fine but it might be harder if the kite bag is longer.
Why lightweight and 4 wheels?
You’ll want to save as much weight as possible when flying, it’s as simple as that. And the 4 wheels help you maneuver that thing easily in all directions which is super helpful on crowded airports.
3. Getting through the check-in and customs with ease
First advice: put that kitbag upright on the airport trolley, not horizontally, you probably won’t fit through that door and neither through the waiting lines before check in;)
Choose your check-in desk wisely
If you can, choose a stewardess at check-in that is in a good mood or looks like a positive person. Smile and be friendly, you never know what kind of a bad day the person sitting behind that airport desk had. Some are super grumpy but being grumpy back will only make it worse. Some friendliness has brought me far and sometimes you’re being offered a seat at the emergency exit row or a steward just ignores those 6 kg overweight on your luggage and wishes you a good flight.
Getting through customs
Now this is a personal hypothesis I’m opening here and the only proof I have for now is Brazil: if you carry your kitebag behind you and don’t use that luggage cart, the chance that you get out of the airport without having to go through the scanner with all your luggage, is bigger!
Smile and stay calm
And another advise I learned from watching an incredibly stupid TV show which was about the police officers at customs, who pick tourists arriving back home apart: if you look nervous the chance that they’ll pull you out and check you in customs is bigger. So stay calm and smile.
4. Pack an “emergency kit”
I know, you’re thinking “typical Germans, always over-prepared“. But here goes a lesson I had to learn painfully: always pack some spare underwear and more importantly a bikini/boardshorts into your hand luggage in case your luggage should get lost. Add any other stuff you would desperately need if your luggage and/or kite luggage got lost like medication etc. (no, taking all your kite gear as a hand luggage isn’t possible, haha, even if it feels like the most essential thing on a travel).
How I made that lesson?
I won a trip to the Azores to watch the Red Bull Cliff Diving event. But that wasn’t all: I won a cliff diving workshop with two of the Cliff Divers from the event, straight from that rocky cliffs in the Azores!!!!
And guess what: my luggage was lost. I was standing there the next day with my jeans in the hot hot sun and was watching all the others jumping off that cliff. No bikini, no spare clothes, no cliff diving workshop.
So PACK that freakin’ bikini/boardshorts and worst case if you arrive, kite luggage is lost and it’s the perfect windy day you can at least borrow some gear and hit the water!
5. The cheapest and lightest kite companion on travels? An Ikea bag.
When I realized that a single kite backpack weighed almost 1 kg (and I would always take 3 of them with me on my travels), I started switching to 1 kitebag only, which usually fits 2 kites. Recently however I discovered that the good old Ikea bag is even lighter, takes less space and can be repurposed for various things.
The glorious uses of an Ikea bag
Throwing in your sandy wetsuit after a session, using it as a dirty laundry bag, and worst case if they tell you at the airport your kite luggage is too heavy and you have to split it up into 2 luggages: throw in some heavy stuff in the Ikea bag, tape it well and check it in as a luggage (yes, I had to use that trick already ). Or get creative and use it for kitesurfing:
6. Hacking your packing with: packing cubes, a dry sack and a garbage bag (yup!)
Quick’n’easy packing even for the chaotics with packing cubes
No matter if I travel with a kite bag only or a kite bag and suitcase: the easiest and quickest way to pack and unpack when road tripping or changing locations more often are packing cubes!
I use them for clothes, electronical gear, to keep my travel gadgets in one place (headphones, inflatable neck pillow, sleeping mask, warm socks) so they won’t fly around in my backpack.
The allrounder: a Dry Sack
I’ll always take one dry sack with me as you can use it for storing your (technical) valuables when e.g. traveling on a boat or to put in some other stuff and stuff it in your backpack when doing a downwinder. You can also repurpose it as a packing cube when traveling and you can use them to throw in your wet bikini/boardshorts after you snatched a freakin’ good last session at the spot and now have to throw in everything wet
Unsexy yet super practical: a big garbage bag
Ok this is – besides the Ikea bag – the most unsexy one. But perfect if you just got off the water last second before packing and leaving. Simply throw your wetsuit (if you don’t have a Dry Sack), harness etc in and put it all into your boardbag to keep your wet stuff from soaking all your kites.
Come on, do I really need that?
My kite luggage was lost twice during a flight and the one time I had to wait a whole week for it to arrive! I was picturing my kites getting mouldy since I threw anything in last minute and it was still damp. Luckily, the kites weren’t mouldy but that smell when I opened the kite bag… naah. And drying them in a tiny apartment in the city? Not possible, not fun