April 25th, 2014

Surf Trip Packing List: What to Pack to Ride the Waves

Surf Trip Packing List: What to Pack to Ride the Waves


Thanks to now-ubiquitous airline fees and standard charges for checked bags, every traveler is trying to pack lighter. But how can you do that when your trip revolves around a 5-10-foot long piece of foam?

Packing for a surf vacation can be tricky—at least as tough as figuring out how to make the drop on the wave you’ve been waiting for all year. Basically, you’ve got to get your stuff lined up before you can enter the line up.

Don’t leave home without these ten surf vacation must-haves, lest you suffer a packing wipe out.

#1. Your Board… or Not

Bringing your own board on a surf vacation used to be a no brainer. These days, with extra baggage charges for sports gear reaching Code Red Ridiculous, many surfers are choosing to rent or even buy a board once they arrive in their destination. Craigslist and other resale sites allow travelers heading to surf hotspots to buy a board at the beginning of their trip and resell it at the end for less than the cost of an excess baggage fee.

#2. Multiple Swimsuits or Boardshorts

There’s nothing worse than putting on wet Lycra when you’re heading out for a sunset surf session. Pack multiple quick dry swimsuits or boardshorts in your gear bag to ensure you always have a dry pair lying around. And ladies, avoid string bikinis at all cost (unless, or course, you’re down to do some impromptu skinny-dipping!). If you’re traveling between breaks during your trip, include a clean dirty packing cube, which enables you to separate your damp clothes from your dry ones.

#3. Sun Protection

You’re going to be putting in major hours in front of all the elements. Make sure you’ve packed a waterproof, sweat-proof sunblock to protect your skin, and reapply often. Throw in some aloe just in case you overdo it despite your best intentions.

#4. Beach Towel or Travel Towel

Beach towels are bulky and slow to dry out. Pack a lightweight travel towel and save the space and weight in your travel bag.

#5. A Rash Guard or Wetsuit

For warmer tropical destinations, pack a rashguard to protect yourself from sunburns and surf rash. For slightly more chilled waters, pack a wetsuit.

#6. A water-resistant Duffel

A small water-resistant duffel is the perfect daypack for the beach or for boat trips to remote surf spots. It will help keep your clothes and valuables dry and give you one less thing to worry about while you hunt for the perfect wave.

#7. Surf Accessories

While board rentals are ubiquitous, your specific brand of surf wax may not be. Pack a wax comb and surf wax for your destination’s specific water tempurature, a ding repair kit (solar easy fix kit) and soft surf racks if you plan to get around with a rental car.

#8. First Aid Kit

Don’t count yourself out for the day because you forgot a band-aid. You can shell out for a pre-made professional version, or DIY at home before you leave. Don’t forget antiseptic wipes or wash, a sterile saline solution, an assortment of band-aids and bandages, waterproof tape, tweezers, and a painkiller.

#9. Alarm

If you’re leaving the smartphone behind to avoid theft and distraction, be sure to pack a small alarm clock. And don’t hit snooze – you’ll miss the best waves of the day!

What do you pack when you head out on a surf vacation? Did we forget any of your essentials? Fill us in via the comments below!

Alexandra Baackes is a traveling writer, designer, and underwater videographer. She is currently in her third year of living as a full-time nomad -- follow along at alexinwanderland.com!

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by Alexandra Baackes