Traveling with a Stand Up Paddleboard.
Adventuring with a Stand Up Paddleboard.
Stand up paddling is made for adventures. Whether traveling to a tropical destination or exploring the local lake. But the adventure starts before our first paddle stroke.
With our equipment being bigger than most. It can be a bit overwhelming. And when we don’t know where to start it can stop us right in our tracks and curb the whole trip.
But no matter our means of travel, train, plane, boat, car or bicycle there are ways to make it all work.
The Right Equipment for the job.
Traveling with a stand up paddleboard requires a bit of preparation. And the right tools to get the job done. Otherwise we can throw a wrench into our paddle plans.
If we are looking for the easiest, quickest way to travel with a SUP. The inflatables are the way to go. They can go inside any vehicle and look like a duffle bag. Allowing us to avoid the discussion with the airline attendant, boat captain, train conductor or taxi driver. Along with the inflatable the 3 piece paddle is a must have. It will break down and fit inside the inflatable bag.
They’ll stay under the 50 pound range even with some adventure gear stashed inside. But keep in mind, a fin, fin screw and pump must be in the bags otherwise the trip will get a bit hairy trying to sort those out on the road.
But what if we don’t have an inflatable or want to bring our favorite hard board?
For starters, we will need a good board bag. Whether we are putting the board up on our roof racks, in the back of a van or on a plane. The bag should have room to place padding in the bag. And if you are going on a plane, train or boat a spot for the paddle.
I’ll get to putting the board on the car in a bit. Let’s dial in airplane travel. If going on the plane is the plan. There are a few simple things to research before you get packing the board.
1. Find out what the airline policy is. Sounds simple right? Not really. Many planes will say no stand up paddleboards. But they allow other big equipment. Such as kayaks, surfboards or even, yes, hang gliders. If they allow things over 12′ or have no size restrictions. Then that is what you will be traveling with on this trip. And this is why we need to pack the paddle.
2. Read the fine print on what plans can handle the equipment you are traveling with. For example they may only allow this equipment on a 747. So flying into a small airport on a prop plane will leave us at the destination with no board. This may require us to get creative on which airport to fly into. Or even ship the board to the destination.
3. Know the price of what they will charge. Some airlines are more than happy for the board to fly, but then charge us more than the airfare.
4. Be confident, kind and the board will go. When we roll up to the counter we will receive looks and even the comments of that won’t fit. But it will. Just smile and create some small talk. And watch the demeanor of the attendant change. Most of the agents will work with us. Yes there can be someone having a bad day, but help them have a better one and the board will go.
5. Lastly the most important. We are assuming a risk traveling with our board. And things can happen. If we post all over social media about the airline destroying our equipment and file claims. We won’t have this option much longer. Yes there are times when we need to report things, but be mindful that we are not bringing a suitcase with clothing. But a big ole piece of foam wrapped in carbon.
Pack the board so it can be unpacked. TSA will go through the board. If it is a fortress to get into, guaranteed it won’t go back that way. Pool noodles wrapped around the rails, nose, tail and placed down the middle of the board both top and bottom. Tape the nose and tail sections on. Then middle ones can be placed on the board, when the bag zips close it will secure them. The middle noodles also are a perfect place for the paddle. If the board won’t fit in the bag with the nose and tail pieces on. Tape them to the bag. Just allow the zippers to be opened.
If traveling by boat or train, pack it the exact same way. Keeps the board safe and protected until we arrive.
In a carry on bring my straps, roll of aluminum tape, leash and pfd. This prevents anyone from losing it. Yes it can go in the board bag. But I prefer to travel with it. And if you’re wondering why aluminum tape, it is the best for sealing any dings.
This is the one that should be be easiest. But it scares many of us. As we have all heard the stories of flying boards. But it all can be avoided simply. Having the right equipment for the job.
Straps. I use Kanu Locks. They lock. They have wire in them. And TSA lets you keep them in your carry on. I use the 18′ straps for everything. More the better. Now if you only have one board the 13′ straps work great, but I like to have the option to carry as many boards as possible.
Pads. There are a many great rack pad companies out there. But when I travel I slide the middle pool noodles out of my bag and use them. One less thing to have to worry about. And they are easy to find when on the road. Another option is the pipe insulation that hardware stores carry.
A car with no racks. Sounds like a deal breaker right? Nope.
I think I’m at about 10,000 miles with boards on the roof of rental cars. And along the way I’ve learned a few tricks of my own and from friends. When renting a car, the size of the vehicle doesn’t matter. But a flat roof is key. You can use a round roof but a flat roof is best. The pads or noodles go on the roof. Then the boards. The straps go around the car through the doors. Not the windows. If you go through the windows you won’t be able to get back into your car. Sounds funny but so annoying when you feel all accomplished and the door wont open.
The last piece is a new addition. Hood straps. These two straps go under the hood of any car. Then we can tie the nose or tail of the board, whatever is facing forward. This will help prevent lift of the boards. I started using these recently and they are my favorite addition. I use them on my car with racks too.
The water is waiting.
Hopefully some of these tips help and allow a bit more traveling with an SUP. If you have any questions shoot me a message. I’ll also be adding another blog on getting racks for our personal car and how to select the best ones.
See you on the road soon and send me over some of your favorite photos.