Let’s face it, if you’re a surfer, SUPer or windsurfer then travelling with kit to foreign destinations can be an absolute ball ache. (If you’re a kitesurfer or own an inflatable SUP then it’s not as bad).
Lugging your kit through airport departure lounges, haggling with the check in staff over excess fees (I still have no idea why there are always issues with prices for excess baggage – even when many airlines have policy guidelines on their webistes?), struggling with transfer drivers upon arrival who balk as soon as you emerge with your numerous bags – the list goes on.
But is it really that bad?
To put things into context – part of my job remit has been taking part in windsurfing kit testing for Windsurf Magazine.
This means travelling out to windy and sunny destinations and trying out brand new gear and then reporting the findings – hard life I know!
Due to there being many forms of windsurfing and therefore many categories of windsurfing kit, each trip has usually incorporated 3 – 4 different lots of equipment from may of the top brands in the UK. This has resulted in an extremely large amount of excess baggage.
25 – 30 boards, 40 or something sails plus all their accompanying masts, accessories and booms that go into making up a complete set-up.
All in all quite a logistical nightmare for me and the Test Editor and even more of a headache for airport staff.
But other than one or two minor cock ups the whole process has been a smooth one.
From getting the gear through North Terminal Heathrow to unloading the kit at our final destination, during the last two trips the process has been more or less uneventful.
Airline clamp down
The point of this story is that in the last few years airlines have clamped down on the transportation of sporting equipment – in particular large pieces of luggage such as windsurfing kit, SUPs and surfboards.
For many this has been off putting and now a large proportion of travellers are choosing to fly out of the UK unhindered by large pieces of baggage and hire their gear once in resort.
I though actually like travelling with kit. Granted I’d rather not haul the amount of gear we have on test through Gatwick Airport but one board and a couple of sails is not so bad.
Carting my equipment through airport terminals differentiates me from the normal traveller.
Maybe it’s something to do with not wanting to be asociated with the usual Brit ‘beer biff n beans’ crowd who are off to ‘Eyebeefa’ for their annual ‘drink as much I can and vomit’ holiday in the sun.
Or maybe it’s because secretly I revel in the fact that I enjoy being identified as a surfer – which conjures up all sorts of colourful imagery in the minds of non initiated individuals – most of which is pure fantasy created by clever marketing people.
Whatever the reason though, I enjoy it and would encourage more ocean sports aficionados to start travelling with their gear again.
Believe it or not it’s actually quite satisfying.