Surf Trip Packing Tips

Playa Grande, Costa Rica/August 2014

Athlete(s): Lindsey Gunson-Sticky Bumps Sales & Marketing / Photos: Lindsey Gunson

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Tomorrow, I am supposed to leave for Costa Rica on the red-eye to Miami, then Miami down to Liberia, Costa Rica, and then a shuttle to Playa Grande. I say ‘supposed to’ because we are flying standby, and you just never know with that. The trip will be short, and is for a friend’s wedding, so I of course am stressing a bit with packing. Being a list maker, I have thought about what to pack and compiled many lists for this occasion. Below are some tips I have come up with for when you are packing for your next surf trip. When I return, I’m sure I will have updates on what I really needed/didn’t need, so check back!

 lindsey costa rica plane

Some things you have to think about before you start packing…

Where are you going? Hot? Warm? Cold? Clearly you will need a bigger bag if you are going to the Pacific NW on a surf trip. I am going somewhere warm, water temp will be around 85 degrees F, air 90 degrees F(jealous?).

Who are you with? Adventurers? Die hard surfers? Non-surfers? I am going with my husband, who doesn’t surf, and his friends, who do. I’ve got to prepare to travel with a mix of people, and do a mix of activities.

How long are you going for? Packing for a month trip (more snacks and underwear) is way different than packing for a week trip. I will be there about a week.

Where are you staying? A house? Hotel? Hostel? City? Small town? If you are in a house, you will probably be able to do some sort of laundry, cook, unpack, etc. If you are in a hotel, you won’t have as much space or a refrigerator. I am in a hotel = no fridge (sad face). City travel means you can find things you forgot, ie sunscreen. Small town? They probably won’t have the sun hat you forgot/didn’t have room for. We will be in a smaller town. I am hoping I can find a cooler for beverages somewhere.

What kind of transportation will you utilize? Are you renting a car? Taking busses or shuttles? Walking distance to everything? On this trip, we will be walking distance to everything, and taking busses and shuttles when needed. If you do get a car, you have freedom and ability to take your board everywhere and really explore the area, on our trip we will stay close to our hotel and explore the local breaks.

So, given all these factors, what am I bringing on my trip? Here is my list…

Sunscreen. And we are carrying on our bags, because we don’t know the flight we will get on and I like to travel light. So I bought some 3 oz sunscreens at CVS. Plus, I have heard not to trust the sunscreen you get abroad!

Bathing suit. I am a girl who loves her swimsuits, I am bringing 4. I will make my husband bring 2. You certainly can get away with less, even for a longer trip, but I like to be prepared for rips, moldiness, mid-day suit changes. Bring a plastic grocery bag to pack your wet suit for the way home.

Rash guards/sun shirts/wetsuit. I wear a rash guard every day surfing, one- so my boobs don’t fall out of my top and flash everyone, and two- for sun protection. Wetsuit if you are going to water below 70 degrees! A lot of surf shops will rent wetsuits, too, but call and check before you go without one. I would pack a garbage bag to pack your wetsuit for the way home.

Wax. Check the temp before you go, for this trip I will bring at least two bars of warm wax. Even though I most likely will surf only three days, I’ll bring two in case one gets sandy, people need some, or I lose one on the beach one day. If you are bringing your board, don’t forget the base! Also, bring a wax comb and small bottle of wax remover so you can pack to come home the same way you packed to get there- wax free (see tips on bringing your board below).

bailey in factory Aug 12 2014 3

Sticky Team member Bailey Nagy stopped in to the Wax Factory to prepare for a surf trip to Europe.

Board? On this trip I will not be bringing my board. Multiple factors… flying standby (baggage is handled differently, bag may not make it to your destination with you, etc); I don’t own a travel board bag (although I could easily procure one, being that I work at Sticky Bumps and we make board bags…); I longboard usually and don’t want to lug my 40 pound board around; we take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel, about an hour, I don’t know what the shuttle is like; I want to try a shorter board at the spots we will go to; and last but not least, I hear the hotel has a lot of boards to rent. Now, I hate renting boards, like, really hate it, but with all the other factors against me bringing mine, I am deciding to risk it. Plus, we won’t be there for too long, and are doing other things than surf. If it were strictly a surf trip, I would not rent.

If you do bring your board here are some tips… Take the wax off your board before you put it in your travel bag. And take the fins off if you can. If you can’t, you will need to get a fin box that you set your fins in, or you can buy Styrofoam blocks to tape around your fins. Use bubble wrap, cardboard, your wetsuit or towels and tape them to the most fragile parts of your board, the nose, tail, and at the widest part of the board. Multiple boards- stagger the fins or stack nose to tail, all deck side up. No fins, just stick your boards all deck side up. Pack your fins in a ziplock in your board bag, and don’t forget your fin key!!!! An extra leash could also be nice. As far as baggage fees go, Surfline has compiled an awesome list, check it out here.

Beach towel. Takes up space but is great to have, and can add padding in your board bag.

Sun protection. I already mentioned rash guards, but sun shirts are great for walking around in the tropical heat. Sunglasses are a must. A bucket hat or trucker hat for the beach or even in the water could save the day and it packs up small!

Clothes. Boys this is easier for you, you can literally get away with 1 pair of board shorts, sandals and a couple t shirts. For the other half of the population, pack shorts, tanks, a t shirt, a dress, underwear, bras, sandals. Will you be doing hiking? Maybe some running shoes or hiking boots. I will also bring a thin sweatshirt, those tropical nights can turn cool with that sweet ocean breeze.

Snacks. Even a bag of nuts can be a life saver! I suggest bringing some trail mix (no chocolate, too melty), cliff bars, crackers. Especially if you are staying in a small village or town, you don’t know the hours of the shops and restaurants, and don’t want being hungry to ruin your surf sesh!

Toiletries. Toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, contact solution and case, razor, deodorant, ear plugs (if you travel with a snorer).

Money. I am bringing enough cash to pay for our hotel and shuttles, plus a bit extra. Some of the hotels in the area we’re going to don’t take credit cards, so I will come prepared so I don’t have the crazy ATM/credit card fees! I know for sure our shuttle needs cash. Be prepared for things like that. I will of course also have my credit card, in case of emergency.

Passport/travel docs. Don’t forget your passport! And check to see if you need a visa for travel, especially if you are staying longer than a week or two. Also, some countries require your passport not expire up to 6 months before you travel, meaning if you travel a month before your passport expires, you may not get in to the country once you land and have to turn around and go home… that would suck.

Plug adapter. This depends on where you are traveling to. Best to be on the safe side and bring one of those adapter kits that has most of the plug options. Click here to see what the plug sitch is like in the country you are traveling to.

Camera. Waterproof disposable is ideal, digital is next best, camera phone works too (water proof cases are good to have, or I just brought a small plastic zip lock for my phone). Don’t forget chargers and memory cards!

Small first aid kit. They even make surf specific ones (click here)! Or make your own, list of must haves here. If you are traveling around to different breaks far from civilization, this is a smart addition to your luggage. If you are staying close to town, you may not need it.

Ding repair kit. Same as first aid kit! They make travel repair kits, and this little addition could save your trip! I will not be bringing one of these, as I am not bringing my board and am hoping the shop I rent from would be prepared to fix dings.

lindsey costa rica beach

Well I think that about does it. I hope all of this will fit into my carry on and backpack! I’ll let you guys know how it goes. Fingers crossed we make it down there!