How to successfully travel with paddleboards

Editor’s Note: This interview by Rebecca Parsons was originally published by our friends at SUP Magazine.

Traveling with boards can be a daunting task. But it doesn't have to be. With a little research, planning, and patience your quiver can easily accompany you on your next trip.

To ease the transition, we sat down with globetrotting SUP pro Bernd Roediger for some pro tips on traveling with boards.

Solid boardbags are key. Photo: Courtesy of Bernd Roediger

How many boards do you typically travel with?

My caravan of odd surfing weapons grows and multiplies with each new adventure. Do I have a problem? Does it affect my life? Do I pack extra boards where I should pack extra socks? Maybe. But if I left (my boards) at home, who would take care of them while I was away?

What type of board bags do you recommend?

Anything huge. Dakine makes an excellent travel-board-bag, the 9’2″ World Traveler. Although it’s a double-board bag for most SUPs, it looks sleek — which can be the difference between getting charged $1000 or $200.

Having a bag that looks neat, cinches the boards together with six buckles on the sides and carries relatively easily will make your life simpler, and get you through check-in much faster.

Efficiency on the road is what you need. Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

Do you use anything else to protect the boards aside from the bag?

Laundry! Seriously, use your funky wardrobe for more than just embarrassing yourself. I always keep my clothes in trash-bags, placing them at strategic points within my board bags (e.g. the nose, tail, and wide-points), so that I get protection out of material I already need to pack.

Plus, when your trip is over you can stick all that dirty laundry back in the trash bags, sealing off that god-awful smell and protect your stuff yet again. Additionally, you won’t need a suitcase or luggage.

How do you select which airline to fly with?

Definitely read up on any airline that you’re going to fly with. Most airline websites have a lengthy baggage policy, you can even print it out and have it as ammunition against agents that attempt to overcharge you.

Should you remove fins/wax?

For sure. Get rid of the fins and pack them away. Wax should go to, more than likely it’ll melt sitting in the sun somewhere outside the airport and you’ll have waxy laundry. Besides, most places you’ll travel to will have different temperature water than at home, so you’ll need a different type of wax anyway.

Also if your board has a vent plug, you can unscrew that too. This will allow your board to let air flow in and out of the core, so it won’t pop or delaminate with altitude.

It really is an art. Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

What do you do about ground transportation once you arrive?

Well if you follow me on social media you’ve probably seen me driving a U-Haul around the country. Without a doubt, they are the best deals for surfers in the U.S.

You can rent cargo-vans and full-size pick-up trucks for $20 a day, plus mileage. Gear is no issue, the price is affordable, and you can find a U-Haul center in almost any town — it’s totally the way to go.

If you aren’t looking to rent a car, you can call for an airport shuttle and let them know how much gear you have. They can accommodate you. Most airport hotels will also have shuttles; so you can make their lives fun by cramming boards into those.

Any other advice that’s important to share?

Have fun traveling, that’s the whole idea of it. And even though the agents seem to be working directly against you, they are just trying to do their jobs.

The best policy is kindness, it either works or you're the bigger person and can walk away with that. Also remember to unpack that laundry right away because wetsuits, old clothes and heat from a black board bag is a recipe for rancidness.

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