Independent Surfer

8 Unique Travel Tips for Your Next Surf Trip

I’m no stranger to airports.  I’ve been traveling around the world regularly since I was about 16 years old.  I’ll write an entire post about those travels in the future, but long story short, I went to summer camps in Canada while I was in high school, I spent half of my college years abroad, I worked abroad before going to law school, and finally, even after law school, while working full time, I managed to make weekend trips around the US to go surfing and snowboarding.  Now, as you may already know, I live between Indonesia and California.  My parents live in Mexico, Jordy’s parents live in South Africa, and my current employer is based in New York. In sum, I basically spend half my life in airports and have picked up many travel tips along the way.

From all this time in airports, I’ve learned a few ways to make my travel more comfortable and seamless.  I’ve seen many lists of travel hacks like this out there, but I think my travel tips are pretty unique.

1. Bring a Tennis Ball

Although I’m not a professional, I consider myself an athlete.  So, it is critical to me that I keep my body healthy and fit, even while traveling.  

At the airport, I like to us the tennis ball to give myself a “tennis ball massage.” I will either roll out the arches of my feet, work on pressure points in my glutes, or, if the floor seems clean, lay down and roll out my shoulders with the tennis ball.  

I also like to work on my hand eye coordination by playing ball.  Sometimes I play a game of wallball or bounce the ball while balancing on one foot.  I have even ended up having random people join me for a round of four square.

2. Bubble Wrap is Your Best Friend

If you’re flying with your surfboard, make sure you protect it properly. I have found that flying with a day bag (this is a surfboard bag that is thinner than a travel surfboard bag and is usually much cheaper), is totally acceptable as long as you wrap your board properly. I specifically use 200 feet of bubble wrap that I ordered from Amazon for about $10, and let me tell you, 200 feet of bubble wrap is A LOT! Seriously, it is enough to wrap your board nearly 50 times. I always use bubble wrap when flying to Indonesia and my board has always arrived in perfect condition.

200 feet of bubble wrap is A LOT
Left in perfect condition, arrived in perfect condition

3. Wear Compression Socks

This may sound like something for grandmas, but trust me here.  Wearing compression travel socks makes a big difference in how you feel when you get to your destination.  Traveling long distances, especially to hot climates, tends to make my feet swell a bit.  This in turn makes my calves and ankles tight.  Wearing compression socks on long flights prevents this and allows me to arrive at my destination ready to surf.  

Pro Status: If you are waiting at the gate for a while, take a moment to lay on the ground and rest your legs up on the wall.  This will help any foot swelling go down and is also good for your back and neck.  At the Yoga Barn we did this pose as part of restorative yoga sessions and I’m hooked.

4. Bring a Small Towel

I love to refresh by rinsing my face or brushing my teeth while traveling.  But these days, I’ve noticed that many airport restrooms don’t have paper towels.  There is nothing worse than brushing your teeth and washing your face, only to realize that you have nothing to dry it with.  And this leads into my next tip…

5. Check if the Airports you’re Flying Through Have Showers

Many airports actually have free showers.  The free showers I have used have been in Jakarta, Dubai, and Sydney.  There is nothing better than taking a hot shower mid-way through a 40 hour travel weekend.  It instantly refreshes you and gives you that extra boost you need to arrive at your destination not feeling too cranky and gross.  But if you are doing this, make sure you bring your own towel and toiletries, since most places don’t provide this.  

6. Get GoogleFi 

This is not sponsored, although I wish it was.  GoogleFi is a relatively new cell phone service provider that gives you phone data service anywhere in the world for a flat fee.  I pay about $70 a month for unlimited data, but you can also purchase data in 10 GB intervals.  

Basically, all you need to do is turn your phone on when you arrive someplace new, it automatically picks the best local cell service tower near you, and boom, you have internet.  Most of the time the internet is LTE and very quick, although if you go really remote, it will be slower.  Ultimately, I love that I can land anywhere in the world and just start using my phone as though nothing has changed.

Bonus: GoogleFi always uses the phone number you set it up with.  So, even in Indonesia, I am able to make work phone calls from my American phone number.  Because of this GoogleFi is literally what allows me to do my job from anywhere in the world.  

Disclaimer: GoogleFi doesn’t let you hotspot to your computer from abroad.  I’m not sure why they don’t allow this yet, but I really hope they are working on it.

7. Bring a Blanket, Travel Pillow, and Eye Mask

When you’re flying across the world, you are likely to encounter some flight delays, cancellations, and changes in weather.  I’ve been stuck in airports unexpectedly overnight before.  

Specifically, I got stuck in Tokyo in winter on my way to Indonesia.  My original flight was cancelled and I had to take a two hour shuttle to a different airport in the middle of the night.  I was also in flip flops.  Then the flight I was taking didn’t depart for an additional 10 hours.  Thankfully, I was able to set up a cozy bed for myself and actually get several hours of sleep at the gate because of these items.  

Pro Status: Bring a big travel blanket that is extra-long and extra wide, but folds into a small bag easily.  Lots of travel blankets on the market are thin and tiny, leaving even a small person cold and uncomfortable.  Treat yourself to something cozy.  This is the one I have

8. Take a Xanax and Plan your Sleeping Schedule

If you can get your hands on it, bring a Xanax.  But don’t just take it anytime; be strategic.  Calculate the time you want to go to sleep at your arrival destination.  

For example, if you plan to go to bed at 10 PM every night, then take the Xanax at 10 PM in your arrival location, not your departure destination.  Don’t let yourself sleep until this time.  Take the Xanax 30 minutes before your sleeping time and let yourself have a great rest.  You will instantly be adjusted to local time without the jetlag.  

Bonus Indonesia Specific Travel Tips:

I imagine most of you reading this will be traveling to surf.  If you’re coming to Indonesia, you’re probably heading to Bali, Lombok, the Mentawais, or some other remote spot.  My top Indonesia travel tip: fly into Jakarta first.  

Sure, if you can find a cheap flight directly to Bali, go for it.  But in my experience, the best flight deals and options are to/from Jakarta.  From Jakarta, you can take cheap flights to the other islands.  A flight from Jakarta to Lombok can cost you anywhere from $15 to $50 USD.  Last time I flew to Indonesia I started by looking at prices from California to Bali and the best option was $700 one way.  I changed my destination to Jakarta and got a deal for $250 one way.  I then paid $20 for the flight from Jakarta to Bali.  It took some extra effort, but the $400 in savings was worth it.  

Digital Airport Hotel

If you do take this advice and head to Jakarta, then be sure to check out the Digital Airport Hotel.  I’ve had overnight connections in Jakarta several times and the pod hotel saves me every time.  It is located in the international terminal (Terminal 3) and you can book for a whole day or in increments of several hours.  You get a private pod with a TV, air con, cool colored lights, access to a bathroom, and a towel and slippers.  It is located right below the check-in counters, so if you have an early morning flight, you can sleep until the last minute and get to check in within minutes.  It’s not necessarily luxury, but it always leaves me feeling clean and rested.   

At the Digital Airport Hotel on my emergency flight home when I went half blind (May 2020)

SHARE THIS POST

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on reddit

3 thoughts on “8 Unique Travel Tips for Your Next Surf Trip”

  1. Great post! Here are other things to keep in mind. When traveling with your surfboard to attend advance surf school it is very important to bring bubble wrap to protect your surfboard. When you want to get better at surfing you need to travel with your favorite surfboard rather than hope to find adequate surfboard at the surf camp. If you are beginner surfer, you can use camp surfboard to learn how to surf. However, if you are intermediate or advanced surfer you need to pack your best surfboard with you to get better at surfing. It is also important to pack enough surf wax for your surf trip. Otherwise, instead of betting better at surfing you will be searching for surf wax on the entire island. It’s also important to bring a repair kit to fix surfboard dings that are inevitable. In many surf destinations abroad sunscreen is not strong enough for surfers. You need 100 SPF and zinc to pack for your surf trip. You won’t be able to learn how to surf or get better at surfing if you get sunburn on the first day of surf lessons. Surfer’s first aid kit can be very important when you are traveling to a surf camp in remote locations in developing countries. You need to be able to treat a your wound on the spot. Surfing accidents on a reef can happen to both beginner surfer and advanced surfer. When you want to get better at surfing you need to understand that you might hit a reef. Surfer’s first aid kit should include absorbent compress dressings, adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, adhesive cloth tape, hydrocortisone ointment packets, roller bandage, sterile gauze pads, tweezers, scissors, knife, etc. As you get better at surfing you will remember to have all the above items handy. Surfers should also remember the back up gear for their surfboards. Pack spare leash, fins, fin keys, extra wax and any other gear you might need on surf trip. Depending on your surf location, you need to pack an appropriate wetsuit. Wetsuits for surfing range between 2 mm and 7 mm. In tropical surf destination surfer only needs a UV protective suite. In warm surf location 1 mm to 2 mm surf wetsuit is appropriate. Cold and cool water surfing requires full body protection with 6 mm to 3 mm thickness. The hooded wetsuit is the ultimate neoprene protection for cold water surfers. Since most of body heat is lost through the head, hooded wetsuit keeps your brain and ears warmer in the most extreme air and water temperatures. Surf booties will not only keep your feet warm but they also protect your feet from reef cuts and bruises.

Leave a Reply

More Posts

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY

Subscribe to our newsletter to become an Independent Surfer and receive updates of new product releases, blog posts, exclusive discount codes, surf tips, and more.

* indicates required
%d bloggers like this: