PLUS: Enter our Surf’s Up Contest to win a women’s yoga
and surfing safari with adventure-ready eBags Gear!
They say the journey is half the fun of getting there. Well, I say packing is a large part of that fun. After decades in the travel business as the founder of Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women, I’m naturally looking for ways to streamline the process.
Following are a few of my favorite tips on how and what to pack for a surf trip, or any tropical vacation with snorkeling, SUPing and beach activities. When traveling, you’ll enjoy a more en-lightened travel experience simply by letting go of a few things on your packing list. Your baggage handler and bellhop will thank you, too. Here’s how I do it:
1. Start the process early and choose wisely.
A week before lift-off, I start selecting nominees for Wardrobe Most Likely to Travel. I hang the contenders out in my room, so I’ll see them every day. By trip-time, I know who makes the cut and who stays home.
Yoga tights like these by Prana always make it into the suitcase. They work well for yoga classes, knocking around and surfing. Yes, you can surf in yoga tights! They keep your legs from chafing on the surfboard and they look pretty cool.
EXPERT TIP: Leave your fancy shoes at home; flip-flops are the shoe of choice for dusty roads leading to the beach. Beach towels are bulky to pack and most resorts will provide a fresh one every day. Pack a lightweight sarong instead. These do the job well and can double as a tablecloth or lightweight cover-up. A sun hat is a must-have once you reach sunny weather, but if don’t want to hassle with it on the plane ride, choose a flexible hat like the Raya by Volcom that can be packed into your carry-on.
2. Pack the right sundries for sunny days + breezy nights.
Most basic cosmetics and toiletries are available at your destination, so don’t fret it if you forget toothpaste. Do take a double supply of any special medications, contacts, and extra eyeglasses, or any natural/homeopathic remedies you need, and take those items with you in your carry-on. Sunscreen is a must, but it’s also something you can buy once you arrive. Apply before surfing—early and often.
EXPERT TIP: Get travel-rated containers and transfer your liquids before your trip. Check here for a complete list of no-no items. We like to compile all of our toiletries (and a few extra bars of surf wax) into pretty cosmetic bags, a clear hanging case, or this eBags hanging case with several compartments. I also pack a tiny water spritzer for a quick facial pick-me-up after that red-eye…or a long day of fun in the sun.
3. Wrangle your tech stuff + make room for tunes.
Put your chargers and adapters in a packing cube or clear zippered pouch for easy retrieval in your suitcase. Better yet, try a waterproof bag to stash your smartphone, hotel keys and any other essentials you don’t want to get sandy or wet on a boat. For music at the beach or in your room, try the Bose SoundLink water-resistant Bluetooth speaker to keep the vacation tunes flowing.
EXPERT TIP: Be sure to back up your data before you leave! I also like to put a sticker on my tech with my local and home contact info, in the event something gets left behind at the cafe.
4. Pack smart for a smoother trip.
I love a good rolling bag, and the eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21” Wheeled Duffel is perfect for a beach trip. It’s lightweight, spacious, and meets international carry-on requirements. Add an eBags Connected Luggage Tag to avert lost luggage; this app-enabled digital luggage tag stores your personal details privately in the cloud, making it easier than ever to reunite you with any items that might take an unexpected detour. I also carry an over-shoulder bag like this Helen Kaminski tote as my carry-on “purse.” It sits squarely on top of my wheelie for lengthy airport connections and waiting in lines. And of course, it’s smart to bring along a few wet bags for returning home with wet swimsuits and laundry.
EXPERT TIP: I also organize all my clothes using packing cubes in different colors, so I can easily find my shirts or dresses (in the large printed cube), socks or underwear (in the small turquoise cube) or accessories (in the small orange cube). I roll my clothes burrito-style to avoid wrinkles. If you use a wheelie, put the heaviest stuff closest to the wheels. That way it will stand up at the airport and hotel lobby.
5. Save hassle + dough—leave your quiver at home.
I’ve hauled enough surfboards over the years to know they’re big and bulky and the airlines have it out for them—you’ll pay at least $100 each way, and a good chance you’ll get a serious ding. No bueno! Now I just leave my board at home because I know Las Olas Surf Safaris (and most surf destinations) have an impressive quiver at the clubhouse.
EXPERT TIP: Not convinced you can live without your favorite stick? Call ahead! If you’re accustomed to riding a specific length or shape surfboard, whether it’s a chip or a log, it’s wise to converse with your camp or hotel to make sure there’s a comparable board on hand—taking into account that these boards will likely already be suited to the local conditions. So make your request, but defer to local expertise.
Now that you’re packed and ready, ¡Vamos a las olas! Want to WIN a trip to our little tropical paradise? Enter our Surf’s Up Contest to win a women’s yoga and surfing safari with adventure-ready eBags Gear, HERE.
Bev Sanders is founder and president of Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women and editor-in-chief of GetdressedandGo, the online travel and fashion portal for women adventurers. She started surfing at 44, continuing her lifelong pursuit of introducing women to sports. You’ll find her and husband Chris on the beach in Mexico throughout the surf season. Follow along with Surf Las Olas on Instagram at @lasolassurf or visit their website at surflasolas.com