Looking to escape the chilly temperatures to a tropical local? Here are a few tips to get you prepared for take-off.
#1. Booking a flight? Check the baggage fees: Remember when booking a flight, always check the baggage fees which will change from year to year and even month to month. That ticket that seems super cheap might not be the best deal if baggage fees are twice what the other guys charge. Be sure and plan out how you will pack way ahead of time to minimize fees and stress.
#2. Pack Smart, know the rules, plan ahead: Many airlines now charge for every bag checked in. So be sure and only check what you have too. Pack your board, harness, a couple kites, and anything else in your kite bag, then pack everything else in two small carry ons. Just be sure your check-in is under 50 lbs and remember it will likely weigh more coming back from extra sand and water. Some of our team riders even take a kite as a carry on with a Dakine Compression Bag to save some bucks. Be sure not to carry on any large metal objects like your control bar.
#3. Use a Golf Bag: Travelling with a surfboard you are pretty much guaranteed to pay a extra fee each way (normally $100), but if you have a twintip there is hope. Get a kite specific Golf Bag to try and decieve the airlines. Some real golf bags will do the trick too so check out garage sales if you need to save some money. A few old clubs will help out as well.
#4. Know where you are going: It seems simple but many times people just don’t spend the time researching where they are going and what they need. A new location likely will have different conditions than where you normally kite and a few new items can make the trip way more fun. Going to a Carribean spot with reef and sea urchins? Pack a pair of booties just in case you need them. Travelling near the equator, pack *tons of sunscreen and long sleeve light weight pants, shirts, and headwear to keep out of the sun. A long sleeve water jersey is perfect for sunny, warm areas. You might look crazy but it is better than roasting after the first day. Also be sure you know what the winds and normal conditions are. Many of the best wave locations in the world have offshore, super gusty winds. Be sure you have a good depowerable kite and a line set at least 24m or so long to get your kite up and into some cleaner winds as it can make a huge difference.
*Note: Don’t assume you can buy sunscreen where you are going. If you are travelling outside of the U.S., some out of the way places won’t have sunscreen or it will be ridiculously expensive. example: Sunscreen in Cape Verde costs around 60 Euros for the good stuff!!!!
#5. Repair Kits / Extra parts : Any kiteboarder knows that eventually something is going to break no matter how tough your kite is. Be sure and take a basic repair kit and you will be able to fix just about every small problem that can keep you off the water. Just be sure to not crash your kite into any large trees or reefs while you are on vacation. Click here to check out some of the best kits we recommend. Basic supplies include bladder patches, alcohol pads, pulleys, leader line, sail tape, and dacron tape (leading edge). Click here for a kit that has the basics to get you by. Getting a few extra stick-on valves is always a good idea as they have a tendency to come off in hotter climates.
#6. Respect the Locals: They may not be nice, and you might be a better kiteboarder than anyone else there, but remember they have way more friends around than you do so always show respect and follow the local rules. For the most part the same rules apply as anywhere else: don’t ride near crowds, get too close to shore, or get anywhere near a line-up of surfers. If you are surfing or kitesurfing in waves be sure to give right of way and try to let the locals get the waves they want. If you hang out for an hour or two and show respect there is a way better chance they will let you get a few waves in without any trouble. Remember to be friendly and smile, you never know where a conversation might lead from a secret spot to the best local eats.
#7. Relax and Have Fun: Remember this is vacation, just have fun no matter what happens. No wind? Go snorkel, scuba dive, surf, SUP, and enjoy the local culture. Many of the islands you will visit are on *island time so take it slow. If you go out to a restaurant and place a order it might be an hour or two before your food arrives at the table. Just chill out and sip on a local drink. Your on vacation so who cares?
*One of the funniest examples of this was on a photo trip to the Turks and Caicos. As we approached the counter at a local grocery store a lady jumped in front of us with her empy basket and left it there, right in line. Then as the line slowly moved she would grab a few items, dump them in the basket in front of us and keep shopping. This continued until her basket was full with items for the week, and we were left standing behind her with 2 items. This actually is just how they shop and happened just about every time at the grocery.