It’s vacation time, you’ve earned some time off. Get out there and see the wide world of kiting. You’ve researched it for months, maybe even years, feeding your imagination with images and articles about a particular place. You feel almost as if you’ve already been there with all the information you’ve fed yourself. But if you aren’t experienced in taking kiting trips you could possibly make a mistake on your trip that could potentially ruin the whole experience for you. So that’s why I have spoken to my resident kite trip expert, Jeff Howard a man who has been all over the planet kiting, to explain to me what can make your trip that much better. For ease of reading I’ve broken them down into numbered tips.
#1. Are you flying there? When booking a flight remember to check the baggage fees, because they change year to year and even month to month at times. The ticket that seems super cheap might not be the best investment if you’re overrun with bag check fees for your over sized gear. Make sure you research this information by calling the airlines and get names and quotes before deciding which airline to travel with.
#2. This brings up another point in bags. Know the rules of the airline and plan ahead on how you are going to pack all of your gear. Many airlines now charge for every bag checked, so be sure to check only what you have to. Pack all of your kite gear into one bag and anything else you can fit in there, and try to pack everything else into two small carry on bags. Make sure your check bag is under 50 pounds and remember that it will likely be heavier coming back with excess sand and water weight. You can save weight in your travel bag by not taking the kite bag, and using a Compression Bag instead. Remember not to try to carry on your kite bar, as it could be considered a weapon and you might end up getting to know the TSA agents a little better than you would have liked.
#3. Use a Golf Bag. Travelling with a surfboard you are pretty much guaranteed to pay an extra fee each way (normally $100), but if you’re traveling with a twin tip there is still hope. Get a Travel Golf Bag to try and deceive the airlines into thinking you have golf clubs and equipment. Remember this is only a chance to deceive them, just because you buy a Golf Bag does not mean you are guaranteed to check without fee. But using a Golf Bag certainly increases your chances of getting through without extra charges. Expect the best, but plan for worst. Putting a few golf clubs in the bag might not be a bad idea either if you have the extra weight to spare.
#4. Know Where You Are Going. It seems like one of those statements your teacher would have told you in grade because of how simple the idea seems, but it can often mean more than you think. A new location will almost surely have different conditions than what you are used to and preparing for these new conditions with simple items can make a huge difference. For instance, are you traveling to a tropical location with reef and sea urchins? You should pack a pair of thick soled booties to protect your feet from any harm, the last thing you want is slice your foot open on your first day kiting and spend the rest of the trip on crutches or in the hospital. Is the place you’re going near the equator? Then you definitely need some sun and heat protection. This includes sunscreen and water jersey or rashguards. Don’t expect to buy either of these when you get there, because they often won’t be available or they can be incredibly expensive.
#5. Repair Kits. I know you’re probably thinking that this is just a sales pitch to sell more repair kites, but that’s not entirely what I’m saying here. Sure we want to sell repair kits, we want to sell everything we have or make we’re a business and we need sales. But you absolutely cannot count on finding a kite repair center where you go, and if there is one there you can’t count on getting your kite repaired in time to ride or even in time to travel back with it. Do not take for granted a simple repair kit that can temporarily fix small damage to your kite to keep your riding on your vacation. You can find these kits in all sizes and price ranges, and it’s up to you to decided which you think you need.
#6. Respect the Locals. You’re probably a better kiter and maybe even a better fighter than most people where you travel. But remember this is their local spot and they have many more friends there than you do. No wind or wave is worth getting into an altercation over, and anytime a physical brawl takes place there is always a chance of prison. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have no desire to spend any time in a foreign prison. I’ve seen “Locked Up Abroad” that’s enough to keep me from doing anything that could get me arrested. So yes, it’s unfortunate when someone pulls the “Locals Only” card or anything like that, but just remember that you’re the visitor there no matter how good you are.
#7. Relax and Have Fun. This is your vacation, you need to have fun. Things are going to happen no matter how your prepare, but it’s how you deal with them that will have the most effect on your vacation. So there’s no wind, well do something else. Find something fun to do, SUP, snorkel, scuba dive, surf, or anything else the local culture enjoys. Although most of us are used to a fast paced life and limited time for every interaction, remember that most island places you visit are on “island time”. Life moves at a much slower pace, and you’re going to embrace that while you are there. Don’t let small things get to you, just keep telling yourself you’re on vacation and enjoy the moment. No stress, no problems, just fun.