If you started surfing recently and your eyes are reading this… odds are that you’re thinking of going on a surf trip pretty soon. You want to go ride in pristine waters and stroll beautiful beaches while exploring another culture. I know the feeling. However, did you think of which board you’ll ride? Are you going to rent one or bring your own? It’s a though question…

I’ve travelled over 50 000 kms in a year with my surfboard, here are my best pros and my worst cons of travelling with a surfboard.

Pros

  1. You have way more freedom if you’re travelling with your own board as opposed to renting one. You want to check out another beach that has a better swell? No problem. You want to skip crowds and surf a deserted beach? Name your spot!
  2. You’ll know your gear well and if you choose a good surfboard, you won’t want to ride another one than the one you’re usually surfing.
  3. If travelling long term, you’ll scale some savings with your own board. Renting is usually quite cheap, but you’ll get to surf your board for free.
  4. There will always be a surfboard available for you and that’s priceless. You want to wake up at 5:00AM to be the first one in the water? Go for it. You want to ride waves as soon as you reach the spot? Off you go!
  5. Travelling with a surfboard takes your travel to another level of epicness. Indeed, carrying that big foam piece for hundreds, if thousands of kilometers will make you proud and achieved.

If I haven’t brought my board to this isolated Australian beach, there’s no way I would of gone surfing. I probably would have stuck to “touristic” beaches, which is not what I’m looking for.

Cons

  1. Airlines fees are no secret in the surfing world. Expect to pay between “a lot” and “way too much” money to carry your board from point A to B. Each company has its own special policy on the subject and it’s now possible to travel with a board for free, but the majority of airlines still charge outrageous amounts for the check-in. The best thing to do is to inform yourself before booking tickets!
  2. Carrying a board (or many) can be exhausting. You’ll envy backpackers who complain about how heavy their 60L bag is. A surfboard is a huge luggage that is not made for walking and that requires a lot of attention.
  3. There’s always a risk associated to carrying a surfboard and if you own the board, you’re the risk taker. Luggage staff (or yourself) mistakes are common and it’s frustrating to wait for a repair while the surf is pumping. Obviously, we recommend to travel with the best boardbag possible – it minimizes the risk!
  4. You won’t have many boards to choose from, as opposed to renting boards where you have all sizes and lenghts at your fingertips. With your board(s)… You can choose between what you brought!
  5. Stress is always there, in different ways, while on the move with your board. It’s a fragile piece of equipment we like a lot… so we think about it all the time!
  6. You’ll have to store your board for a few days should you do something else than surfing. It’s not efficient to climb a volcano with a surfboard under your arm. That being said, a lot of hostels and adventure agencies will be happy to help you in that matter.

On another note: this is a sunset I’ll remember all my life. Considering how ridiculously small the waves were, there’s no way I would have spent money to rent a board. Good thing I had mine, I had the best spot for sunset viewing!

So… which option to choose?

For many people, advantages of travelling with a board are way more important than the cons. If your travel goal is to surf as much as possible, you should always have a board available. Therefore, it’s in your interests to find a beach with a surf shop, or to travel with your board!

You also need to consider your surfboard’s quality and your surfing level. Carrying your big foam board to Bali just to go learn to surf for a few days is not the best idea ever. If you just started surfing… you should really consider renting!

Au final, l’important c’est d’avoir un maximum de plaisir dans l’eau. Vois selon tes besoins, tes ambitions et ta motivation pour savoir si tu devrais apporter ta propre planche en voyage, ou si la louer fera la job. Dans tous les cas, s’il y a des belles vagues, n’ait aucune excuse pour ne pas aller surfer!

In the end, the important is to have as much fun as possible in the water. Think about your needs, your ambitions and your motivation to know if you should bring your own board while travelling, or if renting one will do the job. In any case, if there are waves, your place belongs in the water. No excuses!

Here’s my crew in the famous Uyuni Salar in Bolivia, an inland country that has no access to any ocean. On top of the 4×4 is my surfboard, right in the middle of the desert. Was it worth it to bring it in the desert to go surfing in Peru and Ecuador? Of course!