The Complete Guide to Traveling With a Surfboard

Traveling with a surfboard is challenging because of the complicated logistics of airline check-in baggage. So, traveling across the country or the ocean with a surfboard is every surfer's nightmare. 

There's never a guarantee what the surfboard's gonna look like after flying on an airplane. Sometimes surfers will find their surfboards that are either fine or with cracks or, in the worst-case scenario, broken in half. Several airlines have reputations for being extremely careless when carrying surfboards. 

5 Things To Make Sure Your Surfboard's Safe During Traveling

A good surfboard is a surfer's partner on the waves, so having your trusty one is everything. Therefore, whenever surfers receive their boards from the airline baggage, there is always that heart-pounding anxiety of unwrapping the surfboard and possibly finding their boards in half.

1. Thoroughly Inspect Your Board

Take a good look at your board before any preparations for the trip. As you scan it, note every nook and cranny that needs to be packed well. Your surfboard must be in good condition before packing. It's also best to take photos of your surfboard before filling to have a reference just in case it gets busted during the flight.

2. Get Your Board Ready For Travel

Next is the tricky part because how you pack your surfboard will determine your chances of safely getting your surfboard through the flight. 

The first thing you should do is to remove all the fins to keep your board as flat as possible to make it easier to travel with. Next is to remove all the board wax because it will get shaken up throughout the trip, creating a disgusting mess inside your surfboard. Similarly, the wax will most likely melt whenever you travel to a warm destination.

Granted, thoroughly remove the wax by setting your surfboard out in the sun, then add your flour throughout your surfboard and even it out using tissue paper. Please wait for the flour to settle, then remove it all with a couple more tissue paper.

3. Securely Pack Your Board

Afterward, you can secure your board with layers of bubble wrap, pipe foam, and electrical tape. Secure your board/s on top of each other depending on height or weight before layering bubble wrap and pipe foam between them. After proper stacking and layering, you can tape it with an electric tape to keep it together. Be as generous as you want because the more protected it is, the safer it'll be during the trip. 

Later on, pack your things inside a high-quality surfboard bag. Then, you can weigh your entire surfboard bag to ensure it doesn't exceed the designated limit.

4. Choose A Good Airline

There are hundreds of airlines out there that are fully capable of safely transporting your surfboard. Choosing the right airline depends on your budget and, of course, their surfboard policy. It is true that some airlines do not allow surfboards or only have a specific limit to the number of surfboards they can load on the plane. Therefore, it is crucial to double-check if the airline you are choosing has a good surfboard policy.

Some surfboard-friendly airlines that allow free boarding are Virgin Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Air New Zealand, among others. Meanwhile, other airlines will charge a couple of dollars for it. Extra charges for checking in a surfboard can range between $50-$200 or more, depending on the number of surfboards and the weight.

5. Be Cool At The Check-In Counter

Last on the list is being calm and collected at the check-in counter. This is important to consider because there's anticipation and anxiety as to whether your surfboard will pass the check-in inspection and get to the boarding area along with your other baggage.

The attendant at the check-in counter will play an important role throughout this process because they can either be super uptight or friendly. Maintaining a calm and respectful vibe while processing your check-in will give you plus points with the attendant and, possibly, score a good deal with your check-in baggage.

Once you get the clear signal that your board will be checked in, ask the attendant to put a fragile sticker on both sides to remind people to handle your surfboard bag with extreme care.

Traveling to different surfing destinations is always an exciting adventure, but transporting your surfboard is a stressful ordeal unless it's done right.

What To Expect When Traveling With Your Surfboard

Traveling with any fragile item will always risk getting damaged or, worse, broken to pieces. As a result, you should be able to control whatever aspect you can on your end to ensure you did your best to preserve your surfboard. By doing this, you can also have the peace of mind that you covered all your bases, giving you bigger chances to transport your surfboard safely.

Every surfer sets their expectations as realistic as possible by realizing that there will always be a chance that your surfboard will have damage, no matter how high or low. The best-case scenario will always be unwrapping your surfboard and seeing no harm done to it. Another is seeing your board with minor damage, such as scratches, a flat layer, or two of bubble wrap.

However, there are some cases where the surfboard can suffer major breakage, like extensive and irreparable cracks around your board, making it difficult to fix and totally useless at that point. Finally, the worst thing that can happen to your board is witnessing it torn in half or pieces, leaving surfers angry, speechless, and sad. This heartbreaking moment has happened to thousands of surfers who flew with different airlines.


Despite all of these, a silver lining remains: the growing popularity of surfing has educated people on how to properly care for surfboards during travel. Also, social media has changed how companies handle customer complaints, and companies have become very cautious with how they handle things. 

Traveling with a surfboard is exhausting and expensive. Still, once surfers can ride that wave like there's no tomorrow, all that stress magically disappears. And that is one of the rewards of surfing.

Oliver Jones

Written by Oliver Jones

I'm a dedicated surfer and writer, and my heart truly belongs to the ocean. Surfing is not just a sport but a way of life for me. I ride the waves in the water and on paper, pouring my passion into every word I write.

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