One of the biggest advantages of an inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard (iSUP) is the ability to pack it down and transport it easily. For many people this means the boot of the car, or perhaps even a train journey, but taking it on a flight is just as easy and a game changer for holidays. We’ve flown with our SUPs a number of times, both long haul and short haul, and are always surprised how many people, even fellow paddlers, think this is an unusual thing to do.
So I thought I would share a few tips for flying with your iSUP and including it in your holiday experience…
Inflatables give options… Of course, first and foremost you need to have bought, or have access to, the right equipment. Whatever board type you choose, only an iSUP gives you the option to fly, and you’ll ideally need a 3 part paddle too if you want to pack everything together and keep the overall baggage size down. Of course, you could fly with a fixed paddle (in a separate paddle bag to protect it) but that would mean adding an extra item of luggage, which usually increases costs. If paddling with a group consider sharing a pump and repair kit to save space and weight.
How Heavy? The flight length and the airline you’re using will define your luggage allowance, but in most instances you have 20kgs to play with, possibly even more if you book the board as ‘Sports Equipment’. Our SUPs, packed into their bags with a leash, pump and paddle weigh in at about 15kgs. We then fill the remaining space in the bag with clothes, toiletries and anything else you might take on holiday to top them up to the limit. Now, 5kgs of clothes and stuff is actually quite a lot – after all, beachwear is not exactly heavy! But, don’t forget you also have your hand luggage allowance, usually an extra 6-8kgs. So, unless you are heading somewhere cold where you’ll need heavy drysuits and thermals, you should not need to pay expensive excess baggage charges.
After all, how much do you really need for a week in the sun where you are going to spend most of your days on the water?
Pack Light, Pack Right… With the SUP and associated kit swallowing a large chunk of your baggage allowance you do need to pack light, but that really shouldn’t be a problem if you just shift your attitude slightly. People tend to pack much more than they need for a holiday, but making a few smart decisions and being prepared not to have a different outfit everyday massively reduces this. After all, how much do you really need for a week in the sun where you are going to spend most of your days on the water? Don’t forget to fully utilise your hand luggage allowance, but obviously make sure any items you carry there will make it through security checks.
We get around… One final thing to think about is how to make the most of your SUPs when you reach your destination. Sometimes you can simply transfer to the hotel/resort and paddle from there each day, but you may want to think about whether a hire car will allow you to explore more SUP spots and maximise your paddling fun. All depends on what you want from your trip, how much paddling you actually want to do and what arrangements you’ve booked, but after making the effort to take your SUPs out with you it is best to make the most of them.
I hope this blog has shown how simple it can be to fly with an iSUP and perhaps made you consider taking your board on your next holiday. You just know that you will miss it if you don’t…