Traveling with Paddle BoardsWe totally understand. There are endless places to paddle in this world. You’re eager to go on a vacation to an amazing SUP destination. But, before you book your perfect SUP trip and set out for your adventure, there are a few important things you’ll need to know about stand up paddle transport:
- Best stand up paddle boards for traveling
- Best airlines to fly your boards
- Tips and tricks for flying your boards for cheap
- Protecting your paddle boards when traveling
- Choosing a rental vehicle
How to Transport SUP boards for travelingWithout a doubt, inflatable paddle boards (iSUPs) are the most ideal type of paddle board to travel with. Why? Because when deflated, they roll up to the size of sleeping bag. Pack them as a carry on or check them as bag. Airline marshals can throw around your inflatable paddle boards as much as they want – there will be no damage. Remember this: inflatables are portable, storable and durable. If you have epoxy paddle boards, the general rule of thumbs for most airlines (with the exception of a few) is to keep your board under 9’6. If you’re a few inches over the limit, they typically won’t pull out the measuring tape and you will be okay. Just keep it to a few inches over. If you get greedy, prepare to be denied, so exercise caution when exceeding the length limits! If you’re driving, (depending on the type of vehicle), you should have the option to bring a variety of paddle boards. You will be able to fit several inflatable paddle boards in your car. Epoxy paddle boards will be most effective on your car’s roof, unless you have a van. Most trucks and bigger SUVs can fit 2-4 epoxy paddle boards on the roof.
How to pack your paddle board to avoid damage
SUP Travel board bags for hard boardsRegardless of the type of board you take with you, one thing is certain, and that is to always store your paddle board in a bag for protection and ease of transportation. We recommend getting a SUP travel board bag a little taller than your board so you’ll have extra room to pack padding gear inside it. Our ISLE Board Bags have a reinforced nose for extra protection in addition to pockets to store your fins, wax, GoPro or any other accessories. They also serve as a sleeping bag to keep you warm on the beach if you go camping! If you’re super cautious about protecting your board, you’ll want an extra layer in your bag. Pro-Lite makes a tried and true series of paddle board travel bags with extra wheels, thick padding and durable material over a standard bag to withstand anything airline travel can throw at it. If your paddle board is damaged by the airline, it is always a good idea to pack some ding repair and patches.
Travel board bags for inflatable BoardsSince inflatables paddle boards are the most ideal SUP to travel with, we created a bag specifically for traveling with an iSUP. Our travel bag is built tough with noncorrosive heavy-duty zippers, padded shoulder straps, top and side grab handles, as well as heavy-duty polyurethane wheels so you don’t have to haul the bag on your back the entire trip. It’s the easiest way to travel with your paddle board hands down.
Protecting Your PaddlePaddles should also be placed in your paddle board bag while traveling. We recommend you invest in a 3-piece travel paddle which breaks down into smaller pieces and is much easier to store than a one-piece paddle. If it is crucial to bring your one-piece paddle, then invest in a paddle bag to add extra protection. If you have room inside your board bag you should store your paddle inside of it to consolidate.
Packing Your Paddle Board (Flying with epoxy paddle boards)It’s always good to take extra precaution when traveling with an epoxy paddle board. We recommend that you wrap the nose, tail, and rails in protective material (bubble wrap or foam) because these are the parts that get dinged the most. When protecting your boards, keep in mind the weight limits and also the fact you will have to carry the bag across the airport so making it too heavy can be a big hassle.
Airlines Board FeesAnytime you walk up to the counter at an airport and have a board with you, it’s always best to politely try and check in your boards without paying the fee. There are a few types of ticket agents: 1) The chiller who won’t charge you at all 2) The newbie who doesn’t know about board fees and charges you at a checked bag rate 3) The hardo who asks to look inside your board bag to count all the boards and charge you per board. In this situation, the best way to get away with paying the least amount of fees is to stay cool and collected. As mentioned earlier, the airline travel rule of thumb for paddle board’s is: keep it 9’6 or less, and you can usually find an airline to accommodate your travels. The biggest turnoff when traveling with your boards is that sometimes the fees can add up to the actual price of the board. Since there are many different prices and restrictions between airlines, we have put together a guide to the different airlines and what they charge. For the most part, stand up paddle boards do not have their own category for airline pricing (typically will be the same price as surfboard fees) so make sure to check ahead of time with your preferred airline and see what the fees are.
|Company||Max. Weight and Height||Fees Associated|
|American Airlines||10’ 6” 70 lbs.||$150 U.S.Brazil –$37.50 for 1st board$85 for additional|
|Delta/Northwest Airlines||10’6 - 70 lbs.||$150 Canada, Europe, & U.S.$75 Brazil|
|Southwest Airlines||Freight/Cargo Only||$75 Each Way|
|Alaska Airlines||9’ 7 - 100 lbs.||$75 Each Way|
|U.S. Airways||Freight/Cargo Only||Priced individually.|
|Hawaiian Airlines||9’6 - 50 lbs.||$100 Each Way$200 Each Way to/from Select Asian Locations$35 Inter-Hawaii|
|Jet Blue||No size restrictions under surfing equipment. Probably 9’6 though100 lbs.||$50|
|United||9’6 - 99.9 lbs.||$150 each way for U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands$200 for all other travel|
|Volaris||8’1 - 55 lbs. We have flown with them several times and no limitations have been given as we have checked 12’6 paddle boards for races||$80 - Make sure to call ahead of time to confirm.|