Pro Tips: Surf Trip Tips
with Sean Poynter
Sean Poynter is one of SUP's most well-traveled professionals. His 'job' as a top-five competitor on the Standup World Tour and surf guide has taken him around the globe in search of waves and back again. If there's anyone who knows how to pack a board bag, both literally and figuratively, it's Poynter. Here, he shares his top surf trip pointers (pun intended).
Get fit. The complaint I hear most co-running a surf trip retreat business and talking with friends about their surf trips is: "I wish I was more fit!" There's nothing worse than being on a surf trip with firing waves and being tired after the first day. You want to be able to surf all day, everyday. Make it a point to get fit prior to your surf trip because you don't want to sit out when it's pumping.
Be self-sustainable. Once, on a surf trip in Fiji, I ran out of sunscreen. The small island I was staying on didn't sell any and being a fairly fair-skinned guy, I needed to get some more. I had two options: spend half a day (or in this case, too many barrels to count) going back to Fiji's closest shopping; or boat 20 minutes to the next island and spend $74 on a tube of sunscreen that hardly worked. I went with the latter and ended up with a terrible sunburn. All I had to do was bring more sunscreen in the first place. Be prepared. Make a list and check it twice: leashes, leash strings, wax, fin keys, sunscreen, etc.
Get a local guide. I can't recommend this enough. You may think you know a place through your research, but you don't know more than a local surf guide who knows the wind, the waves and the scene on the ground. Having local knowledge is going to put you on the best waves, keep you safe and make the trip a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. They'll also be able to give you invaluable insights beyond the waves such as the best food spots, the best bars and helpful local customs.
Know your travel details. This counts doubly when dealing with airlines. Before you book with a carrier be sure that they'll take your gear and find out how much it will cost. A simple phone call—even if you're on hold for a long time—will tell you what you need to know. Showing up to the airport or the train station and finding out that they can't take your boards is a nightmare. Trust me, I know because some Delta counter agent is enjoying my board somewhere. Double check the policies and all your flight times.
Don't over plan. Don't be too rigid in your itinerary. Leave time for enjoying the hell out of freedom and spontaneity. One year I was set to fly back from France after a World Tour event when I decided to take my buddy up on a trip to Italy to host a clinic. It turn ed out one of our guests was well connected with the Vatican. He took us to St. Peter's Square for Wednesday mass led by Pope Francis. We got the VIP treatment and at the end of it all Pope Francis virtually blessed our paddles! You don't want to miss out on an experience like that.
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