As seasoned worldwide travelers, the Zephyr Team have compiled a list of essential tips and tricks for your next kite tour.
So, you are preparing for your much anticipated kitesurfing holiday… exciting times! But packing… not so exciting.
Before you start to pack, there are a few obvious, and not so obvious, things to consider:
What’s the wind, beach & water conditions of your destination?
- Air & water temperature?
- Wind strength (especially a few days before you go)?
- Is there coral, rock or sand?
- Waves, flat water or both?
How are you getting there?
- Public transport – bus, train or will you be hitching a ride?
- Plane; what size? And if you take a few are the bag limits consistent?
- What’s the transport like at the other end?
- Are there any extra charges for travelling with kite gear?
What’s available for you at your destination?
- Kite rental or back up gear in case yours gets lost, stolen or damaged?
- Where will you store your gear? At the beach, in a car or back of a ute?
- Is there emergency &/or water support?
- Where the closest hospital or distance to help?
- Will there be technology for emergencies or for important social media updates?
When you travel with a kite tour group, all these things should be covered and sent to you prior to your departure or included in your package. But to ensure your kitesurfing adventure runs smoothly from the beginning, especially to remote kite destinations, there are still some simple kite hacks to consider before jetting off!
KITE TRAVEL BAGS & ACCESSORIES
It is much, much easier to use a kitesurfing bag with wheels. Some bags have wheels that remove easily to lose extra weight at the airline counter (but of course you need to sneak them back on when you’re out of sight).
Wheels do add overall weight but if you are kiting off the beaten track, it will save you so much hassle and you’ll have more energy to kite once you arrive, without needing a massage first.
Some (yes, some) airlines allow golf bags to be checked in as cheaper form of sports carriage, or even for free! Australian airline carriers vary on this point unless the bag is oversized. There are kitesurfing bags that are specifically designed to look like golf bags for this purpose (and may even state “golf” on the side).
It’s total snobbery but they do say…
kitesurfing is the new golf!
Use lightweight compression bags instead of packing your kites in their usual hefty bags. Compression bags are 20% the weight of the kite’s normal bag and will protect the kite in transit.
If you have the space and allowance, an extra small light weight board bag for your twin tip or surfboard is also recommended. When travelling on very small planes, especially to the Torres Strait Islands, lots of smaller bags are better than one large bag.
The more padding the better. Towels, wetsuits, impact vests and clothes are all good protection for your gear and should be packed in your main travel bag. Side pockets are also incredibly handy for fins, loose screws etc.
For gadgets, cameras & computers, a lightweight waterproof bag is ideal for carry on. Remember you usually have 5-7kg of carry on allowance which does not include your computer or camera. This way you can bring your gear to any beach and protect it from the wind, rain and sand.
When packing your hand luggage, do not carry anything metal, sharp or unidentifiable; from a non-kiters point of view – i.e spreader bar, in your bag. Obvious we know, but it happens… a lot!
If you are booked on a kite tours or into a kite school, there should be pumps available at your destination. If you have an obscure hose end – bring the pump hose & connection – but leave the pump at home.
Pack two kites as a minimum, ideally at a 2 or 3 metre split. Most modern kites have a substantial wind range, and you can easily get away with 2 sizes to cover you over a 20-knot variance.
Patches for small repairs and a screw driver because there is never the right one when you try to find it to put your fins and foot-straps back on!
Your bar and lines – make sure you tune your bar before your trip to ensure your kites will fly reliably, also make sure to check for any wear, tear and sneaky little knots.
Your favourite board of course, and maybe some spare fins if you ride a directional.
When packing more than 1 bag to take with you, choose a priority or primary bag and label it PRIORITY. If you are travelling on small planes sometimes, they cannot guarantee all your excess luggage will arrive with you; but your priority will, then excess on the next available plane. When packing more than one bag, make sure you keep all of your equipment together. It’s a common rooky mistake to pack your board in your priority bag but your fins in the other.
If your baggage is overweight, you can wear your harness on the flight or bring it as carry-on luggage wrapped around your bag. If you want to be cheeky, you can wear the harness and say it’s a back brace – this will save you a kilo or two, but make sure to take the spreader bar off and pack the line cutter in your checked luggage!
Additionally, if you don’t care about fashion, wear some cargo pants and fill it with your Gopros, cables, undies and toiletries. Get creative… why not wear your weeks’ worth of clothes all at once?
To save weight and protect your gear, use a pool noodle. It is light, can be cut, and can be secured with duct tape around the end or edges of your board. If you are in a rush or really lazy, cut bits of pool noodle and put it over your fins as well.
If you are travelling with two or more kites, take just one bar & one kite bag. Compression bags are good for kite destinations where you setup at the same place each day, however if you need to carry your kite gear long distances or can leave strut-rolled over night (like on Cocos), the regular back-pack style bag is still recommended.
When travelling from winter to the tropics, you will have some warm clothes that is taking up valuable space. It’s a good idea to ask at the airport if you can leave some gear behind (with your wheely bag) and collect it on the way back. (Possible on our Torres Strait Kite & Culture tour).
If you can only bring one kite, consider line extensions to get a bigger wind range from your kite which take up hardly any weight or room in your bag.
Taking out travel insurance from the day you pay your deposit ensures you are covered even if you don’t make it to your kite holiday. If you injure yourself before or on your holiday, your policy should refund any flights and payments.
WHAT TO WEAR
A neoprene zip top. They are great for all conditions from tropical to cool and also breathable and easy to take on and off.
Booties are recommended; the surf split toe kind. (If you are new to booties, try them in your foot-straps before you leave).
Obviously swimming suit/shorts/bikini/wetsuit depending on your destination
The wind can be cold, especially if you are taking boat rides to your kite spot each day so pack a good weather-proof jacket.
Lots of lycra! Wearing lycra in the tropics from head to toe not only protects you from the sun, but also coral cuts, abrasions and helps limit the amount of sun cream poisoning the reef.
Guys… it’s time to get with the program! If you are not in a full wetsuit, consider some tights under your boardies and a long sleeve rashie.
For the ladies, some destinations like the Cocos Islands & Yorke Island, have some clothing protocol requests (by the locals) and lots of bare skin is not normally accepted in some kite spots. You can funk up your costume with some pretty awesome tights and tops that you’ll want to wear when you are home too!
You can find men’s and ladies thin running tights along with fishing, surfing or kiting UV shirts and neck protectors from sports, surf and kite shops or online.
SAFETY GEAR & OPTIONAL EXTRAS
Booties are a MUST if you are heading to the tropics no matter what level of rider you are. A small reef cut can ruin your trip and it is better to be safe than sorry! If you hate booties like some of us, at least strap them to your harness in case you have a kite-mare and need to put your feet down.
For tropical kiting, if you can get your hands on some Bactroban (topical antibiotic cream) this will be your lifesaver when you get any cut or skin infection. If not this, then a good squeeze of lime will also do the trick!
A lightweight hat that you can wear while kitesurfing to keep the sun off your face. We recommend the Ocean Earth sun hat, which you can pick up at any good surf shop or at Ocean Addicts QLD.
Sunglasses are good to wear on long down winders and kite adventures. We recommend several, cheap but UV protective pairs in case they get lost (because they do) with a reliable and waterproof sunglass strap.
If you are still lathering up in suncream, make it the high protection sort. Otherwise we strongly recommend you switch to natural Zinc. Surfmud is the Zephyr Teams zinc of choice and available at all good surf & kite shops.
ECO FACT – Suncream has been found to ruin the coral and poison the fish – let’s stop using it huh?
An Impact vest is great for a little extra buoyancy and protection from crashes. They also help with wind chill and offer you more confidence when out in the elements. Recommended for beginners kitesurfers, foilers or kiters practicing kiteloops!
If you plan to kite surf in offshore conditions, away from land without the option of a rescue boat, consider packing a life jacket, EPIRB & Flares. Check with the country you are going to as there may be laws and regulations that require you to wear some or all safety boating gear.
Travel insurance paperwork. Make sure kitesurfing is not an excluded activity for your coverage and the destination is also covered.
And finally, if you are going overseas… don’t forget your passport!
To get the latest, greatest and lightest equipment from the best brands, head down to your nearest kite shop or call our partner shop Ocean Addicts. They are the kite equipment professionals and know what you need for kite travel and for all Zephyr Tours’ kite destinations.