Are you going somewhere with a stellar SUP location? Taking your stand-up paddleboard with you might feel like a tricky task, but you won’t regret bringing it along if you’re an avid paddler. You’ll be thrilled to know that you are able to bring your SUP anywhere you go!
If you want to travel with a SUP, you’ll benefit more from an inflatable one, especially if you’re taking a flight. Flight costs with a regular SUP might be as expensive as a new inflatable one. Inflatable paddleboards are easy to carry in a high-quality SUP backpack.
Traveling with an inflatable paddleboard is in your best interest, as a hard SUP might be too large for flights and public transport. Whether flying, traveling by car, or taking public transport, here’s everything you need to know about traveling with your beloved SUP.
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Flying With An Inflatable SUP
The world has an endless supply of stunning SUP spots, and not all of them have a SUP rental shop. Taking your paddleboard along is easier than you think! You’ll want an inflatable SUP, especially if you often travel, because a non-inflatable is much more challenging and will cost you more than an entry-level inflatable.
Inflatable paddleboards range from $200 to $1500, but you can easily find a decent one in the $250 to $400 range. Considering that you’ll pay at least $100 one way on a flight and need to spend extra on a rental car for a solid SUP, you’ll thank yourself for purchasing a new one that’s travel friendly.
Can You Take Your SUP On A Plane?
Yes, you can take your paddleboard on a flight! Inflatable SUPs shrink down enough to make them portable. Many SUP enthusiasts have traveled successfully with their boards – both inflatable and solid, but your best bet, as mentioned, is an inflatable one. You’ll also need a 3-piece paddle to make packing easier.
You’ll need to pay extra to transport your paddleboard, but many have been lucky enough to pass through luggage control for free. If your paddleboard and gear fit within your carry-on weight limit, you won’t face too much of a hassle; otherwise, you’ll pay extra.
American Airlines has a 70 lbs. weight limit for your gear, while other airlines max out at 100 lbs. Fees range from $50 to $150 per flight. United and U.S Airways are the most expensive airlines to transport your SUP, with fees of $200.
If you have an epoxy SUP, you’ll want to ensure your SUP length is no longer than 9.6 feet. Airlines classify SUPs under surfboards if you want to call the airline for information.
How To Pack An Inflatable SUP For Air Travel
You should purchase an inflatable SUP travel bag for maximum protection and ease of transport. You should choose a bag with heavy-duty zips, padded straps, and grab handles, and if you can find one with wheels, you’re in for a much easier time walking through the airport!
You should also find a bag that has extra space so that you can pack in other gear. When you roll up your SUP, you should wrap it around your paddle and pump to protect them from the rough handling that airport luggage goes through.
It will be a grand idea if you wrap your bag with an extra layer of protection by using the airport luggage wrapping service. This will ensure your gear sits snug and lessens the chance of damage.
Inflating Your SUP After Arriving At Your Destination
You’ll need a pump to take with you to your destination; otherwise, it’s a pointless exercise lugging it on the plane! You can unwrap your pump, assemble it, and blow up your SUP at your paddleboarding location. It’s best only to inflate your SUP when you’re using it and then deflate it once you’re done to make transit easier.
Tips For Flying With An Inflatable SUP
Just in case you’re still a little lost on going airborne with your SUP, these tips should help:
- Contact your airline to find out their luggage policy, especially if you’re transporting an epoxy SUP.
- Wrapping your bag with an extra layer helps with additional protection.
- If you’ve wrapped your bag, write your name and address with a permanent marker in case your travel tags fall off.
- Wrap your pump hose on the outside of your SUP.
- Lock your zips or cable ties with a lock so nothing falls out.
- It would help if you arrived earlier for check-in, as it might take extra time to get your SUP through.
- Only mention that you’re transporting a SUP if necessary to avoid extra costs; instead, get by with paying for luggage weight.
Transporting Your SUP By Car
Securing your epoxy paddleboard to your car is essential for your SUP adventures! Not everyone needs to catch a flight to their SUP location, so if you’re using an inflatable paddleboard, you can use a bag, but you won’t need to wrap your pump and paddle in the middle of the board because the transit isn’t rough.
Epoxy and already-inflated SUPs need a roof rack if you’re traveling by car because, as you know – they’re huge!
If your car doesn’t have a roof rack already, you’ll need to install one, preferably one designed for a SUP. If you’re transporting via a pickup truck, you can transport it in the back, with the deck facing down and the nose supported by the tailgate, with padding underneath. You’ll also need to secure it with ropes.
How To Secure Your SUP To Your Car Roof
You’ll need a few things to attach your SUP to the roof rack:
- Crossbar: If you don’t have a SUP rack, you’ll need a bar that runs across the roof for stability.
- Rack padding: Your racks need padding to prevent damaging your SUP. You can use foam blocks or pool noodles.
- Cam straps: Cam straps are the most convenient, sturdy type of straps. You’ll need two 12-foot-length straps.
- Extra rope: You’ll need to double secure the bow and stern lines with waterproof rope.
Step 1: Pad your roof rack and place your board onto it. You can slide the sup onto the rack from the back of your car. The SUP must be centered and placed with the deck facing down. The tail must be at the front of the car.
Step 2: Secure your cam straps over the board and under the rack, close to the crossbar. Tie your rope across the bow and stern lines.
Step 3: Ensure your board is stable and don’t move around. Also, ensure your ropes are secure, so they don’t flap in the wind.
Tips For Transporting Your SUP By Car
- If you’re stacking SUPs, the longest ones should be at the bottom.
- You can attach a paddle holder to your roof rack if it doesn’t fit in the car.
- Pad your tailgate if you’re using a pickup truck.
- Don’t secure your straps tighter than they need to be because it could deform your SUP.
- Twist your cam straps to prevent them from vibrating in the wind.
Taking Your SUP On Public Transportation
Can you take your SUP on public transportation? Yes, but you can only transport an inflatable SUP with a backpack because hardboards are too large – plus, they’re too heavy for long distances! If you aren’t using a car, and your only mode of transport is a train or bus, then an inflatable SUP is the way to go because they’re compact enough to take you wherever you go, even on the most crowded transport.
You should be able to fit your SUP bag in the designated luggage compartments, but if it doesn’t, you can keep it by your feet or on your lap. Comfort is key when you travel with your paddleboard, so investing in a decent backpack is in your best interest.
Tips For Carrying Your SUP On Buses And Trains
- Invest in a good backpack that can hold all your gear; one with wheels is the best way to go.
- Get a 3-piece paddle that you can deconstruct to fit in your backpack.
- If your SUP backpack doesn’t fit in the luggage compartment, try to find a spot with two seats so you can put it next to you for a comfortable trip. Be sure to remove it from the extra seat if someone needs space on a busy ride.
Choosing The Right Paddle Board Travel Bag
Traveling with your SUP means that your bag needs to protect it well and make transporting it as easy as possible!
When you look for a travel bag for a hardboard SUP, you should find one that is the right size but not too big, or it loses its protective qualities. Note that you should not use a travel bag for long-term storage unless the bag is well-ventilated, as epoxy SUPs need to breathe.
Inflatable SUP bags resemble hiking backpacks and can fit all your gear along with your deflated paddleboard. You can pack your pump, fin, leash, and deconstructed paddle without issues and enjoy the convenience of carrying everything in one go. You’ll typically buy an inflatable SUP with a bag included, but you’ll want to ensure it has the right features to maintain a traveling lifestyle.
What To Look For In A SUP Travel Bag
If you want the best possible travel bag for your paddle board, these tips should help:
- Hardboard SUP travel bags should have extra padding by the nose for proper protection when moving about.
- Solid paddleboard bags must be the same size or slightly larger than the board but not too large, or it won’t protect it adequately.
- Inflatable SUP travel bags should have heavy-duty material to last long and endure the strain of being moved around.
- SUP bags should seal correctly and have extra closure features so they don’t open while moving around.
- Inflatable SUP travel bags should at least have enough space for your pump to make transit more convenient.
- If you can find a SUP bag with wheels, your life will be much easier when it comes to traveling with your SUP.
Types Of SUP Travel Bags
There are a few types of travel bags that you can get for your SUP:
Stand-up Paddleboard Bag: This full-sized bag covers a solid or inflated SUP. They either come as a standard carry bag with a rounded nose or a touring bag with a narrow nose to prevent it from moving around.
iSUP Backpack: These travel bags are made to carry deflated SUPs and extra gear and look like a hikers backpack.
iSUP Trolley Bag: Trolley travel bags have wheels to make transporting your inflatable SUP easier. They look like a typical iSUP backpack but have a more robust exterior and wheels.
Best Reviewed Paddle Board Travel Bags
Some of the best-reviewed SUP travel bags include:
Abahub Premium SUP Travel Bag – This stand-up paddleboard bag is padded with foam to ensure your solid paddleboard is well protected during travels.
BPS New Zealand Premium Universal iSUP Backpack – This backpack is affordable, durable, ergonomic, and perfect for inflatable SUPs and gear.
GILI Rolling Inflatable SUP Bag – If you want the best bag with wheels for your iSUP, this one has heavy-duty material, ample space for all your gear, and it doubles as a backpack when needed.
Additional Tips For Traveling With Your SUP
- Find out the regulations for the airline you plan on traveling with before you choose one.
- Make sure your SUP meets your airline’s weight limit.
- Ask your hotel or holiday rental for SUP storage options.
- Choose a pump with an automatic shut-off to avoid over-inflating your SUP.
- Bring a repair kit for your SUP in case of any damage caused during transit.
- If traveling with a paddleboard becomes too expensive, research your holiday destination to find good spots that rent SUPs.
Traveling with your SUP can be straightforward and stress-free with the proper preparation and equipment. Although hardboard SUPs are possible to bring along on a flight, it is worthwhile going for an inflatable if you’re traveling often. You can follow these top tips to ensure a breezy trip with your SUP, no matter your mode of transport!
G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at many of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which also rubbed off on my two young sons! I am also lucky to spend a lot of ocean-time in my favorite second home, Indonesia. In addition to SurfHungry I have founded several other websites in my areas of passion, namely coffee and rock climbing, and am also a regular rowing content contributor.