How to be a Global Kiter
More kiters are traveling to enjoy their sport. Winter and cold weather are no longer any obstacle to a kiteboarder. Kiters can simply get up and go to a warmer and windier location. The compact and lightweight equipment gives kiteboarders a distinct advantage when it comes to traveling with gear.
Recent increases in airfares, and reductions in allowed baggage has made bulkier and heavier sports equipment prohibitively expensive to travel with. Kite gear can also be tucked away in a golf bag and included free on many flights. The best idea for kite travelers is to check out your carrier’s baggage policy before you book your flight. Some carriers allow bags of a certain dimension to be included as free checked baggage. Other airlines allow extra bags for a flat fee. This is vital to know before to go. If you leave the baggage question to chance you might get a rude surprise. Some airlines are charging $175 or more (us to Hawaii) for one kiteboard, each way. Kite gear should just travel as regular baggage, there is no need to pack it into an oversized cumbersome package that will upset the baggage handlers. It might be advisable to split your gear into several smaller bags, rather than one big one.
What not to say at check-in:
At check in when they ask you what is in the bag, do not lie. They can easily look in there and you could get into trouble. However be careful how you describe your kite gear. Avoid saying “Kite-Board, surf-Board, Wake Board or any phrase with the word “board” in it. Baggage clerks have a list of standardized charges for sports equipment, tat have a set fee. A surfboard or “board” has a fee, whereas “kite-gear” does not. If you just have kites, just say kites, these usually attract no special attention. There are people who swear by putting one golf club in their “golf bag” so that they can say “Golf Club” with a straight face when asked what they are carrying. But in this post 9-11 era, it is better to give straight answers, so that you so not get taken out of line and subjected to a search. Just be smart and don’t drop the “B-word”.
Keep your bag small. Most carriers have a maximum bag size. They don’t care what is in the bag just that it fits inside the maximum dimensions. The weight limit and length limit for example 60 inches. This means that your choice of board might be limited to a shorter size than you might otherwise prefer. Many traveling kiters have a special travel board, that might be shorter but a little floatier than their normal board. Something like a 4’10” directional might fit, whereas a 5’0″ may not. Some companies are making travel boards that break into two pieces, these are not being made with good systems that are strong stiff, and give you a great option. Expect to pay a little more for a good Snap together travel board. But what you pay up front you will make back in saved baggage charges or not having to rent a board when you travel.
Boards are an Option:
When traveling to a new spot where kiting is unknown you will have to take all of your gear, and some spares, as a repair kit. There are great repair kites that can glue all your gear back together in a jiffy so you don’t miss a single day of kiting. Get one of these for about $50 bucks. And you will have the tools to get back in the gave should you have a misfortune occurrence. For that matter you should pack a good First aid Kit as well…
If you go to any civilized country these days, renting a kiteboard is likely an option. Check ahead to see if kiteboard rentals are available at your destination. What are the policies and fees, and discounts of you pre-book, what is their no wind policy? You can sometimes rent a board cheaper than flying wit your own board. Also you will save of the hassle of traveling with a heavy board, and if there is no wind you don’t have to rent a board at all. Also if you rent you cab test different boards or swap for bigger or smaller gear depending on the wind. Many kiters will travel with kites, bars and harnesses only, and just rent the boards at their destinations.
Kite rentals are becoming more widely available. Kite rental can be expensive, so if you are kiting more than a week you should try to bring your own kites, but if you are just going somewhere for a day or two, then renting a kite is great option. Most places will only rent to people they know or to experienced kiteboarders, As proof f your ability to kite, A kiteboarder certification card from IKO or VDWS is your best answer. Make surf that you always carry your kiteboarder Certification card and you will have no problems renting at most places. Kite renting is a double-edged sword, it is expensive and if you break something you usually have to buy the kite. If you are visiting a kite destination with good wind, you might want to buy some kites for the time you are there. A good second hand kite is sometimes cheaper that renting for a month. Then you might still have the kite left over as a spare or you can sell it for cheap before you leave.
Whenever you travel to a new kite spot it is a good idea to get an orientation session with a local kite school. Whatever your kiteboarding level you can benefit from getting a private guided kiting session with a professional kiteboarding instructor who has the local knowledge of the place. There are so much local knowledge to learn, and you can have the confidence of having a guide on your first session. They will tell you the good, and the bad of the place and get you up to speed on the local rules and etiquette. Also after a session with the local school they now know you and you are on their radar, so that if you need nay help or advice they are more likely to want to help you. Hooking up with the local school has many benefits, and they probably have all sorts of local information and tips for other activities as well.
How is your technique?:
When you travel to kite new places, you will encounter different conditions than you are used to. Maybe you will summer some setbacks to your confidence, and maybe you will have some trouble with the conditions. Get a lesson if you need to help you learn any missing skills, and fill in the blanks of your technique. Most kiting places do not provide a rescue service s you will need to be kiting independently and have geed self rescue skills. Make sure that you are up to the challenge, and if in doubt get a lesson or ride along session with the local school. Some schools offer “supervised riding” sessions where they will provide a rescue service and/or a caddy service for a fee. This is a huge benefit if you can get it.
Rescue Services and Kite Clubs:
Some locations getting a lift or a boat ride from the local school is the only way to access the area, boat only access is becoming more commonplace in many kiting sites.
In some places they will make you pay for rescues, and sometimes you can pre-pay for rescues or buy a season pass. This is necessary to pay for the rescue service to be available.
Some kite spots nowadays are on private land and you will need to pay for a club membership to kit there. Again some places are restricted to local kiters or visiting kiters with a Kiteboarder Certification card. Many beaches are “Cert Card” only. And you may need to provide your proof of kiteboarder insurance as well.
Check it out before you go and you will have no surprises.
Know before you go, and you will have a world or happy kiting experiences awaiting you.
Travel smart, kite safe.