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The Complications of Traveling with Equipment

  Website: sophiemathews.com  
Sponsors: Nobile Kiteboarding , Greenish Clothing , Dwarf 8

I am sure that the majority of Kiters, Surfers and Windsurfers out there, especially Windsurfers, can sympathize with the stress involved in traveling with equipment.

Generally on buses and trains you are left to your own devices to do battle with your board bag while the rest of the world stands back, has a cup of coffee Greenishand a smoke and watches, most probably entertained, until you are done.  You would have thought that as a girl traveling alone that there would be some young hunk out there to give you a hand no?.......ha! 

In the past 8 months I have traveled a lot and I can honestly say the only help I have ever had was from a charming elderly man, old enough to be my grandfather, more suited to be on the cardiac ward of the local hospital then helping me drag my equipment across the boarder at Gibraltar.  My bags made it although I am not sure he did.
Nobile
Another problem I find is the impracticality of some bag designs especially ones without wheels.  So once you have succeeded in wrestling your bags on to one or maybe two trolleys you come to a narrow doorway (Gibraltar airport is a prime example) , and Sod's Law says that the trolley doesn't go sideways. Blocking the doorway and unloading your trolleys dragging the bags through one by one, as the kind tourists step very cautiously over and round you saying "excuse me " or "sorry" (this really annoys me) there is bound to come a moment where you loose the plot, and throw your rattle out of your pram mid hot flush.  This usually comes when you have a middle aged, usually a man, huffing and puffing, effing and blinding with comments such as "can you hurry up! " or "typical!".  

Now, when you do eventually get to the check out, it can go one of two ways, and it's simple.  Good or Bad, and if its going to hurt it only hurts you in one place  -  your pocket.


Everyone knows , in theory, we  have to pay something for excess baggage. ie, The high maintenance girlfriend or boyfriend, dare I say it, who is totally incapable of leaving 12 pairs of shoes and the hair straighteners at home and go over the baggage allowance of the normal 22kgs and are charged -   Ok this I understand.  But Sporting equipment I strongly believe should be allowed on for free.  However this is certainly not always the case.  So my tips are to start with Option 1. (and I have a friend who does this very well - ) scout the people on the check out.  If you're a guy choose the young girl and flash her a smile, and for girls go for the dashing gentleman and struggle with your bag.  And I mean look like you are suffering, really suffering and very VERY single.

Option two is make up a story about how you rang ahead, how the company said it was fine, and all they have to do is tag the bag and you will take it to Oversized baggage.  NEVER ever say actually what it is.

 I remember on one trip I had to change planes in Lisbon.  When I was asked what was in the bag, I answered honestly "kitesurfing equipment."  The expression on this poor girls face was a sight.  It was almost as If I had asked her what the equation for infinity was.  So the next 45 min was spent trying to explain (in my best Portuguese) what kitesurfing was.   I think I bored her to tears and she checked it in free of charge.  This is always another option.

 If you absolutely have to say what is in the bag I always say it is like snowboarding.  It's not lying!, it's just not really the truth!!!!!  I know through past experiences that most airline companies will take golf clubs, snowboarding and ski equipment for free.  To me this seems highly unfair, and the only reason I  can think of as to why they do this, is through jealousy!  The mountains are cold, and the beach hot and sunny (in theory).  


One of my most memorable journeys was on my way back from Cumbuco, Brazil.  I arrived at the airport for my evening flight, with 2 equipment bags and a suitcase.  I had had to tape the boardbags for fear of the zips bursting.  Unfortunately Option 1 failed as there was only one check in desk open with a very fierce women glaring at me from behind her glasses balanced on the end of her nose.  As I approached the desk she told me that I was only allowed 2 pieces of luggage each with a 32kg limit, and the third one would cost me 250 euros !!!!!!! ahhh  

As you know kiting equipment doesn't weigh anything but takes up space. "Right" I thought to myself,- I was not going to pay.  So I smiled and told her I would be back in half an hour.  I emptied the three bags, 8 kites, 3 boards , harnesses, bars , bikinis, boardies, and dare I say it my undies onto the floor of departures at Fortaleza Airport.  Talk about raising some eyebrows.  They say that men's spatial reasoning is better than women's and will always make it fit, but I did a pretty good job and 1 hour later with the help of a couple of English lads that I high jacked (if they read this, thank you both) to help me close the zips, I returned to the mean looking women feeling very happy, and maybe a little bit smug, with 2 bags, the 3rd bag and its content divided between the two.  She looked even grumpier, but off I went with no excess and a big grin.

More often then not you succeed through the kindness of the person behind the desk.  But if it gets tricky just be imaginative, make up stories, smile, flirt and NEVER be rude.
I am writing this in the air on my way to Lanzarote after a stroke of luck in Malaga airport - may be not quite so lucky as my luggage has gone to Barcelona!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So guys clean your teeth and smile, and girls can I recommend blue eye drops after a long haul overnighter, they work a treat.