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SUP and travel – what are the options?

Travelling to paddle is one of the awesome aspects of SUP. Owning a stand up paddle board gives riders opportunities to explore waterways of all types anywhere (in theory). Of course, bylaws and prohibited access does sometimes put the kybosh on this. But technically a stand up paddle board is a great way of discovering new spots and gaining new experiences.

SUP and travel.

Travel has been severely restricted during the last few years, as we all know. As it stands currently (Easter ’22) there’s suddenly much more opportunity to get gone and paddle again. This includes both overseas travel and domestic.

There are certainly pluses and minus for both home and away SUP travel. The UK’s weather for one can often halt any type of paddling fun. Whereas being abroad can often see more guaranteed and favourable Sup conditions. But, in contrast, being closer to home and a vehicle journey away sometimes is less hassle.

Travelling with stand up paddle boarding kit.

You have two options when heading for new SUP locations. You can travel with your own gear or try and source when on the ground in your destination of choice. There are plenty of hire centres and coaching schools in the UK that can make SUP travel easy – even if just taking a punt. Head to any coastal location these days and you’ll be sure to come across stand up paddle board business that’ll allow you to rent gear. As long as the area you’re in isn’t too busy – which isn’t always simple.

UK SUP travel can be extremely good fun!

School holiday periods and high summer will see most hire businesses packed out. Therefore you may have to call and reserve kit for the duration of your stay. Not all will allow you take equipment off premises. And then, this being home waters and all, you’re once again at the mercy of the good ole British weather. Score it, however, and there can be some sublime paddling right on your doorstep. Lock into one of Mother Nature’s bad moods though and it’ll be tears.

Should you decide to take your own gear then you’ll have much more choice. If it’s an iSUP (or multiple) it’s potentially easier to pack everything down and store neatly. That said hard SUPs, for those who choice to purchase, are plenty transportable with the right ‘tools’ in place. A decent set of roof bars and sturdy straps make chucking hard stand up paddle boards on the car roof pretty simple. Or, as many do, get yourself a bigger vehicle (such as a van) that’ll improve things further.

Warm weather, warm water and sunshine – reasons to get gone abroad.

Overseas travel is often a little trickier. Although, again, iSUPs can make thing much less hassle. Some airlines allows sports equipment to be stowed in aeroplane holds. And inflatables, deflated, usually fit this description. A nominal fee can see you blow SUP kit on route to whatever overseas destination you’ve chose. Being clever with packing, and utilising the iSUP’s bag, is also a good call as you’ll keep excess luggage costs down.

Hard boards an air travel can also work. You’ll need to wrap your board in protective material. And even though there’s no guarantee it’ll arrive ding free. Often though, it doesn’t. And with a hard SUP on the ground in your chosen country your paddling freedom is guaranteed. Travelling with your own SUP gear will also mean what you use is familiar. Which is no bad thing when tackling unfamiliar new SUP routes.

Hiring and overseas SUP package holidays.

Overseas SUP package holidays can be much more favourable than travelling with kit. Having everything sorted for when you arrive can take many a headache away. Oftentimes it’s possible to tie in SUP hire/tuition with your tour provider, rather than source separately.

How to travel with inflatable paddleboards
Overseas watersports set up can be great if you want everything provided.

Newbie and progress paddlers can get that all important coaching and instruction. Even advanced SUPers may benefit from having a coach on hand. There’s always something to learn! A downside with package holidays is not being able to (or have the means) to trek offsite. You’ll more likely be limited to area within close proximity of the school you’re using. This isn’t always the case as some foreign SUP rental outfits do allow you take kit away. If this is the case you’ll be liable for any damage picked up. Although there’s often additional insurance you can purchase.

There’s plenty of argument for both travelling to SUP in the UK and heading overseas. Likewise travelling with or without your equipment. The choice is yours.

If you’re looking for SUP travel inspiration then check out both McConks’ UK bitesize travel guides here as well as the international write ups here.

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