Sunday, January 20, 2008

Traveling with Sports Equipment: How to Prevent Damage

Whether you’re a cyclist or a surfer, all athletes undoubtedly have the same dilemma: how to safely transport sports equipment without damaging it. A little forethought â€" and access to the right resources â€" can ensure the preservation of your equipment, from bikes to skis to surfboards, regardless of your destination. Some of the logistical problems will be the same. For all sports, you’ll need to plan ahead. You can’t assume that you’ll be able to take your equipment everywhere you’re going without special accommodation or advanced notice. If you’re traveling by air, it can’t hurt to call the airline in advance and ask if there’s anything you need to do before you arrive at the airport, or if you need to allow for more time at the check-in counter. You should also ask them if traveling with your particular piece of equipment will incur extra fees, or if there are any limitations regarding the type of aircraft you’ll be allowed to travel on. Major airlines should have this information easily accessible on their websites. Each sport also has specific needs to be addressed. A surfboard, for example, will introduce more complications into your travel plans than would skis or snowboards. Perhaps the most complicated sports equipment to tote on your trip relates to kayaking. If you’re traveling by air, you should contact the airline to ensure that kayaks are allowed to be checked as luggage, and then you should ask about associated guidelines, fees, or restrictions. Often, the easiest route to take is to rent a kayak once you arrive at your destination. If you’re traveling with a company, it’s possible they’ll make kayaks available for you at no additional charge. For example, Access Trips, an adventure travel company, provides all kayak equipment for their clients, eliminating the stress of transporting your personal equipment. If you’re traveling with a mountain bike, you have even more options. Bringing your own bike on domestic travel should be straightforward and cheap (some airlines even allow bikes as checked luggage with no additional fees). The best way to travel with your bike is to partially dismantle it and put it in a bike box, either the one it came with or one you’ve acquired from a bike retailer. You’ll need to remove the front wheel, seat, pedals, and handlebars in order to fit your bike into the box. Foam padding wrapped around the bike frame and parts will prevent in-flight damage, and you can even pad the sides and bottom of the box with the clothing you’ll take on your trip. If the idea of submitting your mountain bike to the abuse of air travel makes you sweat, you might prefer shipping your bike ahead of time or leaving it at home and renting a bike once you arrive at your destination. As with kayaks, some travel companies provide equipment for their clients or offer equipment at a reduced rate. There’s an added bonus for renting from a travel company specializing in bicycle tours: your bike will ‘meet you’ when you arrive, and you don’t have to worry about taking it to a specific drop-off for the return. With the frequency of ski and snowboard travel, you should have little difficulty transporting the equipment for these sports. You should still call ahead to clarify any logistical details with the airline if you’re traveling by air, but you should expect that no one will raise any eyebrows when you bring your skis or snowboard to the check-in counter. With snow sport equipment, your main concern will be finding the right bag to ensure that your equipment is protected from other luggage. Finally, surfers interested in taking their boards on the airplane should take special precautions when packing. You should duct tape thick towels and pillows to the vulnerable parts of your board â€" the tail, nose, and rails â€" to shield them from other passenger luggage. If you don’t have a board bag, you can ‘package’ your board inside old bedding for safety. Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll need a soft rack or rope to secure the board to your car, unless you anticipate there will be room for storage inside the car (as is the case with a Jeep or truck). Even without surfboards and ski poles, traveling is stressful enough. By planning ahead, you can ensure that both you and your equipment arrive safely. For more information about traveling with sports equipment, visit Traveling with Sports Equipment , provided by Access Trips for client reference in preparation for their mountain bike tours . Access Trips also offers equipment rental for clients, including top of the range bikes during their bicycle tours . For more information on traveling with a bike, including information about airports around the world, visit George Farnsworth’s Bike Travel Website .

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