What to Pack for a Surf Trip

Essential Items That Girls Should Pack For a Surf Trip

This list is perfect for surfer girls, as well as those who do not surf but will be accompanying a surfing friend during a visit to a tropical locale. The items listed below comfortably fit into a standard carry-on bag, and are meant to minimize packing time, weight and cost.

If you are planning for Central or South America, the Caribbean or South Pacific, make sure to pack these essential items:

Rip Curl Carry-On Bag

A backpack is easy to carry, but doesn’t have the room that a duffel bags offers.  My Rip Curl bag is just big enough to fit a week’s work of travel goodies and apparel, but is a convenient carry-on size. Plus, the leather straps make it comfortable to sling on one shoulder.

2-3 Surf Brand Swim Suits

If you surf I recommend Roxy Bikini’s for their comfort and durability. After you wear one all day, wash it out and hang to dry and wear another one for the next session.

Note – I do not like packing string bikinis for active trips, they tend to not be as secure while swimming, surfing, etc.

SkinCeuticals Sport UV Defense, SPF 45

Yes…its expensive (about $30 for a 3oz tube)…but, in my opinion, it’s the best sunblock for your face. Its perfect for high-energy activities; its waterproof, sweat-proof sunblock. Contains transparent zinc oxide, and defends against both skin-burning UVB rays and skin-damaging UVA rays.

I would definitely use a less expensive brand for your body. I recommend LaRoche-Posay. It’s a French brand that contains Mexoryl SX, the strongest ingredient for fighting harmful, age-causing rays.

PS – its illegal in the US, so you have to order it online.

1 Beach Sheet or Old Bed Sheet. Unless you’re staying at a higher-end resort, most cabinas do not provide extra towels for the beach. So, if you plan on laying-out, you need to pack your own beach sheet or an old bed sheet. They don’t take up much space, and will make the beach much more enjoyable. Beach sheets are also thinner than packing a thick beach towel, and will not consume as much space in your carry-on.

Canon PowerShot Digital Camera with SanDisk 2.0 GB Memory Card – Canon has the best point-n-shoot digital quality, as well as a variety of easy settings for any photo adjustments. I do recommend buying a large memory card. You will not be lugging your laptop on vacation to unload photos, and will need the memory for max storage. Just be careful where you hide it!

Patagonia Underwear and Bra – I recommend Patagonia Boy Shorts and Barely Bra because they are super comfortable, light-weight and made from a moisture wicking fabric that keeps you cool while in the tropics. The Rule – 1 panty/day is plenty, but bring a few more just in case. One bra will suffice, since you’re likely be in your bathing suit most of the day and early evening.

T-shirts/Tank Tops – Pack 1 shirt for each day of your trip, plus 2 extra. You can bank on a couple of shirts getting really dirty/stinky, which you will definitely need to change. Sweaty hiking trips, fishing trips, monsoon rains, dusty roads – any/all of these things will happen during your stay in a tropical locale. Moisture wicking fabrics and t-shirts work well in humid conditions, and are often able to be worn more than once without wash.

Cotton Pajamas. One pair is enough since you will only be wearing them while you sleep. You want your PJ’s to be cool and breathable. Most rooms have window units, which don’t cool down a room like central AC (like we have in the States).

3 pairs of shorts – I recommend packing 1 pair of Nike running shorts, which are more durable than most brands and great for hiking, as well as 2 pairs of your favorite khaki shorts for lounging, and as a clean comfortable pair for travel back home.

1 Pair of Board Shorts. To prevent your thighs from chaffing while surfing, as well as preventing HBS (hungry butt syndrome) while moving around in the water.

Teva’s or Chacos – This is the tropical adventure footwear of choice. Both Teva’s and Chacos are comfortable, durable, and easy to pack, and offer MUCH better support for hiking or lots of walking. Flip-flops are great if you aren’t doing much walking or hiking. Tennis shoes & hiking boots are too bulky to pack and lug around.

Cheap Polarized Sunglasses – leave the Gucci’s or D&G’s at home…yes, they look expensive and fashionable, and they also trigger theft. Buy a cheap pair of polarized sunglasses at home for your trip.

Billabong Beach Cover – these are great for covering up after the beach, and look nice enough to wear to dinner. I recommend packing 2. They are more functional than packing a summer dress, and wont take up much space in your carry-on bag.

1 Rash Guard. This will save your skin during hours of surfing. Surf Rash + Tropical Sun Burn = Lots of Itching and Restless Nights

Small First Aid Kit. Definitely a lifesaver. Be sure to include: an assortment of band aides, cotton tips, antiseptic wides/wash, sterile saline solution, wound dressings, waterproof tape, tweezers and aspirin.

Toiletries. Soap, washcloth, shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair-ties, razor, and tampons/pads if your time of the month will be during the trip.

Washcloth – A must. Not every hotel and Cabina provides a variety of towel size options. You will get dirty walking around Costa Rican towns, most roads are dirt which kicks-up a lot of dust/debris that sticks to your skin.

Passport & Drivers License. If you are a U.S. citizen traveling anywhere outside of the U.S. other than Puerto Rico, you will need this. Drivers License – you should always have another form of ID anywhere you travel, especially abroad.

Cash – Many times you will come across places that do not accept credit cards. Withdraw a good amount of cash before you leave, and convert it into the local currency in the airport after you land.

Credit Card – I typically put the larger expenses on the credit card (hotels, car rentals, board rentals) that way I keep my cash of the hundreds of smaller expenses you will incur (meals, gas, snacks, trinkets, etc.).

What to leave at home:

Make-up & Hair Products – Makeup will melt off your face in the tropical sun and hair products will attract bugs.

Hair Dryer or Curling/Straight Iron. Most places you’ll be going to eat at are outdoors, which means possibly humid, windy, rainy, and buggy conditions. Plus, your US hairdryer will not work in most foreign electric outlets.

Dressy Clothes & Shoes. They will either get dirty, wrinkly, unworn, or all of the above. Shoes will get dirty from dusty roads.

Jeans. Unless you plan to go horseback riding, jeans are not a good option. They are not breathable, and are very slow to dry to soaked during a rain shower.

Perfume and Fragrant Lotion – do you like bugs??

Laptop – Most hotels and cabinas will not have WiFi or Ethernet connections. You will end of worrying too much about your laptop being stolen or damaged.

If your sole purpose is to surf and hang around the beach, this should help. Otherwise, if you plan on doing some heavy hike, or do other activities, of course pack according.

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