Insider Surf Travel Hacks from the Amigas Community

Travel can be overwhelming, especially when you add a 50 pound surfboard bag to the equation. There’s nothing quite like hauling your board bag through the airport; the experience is full of navigating long check-in lines, praying you don’t get stung with oversize luggage fees, and eventually wishing you brought an extra shirt, especially when you realize you sweated through the one you’re wearing. That being said, we all know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel after periods of long travel: an epic surf trip awaits! Here are some trips to lighten your load, literally, on your next voyage.

#1 don’t overpack your surfboard bag

This may be a controversial tip, but its efficacy has been thoroughly tested by several members of our team. Instead of weighing down your surfboard with clothes, bathing suits, and other items that you think will protect your boards from travel dings, opt for an extra carry-on or checked piece of luggage. While you may cringe at the thought of paying more baggage fees on top of an already pricey plane ticket, we highly recommend you disperse your belongings into several bags.

According to our founder Holly Beck, who has a lifetime of surf travel behind her, lightening your board bag load allows for easier handling (both for you and airline workers, who are in charge of delivering your bag safely to your destination). This hopefully means a lower risk of board dings, while also ensuring that you have an emergency supply of clothes and toiletries if your board bag or any other luggage doesn’t show. If you’re still worried about your boards (seemingly unprotected in the bag), try using recycled pieces of cardboard to provide more buffer.

surf with amigas retreats packing tips

#2 Prioritize sun protection, snacks and waterproof items

We all know the sun can be both our friend and enemy in the lineup. While I love nothing more than catching fresh rays on my buns or back, a lifetime of sun on unprotected skin is not so sustainable. We highly encourage covering up (especially during peak sun hours) with rash guards, leggings, a goofy hat, and of course a good zinc or sunscreen.

Bring snacks because, one, who doesn’t love having their favorite treats to look forward to after a big session? Two, your destination may not have the same food options as your home country, and especially in transit or upon landing, you’ll be wanting to keep your belly happy. It may sound excessive to some, but our yoga instructor Reesie swears by bringing tupperwares of pasta on her trips. Don’t slack on the snacks!

Finally, prioritize waterproof items. We highly recommend waterproof backpacks as versatile beach and travel bags. Our retreat locations especially have a tendency to be near the equator, where mold loves to grow on damp items that are left in the dark, forgotten corners of your room. Save yourself a ruined item and protect it instead with a waterproof covering.

surf with amigas retreats what to bring travel

#3 double down on health products

Being sick or injured in a foreign country, especially one without reliable healthcare systems, can be extremely anxiety-inducing. Be sure to pack all the essential health products unique to you, and then some. We highly recommend bringing preventative products like multivitamins, charcoal pills for belly protection, probiotics, electrolytes, and antihistamines, to name a few (you never know when hives may mysteriously strike).  Of course, at all SWA Retreats we have access to great first aid kits, but it’s never a bad idea to have your own stash of preventative products that may be difficult to find in rural areas.

#4 pack spares of essential items

Pack in twos, especially when it comes to surf items! Not only is it easy to lose items while on the road, but surf belongings have a particular risk of breakage and if you’re traveling to a rural zone you might not be able to replace these items easily. Be sure to bring extra fins, an extra leash, an extra plate and screw, and a little ding repair kit too!


Boost Your Surf Confidence With These 4 Practices

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It’s normal to have pre-surf jitters, especially when the conditions may be challenging or you’ve been out of the water for a while. Boost your confidence and prepare yourself for your next big session or surf trip with these 4 tips!

try static breath holds

Recognize what happens to you, mentally and physically, when you hold your breath. Static breath holds can be performed underwater or on land in a place where you can sit calmly and relax. Be sure to do this with a buddy, and in a safe environment! By practicing breath holds, you are inviting your body to adapt in difficult or uncomfortable situations. Wiping out can be scary, and breath holding gives you the opportunity to manage how your body and mind respond to stress. This knowledge is power for the next time you experience a hold down underwater.

Learn to quiet your mind

Our minds can be our biggest obstacle or asset in the water. Surfing is a sport that demands both physical and mental endurance. Incorporating mindfulness techniques such as breath work and other relaxation/meditation exercises can help calm pre-surf jitters and facilitate composure in the water. By learning to recognize and accept your fears, manage stress, and maintain a relaxed state, you can approach each wave with greater confidence and clarity.

surf with amigas retreats

Practice visualization techniques

Visualization practices will help you dive more deeply into the mental aspects of surfing, and help boost confidence! When you have a spare few minutes in your day, try having a mental surf session! Imagine yourself riding the perfect wave, feeling the rush of adrenaline, and executing flawless maneuvers, or whatever your personal surf goal may be. Through visualization, you can build your mind-body connection, anticipate challenges, and take steps to honing your skills in the water.

Practice well-rounded training

Surfing is a full body sport, and it’s easy to lose surf and paddle endurance if you don’t have the opportunity to jump in the water frequently (as is often the unfortunate reality in our busy lives!) Practice building your strength and flexibility, in and out of the water. Cross-training will not only boost your readiness for that next session but will also bolster your health and longevity! Not to mention, by diversifying your physical activities you’ll reduce the risk of burnout or sport-specific injuries. Think of it as an  incentive to try something different while immersing yourself in a new community.

For more surf techniques and mindful practices, check out the Surf with Amigas Collective!



4 Tips For Managing Fear While Surfing

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At some point in our surf journeys, we are bound to find ourselves stuck in a place we’d rather not be, or at the very least in an unexpected situation in the water. Many different emotions can come up while we’re surfing, but there usually tends to be one common denominator: fear. Whether it boils down to a fear of lack of control, of injury or embarrassment, that nagging, anxiety-inducing feeling in the pit of your stomach is universal in surfing. Feelings of fear are our brain’s way of trying to keep our bodies safe. Here are four tips you can use to help overcome your fear in the water:

1. Acknowledge your fear

The more you can acknowledge that your fear exists, the more likely you can begin to take the needed steps to overcome that fear. Trying to understand exactly where your fear comes from is the first step in processing it. Use that understanding to slowly enlarge your comfort zone. You can do this by taking baby steps of expansion while keeping yourself safely challenged. Whether it is surfing a slightly more difficult break, or trying different maneuvers in the water, give it a go. Using this technique, our amiga Brooke says,

“I recognized that my desire to overcome the fear became stronger than the fear at some point.”

2. Surf with a buddy, or instructor!

Fear can feel like a much more manageable emotion when you have someone to share it with. A little bit of extra encouragement from a friend, especially from someone who may have a bit more experience in the water, can go a long way. If you see your buddy isn’t afraid, often that gives you the permission to let go of your fear. Not to mention, a simple shared look of solidarity before plunging headfirst into a duck dive can do wonders for the nerves.

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3. Practice breathing techniques in the water

As our amiga Brooke explains in her Second Breakfast episode, as soon as we start to hold our breath, the body goes into fight or flight mode. While we’re stressed or anxious, there’s usually an element of breath holding that comes along with that. Especially while we’re laying on our bellies paddling, breathing can easily become constricted. Try focusing on inhaling and exhaling while you’re paddling for a wave. While doing this, you can challenge your own perceptions of fear. Remind yourself that even if you get tumbled around, you’re going to come up, you’re going to be okay. Consider breathing exercises to be an intervention for your anxiety. 

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“Drawing your attention towards your breath can help get you out of a fear state and more into flow state.”

4. Practice positive mantras in the water

Often what holds us back the most in the water is our perceived perception of ourselves and what we are capable of. The brain creates strong neural pathways that dictate these perceptions. The more we believe them and use certain pathways, the more engrained they become. Studies have shown that bilateral movement (like paddling while surfing!) offers an opportunity to create new pathways. The next time you’re paddling out into the lineup, try repeating a positive mantra to yourself. Rather than telling yourself “I suck, I don’t have the skill level to surf this wave,” or “I’m scared I’ll fall and everyone is watching,” try flipping the switch. “My body is strong and capable, and I am doing the best that I can.”

For more surf stories, tips and techniques for managing your emotions in water, check out Brooke’s episode on Second Breakast (the Surf With Amigas podcast).

For some, even the thought of a particular surf destination or break can make the palms break out in a sweat. Are you ready to send it and step out of your comfort zone? Are you an intermediate to advanced surfer and willing to push your limits? Check out our new retreat location, Sumatra!

This February, Holly will be leading a live fear workshop on the Surf With Amigas Collective. We will be taking a deep dive into facing and embracing our fears. Checkout The Collective and subscribe to our newsletter for more information.