My name is Rosanne Steeneken and I’m a 21 year old skater from the Netherlands. In 2016 I tried to escape my flat country by exploring Europe without any experience in traveling with my longboard. My adventures were successful and now I’m planning a 2 month trip to North America. A dream come true…
This article is meant for skaters who are complete travel noobies. I wrote down all the basics you need to know about traveling and this is my way of helping the community and giving something back.
In my experience, traveling is fun, but it can also come with some complicated situations. At the end, making mistakes will give you the best life skills. So I advise you to go out and explore the world, skate fast roads and meet new people, but if you want to learn from my mistakes, here are my tips that will make your travels easier.
The great thing about the longboard community is that we are one big family. You will most probably always find people that are willing the help you out and contacting the right people really helped me a lot during my trips.
On my first journey last year, a trip to Italy, I didn’t event meet any of the girls before going on a road trip with them. It turned out we became really good friends and shared a lot of good times together.
With this said, my advice is to check out the local longboard crews from the country you want to visit and ask around if they would maybe like to show you around or even have a couch for you to surf on. If you are lucky you may even find a skate house where you can stay.
Traveling by plane
Traveling by plane may seem way too expensive…and at the end, it may be. I was able to travel to five different places in the past 6 months just by spending some extra time researching online. At the end, the struggle was worth it. Here are some websites I used that can make traveling by plane a lot cheaper and easier:
Note: Keep in mind that ”budget” air companies make you pay extra for booking and checking the baggage. Also note that the prices are almost always a bit higher than those you see online.
Traveling by bus or train
If you are staying inside Europe, I would consider checking out the buses and trains going to your destination. Although, it may take a lot more time than traveling by plane, it can also be less hassle with your luggage.
With Flixbus you can even bring one item of hand luggage (max. 42 x 30 x 18 cm, max. 7kg) and 2 items of luggage (max. 67 x 50 x 27 cm, max. combined weight 30kg).
Also check out BLA BLA car. Sometimes it can be a good option, just make sure you check the luggage size you are allowed to bring!
I like traveling by bus or a train, because it gives me the chance to see more of the country I’m in. I can also stretch my legs and keep an eye on my stuff.
Packing for the trip
There are two types of luggage you need to consider, a backpack and luggage with all your skate gear. When I travelled, I use both. A backpack (a carry on if you’re traveling by plane) for small stuff and personal belongings and a longboard bag for all my skate gear.
Before you go on a plane, think about what you want to put in your carry on luggage. I normally use a backpack and fill it up with skate wheels and small accessories to save some weight for my longboard travel bag.
Packing a full face helmets is always a bit tricky, but I have my own little trick. When I fly, I check if the company allows me to carry a little extra cabin bag. If this is allowed, a full face may be too big to become that extra little bag. What I do is, I just put my jacket over the helmet when it’s time to board the plane.
If you do this, you need to be super friendly to the flight crew and put your helmet underneath your feet or chair in front of you once you are on the plane. Also, if you explaining that your helmet is a life/death situation it may do the trick.
For my longboard gear, I got myself a 42 inch loyal buddy Decent Hardware bodybag that has been by my side for a half a year now. I don’t know what I would do without it. This longboard travel bag comes with little wheel bags inside and is big enough to fit your full face in as well.
I found out that this 42 inch bag is allowed at almost every budget air company. The only thing is, you will be asked to put it in the odd baggage section. When you land at your destination, just ask someone from the airport where you can pick up your oversized bag.
My Packing List
As long as you don’t make your mom pack your bags it’s not that hard to bring a lot of stuff with you. Before you set off, you can Google packing tips and find a lot of minimalist packing lists to hold on too. Here are some essentials I always take with me:
- A micro fibre towel – it dries super quick and is small enough to keep in your bag.
- Extra pair of laces, maybe even 3 – you can also use it as a belt.
- Don’t pack shoes, pack breaking soles instead – you’re only gonna need 1 pair of skates shoes, 1 pair of casual shoes and flip-flops.
- Reusable water bottle with a carbine hook
- Extra slide pucks
- A smaller backpack and a wheel bag – because wheels are always dirty.
Important documents you need when traveling
Having a valid passport or ID card is one of the most obvious things you need to travel. I have too many friends that forget or lost their passport during traveling, that is why I recommend making a copy of your documents and emailing it to yourself. You never know what will happen.
What I like to do is keeping my passport, boarding pass, wallet, phone and other important document inside a fanny pack. It’s easy to grab and close to your body and it is much harder to steal.
If you want to make it extra safe, put your passport and boarding pass inside a plastic folder. In addition, you will also get 10 extra swag points for wearing a fanny pack these days.
International drivers license
When you planning to go outside of Europe, make sure you get yourself an international driver’s license. You don’t want your buddies to drive all the time right? 😉
When I need one, I just Google where to get it and take a passport photo with me. Most of the time it costs only around 20 euro.
ALWAYS GET TRAVEL INSURANCE!!! You are a skater and you never know when you’ll get yourself into trouble. Getting travel insurance, besides your EHIC card is a lot easier and cheaper if something actually happens to you any you need to get treatment.
- Get yourself a credit card. If you’re going to rent a car somewhere they will most probably ask you for one.
- But don’t only take your ATM card, make sure you always have around 50-100 euros cash on you.
- If you own an iPhone you can download an app called iPhone Wallet. With it, you can save all your digital tickets. If you keep your phone charged, you don’t need to print them out.
- Don’t forget to pack a universal power converter and a power bank.
- Have a journal and a pen. You can make a list of your schedule and a list of your belongings so you always know what you took with you and what not to forget.
- Check what time the airport opens in the morning. If your flight leaves early you don’t want to sleep outside of the airport. Been there done that…
My favourite places to travel
If you want to start your new life of traveling, start with longboard events and freerides. This way you have something to hold on too. Besides longboard events, I find it really fun to also visit local communities and meet new people. These are the places I liked the most so far:
- Tenerife ( Sliders skate house ) duh..
- North Italy
- KnK Longboard camp ( Slovenia)
- Bela Joyride (Austria)
- Wallonhill (Belgium)
If you want to make it interesting, take a look at the less popular destinations like Poland, Scandinavia or England. They have great skate spots and an awesome longboard community.
Last but not least, don’t be an asshole. Pitch in your fair share. You’re a broke skater, we get it, but so is everyone else.
When traveling with other people pitch in for gas and throw in your part. Do people let you stay at their house for free? Be a good person and help them clean up. Even if you have a place to stay, camping rules still apply.
Leave the place cleaner than you found it. Because there’s nothing worse, than a shitty house guest or travel partner. It leaves a lasting impression so make it a good one.
In conclusion, I hope this article helped you and made you excited for traveling in the upcoming season. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me online or leave some comments down below! 🙂