The C Word. As in, CHILDREN. A word that makes grown men shake in their boots. A silly little word that is scary enough to ruffle the normally unflappable feathers of some of the most bad-ass childless adventure women out there!
Is this baby the end of surfing, traveling, swimming, hiking, climbing, camping, snowboarding? Is this the real life or is it just fantasy?
Is having a baby the end of FUN?
I am here to tell you that the answer is a resounding, HELL NO!
Yes, You Can Take Your Kids on a Surf Trip
This is the birth of your own mini-me, the start of one of life’s greatest adventures, and the opportunity for you to teach and groom your best partner in outdoorsy crime. In raising a child, every second counts. Every interaction can be a lesson. Every day can create lasting memories.
For me, surfing = fun and fun = surfing. Full stop. Surfing is my bread and butter, my life blood. The only thing better than surfing near home is surfing in exotic locales. Traveling the world in search of experiences, interactions and waves is the crème de la crème of life for me.
Back in reality, I’ve got a three year old. When she was born, I refused to hang up my wetsuits and give up surfing. Similarly, I refused to give up my semi-annual pilgrimages to far flung surf spots. With some minor logistical adjustments, we found that you can take your baby, and eventually toddler and/or kids on a surf trip and that their presence might even make the trip better.
Here’s our latest story…
We went to a remote island off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia for 10 days. Then, we flew from Sydney to Bali, then Bali to Jakarta, and finally, Jakarta to Padang. After dinner in Padang, we boarded a wooden passenger ship and motored to our destination overnight. We arrived on the island via a 10 man wooden canoe which had to shoot through a keyhole in the reef surrounding our island.
We had the BEST TIME EVER. We surfed perfect waves with no other people. Our daughter spent 10 days playing with the owner’s children, picking up some Indonesian and Portuguese and eating coconut “meat” to her heart’s content. There were no cars, no Internet, no TV, and no cell service. It was perfect.
Prepare, Prepare, Let Go
While we had the best time ever and we love that you can do a lot with kids in tow, we also had to be prepared. International surf trips require extra planning and we needed to plan more than just packing extra snacks.
For our trip to Indonesia, I did a lot of research about every aspect of our trip. I made sure all the transitions would be smooth – every airport pick-up, boat ride and lay-over was well planned. We purchased travel insurance and Medi-Evac insurance. Medi-Evac insurance means a helicopter will come pick you up from anywhere in the world in the case of grave injury, terrorism and/or war.
I also intensely interviewed the owners of our surf camp about everything from dangers of malaria to the sleeping arrangements to daily toddler entertainment. I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen and just to be safe loaded a first aid/natural remedy kit for anything unexpected. Once we were organized we felt ready to go but I still could not help going over everything over and over to make sure I had thought of every scenario. After I got on the plane, I helped my daughter put sticker tutus on ballerina’s for 6 hours and forced myself to stop worrying about the “what ifs.”
Don’t Wing It
It is hard for me to be so organized because I love being spontaneous. The surf conditions change, you make new friends or hear about a little known destination. When travelling that is the best part when you pivot from your original plans and are off on a new adventure! But, with our daughter we had the best time because we were well planned.
The truth is flying by the seat of your pants with kids may prove more difficult than rewarding. These days, traveling with kids in tow means that we are pre-booking everything. The last thing we wanted was to arrive somewhere to find all the accommodation fully booked. Sleeping on a random beach with a two year old is less than ideal.
Create a specific itinerary with all intermediary flights and accommodation booked before you go if it is high season or surf season. If you are on a longer trip (>1 month) or traveling during the off season in certain places, a wing and prayer may get you there. But, because I haven’t had great success with unplanned traveling with my daughter, I tend to arrange everything before we depart.
Parting Tips for Taking the Kids on Your Next Surf Trip:
Talk about what is going to happen a lot! Hype it up!
Bring Sticker books or coloring books and a select few favorite toys
Arrange good travel and evacuation insurance
Want to hear about the best surf vacation spots for families? Audrey Hills will be sharing her top places to take kids on a surf trip Wednesday October 18th!
Audrey Hills is a 5th generation Californian who called La Jolla home for most of her life before moving to Sydney, Australia. She now splits her year between Manly Beach, Australia and La Jolla. You can usually find her surfing, body surfing, camping and adventuring when she’s not working on her blog or chasing after her 3-year-old daughter, Valentina.