6 Tips For Flying With Sports Equipment: Bikes, Golf Clubs, Skis and More
Active travel is on the rise – and no matter how you define active travel, you may find yourself flying with golf clubs, skis, or a bike.
What can you do to help keep your precious sporting equipment safe?
Try these tried and true tips.
Tips to Fly with Sporting Equipment
1. Invest in a high-quality case
Obviously you’re not going to toss a $2,000 bike into a garbage bag and call it good, but you simply can’t go cheap when it comes to buying a flight-safe container for your gear.
Generally, your decision is going to be between a hard or soft case for your gear. Hard cases provide better protection, but cost more and are often bulky. Soft cases are easier to work with but may not protect your item as well.
When flying with bikes, that means choosing between a hard case like the Thule RoundTrip Transition, Bicycling.com’s selection for “best protection” or a soft case like the Sub62, which they chose as “most stealthy” case.
Flying with skis? Options for a hard case include the Sportube Wheeled Ski Case, and soft options are led by the Thule RoundTrip Ski Roller Bag, both top rated by Travelgearzone.com (but remember that these just hold skis; ski boots are another matter).
When flying with golf clubs, the Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2 tops the soft cases “budget option”, while best rated hard option is the SKB Deluxe, according to Golfsidekick.com.
None of these items are cheap, but your equipment is worth it.
2. Get travel insurance
Generali’s Premium plan comes with $2,000 in coverage for damage or loss of sporting equipment, and even includes $500 in Sporting Equipment Delay coverage. In case you make it but your gear doesn’t, you can rent what you need and get reimbursed. The Preferred plan has $1,500 in Sporting Equipment coverage and $300 in Sporting Equipment Delay. It’s one of the best ways to help protect your gear.
Travel insurance also covers the insured travelers on the trip, not just the equipment. Our plans include 24-Hour Emergency Assistance Services, for immediate aid accessible from anywhere in the world, as well as Medical and Dental coverage.
3. Prep your items for travel
Many bike cases require you to do a fair bit of teardown before packing your bike. Golf cases may require you to add some padding between clubs, and you may have to do the same to your skis.
With bikes, be sure to let some air out of your tires before packing, to account for changes in pressure. Also, don’t lube your chain the day before packing your bike, for neatness’ sake.
Make sure all the zippered compartments are closed on your golf bag, and any loose items are stowed. Tuck in all straps on the bag or case, lock all locks, and connect and lock zippers, if that’s an option. Remove any money or valuables from pockets or packs.
4. Don’t forget the extras.
If you’re flying with a bike, also pack your seat pack, a toolkit, a small hand pump, and a lock. If you’re flying with skis, remember boots; if your skis are of the cross-country variety, pack your wax kit. And golfers need to remember their shoes, gloves, and extra balls.
This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who arrive at a trail or ski resort with a bike in pieces or skis and no boots.
5. Consider shipping them to your destination
Luggage fees being what they are, shipping your items to their destination as opposed to checking them through as luggage, could potentially be a better option. This is particularly true if you’re going to be staying in one place for multiple days.
Of course, shipping comes with a whole new set of problems, namely:
- Your gear might not arrive in time;
- It might arrive damaged;
- Shipping may not be cheaper;
- Problems with international shipping can be harder than dealing with airlines;
- Finding an appropriate box can be a challenge
Weigh your options. If you have the flexibility to wait a day or two for your equipment, and the cost savings are significant, try shipping. Just remember to accommodate for the fact that you probably will have to ship your stuff back and travel insurance won’t cover your stuff if you ship it.
6. Rent equipment
How important is your equipment to your game? If the answer is “not very,” then rent what you need at your destination. In the case of skis and golf clubs, it could be an opportunity to try out that high-end driver or those fancy new skis. And the cost may be very comparable to shipping costs or luggage fees.
If you do rent, then you really need to remember the things you may have packed along with your equipment, like tees, balls, and gloves. You can’t rent everything.
Get out there and be active … and remember to always protect your gear.