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Traveling with a Kayak

a group of lawn chairs sitting on top of a grass covered fieldDestination: Dagali Norway. Enter. Ticket purchased, travel dates are set, time to link home to airport and airport to destination. There’s a caveat: I will be traveling with a 36 kg (80 lbs) kayak. Below, I will explain the steps involved when traveling with a behemoth of a boat and some of the emotions involved throughout the process, but first, a little about my situation.

I will be raft guiding on the Numedelslagan River in Dagali, Norway starting the beginning of June through the end of September. I will be traveling with every valuable object I own (minus my car) all packed into a brand new Zet Raptor Kayak. Everything I need to live and work- excluding: lodging, cook utensils, food, and *women (*there is a shortage of the latter) must fit inside the boat.

Never put all your eggs in one basket. This adage applies to everything in life- except when you are bottlenecked into flying overseas with a boat. The kayak is your one and only basket, with all of your outdoor gear, clothes, paddling equipment…. everything… your eggs. The repercussion of the boat not showing up at your destination is a real worry, especially when all the contents are your work tools and daily subsistence items.

How do you somewhat hedge your high flying, all-in gamble? Step one: Lay everything out that you plan to take with you on your front lawn (see picture). Step two: Take a video and multiple pictures documenting the items. Step three: Go to your local AAA insurance agency and by travel insurance. The content of my boat was estimated at around $5,000 dollars, boat included. I purchased a plan for $120 that insured the boat and its content with the pictures and video as documentation. Travel insurance lends you the peace of mind that you’re not packing your all of your valuables into a potential “grave basket”.

The way you pack your boat matters. Kayaks move well in water but not so well on land, until you go to Play-It-Again-Sports and buy a skate board and secure duck tape to the back of the boat! You can thank me later, because now you’re mobile. The trick with the skateboard method is to balance out the weight of load to the back of the boat (with the skate board underneath), heavy items in back, light items in front. The bulk of your weight is now on the wheels making your life a little easier. “Shemp eh Bra!” (Norwegian for: “Brilliant!”)

Once you have packed your life into the boat, it’s now time to secure and seal the cockpit. If you have a kayak bag, it should be used and your belongings will be much more secure, but if you don’t have one, no worries. Some items you will need: bomb proof tape, a thick piece of card board, Sharpie marker, clear tape, a piece of paper, and somewhere to raise your boat off the ground about a foot. Step one: prop your boat up so you can pass tape underneath it. Step two: cover the cockpit with cardboard making sure all edges are covered. Step three: get medieval with the bomb-proof tape and secure the cockpit by wrapping the cardboard with tape. Step four: on the piece of paper, write your contact information including home address and the final destination of the boats address and phone number. Secure this paper with the clear tape to the back of the boat (not the cardboard!!). This step is important because now the boat has a personal ID tag. Your basket now has a solid lid on it and the kayak knows where it’s going!

Let’s nerd out here for a second and talk about credit cards…what? What’s in your wallet can really save you when traveling. Well before you travel with your kayak (or any luggage for that matter), give your credit card company a call and ask them what kind of travel benefits come with your card. You may find that your credit card comes with baggage insurance or free lost bag tracking services. Who knew right? I did and “Va shey goo” (Norwegian for: “you’re welcome”) and I used my American Express to pay for the $168 “large sports equipment” fee with Icelandic Air to fly my lead-packed boat. It is best to not pay with cash for luggage because you want to create a digital footprint with this important item and leverage the powers of the credit card companies. Get a card that has these benefits and save yourself a potential headache.

At the airport, you are a rockstar rolling your artisanal duct-tape-skateboard kayak. Be proud! Shoulders back, head high, part the waters please cause “I’m going boatin’ somewhere cool and gonna have more fun than you!” Thats kinda what was going through my mind at the time! Take this swagger with you when you check the boat in and use it to your advantage. A rule of thumb I live by: Always approach the opposite sex in the same age range as you at the check-in counter. Very important. Why? Because sex sells baby! The last thing I want to do is get into it with some old man who just wants to watch reruns of Seinfeld and eat a Hungry Man. I want the cute blonde who I can flirt with, is around my age, and most likely travels. Once the deed is done and boat is on it’s way, take a deep breath and go have an $8 airport beer and people watch- you deserve it.

I take pictures of all of my receipts on my phone from point A to Point B. I do this because if I do have to act on any of the number of barriers put in place, I have everything I need in my hand and can send it anywhere in the world… And come April taxes are a breeze…How much did I pay for the ticket again?

How did my travels go in June? I arrived in Oslo, Norway and my boat did not make it! HAHA I kept it cool and spoke with a very nice lady who took down my information and processed a claim at the airport. I was told that the boat should arrive at the Norwegian address in two to three days. I was nervous because all I had were my clothes on my back and my duty free booze, so it could only get but sooo bad. The boat arrived in four days and I did not have to use any of the backups or insurance. This trip was comical because the ONLY time I had to deal with my cumbersome boat was in DC from my car to the check in desk…about 500 feet. The next time I saw my boat was at my door step in Dagali!!! The basket snaffoo actually saved me money because I did not have to pay the oversized luggage fee for the train, but my duty free liquor took a hit, so please bring me more.

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