Kite Travel on a Budget
Wondering what it takes to travel? After traveling to 40+ countries, we’ve come up with some ways to help you plan and save some money. Read the tips below on how to make kitesurfing travel fit your budget.
Getting A Passport
The first step to international travel is getting your passport. We don’t have a way to offer you a discount but give you some tips to not pay extra. Apply for your passport at least 8 weeks before your scheduled trip. Look at usps.gov for a post office near you that offers to both take your passport photo and your application. A passport photo at Walgreens or the Post Office is $15 and passports are $130, it helps to fill out your documentation before your appointment.
How to Choose Flights
Our favorite US Airline is Delta, but there are deals to be had at each of the carriers. Take advantage of credit card offers such as sky miles rewards (subject to terms and conditions) that can offer huge sign-on bonuses (i.e. 50,000+ miles). Sometimes these bonuses can pay for at least one round-trip ticket, but you can accumulate more miles with each dollar spent.
With increasingly complex airline pricing models judging the best time for ticket prices has become difficult. But booking flights between 30 days and 60 days in advanced seems to be a good window for lower prices. When you book too far in advance, the prices may be higher due to airline hedging against rising fuel costs. Flights also tend to be less expensive on weekdays, particularly Tuesday-Thursday. And while many people prefer to travel over holidays and spring break, the prices also are higher. We found our best deals by planning in off-peak season and during the week.
Saving Money on Baggage
Each airline has different rules for different routes and transporting kite gear. We use this website to look at basic baggage information (website). We have had success flying on Delta with regular sized kite bags (up to 6′) and not getting charged for surf equipment. We may call the bags golf bags, but as a Delta Sky Miles American Express Credit Card holder we get one free checked bag regardless whats written on it. As a medallion frequent flyer, we also get a second bag free. Baggage fees and overages can add up with some airlines charging $100+, so make sure to factor that into the cost of your tickets. (See example below)
Click here to apply for the Delta Sky Miles American Express Card. *we may receive a referral bonus if you are approved for the credit card and all terms and conditions must be met.
Here is a previous post on how to pack your kitesurfing gear to minimize potential damage. Check out the full details here: https://kitegearusa.com/how-to-packing-kite-gear-for-air-travel/
Where to Stay at Your Kitesurf Destination
Within this section, we will give some ideas for saving on the different types of lodging possibilities.
- Airbnb: A popular site for entire homes or rooms that are available by the day or for longer stays. Many renters offer discounts that you can see while searching on long-term stays. An added benefit to staying at an AirBnb is that there is often a kitchen to cook your own food or the owner may provide things to do like snorkel equipment or a local cell phone. You may want to compare cleaning fees as they may vary substantially by owner.
- Local Accommodations: Are you headed to a destination that has a kite shop or school? Kite shops are usually very responsive and helpful as they want “you” to come visit their area. You should contact them for suggestions of where to stay. Locals often have the inside scoop on places that are not posted online.
- Lower Range Lodging: Think hostel! This type of lodging is very popular in Europe and throughout the world and gives you an opportunity to meet fellow travelers. Sleeping arrangements vary from private rooms to 10 bed dorm-style rooms. You can generally choose a single gender room or a co-ed room. This is an economical way to stay and may give you first hand access to tours and locals that may give guidance to the kite scene. But, maybe this is more for the party crowd. 😉
- Hotels, Motels, Resorts: Hotels are usually the most expensive option when choosing a vacation destination. Hotel discounts can be found last minute using sites like Hotels.com or HotelTonight. You can accumulate points through credit cards. We have experienced a wide-variety of accommodations on sites like Booking.com and suggest to browse over the reviews and look at the details. We weren’t thrilled with Booking.com as it includes private residences which often are difficult to distinguish from hotel listings. A better experience was with Hotels.com and using google GPS and typing “hotels” in the search.
Your Cell Phone
Cell phone connection is vital so check with your provider about its function. We are using T-Mobile and have not found a country where the service did not work. T-Mobile includes free text messages and 2G data which is sufficient (though slow) for looking up things without Wi-Fi. WhatsApp is a popular text and call app used in most parts of the world (not popular in US). TIP: Your phone’s GPS should work without data and is able to give you a sense of direction. Your GPS will display streets and names that you can maneuver without data use. Keep in mind the “direction” function on your GPS is a data vacuum and you don’t want to be surprised by high roaming charges upon your return.
Rental Car Tips
Before you travel, do a quick search about the kite places and its infrastructure. It will give you more certainty on the type of rental car needed. A 4×4 SUV is not needed in most locations and you can save upwards of $40/day just by renting the economy car. For example, a tiny economy car like the Chevy Spark would work as long as the back seats fold down, thus extending your trunk space. This works well with one person and one large kite gear bag plus personal bag. You may want to trade up slightly if you travel with two people.
Which car company to choose? We exclusively book online, but will choose on the rates that are posted. We book online through Carrentals.com, Kayak.com, Priceline.com, or Hotwire.com. Our favorites are Europcar and Budget for international locations and National for US based destinations. You can save money on insurance for international rentals by using a credit card with collision damage such as the Delta American Express Sky Miles credit card. Though, most credit cards now offer this benefit. For domestic rentals, check with your personal vehicle auto insurance.Full coverage on your personal vehicle often transfers to your rental.
Some countries require liability insurance for your rental car. For example, in Mexico cars look very inexpensive, but when you get through the checkout process you will see that it adds mandatory insurance. Look into this before you travel to avoid additional costs, but the rental companies will try to up-sell you on all extras like GPS, extra insurance, etc. Before you leave the parking lot, take a video and several pictures to verify the condition and any damage before your adventure begins! We also made it a habit to take picture of the inside and the odometer reading in case me missed something in the “fine print”. Do this at pick up and drop off to have proof to fight potential claims.
Experiencing the local culture includes doing as the locals do. It is sometimes cool to explore the small supermarkets located throughout the neighborhoods of many kitesurfing destinations. A kitchen in your accommodation makes preparing your own local grocery gatherings easy and interesting! If you don’t have a full kitchen, but do have a refrigerator, you can store supplies for sandwiches, fresh fruits, and of course cheap local beer.
Eating out can add up even if less expensive than in the US! If you are going to eat out, we recommend finding places off the beaten paths. Ask the locals on the beach for recommendations, search your GPS or just wander around to find a place. When you visit a local restaurant, ask for the local specialty. It is one way to bring stories home.
Example Aruba Kite Travel Budget
This is an example of 5 nights in Aruba that we recently took.
Airbnb in Savaneta: $62/night
Car Rental: $40/day for a small Suzuki
Food: Groceries for our stay – $46 and eating out was comparable to American prices and we spent $85 on meals out.
Total Budget: $1617 for two people for 6 days. We traveled with our own equipment, and if you like souvenirs or going out to eat more, budget slightly more.
We hope that these tips help you save some money on your next kite trip.
Explore, enjoy, and make stories!