Surfer Bianca Buitendag: Travel like a pro

Photo: Kolesky/Nikon/Red Bull Content Pool

Pro surfer Bianca Buitendag (far left) spends an inordinate amount of time in airports and planes. Here are her tips on how to keep it smooth and enjoy the journey

From the outside it may seem a glamorous life – jetting from exotic surf locale to exotic surf locale – but don’t be fooled, travelling for a living can be a serious grind. South African pro surfer Bianca Buitendag shares her tips on how to keep it cool on the road.

1. Dress comfortably

WHY: You’re not in this to impress anyone: the goal is to get from A to B with the most ease and a big part of that is loose-fitting clothing. Study the weather forecast of your destination and pack your carry-on luggage accordingly. The trick here is layering. Thin ones.

“Even if you look like you just got out of bed,” says Buitendag of what she wears on travel days. “Trust me, it’s worth it!”

2. Music 

WHY: Probably the oldest trick in the book. And for good reason – once you have those headphones on, you’re in your own world. Plus, it drowns out all other unwanted sounds – such as cabin noise or the snoring of the passenger in the chair next to you.

“A good playlist can kill time like no other,” says Buitendag. Plug in and let the world happen to a soundtrack of your choice.

3. Always have a good book

WHY: Someone once said that ‘reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body’, and there is no denying that. But it’s the escapist possibilities that lie hidden in the pages that are reading’s real benefit. 

“You can get lost in a story much more beautiful than the economy seat you’re cramming yourself into,” says Buitendag. “Whatever that book cost at the airport book store, it’s always worth your while.”

4. Plan your transits

WHY: The most stress in airline travel is usually associated with making connecting flights and dealing with layovers. 

“My standard is no less than two-hour transits (if you don’t have to pick up and re-check bags in),” Buitendag explains. “No shorter than four hours if a bag collect and re-check is necessary. In saying that, try your best to avoid longer layovers as well. If your transit is longer than five hours, pay the $50-odd and get into a lounge. The wifi, food and sleep are worth every cent. And look into frequent flyer programme options!”

5. Travel with a friend

WHY: Experiences, whether good or bad, become shared experiences and having someone to talk to makes a trip go that much faster. 

“Hassles become laughs and cancellations become a bonus,” says Buitendag. “Delays are just an excuse to grab another coffee ¬– the end to all your troubles.”

Quick peek into the latest issue of @womenshealthmagsa and @menshealthza / Photo by mister @caseycrafford @roxy

A post shared by bianca buitendag (@biancabuitendag) on

6. BONUS TIP: How to pack your surfboard

WHY: They are handmade custom artifacts of serious fragility for which baggage-handlers (usually) have scant regard.  

According to Buitendag, who has spent almost eight years lugging a boardbag on every trip, there are two tips on securing the safety of your precious cargo:

1. Pack only surfboards. Keep the bag as light as possible – no toiletries, fins or dirty laundry. The heavier the bag, the more it is likely that the boards get damaged. Sometimes, it is exactly those extra items that do the damaging.

2. Be generous with the bubble wrap. It’s light, and it works.

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05 2016

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