If you’ve ever been on a trip and come across the perfect longboarding spot, you know the feeling of longing that can arise. “If I’d only brought my board,” you think out loud. Of course, the reason you left your board at home is because you didn’t want to be tethered to a three-and-a-half-foot wooden anchor. But in truth, having a longboard when you want one is worth carrying one. If you’re just starting out in longboarding, you shouldn’t have a giant board anyway. There are great longboards for beginners aren’t too long.
Don’t get it twisted. It’s not that the word longboard is a misnomer. No, some of them are definitely long. What people who have not traveled with one often fail to understand, though, is that they are not as cumbersome as they appear. You can bring your board with you on your journey, regardless of your means of transport. You will barely notice it until you set urethane to concrete, and then you will be thrilled that you brought it. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you trek with your setup in tow.
When traveling with a longboard, it is wise to have a way to bind it down and stow it. Skateboard backpacks work great for street and park boards but, these are usually too small to be effective longboard bags. Recently though, a few manufacturers have begun to cater to this niche in their market. Backpacks with straps large enough to hold a longboard are available.
Another tip is to simply pass a longboard through the shoulder straps of any backpack so that the bottom is facing your back. Once you put on the backpack, you will hardly notice the board. Just remember not to overstuff the backpack with gear, which makes riding and carving on a longboard much more difficult. Travel light to remain light on your board.
There are only so many ways of getting anywhere and, though each may seem more burdensome with a longboard, the truth is less daunting. Longboards are more common than ever, and carriers have made traveling with them simple. No matter the hurdles, riding fresh surfaces in new places is worth the added time it takes to tote a longboard.
In the modern age, air travel is by far the most complicated way to get anywhere. The long lines and the security is enough to give anyone pause, especially someone flying with a longboard. To make matters worse, carriers demand that travelers check longboards with their luggage — no carry-ons. So, you can’t even use it to see the sights on a layover. That said, it is almost always better to have a longboard when you get to your destination, regardless of where it is. The freedom of movement longboarding brings is best enjoyed in unique locales.
Trains and Buses
Ground-bound public transport is where having a longboard pays dividends. Lengthy layovers are common on wheeled transit, providing the perfect opportunity to peel some urethane trails. It affords the ability to see things in a short time that would have otherwise gone unseen, and you’ll make memories that might have been a terminal bore. Your arrival at your destination might not be the experience it would have, but you will never look at layovers the same way again.
One thing to remember when traveling by public transportation is to bind your board securely to your pack. Bungee cords work great for this, because they come apart as easily as they go together, but rope will do in a pinch. When stowing a loose board, look to put it under your seat, and be sure to place it grip tape down so it doesn’t roll around on the floor.
Hiking and Hitching
Of course, traveling by mass transit need not be the only way one gets places. Properly set up, longboards are capable of being the mode of long-distance travel rather than the baggage. Large, soft longboarding wheels smooth out rough and uneven highway surfaces with ease, and quality bearings make for as much coasting as pushing. If we see more of a country on trains than on planes, we see it all on a longboard. Suddenly, a cross-country trip becomes a story to tell the grandkids.
If you are about to set out on a journey, and you’re thinking of making it an adventure, consider bringing a longboard along for the trip. Throwing it over the shoulders for carrying is as easy as hooking it up to a backpack, and it is a set of wheels when walking becomes monotonous. The things that are just out of range on layovers become experiences, and the unique terrains of destinations emerge as the whole point of travel, rather than the regret they are when we’re boardless. With a little forethought, your longboard will be that one travel companion that always spurs you to get moving, to see new things and to live a little.