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How Do I Travel With Sports Equipment?

Skier

Hi EssentialTravel.co.uk,
I've been toying with the idea of taking my own snowboard and golf clubs on holiday with me, but I'm nervous about what might happen to them on holiday. Is it worth risking going abroad with sports equipment? And If the airline baggage handlers snap my driver in half, is this covered by my travel insurance? Bill Romney, Ham

Our Answer:

Hi there Bill,

You are absolutely correct to ask about travel insurance cover before leaving, as many people assume their sporting goods are automatically insured. To answer your question: yes, your golf clubs and snowboard will be covered, but only with selected policies.

With Essential Travel, golf equipment cover can be taken as an optional extension on our Essential, Essential Plus or Superior policy. Ski Equipment is covered in the winter sports package that can be added to any of our travel insurance policies. For a full list of the sporting activities recognised by our policies, check out our sports travel insurance page.

Is It Safe?

For the most part, travelling with your sports equipment is perfectly safe. You just need to make sure you pack right and safeguard against the rare chance of it getting lost, broken or stolen.

Here are five basic guidelines that will come in handy:

DO YOU REALLY NEED TO BRING THIS: Travelling with sports equipment carries a certain degree of risk. Your belongings could get broken, lost, stolen or may cost you a few pounds in extra luggage charges. Unless you are particularly picky about using your favourite tennis racket or snowboard, you should ask yourself why you are bringing sports equipment with you. You are the only one who can decide whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze.

USE BUBBLE-WRAP: Your £2, 000 bicycle will never mean as much to anyone else as it does to you. Airlines have been known to toss sporting goods around when loading them into the hold, so it's not a bad idea to give your goods an extra layer of plastic between them and the metal floor. Bubble-wrap works really well as a protective layer around bikes, gold clubs, surfboards and other fragile (and expensive) gear. The budget option of wrapping a few towels around your sporting goods also works well, but we would recommend using a hard case and reinforcing that with bubble wrap.

TAKE OUT TRAVEL INSURANCE: Sporting goods are not covered by all travel insurance policies. If you're serious enough about your golf, skiing or surfing equipment to bring it on holiday, you owe it to yourself to make sure it is insured. We have already mentioned that airlines don't have an impeccable track record when it comes to handling people's personal belongings, but this is only one of the risks you run on a full holiday. It could also get damaged, lost or stolen - among other things.

MAKE SURE YOUR GEAR HAS THE RIGHT CASING: Be careful about what you attempt to bring through security. If you are taking a spear gun, a hunting rifle/knife, or anything that could double-up as a weapon, forget about bringing it inside your carry-on case. At best, this will land you a trip to the security office for some interrogation and possibly a roughing up.

If you are bringing one of those items (or something similar), make sure you have the correct storage case and lock-up facilities, and that you declare them at the check-in counter. It will be extremely difficult to explain what a rifle is doing between your t-shirts and underpants, should it be found. We are living in extremely sensitive times when it comes to terrorism and loading potentially dangerous cargo. Be as open and careful about your luggage as possible, to avoid security getting the wrong idea. For more information, take a look at the TSA guides for travelling with sports equipment.

BEWARE OF HIDDEN COSTS: Certain smaller airlines will charge you to bring specialised sporting equipment like surfboards, skis, snowboards, golf clubs and fishing rods. While most major carriers won't charge you an extra free on long haul flights - it will normally count as part of your luggage allowance - you will do well to find out beforehand.

If you follow those guidelines and have the right insurance policy, you shouldn't have a problem.

Have a great holiday!

Last Updated: April 2011