Stephen @Whataspoon here. Today we shall look at how to get your skates across the planet successfully. In the store we often get asked, "Can I take my skates on a plane?", so today we will answer that question for you. I will also give you tips on what skating essentials you will need on your trip and how to find the best places to skate when you are in an unfamiliar environment. Let's go!
Packing Inline Skates for Travel
When packing your suitcase to travel with skates, there are definitely some essentials you do not want to forget. I personally have a travel checklist that I can tick off on my phone so I do not forget anything important.
Remember to pack a smaller bag that you can use for day to day activities like a bum bag or skating backpack. You don't want to be carrying a huge bag around with you on your holidays.
The absolute essentials to take with you for a skating trip would include:
- Skates, one left foot one right foot..
- Skate Tool
- Protection (if you use it)
- Lots of Socks
- Powerbank and Charging Wire
- Other than that, popular items to include would be:
- Spare Bolts
- Spare Bearings
- Camera + Charger
- Small Carry Around Shoes
When packing these items we need to consider what goes in which bag. This is fairly simple if you are not travelling on a plane as you can usually have as many bags as you wish with no weight or item restrictions. Even travelling internationally on a train or boat you don't necessarily need to care about which bag your skate tool is in. When flying by plane we definitely need to consider where certain items are kept so we don't get overcharged or lose our favourite skate tools to border control.
Can I take my Skate Tool through Airport Security?
Skate Tools can be seen as lethal weapons by border control. I wonder how far someone would get if they tried to hijack a plane with an allen key.. Anyway, the tools usually need to be in a "checked in bag" unless of course you only have a very small allen key in which case they may let you away with it. I'd recommend taking a cheap tool, like the ones you receive with your skates or to borrow one from another skater, if you are flying without checked in bags just in case it's taken from you at security.
Can I take my Skates on a Plane?
The short answer is yes but it really depends on the airline and what country you are in. I have personally travelled with skates in my hand using RyanAir, easyJet, KLM, British Airways, ITA Airways, WIZZ Air and Vueling. Now of course you will be able to take your skates in your hand as you wear a backpack but you may be charged extra if you are on a more budget airline and in a strict country. For example, I have paid for the cheapest tickets with WIZZ Air and also with BA in the past. When I wanted to board the WIZZ Air flight I had my big backpack on and my skates in my hands. They charged me an extra £40 just to carry my skates on the plane. To be fair to them, they did warn me that this would happen. The rule was that I could have one bag that would fit in the little box at the check in desk and nothing else. The reason I tried to take my skates on the plane was because I had been successful with this in the past with RyanAir, Vueling, KLM, ITA, BA and easyJet even though some of them had the same regulations as WIZZ. I have heard stories from people who have been stopped and charged when using RyanAir and easyJet so I guess I have just been lucky in those moments. When I was returning from my trip with Wizz Air I was flying from Majorca where everyone is really laid back unlike London Gatwick where I had come from so the staff did not mind me taking my skates on the plane. When flying with the cheapest ticket on BA however I have always been treated very well by the check in staff who often compliment my skates. Flying with a better airline really does make a difference but of course you will be paying more for the flight. For me personally, I am lucky as I can travel to Heathrow Airport for less than £5 from where I live. As I am saving money on the transport to the airport I can usually put that money towards getting a more reliable BA flight with a nicer check in experience. I can also factor in the £40 luggage charge with WIZZ Air to make those BA prices seem cheaper.
Obviously to avoid all of the above, you could get yourself a check in bag so you can store your skates in there or you can put everything else in your checked in bag so you can simply just carry your skates when going through the gate. Another tactic could be to get yourself a nice big shopping bag from duty free as you pass through so you can hide your skates in there and pretend you just spent loads of money in the Airport.
Finding Inline Skating Spots While Travelling
You've just reached your Hotel/Hostel and you are ready to go skate. If you have never been somewhere before it could be difficult to find the best places to skate so here are some tips on how to find the best spots.
My first advice would be to try and meet some local skaters. Of course they will know where the best areas are. You can do this by searching for Street skates on google. Say you visit Amsterdam. Simply search "Amsterdam Street Skates" and follow the results until you find the Amsterdam Friday Night Skate. You could use this information to attend the skate and meet skaters who can show you around or you can use their contact information to get info on good skate spots. You could also head to Facebook or Instagram and search for skating groups or hashtags for the area to reach people that way too.
When I googled "Amsterdam Street Skates" one of the first results was "BEST SKATE SPOTS OF AMSTERDAM". This particular website is aimed at skateboarders but thankfully we do like to skate in similar areas so these sites can be extremely helpful for us inline skaters too. Sometimes there are even videos on youtube that inform you where the best spots are and what they look like in the form of a video which can give you a better idea of what you are in for.
Another great way to get advice on where to skate would be to visit the local skate shop. We get many tourist skaters coming to London and thankfully due to our location, many of them pass by to say hello and to find out where the street skates are happening, where the best skateparks are and how to find them. Most skate shops around the world are staffed with real skaters so you should be in luck if you can find a shop that sells skates. Another great place to borrow an Allen key..
The last option is to simply skate around and adventure to find somewhere to skate. Recreational, slalom, slide and speed skaters may look towards the beach or large parks to find long smooth pathways. Business districts and football stadiums tend to have nice smooth areas to skate as well. Aggressive skaters who like to skate handrails and stair sets will look for hilly areas that commonly have rails and drops. They can also look towards schools and universities as they always seem to have fun obstacles for some reason. Skateparks are usually always on google maps so they are easy to find. Downhill skaters will typically just need to look for high ground and I'm sure that will work.. search on the maps for touristic viewpoints which are typically at high points on the map.
Respecting Local Regulation
Whilst skating on the streets of the UK, you are pretty much free to do whatever you like and to go wherever you want. We are considered pedestrians here so we can go on walkways, cycle paths, and roads wherever we wish unless it is private property. This is not always the case when you are abroad. Check up on the road rules of the country you are visiting and maybe google to see what restrictions they have incertain parks or areas. With security you will probably have no major issues but foreign police and tend not to be anywhere near as relaxed as our police here. I'd happily argue with a UK police officer about whether or not I can skate somewhere but I may not feel so comfortable doing the same to the French police for example..
In the UK the police do not seem to care if you cross the road whenever there are no cars coming but in other countries you may need to wait until the green man appears at the traffic lights before crossing to avoid a fine. This nearly happened to me and my girlfriend in Berlin. The police officer wanted 150€ from both of us for crossing the road when there were no cars to be seen but somehow we managed to talk our way out of the fine..
I have also heard many stories from my french skater friends of them being stopped by the police and fined for having headphones or two earphones in whilst skating on the roads. You may need to check to see if cyclists are allowed to wear headphones in the country before heading out like that yourself.
I hope all of this information helps to make your next skating trip a lot easier and with as little stress as possible. There are so many things that can go wrong so being organised gives you a great headstart when tackling the many challenges travelling brings. As I write this article I look forward to going away to Liverpool with the #SlicksSkateCrew at the coming weekend so keep an eye on the @Slicks_Skates Instagram to see what content we manage to create up North. This is a great opportunity for most of the team to be together so we are all really looking forward to that.