Next week I leave for a two week tour of golf courses in South Carolina and Alabama. I know it’s going to be a lot of fun, but two weeks and at least six golf courses requires some serious planning. Here are five of the best travel tips I’ve discovered that will help make your next golf vacation go smoothly. (These tips will work no matter how you travel, but they are targeted at golfers traveling by air.)
1.Clothes: Keep it simple. Pack only what you need. Check the weather ahead of time. Plan your wardrobe to fit the forecast. Select tops and bottoms that mix and match so you get at least two golf days out of each set. Plan for the inevitable: bring a rain jacket / pants and a water proof hat. Be sure they are water proof, not just water resistant. (Remember the poor guys in the Ryder Cup a few years back? The PGA supplied them with water resistant clothing and they got soaked!!!)
2. Clubs: Ship your clubs ahead of time if you can. ShipSticks is a great service that will pick up your clubs and deliver them right to your destination. No more schlepping a heavy golf travel bag through the airport. And the cost will offset any extra baggage fees you’ll be charged by the airlines. If you do want to carry your own clubs, be sure to get a sturdy golf travel bag to protect your valuable clubs.
If you’re traveling overseas, you might consider renting your clubs rather than lugging them along. Baggage fees can be pretty steep. Read Susan Fornoff’s article at GottaGoGolfMagazine.com to get a first hand account of her latest experience. (Hint: it was all good!)
3. Protection: Save money by packing your golf travel bag with the heavy items: golf balls, shoes and extra golf clothing. I always like to travel with my own pillow, so I stuff that in around the top of my clubs as an extra precaution against breakage. Don’t be surprised if your golf bag is chosen at random for inspection. It’s become pretty routine for TSA agents to look more closely at extra large baggage. One note: Be sure not to over stuff your golf bag with items that have nothing to do with golf just so you can save on baggage charges. I’ve heard a few stories from fellow travelers that TSA confiscated items that seemed unrelated to the game. Extra golf balls—fine. Computer, books, games—nope. Here’s some advice: Golf Travel Bags – How to Portect Your Golf Clubs
Don’t forget to protect your personal items as well — especially money and credit cards. Buy a money belt or wallet with RFID protection to keep your valuables hidden from electronic thieves. (They use hand-held scanners to capture your ID… and you’re never the wiser.)
4. Convenience: Sign up for TSA Pre-check. It will allow you to sail through airport security quickly. Check out how to apply. You might be lucky and the airline will give it to you at no charge. (“TSA Pre-approved” will print out on your boarding pass when you check-in.) But without having signed up ahead of time, you’ll never know if you have it. And not having it can cost you lots of wasted time in security lines.
Before you leave home check out local phone numbers, transportation links (Uber, Lift, Taxi, Bus) and have those handy when you land. Do some research on the area you will be visiting so you’ll be ready to explore! Read other traveler’s reviews and prepare a list of high points you want to see.
Be sure to let your credit card company know you are traveling to avoid any mix ups on the road. If you are traveling to a foreign country check to see if your card allows you to purchase items without charging you an arm and a leg for exchange rates.
5. Journal / Camera: Bring along a small journal to keep track not only of your golf game, but of the overall adventure. Weeks, months—even years later, a journal will help you remember the fabulous time you had. And don’t forget to bring a camera or use your phone to capture your journey.
Have a wonderful trip!