Unless you're into finless surfing, you don't want to forget this when packing for the far corners of the earth. Photo: Lowe-White

Rob Gilley

Previously in denial about his photographic past, Rob Gilley now rummages through his trove of mediocrity.

On a recent journey to Mexico I came to the realization that my previous blog list of inexpensive, important items to bring on a surf trip was incomplete. I became painfully aware of this fact as I paced back and forth, sweating and nervous, hoping beyond hope that the dude I had met earlier in the day was going to fulfill his promise and bring an extra fin key to the cantina. While waiting for this guy and his precious cargo, I remembered a few other key items as well.

Fin Key(s)
We might as well call them church keys. Unless you ride an Alaia or a sponge, without one you can not re-assemble your sacred craft, ride into the crystal cathedral, or get spit out of the pope's living room. Do yourself a favor, buy a bunch of them and stash one in your backpack, one in your board bag, one in your toiletry kit, one in your colorectal netherworld—wherever you have to in order to make sure you are never without one.

Approx. cost = $1.00 ea.

Tie Down Straps
I'm still not sure why people continue to use "soft racks" when these puppies exist. Items actually borrowed from a kayaker's playlist (I know, I know), pro surfers started using these easy-to-pack straps over fifteen years ago for huge coffin board bags, and then realized they work for any situation. These straps go around your boards and then through the inside of the car, giving you extra strap awareness as well. The only downside is during foul weather: rainwater can travel down the straps and into the car, transforming a simple car ride a drippy, miserable hell.

Approx. cost = $20.00

Lightweight Towel
This is one of those items that doesn't seem that important to pack, but can be sorely missed on the other end. Just make sure you bring a lightweight one (for some reason there is a huge disparity in towel weight), and one that's large enough to wrap around your body in order to avoid a foreign nudity conviction.

Approx. cost = $10.00

The Dynamic Duo : Pepto Bismol/ Immodium
It was at the precise moment that my son hurled up a bean and cheese burrito, French fry, and virgin Pina Colada rainbow stew that I remembered having anti-nausea medicine is a good idea. And bring some Immodium too to avoid the potential of burning the candle at both ends.

Approx. cost = $15.00

Wax/Wax Box
Believe it or not, surf wax is a precious—even hoarded—commodity in some parts of the world. Rumors of it replacing the Gold Standard in the tropics are unconfirmed. The bottom line is to make sure you bring a couple of appropriately temperatured bars, and it's also probably a good idea to buy one of those plastic containers to avoid a melted, lint-corrupted blob.

Approx. cost = $5.00

Free from the distractions of home, a good book can be a valuable companion on any trip. Besides re-igniting a computer-stymied mind, a book is also a good way to kill time during those eternal waits at foreign airports, restaurants, banks, and post offices. A good book can literally turn frustrated impatience into Zen-filled joy.

Approx. cost = $15.00

So, adding to the previous Small Saviors list, we now have a dozen precious, inexpensive items to bring on your next foreign surf trip:

Item Approx. Cost ($)

1. A Working Pen (1.00)
2. ½ Roll of Toilet Paper (1.00)
3. Headlamp (20.00)
4. Hooded Sweatshirt (25.00)
5.Extra Credit Card (Free)
6. Tylenol/Tums/Sucrets (10.00)
7. Fin Key (1.00)
8. Tie Down Straps (20.00)
9. Lightweight Towel (10.00)
10. Pepto/Immodium (15.00)
11. Wax/Wax Box (5.00)
12. Book (15.00)

Approx. Total = $133.00

Keep in mind these are approximate retail prices for new items. If you're a real cheap-ass, you can save even more cash by visiting your local thrift store or garage sale.

Vaya Con Dios.