What Sports Gear is Worth the Baggage Check Price?

Australian Freestyle skier Matt Graham needed his sticks for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but do you need your skis for a family trip to Utah? Credit: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

With the cost of luggage on airlines forever on the upswing, it’s a good time to reconsider whether you want to bring those cherished clubs on your next family vacation unless you know for sure you'll get some time on the links, as American Airlines and United now charge up to $200 per golf bag if the weight scale happens to tip over 70 pounds. Skis, surfboards, and bikes are priced less, averaging $50 per leg per item. But is it worth the hassle and the price? 

Golf Clubs
Your clubs have been perfectly fitted for your height, swing speed, and whether you’re left or right-handed. You’ve been killing it out there on the local muni or country club. Plus, your bag holds your golf balls, tees, and gloves brilliantly, along with sunscreen and that nifty cigar cutter. But don’t forget about rental costs on the other end. You're already looking at doling out some cash with the finest courses charging from $75 to $100 per day. 

Worth it?

Absolutely, but don’t break your back by dragging clubs to and from the airport. The highly recommended ShipSticks.com will pick up your clubs at your house and drop them off at your hotel or straight to the golf course for as low as $39 plus insurance. The other option is the Club Glove. You can't really go wrong either way.

Skis
Sure, you’re comfortable in your boots and all the colorful garb you bought at the local ski show, including those killer shades, but is it crucial to bring your skis? Even expert skiers will tell you that varying terrain necessitates different skis, so those Rossignol Experience 88s might be ideal for carving perfect turns through the trees at Sugarbush, but you might want to try the Atomic Theory for knee-deep powder at Deer Valley. 

Worth it?

Boots and wardrobe only. If you’re fortunate, you’ll be hitting the mountain during Demo Days, where you can sample a number of newly released skis. Even snowboard rentals at big-name ski resorts are at a much higher caliber than they were 2 years ago. 

Bikes
Give me one good reason why you would dismantle your bike and put it in a box, only to recreate your ride at the start of your circumference of the Big Island. Reputable outfitters like Backroads use their own custom-designed titanium bikes and you still have the option to pay a slightly higher fee to access an even lighter bike like the Specialized S-Works Roubaix or Ruby. No surprise that only three percent of their clientele choose to bring their own bike. Even local bike rentals on say, the Cape Cod Rail Trail, offer decent bikes these days. 

Worth it?

Of course not. Bring your pedals, bike shoes, helmet, even saddle if you’re prone to numbness. Be wise and leave the bike frame at home. 

Surfboards
Name your favorite surf spot and I guarantee there’s some dude renting surfboards very close to that beach. Even on the remote Mentawai Islands, a locale Aussies will tell you offers the best waves in Indonesia, the Kandui Resort provides a variety of Surftech and Firewire surfboard rentals. Don’t let baggage handlers toss your precious board around like a sack of potatoes. It’s not worth the pain.

Worth it?

Bring the waterproof GoPro only.