The words ‘surf trip’ are pretty special to most of us. The idea of getting away from whatever it is we spend our regular lives doing and putting surfing before all else is one we all like to indulge. But not all surf trips bring the same levels of stoke. Often the variables that make or break a good trip are beyond our control. But choosing where you go and who you head there with is completely up to you, and for that reason it’s worth asking yourself a few useful questions.

What do you want from your surf trip?

Do you want to improve your backhand tuberiding? Are you looking to push yourself when it gets solid? Or are you just chasing some fun waves and a minimum of worries while you enjoy the week or two you’ve earned off work? Because the answer to this question should probably play a pretty big part in choosing your destination. No use heading to Desert Point if you’re just looking to sharpen up on your roundhouse cutbacks. It seems obvious but sometimes the obvious questions are the ones we forget to ask ourselves. Everyone goes on a surf trip with the purpose of coming back more stoked, but what brings about that stoke differs for each person.

How much do you hate crowds?

Everyone loves an empty line-up but some of us handle the experience of being in a packed one better than others. Are you the kind of person who’d happily sacrifice a bit of quality for a mellower vibe and a bit more room to move or are you willing to fight for every wave that rolls through? Because the bigger the crowd, the more it’s going to affect your wave count. And your headspace. So know your own tolerance levels and how dirty you’re willing to play the game of surfing, because not everybody is going to want to wait their turn.

Is it just waves you’re after?

It’s a surf trip so you’re there to get waves, but is that all you’re after? Are you the kind of person who digs a bit of culture, a bit of sightseeing and adventure, or is it all about your time in the water? Likewise, are you happy to stay planted in the one spot or do you like to keep moving and experience some fresh scenery? Both choices have their benefits, but again it’s going to come down to personal preference. And if it’s just waves you’re after and for some ungodly reason they don’t deliver, you should probably have some kind of contingency plan in place to keep you sane, whether it’s fishing, a good book, or all eight seasons of Game of Thrones.

Do you really want to spend ten days with that person on a cramped boat?

Some mates are good for a beer and a laugh, others are great for in-depth conversation, but how many could you actually stand being around for an entire surf trip? It’s a question worth asking yourself. Especially if that surf trip is on a cramped boat or in a van or somewhere you’re constantly going to be in each other’s pockets. Sharing epic waves can be a great way to strengthen a friendship, but butting heads over every little decision and compromise that arises can just as easily kill one. So choose your travel buddies wisely.