I like sports very much and I love to travel. Travel for the sake of travel, in my opinion, makes little sense. Moreover, it is a completely illogical phenomenon of today’s “consumer society” imposed on us by marketing. Travel, as such, arose when man began to need something “over that hill over there”. That’s why travel must have a meaning. One’s own. Individual.
In my own travels for the last 6-7 years this meaning became doing active kinds of sports and in particular kiting.
Why did I choose kiting?
I wanted to do something unusual, extreme. I also like mountains very much. So when a friend told me about snowkiting, I decided: Why not?
The modern kite is multifaceted. Jumping, big and small waves, snow, mountains, terrain. Kiting has managed to absorb features of snowboarding, mountain skiing, surfing, wakeboarding, skateboarding, all sailing sports, paragliding and parachuting, and much more.
In my opinion, the main advantage of the kite is the ability to change the thrust vector independently within a wide range. By controlling the bar you can increase or decrease speed, quickly turn around, go around obstacles, take off and land in a controlled manner, ride on a small “patch” or cover long distances. Everyone chooses something different.
A big plus of the sport is its “unsportsmanlike” nature, as paradoxical as it may sound. No more than 10-15 percent of skaters think about participating in serious competitions. It’s more of a lifestyle, but more about that later.
Why do people come to kiting?
All people have different reasons. Sometimes people grab a kite in their hands and start chasing it through the water, just for fun. My friends and I prefer to go kiting in the snow because that’s how we get to know ourselves.
Beginners come to kiting in different ways: I saw it, I liked it, I wanted to try it, I went to a competition, friends and acquaintances called me to ride – there are many reasons, and they will all be right. Others were already doing something, but are looking for a new experience. For our latitudes, these are usually people from skiing or sailing. And here, oddly enough, the first motivation is directly related to travel.
With few exceptions, normal ski slopes do not “grow” directly next to the cities, you have to get to them, stand in line for the elevator, pay money, etc. In sailing it’s even worse. Bulky gear (even in windsurfing), it is always seasonal, the need for the company of like-minded people. A kite is much preferable in this respect. By definition, from natural conditions, it requires wind and a large open space.
You can do kiting anywhere: you can find a big enough field or river everywhere, the wind blows… There’s almost no need to go anywhere – go outside the city limits or come to the cottage, put on a board/ski, launch a kite that fits into a medium-sized backpack, and go. No queues, no competitors, the snow is always fresh and soft, you can jump – beauty. In summer everything is real too. Rivers and lakes are close by. You can use the same equipment that you use in winter, it’s all a plus. “It’s decided,” a man thinks, “I’m going to do it”.
Is it possible to learn how to do this?
Yes, and that is the first question that arises in a person after the thought of “I want” is “how”. Here, of course, you can find many answers on the Internet. Schools, instructors, friends, enthusiasts – if you want to find someone who will teach you, it is not difficult. A great reason to learn can be some kind of competition or festival held nearby. As a rule, you can learn at such events either at a substantial discount or completely free of charge.
The main rule for beginners is not to do self-training. In the case of kiting it can be life-threatening, and, unfortunately, cases confirming this rule are known.
Where is possible to ride?
If we talk about winter kiting (snowkiting), then most of Europe is suitable for both learning and riding – if only there was snow. With summer kiting things are more complicated: take my advice – don’t torture yourself and go to sea to learn. It’s not all about warmth and sunshine, though it’s not unimportant.
It’s about the structure of the wind itself. Nowhere, except on the sea, you will not find such a smooth and stable wind, without dips and fades. In the middle belt the wind is unstable and blows less often, so a whole summer season instead of a couple of weeks (in ideal conditions) on the sea may not be enough for you to learn to ride confidently.
Most likely, you will find a certain place – a “spot” – that you like the most. How to choose it, you will be told at the training, or you can read on the Internet, there are a lot of articles on this subject. The first place to ride will be chosen on the principle of optimum reachability. Or simply because all the other “locals” are already riding there.
Why is it the perfect hobby for a traveler?
Riding kite in one place, you will quickly become bored. From now on, you will look at fields, forests, lakes and rivers in a completely different way on your trips around the area.
I guarantee that as soon as you start looking for the right places to ride, you won’t stop. All this will pass for “local tourism”, which will open you the surrounding area from entirely new angles. And if you are not lazy and look into the history of the native land, in your search for wind you can learn and see a lot of new and interesting in parallel. It is amazing how little modern man deviates from the usual routes.
And that’s where kiting as a way of life reveals itself in all its best:
The any vacation (absolutely any) for snowkiter begins to play with new colors. After a couple of trips you just don’t understand how it is possible to be an ordinary tourist, tied to a hotel and “all inclusive”. Your days are filled with meaning, no one is like the other, and even after five years you can perfectly remember the whole trip in stages. Rarely do you fit anything other than apartments and car rentals – after all, you’re going “for the wind”. You avoid crowded beaches and cities, while at the same time, you are constantly close to the infrastructure, to the extent necessary.
To feel how great it is, it’s enough to drive once in Egypt or France in a rented car and go beyond the tourist routes.
Since you are not alone, you constantly meet the same kite-infected people from all over the world, because you are guided by the same principles in choosing places. The warm company sitting on the oceanfront in the Dominican Republic in the evening after a great day of kiting will consist of Germans, French, Spaniards, Russians, Americans, a couple of locals and even Africans.
With regular travel to kiteboarding camps, language barriers disappear as quickly as possible. The world becomes a small place. After a few trips like this, you’ll have friends in every part of the world who are always happy to email you about where to ride in their country.
Following their advice, you can find accommodation and food options for quite a reasonable price. And in terms of entertainment, of course, you can hardly find better guides than the locals. Since the sport has not yet become massively to have to really compete for places to ride, you are always happy to show and tell you everything.
How does a kiter travel with his family?
It’s exactly the same. There’s no difference. If you want, you can always combine family vacation and skiing.
Kiters bring their kids and families with them all the time. After all, kids are much more likely to enjoy playing on a clean beach with a small group, as long as their parents have common interests and are positive, than sitting on a crowded beach with dirty water or watching the state some overly active vacationers get into.
In summer, of course, it would be the sea, the sun, the wind, the waves. Although by “summer” we should rather have in mind the state of the aquatic environment, not the time of year. January, for example, is the peak season in Vietnam.
In winter, of course, our place is so good that you just don’t want to go anywhere. However, in the first place, it’s not just about riding, and in the second, you get stagnant in one place. The general principles remain the same. Skiing plus snowkiting gives you a great vacation, besides, by definition, you move around.
Travel to various competitions, festivals, promotional events and other themed gatherings is a separate topic. It’s just like any other event tourism, with all its pros and cons. In addition, visiting such events gives you the opportunity to look at the sport in all its glory and in addition to skiing get acquainted with the local color. The organizers always strive to show their city at its best and, if you just ask, they are always happy to give you a tour or two.
There are also “trips in reverse,” when you organize some kind of competition yourself. People come to you and bring part of their culture, life, stories. And when they leave, they take some of your emotions and impressions with them.
Sport travel as a business
When you’re into a sport travel for a long time, at a certain point the following happens – you come home and you start talking about your travels, you write about it on the Internet, and people start asking you: “How did you do it?” or “Is it possible to go with you?”. You respond, and then you start selling either your experience or your time, helping them plan and execute their own trip.
This does not always happen literally and for money. More often it allows you to make your own trip a little cheaper (for example, at the expense of group ticket prices or joint rental apartments), or, having gathered a large enough group, you go for free. For someone it can lead to something more serious. For example, the person turned out to be too weak resistance to the “wind addiction” disease and, as a result, he always wants to be closer to the places of skiing.
Or just a lifestyle in which you do not have to get up at 7 a.m. and “like a bayonet” to go to work. In this case, the work of an instructor and trip organizer is a great way out. But in general, the organization of such trips, as a business project is a topic of separate discussion.
In fact, everything said here can apply equally to any sport, as well as to any other sufficiently strong hobby. I sincerely believe that for all the “mass and standardization” of modern life, everyone should have their own unique set of interests and hobbies. And there should be many of them. All this creates a kind of “inner movement”, does not allow you to get sour and get lost.
Yes, at first it may seem expensive or you don’t have enough time for it. However, the more you have really fun things to do, the better use you make of the resources available, including time. After all, the force of action equals the force of counteraction and there will always be some result for the effort invested.
Live an interesting life and do sports.