Top 10 Tips for Dive Travel
Experienced dive traveler and underwater photographer shares her most useful travel tips
By Carin Kiphart
Having spent over 300 days away from home each year and having logged over 12,000 dives, my husband and I have had a lifetime of “learning experiences” with packing and dive travel. Essentially, we've done it wrong enough times to learn how to do it right! Here is a sampling of our favorite tips for the traveling diver.
1) Take your own gear.
It may be a pain for you to pack it and you may pay extra, but it's better to use gear that you trust and that you are comfortable wearing. Many resorts and liveaboards use lower-end, dubiously maintained rental gear that gets fixed only when broken. Instead of renting, use your money to pay for that extra bag of your own stuff.
2) The essential carry-on.
First and most importantly – always, always put your medications in your carry-on. Also, be smart and put in a pair of shorts, t-shirt, flip flops and bathing suit, basically anything you will need for the first 24 hours of your trip. If your luggage is lost, you'll be all set! We also recommend carrying on your dive computer and your regulator if possible. BCD, fins and mask can easily be rented. Most standard carry-ons will fit all of these things.
3) Ziplock bags.
This is one of our all-time favorite words in dive travel! Use them to pack lotions and potions so if they explode, the mess will be contained. You can also use them for wet gear on your trip home. They come in handy for so many things, especially in countries that don’t have them, so pack extras! Use them to make it easier to get into your wetsuit, then wash and reuse to help the planet!
This may seem obvious, but we can’t tell you how many people have no clue where they are going, if they are going at the right time, if the dive operator is any good or what the reputation of the liveaboard is (full article on choosing a liveaboard coming soon). Don’t go on blind faith - I’ve heard all the horror stories! Read more about dive site research.
5) Completely rig and test your camera before departing from home.
Cameras have so many parts that to forget just one could mean the difference between using or not using the precious device that you've lugged halfway around the world. Take the time to make sure it all works properly and that you have all the parts you need.
6) Carry a sensor cleaning kit.
Diving photographers shoot in remote, hot, humid, and sometimes dirty environments, meaning it’s not difficult to get something on your camera sensor. If you're a videographer, carry a head cleaning cassette! I found that out the hard way.
7) Replace gear immediately.
If you use up something, break something, lose or give it away, replace it as soon as you arrive home. Far too often we’ve remembered that we needed new booties or something a few days before we were set to leave again. Take care of it when it’s fresh in your mind.
8) Don’t service your gear.
Yes, you read that right - do not service your gear and then pack it for a trip. It happens so often that something goes wrong because a piece wasn’t tightened, a screw wasn’t put back in or a spool forgotten. Seriously - when you're in the middle of the Maldives is not the time you want to find this out. Also, dive with your gear after you service it before you leave. Get it in a pool if there is no other way to use it before you pack.
9) Don't buy expensive defogger.
You know that $7.95 bottle of defogger you buy for your mask? Don’t bother! Pick up a 99 cent travel-size bottle of baby shampoo instead. It will last forever, and if you find yourself out of shampoo on your dive trip it’s a two-for-one deal!
10) Split your luggage.
If you are traveling with a friend or spouse, pack half and half in each bag. That way each of you will have half your stuff if one of your bags gets lost. Smart!
If you want to learn more, check out Carin's Top 25 Questions About Scuba Diving Travel.
About the Authors
Ridlon and Carin run Global Diving Adventures, a premium provider of SCUBA diving vacations and advice on SCUBA diving travel & the adventure lifestyle. They provide their friends the experiences and knowledge to live an extraordinary life through adventure.
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