It is definitely a “weighting” game when deciding what to bring on your scuba vacation. Airlines’ weight restrictions and baggage fees definitely make it a challenge for a scuba diver to stay within the limits without getting charged extra. So what is really necessary to pack when getting ready to head to that awesome dive resort? Well, it is always a matter of personal choice, but here are a few suggestions that might make the choices a bit easier.
FIRST AND FOREMOST, YOU NEVER NEED TO BRING YOUR TANK AND WEIGHTS
Any good scuba vacation package will automatically include these, whether it be a land resort or liveaboard. Next thing to consider, what is the water temperature for the location and time of year you will be diving? You need to find this out to determine if you should pack just a skin, a 3mm shorty, or maybe even a 7mm or greater. Also, keep in mind your own body temperature. Do you get cold easily, or are you a furnace, like my husband? You will most likely be diving 2 to 4 dives a day for a week. How much will your body-core temperature drop by the end of that week? That 3mm may seem a bit toasty at the beginning of the week, but at the end you may be happy to have the warmth. And then there is the question of exposed skin or covered skin. I used to dive a shorty, but after being stung by floating nematocysts with no jellyfish in sight, or being pushed into coral by surge and getting scratched up, I decided I would protect my skin with a full suit. That is my personal choice – this is totally up to you. And don’t forget the #1 injury to divers is sunburn. Not bringing a suit? At least bring a rashguard to protect you from the sun’s rays.
NEXT SCUBA EQUIPMENT ITEMS ON YOUR LIST WOULD BE REGULATORS, COMPUTER, BCD, MASK, SNORKEL AND FINS
All of these items can generally be rented from the operation you will be diving with, but rental charges can add up quickly and a perfect fit is not always guaranteed. I personally prefer to bring my own gear because I know it like the back of my hand. I know I am the only one who has used my regulators, computer and bcd, and that I have taken care to keep them in good working order. If you are concerned about the weight of your bcd or regs, there are a number of options from equipment manufacturers these days for light-weight travel gear. I know my travel bcd weighs at least a third of the weight of my regular bcd, and my smaller travel regs are also definitely lighter than the ones I use at home. In regards to your mask and snorkel, if you’ve found your perfect fit, pack it. They don’t really add that much weight to your luggage. If you think your fins are too big or heavy for your bag, these too have lighter -weight travel options out there.
Taking booties or not depends on the type of fins you use. It also depends on the type of diving you will be doing. Jumping off a liveaboard into warm water may require just a full-foot fin, but diving the coral covered beaches of Bonaire, you will be wanting a booty with a good sole on it and open-heeled fins to accommodate those booties. As far as gloves are concerned, just leave them at home. Most warm-water destinations will not allow you to dive with gloves because they want to discourage divers from touching coral and other marine life (always a good practice).
WHAT’S LEFT FOR SCUBA EQUIPMENT?
Well, if you’re an instructor as my husband is, leading a group of your students on this great dive trip, you might be tempted to bring your toolbox with you. Resist the urge. Just pack a few essential items, like a spare mouthpiece, some o-rings that are may be used for computer connections, etc., a few zip ties, and a pick or small screwdriver. Generally, the dive operation will have the equipment needed for other minor repairs, but you may want to pack your unusual items that may not be readily available on the island nation you are visiting. For example, check your computer battery life before you leave. If it is getting close to running out, make sure to pack a backup battery.
OH, AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T FORGET TO PACK YOUR SURFACE-SIGNALLING DEVICE!
Make sure you pack at least a whistle, but preferably a safety-sausage for a visual reference at a minimum. If you plan on doing a night dive, I suggest bringing a primary light with a rechargeable battery. Most third-world nations don’t have the proper means by which to dispose of batteries, so please don’t leave them behind. Also don’t forget your tank beacon. And another thing about lights, make sure you empty the light of batteries when traveling and pack them in a separate container/pouch to save you some hassle at the TSA checkpoint. The FAA has guidelines on how to pack your batteries safely.
In Part II of this blog I will discuss what to do with your photo and video equipment, and I will give you some more pointers on what other stuff to pack to make your traveling a bit easier and more enjoyable. I will also give you my handy-dandy pre-trip check list and diver’s packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything. In addition, I have updated my airline baggage guidelines to provide you with the latest baggage limits, weight & dimension restrictions, and checked & carry-on baggage fees.
Like what you’ve read? Want to learn how to better enjoy your scuba diving vacation? Maybe you’d like to travel with Delightful Departures on an upcoming adventure? Become part of the Delightful Departures community. Discover different destinations and travel tips in our biweekly newsletter. Join today.