I remember this one day…when I thought all I had to do was remember what to pack. Right. Then I started diving. There can actually be a lot to remember with casual dive travel. Some things to consider if you are bringing your own gear:
- Be careful how you transport your dive lights if traveling by air (whether carry-on or checked baggage). Loosen the seals on the lights so the flight pressure does not cause them to crack or explode. This applies to tank lights as well as hand-held lights or camera strobes. Remember your batteries and test them before you pack.
- If any equipment needs servicing, be sure to plan enough lead time to get that done before you depart. Take time to review your equipment and if needed, check with your local dive shop to see if you can use the pool for a refresher.
- Bring any critical spare parts (e.g., o-rings, batteries) or general maintenance items (e.g., camera lubricants) with you. Remote dive destinations may not have these available.
- If you use a wristwatch-style computer or a wireless transmitter on your regulator, do you remember the last time you changed the batteries (they both have batteries inside)? Depending on how many dives you do each year, the batteries will last different durations and, of course, decide to stop working at the least opportune times. I was on the other side of the world in Bali ready to dive the next morning when my Suunto D4i spontaneously decided it was time for the low battery indicator to appear. Thankfully, I was able to arrange for service there but I might not have been so lucky in another remote area. Since wireless transmitters are finicky in general, it is wise to have a backup air pressure gauge on your regulator just in case.
- If you plan to dive in multiple locations, remember that items may still be wet between your destinations. Prepare to keep wet gear or clothes contained so the rest of your items do not end up soaked.
- If you do not want to pack a heavy gear bag, visit your local Ikea store to stock up on their big blue shopping bags at the checkout register (you just need one per trip). They are extremely durable even when wet, the perfect size to carry a bundle of gear (including wetsuit and fins!) to and from the site and they have shoulder straps with a great drop length. They are also very inexpensive so if you decide you do not want them to come home with you, you won’t feel guilty leaving them behind.
- Guys may laugh, but you girls know how unforgiving wetsuits can be. If it has been a while since you have tried on your water wear, it might be worth a double check in case any sizes have changed. It is always better to figure this out before the trip.
- Consider any site-specific needs for your trip. For example, if you are doing drift dives, you may want (or need) an inflatable surface marker buoy. For areas with strong current, a reef hook might be advisable. When you are photographing with current or surge, you may want to bring a stabilizing pointer.
A few additional dive travel tips:
- Keep in mind that some dive shops require proof of a specific number of dives in order to see various sights (e.g., operators in Galápagos generally want to see 30 logged dives before taking a diver to Gordon Rocks) so it is smart to keep your dives logged until you’ve reached Master Scuba Diver or Divemaster credentials. Bring your “c-cards” (certification cards) and diver insurance card with you on trips. Some locations charge a fee if you do not have proof of diver insurance.
- Consider maintaining an electronic log book. Mac/iPad users might like the Dive Log app. There is a charge, but I think it is worth it. It is easy to sync between laptop and iPad and the interface for iPad is great. You can store electronic copies of your certification and insurance cards in the app, easily view your stats, and reference your weights from prior dive conditions. Oh, and it’s not full of coffee cup stains, smeared ink, crumpled pages, etc. At the end of each dive day, I just log my dives to stay current and then I do not have to rely on my memory. Some watch computers have programs where you can sync your stats and add dive details.
- Newer divers may benefit from a refresher on hand signals, safety procedures, boat etiquette and general diver courtesy (especially if using an underwater camera). Rescue divers may want to take time to refresh knowledge of emergency response procedures. Some handy dive-focused apps and other diver resources can be found here.