Like all travel, dive travel takes thought and planning to ensure you are prepared for the best (and worst) experiences on your trip. Since we’ve done a considerable amount of dive travel here at Scuba, we compiled this short and sweet guide to packing for dive travel that will serve as a baseline for any type of scuba vacation.
To travel with dive gear, or to not travel with dive gear? That is the question divers ponder the world over, and the answer will invariably differ depending on the destination. If you do own a full set of dive gear, you may choose to take all or some, which will likely depend on space and weight constrictions, availability of rental gear at your destination, and personal preferences.
If you choose to take only some pieces of dive gear, but aren’t sure what items should be prioritized over others, here are our suggestions:
A dive mask is compact enough that you should take it on all your dive travels. Mask fog and worn straps or buckles are a common issue with rental models, so just bring your own and avoid the risks. If you have a prescription dive mask, you will definitely want to pack that! Bring your snorkel – you never know when something might put in an appearance that has you racing for mask, snorkel and fins to get a closer view! Get a pocket snorkel and you’ll barely notice it in your bag!
Many manufacturers are now making travel BCDs for people who prefer to travel with their own gear. However, most dive shops will rent BCDs in varying degrees of wear and tear. So, if there aren’t particular features of your BCD you can’t live without, or if you prefer the fit and feel of your own jacket or wing, save yourself some luggage space.
Rental fin quality will vary from shop to shop. If you’re packing for dive travel and have extra space, take the fins you already know how to use efficiently. Poor quality or ill-fitting fins can result in increased exertion, and therefore, increased air use.
Definitely bring your dive computer so you know its functionality inside-out and, if it is feasible, wear it rather than packing it. If it is a large wrist-mounted unit or a console-mounted computer, pack it into your hand luggage and take it on the airplane with you.
Dive lights, gloves, hoods, cutting devices, noisemakers, and other common accessories that you like to dive with may not be available at your destination. Be sure to include these items when packing for dive travel.
Odds and Ends
There are a variety of other items that we have found always come in handy when packing for dive travel. A first aid kit is an essential item for any traveller, but the types of injuries that can happen while diving — like cuts and scrapes, jellyfish stings, or blisters — can be quite uncomfortable when left untreated. A save-a-dive kit can be purchased pre-assembled, or you can easily build your own at home with items you choose. Baby shampoo, toothpaste, or a commercial mask defogger will prove to be invaluable to you or someone else on any scuba excursion!
When packing for dive travel, think of how else you might enjoy the area you’re visiting when you’re not underwater. Be sure to purchase a travel towel if you don’t already own one — you’ll never pack a traditional bath or beach towel again once you see how quickly travel towels dry, and how small they pack down. Absolutely bring a hat, rash vest (short or long sleeve), and more than one pair of sunglasses in addition to sunscreen, as your exposure to UV rays will most certainly be higher on a dive vacation.
Bringing electronics? Of course you are! You don’t want to forget adequate protection for your gadgets when packing for dive travel. A dry bag or hard waterproof case can be purchased in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate virtually any device. Be sure to pack your charging cord and wall plug, as well as any international adapters you may need.
Spare battery packs have an incredible amount of power storage and can be purchased relatively inexpensively, depending on the model you choose. Don’t be stranded in another country without a way to recharge your phone on the fly — trust us and many other divers worldwide, you’re gonna have a bad time!