Packing Tips For That Dive Trip

Get Away From The Freezing Cold and Go Diving in the Warm Tropics. 

Get Away From The Freezing Cold and Go Diving in the Warm Tropics. 

I travel around the world at least 6x a year and I am on an airplane at least 3-4x a month domestically or internationally. I rack up hundreds of thousands of miles a year which means I live out of my suit case, airports and hotels, more than I live at home. If I get really lucky, I try to attach a diving trip on to the front or back end of a business trip. So how do I pack and what do I take with me, especially when I go diving?

First of all, I have to admit I usually take way too much with me on most trips. I try taking less each time, but it is tough because I always think I may need something when usually I don’t. In fact, I get frustrated at the end of the trip when I realize I didn't touch 5-10% of the things I brought.

Second, I get too comfortable because I get to upgrade with my frequent flyer status on some flights and with all my miles it allows me to take more weight or bags which makes me lazier knowing I can take more. However, since I am getting older, the weight and the pain of lugging more is not good so I still try to carry less.

So here are some basic tips:

  1. If you go for a 7 day dive trip, pack clothes for 3-4 days. Why? You can always wash your clothes like I do in the shower, tub or by using the hotel laundry. When diving, I usually pack two swim suits and wash one each day (pack my own bar of soap just for that purpose) and wash a T-shirt each day and wear the other. I usually wear sandals and I am set with a pair of shorts. Oh yeah, I do the same with underwear; NO, I don’t turn them inside out and YES, I do wash them daily.

  2. Pack small toiletries in a zip lock bag like you do with a carry-on luggage. It’s only a week and most items last at least that long so don't pack a large bottle of shampoo or lotion, etc. This is also helpful in case they lose your luggage, your all set. Don’t forget suntan lotion and insect repellent. I love using Off mosquito insect repellent lotion versus the spray on type because I found it much more effective and lasts longer.

  3. Pack your dive gear in one hard shell rolling (4 wheel) suit case (light weight) and if possible, most of your clothes for the dive trip. Use a TSA lock. Then pack in a rolling bag or another light weight rolling suit case (30”) your clothes that you need for your business trip. Again, only what you absolutely need. If you do this right, there should be room for your souvenirs in this bag or your extra camera gear.

  4. Make a check list and check it twice. Mask, fins, regulator, dive computer, BCD, wet suit (rent if possible), booties, rechargeable batteries (pack in carry on, especially lithium ion batteries), extra batteries for all electronic items, especially hard to find ones like your dive computer, camera, etc. If you’re on a remote island it can be difficult to get a battery when you need it or it can cost 5x or more for what you’d pay at home.

If you’re into underwater photography, this is where it gets tricky. Depending upon the equipment you have, you have to decide what’s priority in terms of carry on or check-in. What can you afford to lose or not? I definitely take the housing, camera inside the housing, strobes, batteries, Go Pros, a dome, lens (one macro and wide), arms, storage cards and computer. Weight and size is important. I use a rolling bag at max size (22”) that will fit in the overhead. Tricky at times because on international flights, the overhead on several airlines are smaller than most U.S. airlines so you have to be careful. 

Overweight Luggage Tip:

Another problem is that many airlines now only allow one carry on. If you are caught with more than one carry on, they force you to pay a large fee (almost the cost of an economy ticket on some airlines) or they make you check in the bag and still charge you a fee. Check online in advance, because some airlines, especially in Asia allow you to pay in advance for overweight bags. If you don’t pay online in advance and you are overweight when you check in at the counter the fee is almost triple the price. For example, I was able to pay $40 extra for the anticipated 35kg of extra weight I was going to be over on a regional airline to Bali. If I had not paid online in advance and waited to do this at the airport counter, it would have cost me over $250.

DAN (Divers Alert Network) Insurance:

I always recommend you have DAN insurance and membership, whether a diver or not. Not just for diving but for traveling and for your equipment. You can’t get much better pricing and the service when you need it is great. Remember, they are a non-profit organization too.

If you have other suggestions, please add them in comments below.

Get wet, safe travels and safe diving.