Is there anything more frustrating than dealing with the airlines and all of their baggage policies and fees? Unfortunately, as divers we need more luggage than the average tropical-destination traveler, even if we’re just bringing fins, masks, snorkels, wetsuits and BCDs — forget about cylinders, cameras and other gear! Packing for a dive trip can be daunting even for the most seasoned traveler.
Traveling with everything you need for an extended liveaboard or diving trip can be one of the most difficult aspects of a diving excursion, to be sure. The absolutely-must-have items are easy but there are a lot of items that fall into the gray zone — for example, will you really need two wetsuits?
Airlines have become exceedingly more stringent on bag weight and size, so the last thing you want is to arrive at the terminal and find out your bag weighs 58 lbs. and the limit is 50 lbs. Now you’re faced with an extra fee or digging things out of your bag as the people in line behind you stamp their feet in frustration!
Your carry-on is easily the most important part of your luggage, as this is where all your essentials are stored, from cameras to cash. And somewhat frustratingly, every airline has its own set of guidelines on the maximum sizes allowed for a carry-on bag. For example, Southwest Airline’s maximum is 24” x 16” x 10”, while the relatively obscure Sri Lankan Airlines is 18” x 14” x 8”.
Consider investing in a carry-on designed for scuba gear — such as this Dive Caddy Destination Bag. Lightweight yet durable, it is designed with divers in mind, unlike traditional carry-on bags.
Instead of trying to cram your fins and other unweildly gear into a traditional suitcase, consider investing in a bag designed to carry — and protect — scuba gear. These bags have pockets and compartments designed to fit your gear, and most have wheels, making it much easier to race across the tarmac to catch the puddle jumper to the remote dive destination!
The good news is that a good chunk of your gear — including masks, snorkels, booties, hoods, and knives – don’t take up a ton of room. Get creative with your packing, such as stuffing underwear into masks or booties. Just make sure you put that dive knife in your packed bag, not your carry-on!
For dive destinations, shorts and T-shirts are the norm, and if you do have the rare need to get gussied up for a fancy occasion, toss a Hawaiian shirt or sundress into your bag. Clothing manufacturers that cater to outdoorsy, active people make clothes that are designed for travel — they don’t need to ironed, pack well and can even be easily washed in a sink and hung to dry. Check out EddieBauer.com or REI.com.
Above all else, stay cool and relaxed. Multiple flights with lots of luggage in tow is never fun, but if the layovers, delays, and long security lines start to get under your skin, simply lean back, take a breath, and think about the destination that’s in store. Even if things go south, put it into perspective — you’re embarking on a fabulous adventure — something most people in the world never get to do, likely many of the people who live in your dive destination.
Download and print our dive trip checklist so you don’t forget anything!
Any other packing tips you want to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!