One of the best aspects of scuba diving is it allows you to travel to exotic locales all over the world. From remote islands surrounded by thousands of miles of water to wild continents with some of the globe’s most beautiful coastlines, scuba diving introduces the most beautiful places on the planet to travelers.
But as any regular traveler can attest, there’s always some risk when you plan a trip to a remote destination that’s almost off the map. From being stuck at a less-than-ideal dive resort or liveaboard to losing your passport while in a foreign country, some seemingly devastating things can go wrong and ruin a once-in-a-lifetime diving vacation.
But rather than worry and make a mental list of potential worst case scenarios, spend your time familiarizing yourself with the appropriate actions. You should also prepare by taking steps beforehand for virtually any disaster.
By recognizing the risks ahead of time, and planning accordingly, you can focus on simply looking forward to your trip.
Worst Case Scenario: Your passport is lost or stolen.
One of the biggest concerns for any traveler going to a foreign country is what happens if your passport is lost or stolen. Does this mean you’re trapped? How long until you can get home? And how much will it cost?
Don’t panic! Replacing a passport in a different country can be a hassle to be sure, but may not be as devastating as you expect.
If you discover your passport is missing, the first thing you need to do is contact the closest US consulate or embassy. Talk to the consular section specifically.
Be sure and note if someone stole your passport or was simply lost, as well as the date you are planning to leave. This information will give the consular officer a head’s up in case a limited validity emergency passport is required.
It can take full 4-6 weeks to get a passport in the States. But, if your date of departure is shortly, an emergency passport can often be issued within 24 hours, which will get you back home. You’ll still need to pony up $140 for a full replacement passport before your next out-of-country trip.
Before you Leave: Pack along evidence of your citizenship.
Whether it’s a copy of your birth certificate or a photocopy of your passport as well as a valid secondary ID, like a driver’s license, pack it. You’ll need proof that you are who you say you are, as well as a citizen, to get a temporary or full passport replacement.
Worst Case Scenario: Your diving resort or liveaboard is a wreck.
Everyone has heard horror stories. You show up at a resort or liveaboard that looks stunning in photos online but, upon arrival, it’s sketchy, scary, and seemingly unfit for human habitation.
So what do you do if this occurs? Act as quickly as possible. Don’t ride it out if you don’t feel “safe.” Instead, ask the owner or manager as soon as possible for a refund.
If possible, and start looking for other options in the area. It can be tempting to stick it out and hope for the best especially since the alternative could potentially double your vacation costs.
But staying anywhere you do not feel secure is never a good idea. Safety always, always comes first.
Before You Leave: Research, research, research!
Accommodations can be thousands of miles away, but the internet clearly makes vetting your options a whole lot easier. Look for established, well-reviewed accommodations. Remember if a bargain price tag that’s completely out of line with other resorts in the area looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Worst Case Scenario: Your vacation is cut short because of a hurricane, storm, or natural disaster.
If a mandatory evacuation is called in your destination area due to a hurricane or other disaster, don’t panic. Instead, listen to emergency management information on possible routes out of the area, and various modes of transportation available.
Airports are going to be crowded, so if there are other options (buses, rental cars, etc.), start there first. You’ll also want to talk to your resort management staff for recommendations on where to go, and what to do. If they’re in an area that’s affected by hurricanes or other seasonal weather events, they’ll likely have a plan in place for visitors.
Before You Leave: Look into purchasing trip insurance.
Usually offered at a small percentage of your overall vacation cost, trip insurance may be able to cover your personal travel expenses if a natural disaster or other factors beyond your control cuts your vacation short.