Part 2: Getting Rid of the Pack Rat
Vacation is just around the corner and it is so exciting to envision yourself on the beach with palm trees and the ocean lapping at your feet until you realize it’s time to start packing. What should I take? Traveling to exotic destinations is not like living in your local suburb where there is a Wal-Mart on every corner and plenty of Dollar Stores everywhere. Time to really focus in on the ‘nitty gritty’. Most people over pack. When carrying your personal dive gear you may find the 50 lb. limit on your luggage fairly quickly but you want to make sure you have equipment tailored to you and you’re familiar with-after all this is why you invested in your gear.
This past year I have seen new equipment coming out and I hope to focus a future blog on purchasing travel gear but for this blog my focus is on the packing portion. I am assuming you have read Part 1 – Research, if not stop there and read it before proceeding. If you are still reading I know you’re ready for step 2. Getting rid of your inner pack rat. I consider dive gear in two parts – dive gear and dive accessories. The first part of the blog will focus primarily on the dive gear you need to take and how best to pack and carry it. It is focused on a single diver, but if your packing as a couple double the numbers.
Invest in a small portable luggage scale. You can find them on Amazon as low as $10. Weigh your luggage so you now have a baseline for packing. Layout on your floor or bed the following items:
- WETSUIT (OPTIONAL)
- RASHGUARD (2)
- SAFETY SAUSAGE W/REEL
- BOAT BAG (CARRY GEAR ABOVE)
- CAMERA & EXTRA BATTERIES
- DAN INSURANCE CARD
- LOG BOOK W/CERT CARD
- DIVE SOCKS
- REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN
- SEASICK MEDICINE
- FLASHLIGHT & CHARGER/EXTRA BATTERIES
TOOL KIT~SAVE A DIVE KIT (STRIP DOWN TO BASIC)
Take the time to inspect all the items to make sure there is nothing malfunctioning. Replenish all items that may have been used previously in your Save-A-Dive kit. Charge all electronics the day or night before you leave if possible. If you have any other suggestions, let me know what they are.
Somehow it is easy to get the dive gear but more complicated when deciding what clothing and toiletries we place into our suitcase. Most resorts have towels, shampoo, soap – no need to pack them. Check with your travel mate / roommate and split some of the items. Here is my suggested list for packing:
CLOTHING / TOILETRIES
- SWIMSUITS (2-3)
- T-SHIRTS / TANK TOPS (2-3)
- WALKING SHOES /SOCKS (1) /BEACH SHOES (1) choose one for the travel day~less to pack
- LIGHT WIND/RAIN JACKET (1) ~ consider wearing this on the plane if you get cold easily
- UNDERWEAR (3-4)
- HAT (1)
- SLEEPWEAR (1)
- SWIM COVER optional (1)
- TOOTHBRUSH (1)
- TOOTH PASTE (1 per room)
- IMMODIUM (1 per room)
- ASPRIN / ADVIL (1 per room)
- WATERPROOF MAKE-UP & MAKE-UP REMOVER optional
- ALOE / BURN RELEIF (1 per room)
- DETANGLER (1 per room)
- HAIRBRUSH (1) / HAIR TIES (3)
- RAZOR (1)
- DEODORANT (1)
- LIP Balm (1)
- Bug Spray (1 per room)
This list may be significantly limited to what you normally pack but in my opinion it is very generous. First off, ladies you are on vacation and a dive vacation at that. You don’t need a lot of make-up. Simply waterproof mascara and eyeliner will go a long way. Most people purchase souvenir t-shirts while on vacation which is why I recommend only 2-3 max shirts to take with you. You will also have the clothes available you wear down during the week. Remember you will be in the water almost all day so utilizing a few items previously worn will not hurt. You can wash out your clothes in the sink and wear them again as needed some places have laundry service too. Figure out what shoes are best for your airport trip and what you don’t wear to the airport pack in your suitcase ~ tennis shoes are much heavier in your luggage and are very bulky so consider wearing them.
In your carry-on bag pack the following:
- Mask (if prescription)
- Camera / batteries
- Log book /cert card
- seasick medicine
- flashlight / batteries charger
- asprin / advil
Basically anything you may need on the first day after you arrive, you want to carry with you in case your luggage doesn’t show up. I have lately begun to pack my regulator but for years, I always carried it with me. Lithium batteries should be carried on and anytime you are traveling with batteries, try to keep them in a closed and secure package preferably unopened. Some countries won’t let you carry them on if they have been opened.
In your checked bag pack the following:
- safety sausage w/reel
- boat bag
- dive socks
- reef safe sunscreen
- bug spray
- save-a-dive kit
- make-up & remover
- aloe/burn relief
Use your fins as support side walls for your luggage to protect everything inside. Next place your BC in the bag. I would advise unbuckling shoulder straps to allow it fold down smaller. Roll up all clothing items and you can use it to pad sensitive areas in your luggage such as the AIR2 on your BC. Any liquid items I try to put in a ziploc including bug spray and sunscreen in case of leakage. You can store your dive boots or rolled clothing items in your fin pockets too.
To conclude my travel list I want to stress a few things. #1 Packing during the summer months vs winter months will create a bit of a change because you are most likely leaving a colder climate for a warmer climate. Pack in layers and leave big bulky coats, gloves and boots back in your c
ar. #2 One thing I take everywhere I travel is my water bottle. Once through security lines, you can fill it at a water fountain. Many places you travel, the water could be unfit for consumption, so it is nice to have your own refillable water bottle. Make sure you have one with a clip to attach to your backpack or carry-on bag. Bringing snacks and cards for lengthy airport waits is also advisable.
Packing for serious dive photography is a whole other ballgame. A great blog from one of my diver friends is here with tips on traveling with bigger cameras.
Related: Photography TravelScuba Jenn Photograph by Doug George
Following these steps you will find your bag is streamlined and your pocket book is not dented from the excessive baggage fees. Let me know what other suggestions you may have that work for you.