Dive travel should be exciting and sometimes, planning it – whittling down the shortlist, choosing places to stay – can also be a bit of fun. However, the “wrong” holiday or a bad choice can be an expensive and regrettable ordeal. It’s worth giving some careful planning and preparation to your diving holiday.
We don’t want finances to dictate everything involved in our holiday planning but the fact is, if you haven’t got the money, you cannot do the things you want to do.
Cheap, luxury or in-between
It’s important to consider the cost of flight/transportation, accommodation, dives and other necessities. Generally speaking, places like Cozumel are considered accessible and cheap for North Americans while Egypt is an affordable option for Western Europeans and Bali/Indonesia for Australians.
Consider the time required to travel to and from your destination, time required for diving and other activities. You will always find there is never enough time on a good holiday.
Remember the mandatory no-fly time between your last dive of the holiday and your flight. Make sure you plan this into your itinerary.
Where do you want to go?
Location should be easy to decide – or so you would think. If you have a place in mind half way around the world and you only have ten days for your holiday, then you should cross it off your list.
Do you want to vacation somewhere and get in some diving on the side or do you want to prioritise your diving? If you are planning on doing three or four dives daily, there will be precious little time left for anything else. You may end up kicking yourself because you didn’t plan in extra time for activities such as sightseeing on land, cultural tours or taking in the nightlife.
Research your location
Ask about your chosen location:
• Is it a place where you will feel safe?
• Will you be happy spending your hard-earned holiday time and money there?
• Is it relatively easy to get to?
• Can you get the required travel visas or permits? There are many dive sites in the world where it is not possible to just turn up because it is protected or the numbers are controlled for conservation reasons
This is one of the necessary compromises in life for some people – family and friends with interests and priorities different from yours. You want a place that will accommodate and entertain people who don’t dive and aren’t interested in keeping up with the divers. Rule out the liveaboard. You can also rule out the dive resort in the middle of nowhere with nothing else to do other than dive.
Type of diving
Wrecks or reef, liveaboard or land-based? If seasickness is a problem, consider the liveaboard carefully.
Do you have the necessary equipment? If you’re planning on Arctic ice diving, you will not be able to use your tropical regulator.
Do you have the adequate training and experience? Diving on an aircraft carrier at 40 metres may sound very enticing but you’ll need proper training and certification.
Preparing for your holiday as departure date nears
Your holiday is coming up, departure date is nearing. It’s time to take a moment to make sure you have everything you need for a safe and enjoyable holiday. Preparation ahead of time and looking at your checklist will save you a lot of headaches on your trip and allow you to relax and appreciate your destination. Nobody wants to be running around trying to sort out their paperwork or equipment when they could be sitting on the beach or out sightseeing.
Visas and travel documents
This may sound obvious but it’s surprising how many people neglect to check travel requirements and turn up to their destination without the required permits or let their travel visas expire. If you are uncertain, contact the embassy/consulate of the country you’re planning on visiting or ask your travel agent.
Have your equipment – especially your BC and regulators – serviced by a professional prior to departure. Alternatively, make sure you’ll have the time and facilities to have it serviced at your destination before going out on your first dive. Before my last trip, I discovered that my BC inflator was sticking – something that could have been dangerous had I gone into the water unaware.
Do you have everything?
• Adequate and appropriate equipment for your dives – BC and regs
• Exposure suit for the conditions – a drysuit may not be good for very warm tropical waters and a shorty would not be good for serious wreck diving. If you aren’t sure if you’ll be warm enough, pack a hood
• Fins/boots, mask and snorkel
• Mesh bag for boats and sites – you don’t want to be carrying your roller suitcase onto a diveboat or onto the back of a truck
• Dry bag – to keep the important things dry on your trips out
• Spares and “save a dive kit” – with spare O-rings, cable ties and other necessities
• Photographic equipment if you’re planning on taking pictures
• Certification cards
If you’re taking your own dive equipment (rather than relying on the resort rental), you’re going to have heavy baggage. Check airline luggage allowances and enquire ahead of time if you’re not sure what you’re allowed. Depending on the airline, it may be cheaper to pay for a second bag than to risk having your one allowed bag clock too heavy. I’ve had some nasty surprises – especially with small regional carriers – of being slapped with an unexpected overweight/oversize baggage fee at the airline check-in counter.
• Seasickness medication if you’re going to be out at sea and are prone to feeling ill
• Basic first aid kit
• Sunblock and insect repellent if you’re going to the tropics
• MONEY – there are still places where you can only use cash or where you’ll be charged a hefty fee for using credit cards
If you are diving with a diveshop, charter boat or a resort, they will probably have the tools and some basic spares. The more upscale resorts also have services to deliver greater comfort and convenience to their guests. If you are going to be more independent and out on your own, you’ll need a more comprehensive set of backups and spares.
You should have both travel coverage and dive insurance. If you are taking your own diving equipment, you may need additional coverage to cover theft and loss. Read the small print on your travel insurance regarding what is and what is NOT covered.
Some regular travel insurance will exclude dive accidents or will only provide limited cover for dive-related medical needs. It is a good idea to take additional dive insurance coverage. The non-profit organisation Divers Alert Network (DAN) is a popular choice with divers as their dive medical coverage is comprehensive. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get holiday/travel cover through DAN as well.
With some thought given to your holiday from planning to departure, you’ll lessen the chance of neglecting important requirements and items being forgotten. You’ll enjoy your dives and your destination more and save yourself a lot of unnecessary bother.