Scuba travel accessories. There is a lot to think about there. This is a great guest article from fellow PADI course director Nicolle Pratt. She loves to travel and scuba so these are awesome suggestions on some of the things to think about when you pack.
For me as a cold-water diver living in the Pacific Northwest USA one of my favorite things is to go on a warm water dive holiday! My very first warm water scuba travel trip was to visit one of my besties from college who initially got me into diving at the University of Oregon. Melanie was teaching scuba in Bimini, the Bahamas and I was an Advanced Open Water diver who hadn’t been in the water for a while so I basically brought myself and a swimsuit. Mel helped me refresh my skills and watching her excite divers with amazing dive briefings, describe sea life behaviors in amazing detail, and command her dive environment from shop to boat, I returned home inspired to continue my dive training.
I continued to visit Mel on many more trips each time arriving at different elevated training levels. In addition to increasing my dive training education, I also acquired dive gear and accessories specifically for smart dive travel. Here are some of my top travel accessories.
1. Portable Gear Bag aka a “Boat Bag”
Often times boat operators on scuba travel trips will have bins or bags for dive guests. However transporting your dive gear from your luggage to the operator and back as well as keeping it organized in your own way is so much easier when you have your own “boat bag.” I started out with a very inexpensive one strap mesh bag from a local boating accessories store but quickly outgrew it when I started traveling with my own set of dive gear. Some people think it’s cumbersome to travel with all of your own gear, but for me my personal comfort, safety, and performance make packing my personal dive gear essential to enjoying my dives. I have traveled with the same backpack-style Stahlsac for over 15 years and if it ever gives out, I’ll buy another. Aqualung also have some great options.
2. Dry Bag
I have overlooked the importance of this one too many times and begged for bag space in a friend’s bag or rolled things in towels trying to find dry places on boats – newsflash, there are no dry places on a dive boat. A dry bag is simply a necessity when boat diving. And size does matter as it should be big enough for a phone, small wallet, towel, and light change of dry clothes like shorts and a t-shirt. Such a time saver to be able to walk off the boat in street clothes without having to return to your lodging to get cleaned up. Geckobrands is one of my favorite dry bag lines.
3. A Sarong and a Quick-dry Towel (a two-fer)
Over the years I have found that while large fluffy beach towels are nice, they are bulky, retain water, and take a long time to dry not making them very travel friendly. I pack both a thin quick-dry towel, like a cotton waffle or microfiber towel, and an extra-long sarong. I dry off with the towel and then wrap up in a light-weight sarong. The sarong is key here as it is versatile as a wrap, a shawl, a minidress etc. When I’m out of my wetsuit and just in my swimsuit, a light-weight sarong allows me to further air dry with a touch of modesty. Plus coming from the PNW, I need to ease my pale skin into the light of day… you’re welcome. 😂
4. Rechargeable Light
People think that everything is colorful in warm water but you still lose color as you descend, (remember your OW reading). Small but powerful lights are great for bringing back color at depth, looking in crevices, and for night dives. Never assume dive operators will have good lights for rent and batteries can be hard to come by or be very expensive at some travel locations.
5. Water Bottle
While we are becoming more educated regarding the negative environmental impact of single-use plastics, to me it is most important when visiting remote dive locations and island nations so I travel with a reusable metal drink bottle. In addition to environmental concerns, I’m also thinking about my safety by keeping my hydration a priority. A metal water bottle is also great because it can transport both hot or cold liquids and take a beating in my Stahlsac!
6. Sunproof Rashie
A UV rashie is so much easier than continually lathering up in suntan lotion and sensitive reefs will thank you. Plus you get the added benefits of slipping into a wetsuit easier and protection from stingy things because everything in the ocean that can sting will try to find and sting me. This has been scientifically proven…
7. Long Windbreaker
This is one of my favorite items to travel with because when I first started out on scuba travel trips I didn’t know how windy boats were and how cold you can feel after a dive even with the sun beating down. Every dive in water colder than your own body temperature pulls heat from your body (again remember your OW reading). A windbreaker is a great to throw on directly over your wetsuit or to put on after you are out of your suit to retain body heat and stave off windchill.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of wearing a hat. Hats keep body heat from escaping from your head (again remember your OW reading) and protect you from the sun. While most people find this obvious, unless you normally wear hats, hats are often overlooked when packing or getting on a boat. I have a carabiner clip on my Stahlsac specifically for my hat. I also have a favorite travel hat, my PADI ball cap I received at my Course Director training course. That hat has been all around the world with me and I’m truly amazed it hasn’t disintegrated. It’s clearly been weathered sturdy by the salt water, just like me. 😊
So there you go. Next time you are packing for your scuba travel trip do a quick check, and make sure you have some of these great accessories.