How do you know if you’re fully prepared for a diving trip
halfway around the world? By plenty of careful planning.
And both experienced travelers and new divers alike will
want to keep the following considerations in mind when planning a trip on a
liveaboard, or to a global diving resort, to ensure that their dream vacation
meets, and hopefully exceeds, all expectations.
How to Choose a Destination
While you can prowl around the Internet and read other
traveler’s reviews or book what seems like a great package deal, you might be
in for some unpleasant surprises. Only
you know your interests, ability levels of the divers in your family or group,
how many hassle factors you’re willing to put up with to reach premium dive destinations,
Start with A Dive Shop
A dive shop like Scubatoys.com that offers travel planning services will often
have the most current, accurate information.
Staffed by divers who have been to many of these places, as
well as receiving feedback and trip details from their customers, they will be
able to help you plan a trip that fits your specific needs. They also are more likely to vet dive operators and only work with
For example, are most of the dive sites for intermediate to
advance divers only, and you have a few novices in your group who would be out
of their ability and comfort zone? Are there big differences in temperatures
and conditions depending on the time of year? Is there shore diving? These are
the kind of questions a dive shop with travel services will know that an online
travel website won’t.
What to Pack
little things you use in a week – Depending on where you stay, it might be
tricky to pick up Advil, contact lens cleaner, sunscreen, and other little
staples that can be taken for granted. This is especially true for liveaboard
reliable diving equipment – The key word here is "good.” If your equipment
is older, or if your wet suit doesn’t fit as well as it used to, it can cause
all sorts of problems – even medical ones - on a dive. Inspect (and service if necessary) all of your gear, including
mouthpieces and hoses that can dry out and split, and replace anything
questionable. It may be expensive or impossible to replace something that
malfunctions in a remote area.
·Click here for a printable dive trip checklist
– In your scramble to tie up loose
ends at work and home before you head out, you’re bound to forget something, so use this list and check off each item as
you pack it
What to Know
·Check with your car insurance company and credit card if you’re planning to rent a car,
as plans differ as to whether rentals in foreign countries is covered.
·Also understand your health insurance benefits, what’s covered and what’s not out of network
Consider purchasing dive-trip-specific insurance from DAN (Divers Alert Network)
·Don’t disregard trip insurance — dive vacations are particularly vulnerable
to cancellations due to weather and other unpredictable conditions.
·While many destinations such as the Caribbean
and Mexico accept U.S. dollars, many places don’t, or it will be a challenge to
figure out if you’re receiving the correct change. Many foreign businesses will accept VISA and MasterCard, but you will
need to have some cash.
·Do a little research on exchange rates before
you leave the U.S. Google has a simple to use currency converter — and become familiar with buy and sell rates
– generally you want
the buy rate if you’re turning U.S. dollars into local currency.
ATMs generally offer the best rates to exchange your U.S. dollars or traveler’s
checks for local currency, although banks will charge ATM fees. Hotels and
post offices are also options but fees are generally higher.
·Avoid using change bureaus in airports, around
town and in touristy areas, as they generally have the worst rates. Be wary of locals, even merchants, as there
are a lot of scam artists who will be thrilled to rip you off.
A Little Pre-Trip Prep
·Brush up on the local language, if applicable,
even if it’s learning a few key phrases like "I need help” or "Where is the
bathroom?” While your smartphone can
often help with on the spot translations, you might be in an area with no
coverage. Bring a pocket language dictionary to be safe.
·Is it safest and / or cheapest to go from the
airport to your resort or dive boat by bus, taxi, or tuk tuk? How will you get
around during your stay? Will you know where and what mode is safe,
particularly if going out at night? Get
familiar with the transportation options, and plan your trip accordingly.
·Know what you can bring back from your trip. You
might fall in love with a local artifact, food, or other organic-matter
treasure in your destination, but it
could be confiscated upon returning home.
What to Watch Out For
·Remember that many of the top dive sites on the
globe are in unstable, third world countries. Keep an eye on the world news to ensure there are no military
skirmishes, political instability, or other factors that could make a
particular region dangerous.
·If you’re planning to spend some time exploring
land-based sites, keep your cash and credit cards protected. Inexpensive extras
like a scan-proof, RFID-blocking credit
card sleeve, or under-clothing storage accessories, will keep your funds
protected when you’re out and about.
·It’s important to do your research on where to
stay, particularly in remote places and liveaboards. Many foreign
accommodations and liveaboards aren’t tightly monitored or regulated,
especially in third-world countries. Make
sure your accommodations, and your diving operator, both have good reputations.