For most travellers, the goal is to travel as light as possible to avoid hassles and tiredness. Of course, it depends on the kind of travels you’re into. Addict to all-inclusive resort holidays? Filling 2 or 3 suitcases is not an issue. If your thing is to go on an adventure and immerse yourself in the country you’re visiting then it is a bit more complicated and luggage optimisation is crucial. Too heavy, too bulky means you can forget something on the way, and it can present issues of security if you have too many bags to watch and sometimes extra fees to pay that you didn’t budget for.
You may wonder why would a traveller carry some scuba gear in his luggage? After several trials in Mexico and Indonesia, remote destinations I’ve travelled to for 1 month, I never regretted travelling with my diving bag! Each trip taught me more about improving my luggage organisation. For whoever wants to travel and scuba dive at the same time, here are the top 4 reasons which I hope will convince you.
Addicted to Scuba Diving? Save money!
If you travel and dive on a regular basis and think to rent is reasonable, do a simple calculation and you will quickly understand the level of savings you can reach by travelling with your scuba gear:
The average price of renting gear is £13 / 15 € a dive, so for a 10 dive trip, you save about £130 / 150€.
As a result, if you go diving 50-60 times per year (which represents my itinerary this year with 2 trips of 15 dives for 2 weeks and then 25 dives for 1 month, and 5 weekends with 4 dives each), you save £650 / 750€ to £780 / 900€ in only 1 year.
Knowing that the price of a full set of new equipment is around £900 / 1000 € and you can buy several pieces of the equipment second-hand for much cheaper, do you still want to rent?
Comfort brings safety
The first reason to travel with scuba gear is also the most important in my opinion: whatever your organisation is, whatever the level of optimisation of your luggage, wherever you want to go, having your own scuba gear is one of the best ways to ensure your safety underwater.
My point is not to say that scuba diving is a dangerous activity but you still need to bear in mind that just a little detail going wrong can sometimes get potentially make things very complicated underwater.
The more at ease you are underwater, the more you will enjoy your dive in total safety: panic is our number 1 enemy. Sometimes it can come from an error of judgement (like the smart idea of putting your hand in the hole of a moray eel) or an unexpected technical issue arising which can lead to an accident.
The advantage of having your own scuba diving equipment is first to choose the gear that perfectly fits your body and which you will accumulate experience in different conditions. You will know perfectly how to use it whatever happens and then be able to react very quickly if necessary. To find your ideal scuba gear, don’t hesitate to go to your nearest retailer. You can even sometimes try the equipment before buying it. Scuba diving shows are another excellent way to try and to buy your own diving equipment.
To give you a more precise idea, here are some very concrete examples of what can happen with unknown scuba gear when renting:
- Wetsuit: the most common issue is to have a wetsuit that will be too big, too much used or not thick enough for the temperature conditions and your capacity to resist the cold. As a result, you get cold, and if you are cold you are not going to enjoy your dive. Worse, you might not be able to react as expected as you will be more focused on the cold than anything else.
- Fins: Depending on if you are fit or not, you might not be able to kick easily with fins that are too hard for you to use. As a result, you get cramps. It is not a nice sensation, especially if you uncontrollably experience them all the time during the dive. Worst case, you are used to diving in currents but the fins you have are not reacting as expected: they are too flexible!
- BCD: Besides the fact of finding one that fits, there is one thing people don’t usually think about: quick air releases! Before having my own, I cannot count the times I found myself ascending because of a bad movement and in need of deflating urgently.“ Where are those $#&@%£# air releases!?!” Being able to find them quickly for emergency deflation is essential! Even with careful inspection of how your rental BDC is working before the dive, this is more a matter of reflex. When you need to deflate urgently it is better not to have to think for more than one second.
- Regulator: This may be more difficult to realise but getting into a habit with a regulator you know will relax you and improve your air consumption. As a result, give it will increase your well-being underwater and lengthen the time of your dive!
Lightweight scuba gear is the key
Have you ever tried to weigh the scuba diving equipment you usually use? Here is a simulation of the average weight of complete gear bag : BDC 3,5 kg, Regulator (first stage + second stage + manometer + octopus) 2 kg, Fins 2,3 kg, 5mm full wetsuit 2 kg, Mask 200 g. Total =10 kg!
Of course, I’m not counting the tank and weight(!) as you can easily understand I never carry them with me! Depending on the destination you are going to you might consider changing the type of wetsuit (maybe you’ll need a dry suit or a 3mm shorty), choosing adjustable fins with comfy booties including your dive computer and your dive log (depending on your experience it can be really heavy), some extra devices such as marker buoy, a spool, a DIN adapter, gloves, a hood, the underwater housing of your camera,etc.
Today with the special travel scuba gear ranges offered by manufacturers you can easily drop the total weight of your diving bag. Today here is the weight of my equipment when I travel to tropical destinations:
- my BDC :2,3 kg
- my Regulator (first stage + second stage + manometer + octopus) :1 kg
- my Fins :1,5 kg
- my 3 mm full suit: 1 kg
- my Mask: 200 g
- Total =6 kg
Finally, the best way to drop some weight off my luggage is to be light on everything else: do you really need 10 shirts and 5 pairs of jeans? Do you really need to bring all the containers from your bathroom? By optimising this, you can easily gain up to 10 kg (Just think one pair of jeans is already 0,5 kg)!
For information, if you’re travelling in Egypt, Thailand or Mexico for instance, having your clothes washed doesn’t cost a fortune. So you have no excuse for bringing 1 month’s worth of clothes when you are actually travelling for 2 weeks!
The result? My scuba diving bag never weights more than 20 kg which means I never pay extra fees for overweight at the airport which is ideal when diving and flying.
The right scuba diving bag
A roller bag with a backpack system is the perfect mix between a traveller’s bag and a scuba diving bag. I can roll it or carry it as a backpack. Because the ground is not always smooth!
With a couple of organisation tricks, from the aeroplane to the bus, from the bus to the boat, from the boat to the tuk-tuk, from the tuk-tuk to a horse-drawn carriage… depending on the country you’re visiting there is always a solution to get a bit of help for very little money! Travelling by bus was perfect in Mexico, taxi ideal and cheaper for 2 than the bus in Egypt, the train was fantastic in Thailand and I highly recommend the boat in Indonesia if you have time.
Do you now feel ready to travel with scuba gear? Let me know in the comments!
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