Packing tips for warm-water diving trips

Diving gear in suitcase

If only it was this easy!

I’m in the middle of packing for my diving trip this coming week. I always find this a bit of a headache because the gear is bulky, heavy, and there is so much of it, especially if you’re a photographer! Forgetting one small item can have an impact on your whole trip. As a result of packing the same items over and over again I’ve developed something of a method and collected lots of tips from my diving buddies, which I have gathered together here. Whatever your travelling style, I hope some of these will be useful to you.

(Note: These tips apply to OC diving in tropical destinations. For those travelling to cold places or with rebreathers … that is a completely different kettle of fish!)

Get organised
  • When you book your flight, check the luggage weight allowance. Know how much you usually need for all your diving gear, and make sure it’s enough — especially for the return when your slightly damp gear may weigh a little more! Some budget airlines let you pay for extra kilos when you book, which I think is an excellent idea and guarantees peace of mind at the airport.
  • Check your dive computer(s). If in doubt, change the battery. It’s easier to do it now than in your remote diving destination!
  • Make a packing list a few days in advance and keep adding to it as you remember things. Even better, save a basic list and use it every time.
  • Don’t leave packing your case to the night before — start packing a couple of days in advance; that way you will be less likely to forget things, and you can get a good night’s sleep on the night before you travel.
Pack smart
  • It’s a no-brainer, but make sure there is really no air left in your BCD before you pack it to gain a few inches of packing space. I don’t suggest sucking air out from your BCD to vacuum-pack it though (yes, I have seen people do this on dive boats). That’s just gross IMO. Just think what could be living in there.
  • Stuff small items into the foot pockets of your fins inside your suitcase to save space.
  • If you can handle it, just bring one travel-sized bottle of body wash which will double up as shampoo (or vice versa). You’re going to be in the sea every day anyway! On a liveaboard where all soap suds will get flushed directly into the sea, I prefer to use a biodegradeable body wash (e.g. liquid castile soap).
  • If you want to disinfect your hands during travel, carry a small bottle of sanitiser gel. Avoid wet wipes which are harmful as they as they don’t biodegrade — and often end up as litter on coastlines.
  • To travel ultra light for a short diving trip, you only need three sets of clothes. One set for travelling (which you will wear on the plane), one for daytime/between dives and one for chilling in the evening. And just one pair of flip-flops of plastic shoes will do.
  • Don’t be minimal on swimwear though. Bring two or three sets. It’s always more comfy to change into a dry set in between dives than to sit around with a wet bum.
  • If you will be diving non-stop over several days, e.g. a liveaboard, you may get blisters/sores on your feet from finning which never get a chance to heal. To avoid this, bring waterproof plasters, or even a pair of socks to wear inside your fins/booties.
Photographers take note
  • They teach you to have a save-a-dive kit; well this is especially relevant to photographers. The average dive shop will not have any spares for camera equipment. Bring spare o-rings, grease, fibre optic cables, memory cards, absorbent sachets etc. And assemble and test all your camera gear before you go to check everything works and nothing is missing.
  • Never pack your camera inside your housing to travel. It may move and damage the inside of the housing. Or vice versa, a button may get pressed and you may end up draining your battery unintentionally. Carry your housing empty in your hand-luggage where it is less likely to get bashed about.
  • Speaking of batteries — don’t just bring a single spare battery for a given item, bring several. And if you have a lot of items to charge up, you may want to bring a multi-plug extension. Basic accommodation doesn’t always have enough plug sockets for charging several items. And write ‘travel adapter’ on your packing list three times!
  • Use your wetsuit to wrap fragile stuff that you may have to pack in your suitcase, like strobes. Neoprene is basically sophisticated bubble wrap.
  • If you are going to use tissues to absorb the odd drop of water that might splash into your housing when you open it up, don’t use cheap ones, which shed fibres. These fibres can cause a leak if they get onto the o-ring. Tempo tissues for example work well because they don’t disintegrate in this way.

Do you have any tips to add? Leave a comment below. Safe travels!

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1 comment

  1. Enjoy your trip!


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