Once upon a time in a land far, far away, the Guru traipsed around the world, taking flights to exotic places for exotic diving. White tablecloths, cabin stewards at your beck and call – it was the ultimate in luxury.
Okay, truth be told, even as ancient as the Guru is, I wasn’t around for the golden age of air travel. And, even if I was, it wouldn’t have made a difference as the sport of diving was still in its infancy and air travel to dive was still a dream.
The times have certainly changed and with the good – being able to hop a plane to just about anywhere you want to explore the underwater realm – is the bad. Maybe bad is overstating the case and, perhaps, inconvenient is a better word. Although I may have missed the golden age of air travel, I certainly remember a time where my overloaded scuba gear bags flew free of charge and I didn’t give a second thought to the size or weight of what I packed. Now, if I don’t plan what to pack and how to pack it, I can max out my budget just ensuring the safe passage of my gear. Don’t get the wrong idea, I love my dive gear and I’d gladly pay any amount to have all of it meet me at my destination – well, maybe I don’t pay gladly but I’m generally filled with gladness when it arrives.
Today’s travel regulations mean two things to the Guru. First, and my favorite part, they provide the perfect excuse to purchase some of those new pieces of dive equipment we’ve all been eyeing and dreaming about (or if you’ve been a good Guru this year, someone else might be checking items off your dive wish list for you). The second part to dealing with travel regulations, whether you get new gear or not, includes picking what to bring and figuring out how to bring it – slightly less exciting than a spending spree on brand new gear, but equally important for worry-free travel.
The dive industry is constantly evolving – and for Gurus, Gurus-in-training and Gurus-to-be everywhere, that means there is always new gear on the market. Whatever you value in your gear – weight, color, durability, stretchiness, style – there’s a manufacturer creating it to suit your needs. And, whether you’re buying for yourself or searching for your dive buddy’s perfect gift, there’s sure to be a new piece of dive gear on every diver’s wish list. Why not do yourself a favor and head to your local PADI Dive Center or Resort to have a chat. They’re sure to have several lines of lightweight dive equipment that can save on excess baggage fees, etc.
If you are planning on traveling, you definitely want to consider how much your new gear weighs and how it’ll fit into your travel bag. New lightweight gear makes it easier to meet the shrinking airline weight and size restrictions and makes a fantastic holiday gift. Think about it. You can pick just about anything travel-related – from a lightweight travel bag to lightweight BCD or even simply lightening your wallet by swapping a traditional certification card for the PADI eCard™ – for the favorite dive travel buddy on your list.
After you’ve figured out what equipment you need and want to bring on your trip, you’ll need to figure out where to put it. Back in the day, I separated my dive gear from my clothes and other sundry items, creating one super heavy monster of a scuba gear bag and a light – way under weight limits – bag with my clothes. With new travel rules, I started equally distributing gear and clothes between my bags to avoid paying added fees for an overweight gear bag. You can always redistribute things when you get there. You don’t even have to do the math (or maths if you prefer) by going to a site like iflybags.com where you punch in your airline and destination to find out how much you can take.
In addition to what you can carry on, remember it’s just as important to remember what you can’t carry on. While the nice guards at the head of the security line might share your fondness for fresh scallops, the likelihood that they agree your 23 centimetre/8-inch dive knife is safe to carry on board because has a blunt tip is close to nil. Save everyone some time and pack it in checked luggage. And, while regulations vary from country to country, to be safe, you’ll want to do the same for any sunscreen, defog or other liquid that comes in a bottle. Oh, and a couple of other tips – remove batteries from dive lights before packing them and bring extras – you might be surprised by what you can’t buy at your destination. If you bring any specialized weights – like those used to neutralize the buoyancy of your camera and housing – you should check them as well.
The road Guru-ness is full of lessons, some of which are learned in an alarmingly hard way. If, of course, you define hard way as being stranded for four days on an exotic, very remote, tropical island in the midst of some of the most pristine diving in the world without a lick of dive gear, a bathing suit or even a toothbrush. Before you even ask, I had clothing. Just not a bathing suit. Now, I know that my carry on bag is my most important piece of luggage, and when packing, I imagine that on of my checked bags will arrive at my destination – ever, or at least for a few days. Although I’d rather have access to everything, there are certain items – dive equipment or otherwise – that are simply necessities.
Gurus have their own must-have list for each trip. But, this Guru would carry all my dive equipment on if possible, since I prefer to dive with my stuff and hate to miss out on any dives. But, I can’t carry it all – so I bring my mask, dive computer and regulator at the very least. That’s along with my nondiving essentials, of course – travel documents, my PADI eCard, basic toiletries, a bathing suit and a change of clothes (or at least shorts and flip-flops).
The golden age of air travel may have passed, but the golden age of dive travel is well underway. With the right gear and a little planning, any Guru can forgive the inconveniences of travel for the dive paradise waiting at the destination.
Can’t get enough of the Guru? Read past installments here: