September 1, 2011

Flyin' high and low

Nowadays not the decompression limits or the sharks are the most frightening things for the divers but the baggage allowance. Those lucky guys who lives near a tropical seashore now finish the reading and I envy them. Most of us regularly fight at the check-in desks and try to negotiate with the ruler of the bags. As I usually fly by cheap charter airlines I learnt many tricks and I share some of them.

First of all: measure your bags at home. Sometimes you'll be really surprised to see the weight. Yes, we often pack a lot of useless items. You won't need that fancy leisure suit on a liveaboard trip. A spare BCD's extra weight would cost more than rent one in your destination. Maybe you love your plastic coated pink weight blocks but for a trip you can try simple and similarly heavy local ones. After a few dive trips packing will be much easier as you bring only what you really need. Certainly a beginner don't have the experience but ask your friends, maybe they'll share their checklist of the most important items.

When you buy your first set of diving equipment always check the weight. Most of the manufacturers have lighter BCD-s for the traveling diver (that was the reason I chose the Cressi Light Jac). The full rubber fins are always heavier than the plastic ones. In a tropical sea a cheap 2-3 mm thick overall will be enough and it weighs much less. Choose a soft bag- some people say the hard and heavy plastic suitcases protect your equipment but if you spend a huge amount of the price of a new equipment on the extra weight it protects the income of the airlines not your valuable pieces.

Pack smarter, put the expensive smaller pieces in your carry on bag, a regulator set and your computer will be within the limits. You can make a small extra bag for the photo equipment. Some people buy a vest with many pockets where they put small items. Nobody will measure the weight of your clothes. Anyway, always read carefully the terms and conditions of the airlines, maybe you should print if they offer extra allowance for divers, etc- when you travel back it helps you if the check-in crew in an exotic county say they haven't even heard about them. Sometimes you don't book a direct fly. Maybe the different airlines allow different allowances so check all of their conditions.

Maybe the most important thing is the preparing for the worst case scenario. Don't travel without cash and credit card. Sometimes you need to pay some extra money but if you compare it the priceless moments of your dive trip it isn't worth too much debating. In a few days you'll remember only your underwater memories...

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