Reefs To Dive For
We’re getting for our KLDC Dive Club trip to Anthony’s Key in Honduras. The past few days I have had many packing questions from a few of our divers. I’ll break down a few key things about how I pack for these dive trips. My process has evolved over several decades of travel. I used to be able to squeeze my BCD, reg, fins, and a few pairs of swimsuits into a carry-on and that was all I would take for a few days of diving. Years of growing older, more experienced, and some bad experiences have taught me to be a little more prepared. I have had trips disrupted by hurricanes, power outages, labor problems, water problems, and more. Since most of the Caribbean dive resorts are on islands, and islands are susceptible to these problems and very remote (similar to backpacking) I have come to adopt my old Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”.
Starting with my “personal item” which you are allowed to bring on the flight in addition to a carry-on. I use a small day pack for this. In it I keep my passport, id, credit cards, keys (just the most essential to make it home), IPAD, and other personal items that I will probably put in the room safe. Additionally I keep my dive computer and regulator, my video lights, dive camera and go pro in the day pack. I also add a few Cliff bars and a bottle of water from the airport in case of a diversion, long taxiway delays waiting for a gate, mechanical issue, etc. Half a can of coke and a quarter ounce of peanuts from the flight attendant doesn’t do the job.
In my “carry on” bag I pack a few more essential items such as my BCD, and a pair of “dive clothes” such as swimsuit and lycra so that if my larger checked bag is lost I can at least live a day or two out of this bag. I also keep the dive “hardware” in here, the camera trays, arms, clips, retractors, chargers, and a few more Cliff bars or other snacks. Because I may be forced to check my carry on at the last minute depending on the mood of the gate agent, I consider this bag expendable so I don’t put my essential personal items here, those stay in my day pack which is always with me.
In my checked bag I carry a larger bag that has most of my extra clothes, spare mask, spare mask and fin straps, my fins (too long for carry on), extra food ( Mountain House dehydrated food is good, from your local outdoor store or REI). Top Ramen or other soups are also convenient. Some instant oatmeal is handy too in case you don’t want to do a big island breakfast before diving. I also bring a water boiler (plug in immersion heater or electric hot pot). This is in case you need to boil the water for some reason like after a hurricane or exceptional rain event when the local supply may have become contaminated. Most islands make their own water from desalinated saltwater. Instant coffee like Starbucks VIA packets go here too. If you are a coffee snob you can toss a coffee press and some ground coffee in this bag too. I pack a small bowl for preparing my emergency food and a non-breakable coffee cup. My mesh gear bag for the boat goes in this bag too. I also keep a small digital travel scale in this bag to keep it under 50 pounds.
Be sure that at least one of your larger bags has wheels and a handle even though you lose some internal space. This allows you to clip on one of your other bags. If your bag doesn’t come with a piggyback strap you can purchase one at most places that sell suitcases or travel accessories. Carrying a suitcase or duffel bag around without wheels will put you in a bad mood. The wheels and piggyback strap makes maneuvering around very easy.
Don’t forget to check in online for your departure flight. Most airlines let you check in 24 hours in advance. It will streamline your process through the airport. It’s almost that time. Be safe, be smart, and if you haven’t traveled recently above all watch what you say. TSA and other travel employees don’t take jokes too well, don’t have a sense of humor, and are usually understaffed and stressed out. If you’re rude to them you might find yourself on the sidewalk. A little courtesy and friendliness at the airport, at the resort, and with the dive boat staff can go a long way.
I’m looking forward to a week of dive adventure in Honduras with our dive travel club. Email us at scuba@KeyLargoDiveCenter if you are interested in joining our travel club or would like to join one of our trips. Check out our upcoming trips under the “Dive Travel” tab of our website.
Dive Safe, stay alert, keep learning and stay proficient.