It's often confusing to pack your bags when going on a holiday and even more so when it's a dive holiday but also a travel trip so you are not sure what dive gear to pack. Should you take all of it? What are the essentials you will miss and cannot do without? Here is a quick overview of those items you can leave behind and the ones you should definitely pack.
Dive gear: what to bring, what not to bring?
First, determine which type of holiday you are going on. If you are going on a posh liveaboard dive holiday, bring everything of course! The cost of rental gear on most liveaboards is often prohibitive.
However, if you are going on a backpacking-but-will- also-do-some-diving type holiday choose carefully. Here is what we suggest you bring
Don't leave home without:
Mask: Comfort: everyone hates a leaky mask so best to bring your tried and tested one. It's small to pack and you can also use it to go snorkelling
Dive computer: Safety, you know what is going on on your dive and you are not dependent on your guide( if you have one), in case of separation, you can happily independently ascend safely. You might as well avoid the cost of renting a dive computer you are not familiar with and that might not be tailored to your type of diving...
SMB: Safety. If you are boat diving pop it in your pocket, in case of separation, you'll be happy to have it with you when you ascend.
Sharkskin/chicken vest: Warmth: If you tend to get cold bringing an extra layer is a must and you can also use it snorkelling or even to keep you warm on the plane!
Bring if you have the space:
Regulator: Safety: You know it's been serviced and works well. It is your life support system after all. If you are planning on diving in remote areas with local dive centres that might not have access to all the spare parts etc, your own reg means extra safety.
Fins: If you are also an avid snorkeller/ freediver, having your fins with you means you can go out and have fun any time but they are bulky and fragile so think twice.
Don't bother unless you only plan on diving :
BCD: Let's face it there is not that much that can go wrong with a rental BCD and they take up loads of space in your bag. Definite pass.
Wetsuit: Unless you have a thin easy-to-carry wetsuit, your 5 mm will just take up all the space in your bag. Invest in a good undersuit / chicken vest / shark skin for extra layers. And bring a hood if needed. In places that have colder waters, like Nusa Penida, Bali, the dive centre should provide you with warm wetsuits/hoods anyway.
Other indirectly-related-to-diving essentials
Reef-friendly sunscreen: Protect the reefs! This type of sunscreen is not available in most remote places. Bring your own and share it around with other divers/ swimmers/ snorkellers if needed.
What you must not leave home without
A sarong: always have a sarong with you and not just for diving! It will be your towel, your scarf, your ear protection, your sun hat, your beach mat, your long skirt/ shoulder coverage for visiting temples, your hip miniskirt, your improvised bag, your baby carrier and so much more.
Water bottle: have your reusable bottle with you at all times, refills are readily available in most places or can be obtained and you can also use it for coffee/ juice at a push. You can also bring a reusable straw if you love drinking coconut or posing with your cocktails!
Dry bag: Protect your stuff/phone/camera. So useful for dive trips, beach trips, jungle trips, getting caught in the rain...
A thin fabric shopping bag that can be your handbag/ beach bag/ lunch bag, etc.
What clothes to bring?
This will, of course, depend on the climate where you are going.
If you are going to a tropical place, take as few clothes as possible: 2 swimsuits (you'll live in them), 2 T-shirts, 2 pairs of shorts/light trousers, 1 long-sleeved pale shirt.
That's all you'll need, you can always buy extra bits when you are there, it'll double as a souvenir. Remember to pack something warm for the plane/airport and for when you get home if you live in a cold country. One long-sleeved pale-coloured shirt is also useful if you are going to a place with a lot of mosquitos. Plan a good pair of shoes/trainers you can walk in and a pair of flip-flops for everyday wear. You might want to plan a hat if you are sun-sensitive, though again there are usually plenty of good cheap options when you arrive.
First aid kit for a (diving) holiday?
Unless you are going to a remote place directly or you need a very specific medicine, you can usually stock up on first aid necessities in the city where you arrive. Local options are often good as they are adapted to local conditions so may work better than yours from home. It's always good to have to hand in your backpack:
disinfectant liquid (iodine-type stuff),
antibacterial powder (mostly available in tropical places and great for healing wounds fast), plasters,
sea sickness tablets,
paracetamol/ibuprofene (for the hangovers),
Imodium / anti-diarrhoea pills,
Other miscellaneous useful/cool stuff:
Chargers/ travel adaptors
head torch (great for places with little lighting/ no reading light)
Bungees ( if planning to bike with bags or attach camping stuff to backpack)
go-pro style camera and housing
mini speaker with Bluetooth (if possible waterproof)
Stuff you don't need
Alarm clock (your phone will work just fine)
Flashlight (same as above)
Bulky towel (most hotels provide them and you have a sarong for the rest)
Several pairs of expensive sunglasses (let's face it you'll probably lose or break them)
Your printed copy of 'War and peace' (you won't read it)