Today we’ll look at some of the steps for planning a scuba trip. Where do you start?
First, do you just want to go diving, want to go to a specific place, want to dive with a specific buddy or group or all of the above?
If you just want to go diving, perhaps the easiest is a place close to home, perhaps within driving distance. Or maybe you want to go to someplace like Roatan and really want to dive the El Aguila wreck in Sandy Bay, so you need to plan to get there. If it’s with a specific buddy or group, are there any special considerations? Does your buddy get seasick easily and maybe you should make shore dives?
Need some help deciding on a destination? Ask your dive buddies or at your favorite dive shop. Your favorite PADI Dive Center can get you hooked up with the PADI Travel Network, an excellent resource for dive trips.
Now that you’ve chosen a destination, what next? If it’s foreign travel, make sure your passport is up-to-date. Is it a destination that requires vaccinations or that you might need to pack emergency medications? Check with your Doctor on the medications. Are there security issues? Check the US State Department’s website for travel advisories. Also, a benefit of having a DAN membership is access to the Worldcue Planner, which provides detailed information about locations, including security issues.
Book your travel. Your PADI dive center and the PADI Travel Network can streamline this for you.
There are several other steps for planning a scuba trip. Let’s take a look.
- Let your bank and/or credit card company know where and when you’ll be traveling. There’s nothing worse that getting ready to leave and pay your bill and your credit card company flags that transaction as fraudulent.
- Bring some cash. You’ll want to tip the dive operators and resort staff. You might need to convert money into the local currency. Be careful that you’re getting an accurate exchange rate. If you need to get cash while you’re traveling, go to a bank or use a known, safe ATM. Expect bank fees.
- Check on any entry/exit fees, and know how they can be paid. For example, there is an exit fee to be paid when you leave Roatan. A few years ago, they only took cash. Now, there is a bank office in the airport that can process credit cards to take the fee. There are additional fees for this, though.
- Check with your airline about baggage fees. Some allow over-weight sporting good luggage, others may not. In some cases, traveling first- or business-class with the additional bags & weight allowance can make the extra cost worthwhile, but do your homework.
Okay, you’re all set for your trip. Is there anything we missed for planning a scuba trip? Yup–insurance. Insurance comes in many different flavors. Here are a few types to consider:
- Medical insurance (in case you’re injured on the trip)
- Evacuation insurance (to get you home)
- Trip cancellation (weather, illness, etc)
- Equipment insurance
Medical insurance can be difficult. You may have insurance at home, but when you’re traveling abroad, it may be difficult to use. You may have to pay out-of-pocket and then get reimbursed. Keep your receipts. Also, some medical insurance may not cover you when traveling or cover you for scuba-specific injuries and treatment (e.g., hyperbaric treatment for decompression illness).
Evacuation insurance or assistance can be essential. If you’re injured and need to get back home for top-notch medical care, you will probably need this to help you get home. Guess what, if you’re a DAN member, evacuation assistance is included as part of your membership for anytime you’re more than 50 miles away from home. [There have been reports of people using this even for non-diving accidents.]
Trip’s get cancelled. People get sick. The weather changes. Trip cancellation insurance should be part of your steps for planning a scuba trip. Scuba trips aren’t always cheap, so having a way to get some of that back if your trip is cancelled is good financial sense.
Equipment sometimes get lost or broken. Think about a flooded camera housing. Equipment insurance can be used to repair and/or replace your damaged gear. Again, good financial sense.
Now, where do you go for these services? I use DAN for my scuba trip travel insurance. They’re easy to work with and the rates are reasonable. Everyone I know that has needed them has had a good experience. Just remember, just dive accident insurance won’t cover trip cancellation or equipment problems. Make sure you have all the coverage you really need.
Make sure your next scuba adventure is a success. Planning a scuba trip isn’t trivial, but there are many resources to help. Good luck and enjoy your adventure!