Scuba diving checklist (With a free pdf) to help you remember what you need on your scuba travels
We’ve all had that horrible feeling when you realise you’ve forgotten something. I have! On my last trip to Barbados, my wife and I were in the shuttle bus on our way to the airport when I realised I’d forgotten my underwater camera. This is when a scuba diver travel packing list comes in handy.
EEEK! How annoying!
Scuba diver travel packing list – The travel essentials
This first list is about those ‘travel essentials,’ without which you won’t be going anywhere. This is especially true if you are flying to another country, which means you’ll need your passport, possibly a visa.
Also, if you forget your diver certification card you may not be diving at all and standing on the side as a spectator.
What should I bring on a scuba diving trip? – The travel essentials list
If you forget the items on this list you may be in trouble.
- Passport and Visas
- Reservations and itinerary.
- Flight Tickets.
- Scuba Certification Card.
- Travel/Diving Insurance.
- Currency, Debit and Credit Cards.
- Mobile or Cell Phone + charger.
- Nitrox Card (if you are a nitrox certified diver).
Scuba diver travel packing list
Are you planning your next trip. Or have you booked your first or next dive trip either at a resort centre or on a liveaboard. Perhaps you’re not too sure what to take, or simply concerned you might forget something.
Don’t worry, as it’s all covered in this article.
But firstly, ask yourself this question: Do you rent your diving equipment or do you buy your gear?
Rent or hire your diving equipment on your diving travels
An important question to ask when deciding about what you take on your diving holiday, for which there are two choices when you travel as a scuba diver:
- Do you rent or hire your scuba equipment from the dive resort or on your liveaboard?
- Or do you take your own scuba gear instead?
There are pros and cons of both these choices, but this article assumes you’ve decided to take your own diving equipment.
Many experienced divers, myself included, know the value of diving with their own equipment. I always travel with my own scuba gear, much to my wife’s bemusement. With my own equipment I know it works. But also my scuba gear is familiar to me and I know how it works.
If you plan to go on many diving trips an investment in your own quality travel diving equipment is worthwhile.
With that said, let’s take a look at what I consider should be include in your scuba diver travel packing list.
Scuba diver travel packing list
In addition to the travel essentials listed above, the following list includes the scuba equipment essentials to pack.
- Light Weight Travel BCD.
- Regulator with Octopus (Alternative Air Source) and Pressure and depth Gauges
- Mask, Fins and Snorkel.
- Dive Computer.
- Wetsuit or Dry Suit.
- Swimwear Or Dry Suit Under-suit.
- Surface Marker Buoy.
- Underwater Torch or Flash Light
- Light Weight Dive Bag
- Spare Mask and Fins Straps.
- Diver log book.
Airlines have reduced passenger’s baggage allowances. Many airlines also charge separately for hold baggage too. You therefore need to consider your baggage allowance when travelling with scuba equipment, as scuba gear is bulky and heavy.
Let’s take a look at the above scuba packing list in more detail.
Essential scuba equipment for a scuba diving holiday
1. Light weight travel BCD
Your buoyancy control device or BCD’s is probably the bulkiest and heaviest piece of your scuba equipment, except perhaps for your wet suit or dry suit. But there are many great light weight travel BCD’s on the market. Many of which are half the weight of a standard BCD.
There are many travel BCDs to choose from, including the following:
- Cressi Travelight and the Travelight Lady Buoyancy Compensators – 2.3kg(XS) to 2.8kg (XL) in black and pink. Italian manufacturer. The Travelight Lady has differently-routed shoulder straps and fastenings to cater for the female form. Material/denier: nylon 210. Integrated weights – Yes. Fully flexible backplate.
- AP Diving Commando Escape – from 2.63kgs (S) to 3.26kg (XXL). British manufacturer since 1969. Integrated weights – No. Rigid backplate. Material/Denier – bespoke OceanSeal 805 (bladder), Cordura 1000 (exterior).
- AP Diving Travelwing – from 2.7kg (S/M) to 2.9kg (L/XL).
Integrated weights – Yes. Soft Backplate. Material/denier: bespoke OceanSeal 805 (bladder), Cordura 1,000 (exterior).
- Aqua Lung Zuma – This one is great for travelling as it’s ultra light weight at only 2.2kg (M/L). Material/denier: nylon 420. Flexible backplate. Integrated weights – Yes.
- Mares Hybrid Pro Tec – This is 2 BCDs in 1. It has detachable sections to make it lighter for travel. 4.4kgs (Full version) to 2.2kgs (Travel version) Integrated weights – Yes, but these are detachable. Folding lightweight backplate. Material/denier: Tough Alutex material.
To read more about recommended BCDs take a look at this article: Best Scuba Diving BCDs.
If you’re based in the UK; click this link to compare prices of a wide range of BCDs from Simply Scuba. But even better, Simply Scuba do an ultra light travel package or other travel packages too – click this link to discover the latest prices. Note Simply Scuba also deliver outside of the UK too.
2. Light weight Regulator, octopus, and pressure gauges
This next part of your diving equipment isn’t as bulky as the BCD, but it can be quite heavy. This is your regulator, your octopus (alternative air source) and your pressure gauges.
You can buy light weight travel regs too. This will cut down on your baggage weight, but if you buy regulators with the braided hoses, this also makes them easier to pack.
But as your regulator is one of the main parts of your underwater life support system, always buy high quality regs. Make sure the regulator (and your alternative air source) you buy is made by a reputable manufacturer.
For example Apex, Aqualung, Scubapro and Mares come to mind as companies who make both durable and high quality lightweight regs.
In addition to regulators, you will also need a pressure gauge or air contents gauge. Instead of buying a full-gauge consol, which is both bulky and heavy, you can instead buy a small pressure gauge.
If you’re based in the UK; click this link to compare prices of a wide range of BCDs from Simply Scuba. And click this link to compare prices of contents gauges.
These days I rarely see scuba divers with depth gauges. Most divers use dive computers only. However, when I learnt to scuba dive we didn’t have dive computers. But when these did appear on the market, we were encouraged to have a back up, i.e. a depth gauge.
This is a choice I will leave to you. If you are trying to save space and weight in your baggage, then an extra depth gauge may be left out. These days dive computers are pretty robust and reliable, plus it’s likely your dive buddy will have one if yours packs in.
If you’re based in the UK click this link to compare prices of depth gauges.
3. Mask, fins and snorkel
If you plan to rent your scuba gear on holiday, one of the items I always recommend you have of your own is a mask. But additionally, you are better to have the whole set of mask, snorkel and fins.
That way, and especially if you’re staying on a dive resort, you have these to go off snorkeling on your own.
Another reason why having your own mask is key is because a poorly fitting mask can either be uncomfortable or it can leak on the dive. At least if you have your own mask, you know it’s comfortable and you know that it fits your face. Which means it won’t leak!
With regards to fins, if you are diving somewhere warm, you can buy the closed heeled (or full boot) fins. These fins are generally lighter than the open heeled fins, but also with closed-heeled fins you don’t need booties. This means you save on bulk and weight.
But if your dive destination is colder you will need to take open heeled fins to either fit over your booties or to fit over your dry-suit boots.
The snorkel you buy should be kept simple. So I recommend you buy a traditional J-shaped snorkel without any fancy valves that close-off when you dive underwater. That way it’s smaller and less bulky and lighter too.
If you’re based in the UK, click this link to compare prices on masks.
If you are diving in warmer climbs, you can take the full boot fins, as described above. But if you are going to be diving in colder water, you may need to pack booties. But if it’s going to be really cold, then a dry-suit may be in order, in which case you won’t need booties.
Another consideration for using booties with open-heeled fins is comfort. Full-boot fins can cause blisters when used for long periods of time. Whereas wearing booties with fins, you probably won’t suffer from this problem.
If you’re based in the UK, click this link to compare prices of booties.
5. Dive computer
There are so many dive computers on the market these days, it’s difficult to know which one to choose. But a dive computer has become an essential part of diving equipment.
One quick tip for traveling with your dive computer is to always carry it with you on a flight in your hand luggage. This keeps it warm in the cabin and it is then kept at cabin-pressure too, rather than being in the cold and low pressure hold.
I recommend you invest in your own dive computer though. This way you know how to set it and how it works. But also you recognise the alarms when they go off underwater.
Probably my next investment will be in a watch-style dive computer. This is ideal for travelling, as you can simply wear it on your wrist the whole time.
If you’re based in the UK, click this link to compare prices of a wide range of dive computers from Simply Scuba.
6. Exposure suits – wet suit or dry suit
If your dive trip is to somewhere warm and sunny you may not even need a wet-suit. But no matter where I dive, I always take mine with me. A wet suit not only keeps you warm, but it also provides skin protection underwater too.
Like your BCD, your wetsuit is also bulky and heavy.
Another quick tip about your wet suit is to make sure you give it time to dry on your return journey. A wet wet-suit will be extra heavy.
If the waters where you intend to scuba dive are particularly warm and you are someone who doesn’t feel the cold, then you may wish to use a Lycra suit instead. This will protect your skin, as a wet suit does, but it won’t keep you warm in the same way as a wet suit does.
Finally, if your destination is to a place where the water is really cold, then a dry suit may be a better option. However, travelling with dry suits will make your baggage even heavier.
Dry suits tend to be much more bulky and heavier than wet-suits. Plus, and depending on the type of dry suit you have, you may need an under-suit or woolly-bear to keep you warm.
If you’re based in the UK, click this link to compare prices of a wide range of wetsuits from Simply Scuba. Or for drysuits – click this link to compare drysuit prices from Simply Scuba.
Although I own a couple of pairs of diving gloves, I rarely ever use them for diving. I prefer to be able to feel things better with my bare fingers.
However, if you prefer to have your hands covered up, then I suggest you take some lightweight dive gloves with you.
If you’re based in the UK, click this link to compare prices of a wide range of gloves from Simply Scuba.
8. Swim suit
You will need to have something to wear underneath your wet-suit. So you need to take at least one swim suit with you.
However, if you are dry-suit diving, then a swim suit is replace by an insulating under-suit.
9. Surface marker buoy
If you plan to dive in a region where drift diving is likely, a surface marker buoy is a good addition to your diving equipment.
10. Underwater dive torch or dive light
I always take a dive torch or dive light on my dives. This is even during the day. There are many crevices and holes to be explored on almost every dive. These are better seen using a torch.
You’ll also find a torch comes in handy to light-up certain creatures. You’ll sometime be amazed at the true colour of some creatures when they are lit-up.
Also, a dive torch is a necessity if you’re planning on doing night diving too.
If you’re based in the UK, click this link to compare prices of a wide range of dive torches from Simply Scuba.
11. Light weight dive bags
Your diving equipment will fit into a normal suitcase. But if you’re staying on a dive resort, it’s a good idea to have a separate light weight dive bag to carry your scuba gear to the dive shop or to the dive boat.
You can also buy dive bags that you can put your diving equipment into for your flight too. This type of bag will be useful for either a reseort diving trip or aliveaboard diving trip.
If you’re based in the UK, click this link to compare prices of a wide range of dive bags from Simply Scuba.
12. Spare mask and fin straps
Another useful tip is to carry spare straps for your dive mask and fins. Alternatively, make sure you check these before you leave.
If any of your straps are perished or looking like they may break, I suggest you replace them before you pack these into your luggage.
13. Diver log book
If you log your dives, don’t forget your log book. This can also be important to prove the dives you’ve done too.
What to bring scuba diving – The non-diving clothes
So you now have the essentials for your dive trip together with your scuba diving equipment, what else do you need?
The first of these is your non-diving cloths, which includes the following items:
- T-shirts or tops – preferably quick dry.
- Shorts – also preferably quick drying.
- Long trousers or pants.
- Dresses or skirts.
- Flip flops or sandals – or if you’re from Australia; thongs.
- Rash vests.
- Rain jacket or windbreaker.
- Light weight travel towel.
- Jumper or sweater – just in case it gets cold.
- Socks and underwear.
What to bring scuba diving – Other travel items
There are other sundry items you’ll need on your scuba diving holiday, which include the following items:
- International Plug Adapter/Converters.
- Book(s) Or Kindle to Read.
- Underwater Camera.
- Underwater Housing For Mobile/Cell phone.
- Dry Bag.
- Coral Reef Friendly Sun Cream.
- Sunburn Relief.
- Sun Glasses.
- Toiletry Bag.
- Seasickness Tablets.
- Diarrhoea Tablets/Rehydration Sachets.
- Allergy Medicines.
- Your Medicines.
- Travel Games.
And that’s it. If you take everything on this list, you’re set to fly to your scuba diving destination. Enjoy and don’t for get to send me a postcard.
My inspiration for writing about a scuba diver travel packing list
Only recently I drove two and half hours to London Gatwick. We arrived the night before, in preparation for an early flight the following morning.
It was only when we were in the hotel room when we realised our passports were on the seat of a car we didn’t have with us! Our passports were at home! OMG!
I then had to drive two and a half hours back home. And then two and a half hours back to London Gatwick once more! I finally arrived back at the hotel about one hour before we were due to leave for the airport!
I was tired, but at the same time relieved we had discovered the missing passports the night before and not in the morning. If we’d found this out in the morning, we would have missed the flight and not gone on our holiday.
This incident is what prompted this article for a packing list for dive travel. I know this sort of thing happens to the best of us. I know I’m not alone in sometimes forgetting the essentials.
If you want to download a free Scuba Diver Travel Packing List PDF, please see below. But in any case I’m going to run through what should be on this list for you now.
Before you buy and certainly before you fly
As already mentioned, airline baggage allowances are generally reducing. At best you can check-in a bag weighing 32kg, but at worst you’ll only be able to check-in a bag at only 15kg.
Be very careful about an oversight with your baggage weight, or you could find yourself handing over cash for even the slightest packing oversight.
Your allowance will depend on your destination and carrier you choose to fly with. Excess baggage fees can vary from £3 per additional kilo to upwards of £50 per additional kilo! Some airlines will charge less if you pre-pay any excess. But most, if not all, will penalise you heavily at check-in.
Full set of diving gear
A full set of dive gear can take up your entire baggage allowance all by itself. This is why my wife always teases me when I take mine with us on holiday. It usually means I need two check-in bags. One for my dive gear and one for everything else.
Some airlines will allow dive gear as ‘sporting goods’, but there doesn’t seem to be any consistent approach on this.
If you buy well when sourcing your diving equipment. If you buy lightweight travel BCDs for example, this will make a huge difference to the size and weight of your hold-baggage.
Multiple airlines on route to your destination
Depending on your destination and where it is in the world, you may find you take more that one flight. these separate flights may in fact be with different airlines.
If this is the case with your holiday or vacation, make sure you check the baggage rules for each airline company.
Liveaboard diving holidays
If your dive trip is a liveaboard diving holiday, then you should be able to pack efficiently. This is especially true if the liveaboard trip is to somewhere like the Red Sea or Indonesia, when it’s warm and you won’t need much in addition to your dive gear.
In the Red Sea you’ll probably your swimming costume, shorts, T-shirts, a pair of flip-flops in addition to your diving equipment, Plus a change of underwear for your return journey home.
I hope you enjoyed this article about a scuba diver travel packing list
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or types of scuba diving (or specifically about a Scuba diver travel packing list), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.
Have fun and be safe!