I read a quote somewhere recently that said,
‘Invest in travel. Experiences are worth more than money.’
I strongly recommend travelling as often as is possible for you. Aim for what you can. Set a goal, and work towards it. This article is about planning for a dive trip will be broken into two parts. Part One will help you specify what you want out of a dive trip and where to start. Part Two will include important information to consider before buying your plane tickets.
On Packages – My last two trips were diving based, but were both completely different in the way they were booked, and also what they entailed. For instance, Trip One was booked through an agent that specialised in dive packages, and was with a like-minded group. Trip Two was organised by myself and a friend, with only a few dives booked, and plenty of other things to see and/or do.
On Relaxing – Depending on your definition of relaxing, either of those dive trips may suit you. Trip One had all meals, accommodation, laundry etc. included. I just had to be at the dock with my gear ready at the right time. Lots of lolling around between dives and reading beach novels.
Trip Two had very little booked, so if we felt like eggs on toast with baked beans for dinner, we’d have that. If we felt like a day trip to a beach? That. A dive? That. A sleep in? That. A trivia night at the local pub? That.
On Money – You need to have a budget. It’s that simple. Without dwelling on money, the main points of concern is to know what you are working with. Work out exactly how much you have available to spend on a trip before even Googling ‘Diving in the Maldives.’ Once that’s done, I prefer to divide it into three categories:
- Initial cost of trip
- Extra money to spend during the trip
- Re-entry fund. This is money to be used at home when you get back, to get you back on your feet. This way you will be able to estimate a more accurate trip budget.
Remember that package deals are essentially provided by an agent, who will need their cut for helping you book a trip. Therefore, the cost will be inflated for this service.
On Safety – I strongly recommend getting dive insurance. A lot of dive shops will be very safety orientated, but always check yourself what their protocols are, especially in some remote locations. Generally, it can feel safer booking the entire trip, especially dives, though a big company. It can feel more secure to know that someone has done the groundwork and that the dive centre is part of a reputable company. But always check these things yourself. Google the company and read reviews. It is a good idea to ask around at your local dive centres, find people who have visited the place you are thinking about going to, and get advice or recommendations. People generally love to share their experience, even with a relative stranger.
On Other Activities – This is where you ask yourself if you want just dives, or some other activities too. Remember that diving twice a day every day for a week can be exhausting if you aren’t used to it. Also, remember some places boast other unmissable, and unforgettable, experiences you will want to try.
On Gear – Gear is a tough one. On Trip One I took everything (except weights or tank). This was mandatory. And yes, I felt comfy in my gear, gear that I am used to, fits perfectly, never fails, and never fogs. But some airlines have low weight limits and packing was a strict and meticulous affair. On the trip home the gear was also, how can I put this…. moist.
On Trip Two, I took mask, fins and my wetsuit. I then hired the rest of my kit there. As the trip included only a few dives, this was a sacrifice I made (think ill-fitting BCD). These few items also meant that snorkelling could still be enjoyed on other days without the hassle of hiring additional kit.
Final Thought – The easiest way to determine what will suit you is to gather as much information as possible. Write lists! Develop the pros and cons of both types of booking plans and decide which you will personally get the most out of. This may involve compromise if you aren’t travelling alone, but remember that this is your money and your adventure too, so if there is something you feel you will never get the chance to do again, voice it.
Alternatively, talk with a package agent. Some will be happy to include other perks. It’s a part of their job to develop a package that suits the client. This may include stopovers or other things specific to locations.
And finally…don’t rush into it!
Perhaps invest in a notebook that you can include lots of different information in. A bucket list of many dive places that you can tick off over the course of your dive life. Good planning and timing make all the difference.