Snorkeling is a fascinating activity, so it’s not surprising that many people decide to buy their own set of gear for this hobby. Having your personal snorkeling gear makes it much easier to pursue your diving goals in several destinations. Along with having gear that you’re comfortable with, you will also manage to save on rental fees this way. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about finding a shop with the right gear, waiting for your turn, and having to return the gear when you’re done with it.
However, when you bring along your own gear, you also need to read up on packing it properly along with the right methods for its care and maintenance. Quality snorkeling gear can be quite expensive, so you don’t want to waste your investment. The better care you take of the gear, the more value you will get out of it.
With this in mind, we have put together some tips on how to pack snorkeling gear, especially when traveling on an airplane. Traveling by plane presents the most challenges when it comes to packing, as you have to make sure everything is both compact and safe. Whether you’re going on vacation or just a short trip to a new snorkeling point, the following discussion will hopefully help you to pack the gear properly for both ways.
Know the Airline Regulations
Before you even start packing, make thighs easier for yourself by researching about the airlines you want to travel with. Different airlines have their own policies about checked and carry-on baggage, so choose the one that gives you the most leeway for your snorkeling gear. This may include:
- Allowing you an extra bag just for your gear
- Not counting the bag for your snorkeling gear (similar to what most airlines do for purses, briefcases, laptop bags, diaper bags, etc.)
- A generous weight limit, since some snorkeling equipment can be quite heavy
- Reasonable or no fees for having snorkeling equipment in your luggage
Depending on the airline you choose, there might be other requirements or limitations when you’re transporting snorkeling gear. For instance, some airlines might require you to check the bag with the snorkeling gear instead of letting it be a carry-on. Some snorkeling enthusiasts may not be comfortable with this, as they don’t want to take the risk of lost luggage and prefer to have their equipment safely with them at all times. On the other hand, you may have to squeeze in your carry-on if it’s a small airplane, which might compromise the snorkeling equipment.
The precautions and tips are also important when you’re flying with any other type of equipment. For instance, a baseball coach or team may want to know the right way to fly with baseball equipment.
Before the packing process, make sure you have the right kind of bag for the job. This is true for baseball equipment, snorkeling gear, photography equipment, and anything else that includes delicate parts.
Simply tossing everything into a mesh bag or a shopping bag won’t do. If you want to make sure all the gear arrives at your designation without damage, you have to pack it up properly in a durable, sturdy bag/case. Some people might use a clamshell suitcase for this purpose, while others may invest in a proper gear bag with thick, long-lasting, and washable material.
Since there will usually be a space issue, here are some tips on how to pack your gear so that it takes up the least possible space and also stays safe:
- For fragile and delicate items such as snorkels or masks, use bubble wrap or some foam padding to keep them safe. One way to save space is to wrap these pieces in some of your soft clothes
- Make sure there are no scissors, knives, or other sharp objects in the equipment bag, as these can pierce and damage the gear
- Many avid divers who have eyesight issues get a customized mask with prescription lenses. If you have one of those, don’t keep it in a checked bag. Insist upon bringing it with you in your carry-on luggage; even if the rest of the gear is held up or lost, you will have the mask safe with you
- Try to get a separate hard case for delicate items and pack them in the middle of your bag
- Use the fins as extra protection; lay them on the top and bottom of your suitcase or duffle bag. Since fins are flexible and sturdy, they will prevent your gear (and other delicate items) from breaking when the luggage is tossed around
- You can also pack smaller items inside the fins, such as your socks, underwear, soft caps, etc.
Consider Renting Equipment
You may not want to rent all of your snorkeling gear at your intended destination, but it might make sense to rent some of the heavier, bulkier items. If your destination does have a good spot for renting quality snorkeling gear, it might make more sense to just bring your snorkel and prescription mask and rent other items. Of course, this will mean that you have to shell out some cash and wait a little before the equipment is available.
You will save a lot of space and packing hassle by renting your snorkeling equipment. However, make sure to do your research before going down this route. Double-check the availability of rental equipment at the hotel or beach or wherever you’re traveling to. Another step involved in renting is to check the quality of the available equipment, both through online reviews and reported experiences from people you know.
You will also have to compare the cost of packing and bringing along your own gear versus the cost of renting. Make sure to include other factors in your consideration as well, such as whether you can easily maintain and clean your own gear after use or not. If you are bringing your own snorkeling gear, then you have to take good care of it during your travels. For more information on the items that you will need for snorkeling, read the Guide to Getting Outfitted with Snorkeling Gear.
Tips for Transporting Your Equipment
If you’ve decided to transport your own snorkeling equipment, here are some more useful tips on how to go about it:
- Whenever possible, try to carry the equipment with you. Even if it’s a small plane, they might make an exception and give you a seat with more leg space or put it in a larger area
- If you have no choice but to check the equipment, label it properly. Remove all old tags from the bag and ensure that the contents are well-protected
- Use extra luggage locks to secure the equipment bag whether you’re carrying it or checking it
- If the bag was checked, open and inspect it the moment you get it back. This will help ensure that there was no damage or loss along the way. If there was, you need to report it at the airport right then and claim compensation
Clean Before Repacking
When it’s time to go back home, repacking the gear is a challenge on its own. While you may be tired and feel like cutting corners, it’s important to clean and repack the gear properly if you want to utilize its full potential. Plus, you don’t want a moldy smell to invade your suitcase and the rest of your belongings. Here are some tips to keep in mind at this point:
- Make sure to rinse each and every part of the gear before packing it. Rinse with fresh water and pay a little more attention to the strap areas that might collect water inside themselves
- Not every brand uses quick-drying or water-impervious material, so properly dry everything and double-check it before packing (some hotels have airing cupboards, so utilize that option if available)
- Pay special attention to the mask, as it has straps that can hold onto seawater
- Even after rinsing and drying, the gear might hold the smell of saltwater. If you have time, rinse it again. If not, put all the gear into plastic bags before packing and wash it again when you get home
Flying with your snorkeling equipment is possible, but one has to take several precautions and do their research beforehand. With your own snorkeling gear on hand, you will probably enjoy the diving and exploring experiences much more than with rental gear. If nothing else, you should take along the special pieces such as customized masks and snorkels.
As long as you pack everything properly and know the airline’s requirements, you should be able to travel smoothly with this type of equipment. With so many beaches and other diving spots to explore, why not plan a trip today and start packing now? Exploring the Great Barrier Reef is a great place to begin your snorkeling adventures!