Whether it be for cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa, exploring the shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina or plumbing the ancient underwater ruins in Alexandria’s harbor, scuba diving is a sport that demands travel. It also demands you eventually own your set of equipment, both for comfort and for safety. The problem is that modern airline luggage policies make hauling all that gear an expensive proposition.
For most divers, a full kit consists of a wetsuit, dive mask, fins, buoyancy control device (BCD), regulator, dive computer, underwater camera and weights. Many also insist on an underwater flashlight and dive knife. The fins are bulky and BCD are bulky and occupy serious space, while packing 15 to 25 pounds of lead would have busted the 50 lbs. weight limit standard to airline luggage even before harsher, recent regulations came into force. How do you go on a dive vacation to the Caribbean or the Gulf of Thailand with all this stuff?
As a general rule, renting a set of equipment sans dive computer will cost between $20 and $30 per day, depending on where you dive. If you leave out the weights, your complete set of gear will weigh less than 50 lbs. and fit inside a large roll-away bag, and on domestic airlines a second checked bag costs roughly $70 for a round-trip. For an international flight, that increases to $100 for a round-trip. If you take a week’s vacation and spend five days in the water, then paying for the second checked bag either for domestic or international flights basically pays for itself. Ergo, luggage fees are not really a justification for leaving your gear at home under most circumstances. You can bring your equipment, rent the air tank and weights from whatever dive shop you work with, and the costs will be about the same as if you had rented everything from the dive shop.
There is one caveat. Scuba equipment is expensive. Your effort to save on rental equipment costs could ultimately cost you thousands of dollars if your scuba bag is lost or crushed in transit. Shipping your scuba equipment absolutely demands you get luggage insurance.
Of course, the simple idea of paying fees for checked baggage shocks many travelers, and seeing the issue of paying to bring your scuba kit with you as a matter of brass tacks is therefore not readily obvious. Yet even for short trips, isn’t the added safety of using your own equipment worth paying an extra $25 or $50?
Sources: airfarewatchdog.com/blog/3801089/airline-baggage-fees-chart-updated/; airfarewatchdog.com/blog/4202340/checked-bag-fees-for-airlines-flying-internationally/