“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin
We all dream of some day going to that special place somewhere around the globe for that ‘dive of a lifetime’. In our imagination, we see the beautiful hotel, the splendid rooms, exotic foods and underwater scenery that truly takes your breath away. Whether your travel takes you to your dream destination or to your favorite local dive site, the key element to truly enjoying the trip is preparation.
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Preparation must begin long before you arrive at your chosen dive site and involves a number of components. These components include the trip as well as the diving. We will focus first on preparing for the trip to your dive location. Whether your travel takes you across town or across the globe, preparation will reduce frustration and inconvenience so that you can truly reap the benefits and rewards of the dive location.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” — Bilbo Baggins
Before you begin your journey with that very first step out of your front door, there are several things that you should first consider.
The first step: Make your lists
Any successful plan begins with a comprehensive list or, more appropriately, lists. Since your travel involves many facets, it may require more than one list. Besides the essential pre-dive checklist, which will be addressed in a separate article, these lists can include your itinerary, which is, in reality, a list of what you are doing, where you are going and when you are doing it, a clothing list, camera equipment (surface and underwater) list and, of course, a diving equipment list.
These lists are to make sure that you have not forgotten anything essential that would impact the full enjoyment of your travels and to make sure that you are bringing everything back with you at the end of your trip.
Know the laws
When making these lists, it is important that you know about and comply with any laws or regulations regarding what you can and cannot bring into a region or country.
Make sure that any medications are in their original bottles/containers and that all prescription medications have the prescription information intact on the bottles. Any medications, prescription or not, that are suspect may be confiscated by the authorities upon entry into the country.
There are countries that restrict the amount of camera equipment you may bring in with you. There are popular dive locations in countries that limit the traveler to no more than two cameras.
Clean your gear.
Many countries around the world are concerned about travelers bringing in invasive species and may require any hiking, camping, fishing and diving equipment to be fully cleaned and debris free upon entry. Carrying dirty or suspect equipment may result in confiscation, a fine or both.
It is the traveler’s responsibility to comply with any and all laws and regulations.
When preparing your lists, you may want to sit down with a pad of paper and go through your itinerary, thinking about what you would need each day and for each activity. Be very careful, as you may have a tendency to overpack.
As Caroline Morse wrote in her 10 Cures for the Chronic Overpacker:
Lay out the clothing and cash you plan to bring on your trip. Now pack just half of the clothes and double the money.
Bring extra cash
And, speaking of money, it is always wise to bring extra money for contingencies including emergencies. Credit cards are a good thing as long as you notify your credit card company that you will be traveling and buying outside the country so that they don’t misinterpret foreign spending and issue a fraud alert freezing your credit card. It may also be wise to carry some local currency to use until you can determine whether you can use your own cash or have your currency converted at the local bank or hotel.
Before leaving the issue of finances, you may want to protect your personal finances by considering insurance. To protect your investment in your ‘trip of a lifetime’, you may want to consider trip insurance to
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