Holiday time has finally arrived and you have a week of XR diving or a place on a technical liveaboard booked. With the airlines these days clamping down on weight allowance here is what I recommend as the top 10 travel essentials that you need to fit within your quota:
Decompression Planning Software
Being able to plan your decompression dive is a critical part of your diving day. There are many varieties of decompression planning software available on the market for desk top computer, I pad, smart phone or Android. Some software programs are free to download but may have limited features; others are available for a small fee. Examples can include but not limited to: V-Planner, MultiDeco, MV Planner, Baltic Planner, DecoPlanner, or I-deco. My advice would be to leave the heavier laptop at home and opt for a tablet or smart phone based software and be sure to have a few practice runs on your new software before you arrive for your diving to ensure you have a basic understanding of the program.
Marker Tape and a Permanent Marker
Nobody likes to be on the boat with “that guy” who did not come prepared and always needs to borrow stuff from others! After analysis of your gas, which let’s face it will be before every dive, you will need to clearly mark and label your cylinders with their contents and the maximum depth of the gas. Marker tape like duct tape is a perfect option for this and comes in a wide variety of bright colors to make it highly visible in the water. Be sure to have a new roll with you and keep it locked away as its one of the first things to go missing! Thick permanent marker pens are essential for clear labelling. A kind gesture at the end of the week would be to offer to leave the tape behind with your dive guides because in many remote destinations this type of tape may be hard to come by!
Nail Polish Remover or the Magic Sponge
Nothing cleans the pencil off your slate or from your wetnotes better than good old-fashioned nail polish remover. A small amount goes along way so just bring a small bottle and it will last the week, or alternatively, bring a Magic Sponge. These dense, white sponges were developed as tools for house cleaning, but they are also fantastic for cleaning both dive slates and wetnotes. The Magic Sponge can be stored in a sealed plastic sandwich bag to keep it in better condition for a longer time. Another tip is to cut it into several smaller pieces. When carrying the sponges into harsh environments (such as on dive boats or jungle treks), they are likely to get salty or dirty. Cutting one large sponge into several smaller pieces allows a diver to get more use out of a single sponge.
Be prepared for most equipment related issues by having a few specific tools in your box. Its handy to carry with you a set of Allan keys, a couple of small adjustable spanners, a small screwdriver, a cutting device of some kind, and a handful of cable ties of various sizes will go a long way.
It does not matter how many times you check the battery life in your computers, rebreather electronics or cameras, you can guarantee that at some point a battery will die at the most inconvenient time. Be armed and ready with spare ones to hand as access to charging stations may be limited. In some countries specific rebreather batteries may not be readily available so be organized and bring a few extras with you.
Attention all rebreather divers out there, oxygen sensors are not that easy to come by once you leave home, especially if travelling abroad! Even if you have new sensors for your trip take a spare one or two just in case. Worst case scenario is that you will not need to use them but your technical guide may be more than happy to buy them off you to lighten you load on your return leg home!
Most of these days most mobile phones can provide a calculator facility and it is a very useful tool to have around. Each time you analyze your gas, which is as we have already mentioned before every dive, you will need to work out the maximum depth of the gas. Or, maybe you need to calculate your breathing rate, or gas volumes. In all instances a calculator will come in very handy. For sure if you are making an XR program of any kind your instructor will be throwing calculation questions at you left, right and center, so be armed and ready!
A Memory Stick or Hard Drive
During your diving trip there may be other divers that you meet who have cameras or video cameras recording footage of your diving experience. What better way to easily keep the memories of your dives by supplying a storage device to save the evidence. You may also find that your guide or other XR divers may have some technical related articles or interesting information that you would like to have. Supply a memory stick and now the information is yours to keep. (you may to make a deal with your fellow divers over some beers to obtain these things!)
A Kindle or a Few Books
After a longer decompression dive there is nothing better than off gassing with a good book or looking at the back of your eyelids in the sun! Be sure to come armed with the tolls you need to help you relax in between those dives.
An Open Mind and a Relaxed Temperament
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Read MoreExtended Range, travel essentials, XRDive SSI