Travel Tips

Dave's Travel Tips - General - Red Sea - Maldives - Portland (UK)

Bruciebabes Travel Tips.

 

Dave's Travel Tips - General

Got a question? Have a search on the Divernet Forums. Chances are if you want to know, itís been asked before. The same questions keep popping up and this page answers some of the most common. There is a handy search feature so you donít need to trawl through page after page on the forums.

Packing

Always some debate on whether regs should go in the hold or in hand luggage. I personally have never put my regs in hand luggage. They always go in the hold. They've been long haul, short haul, never any problems.

 

On thing I would recommend is that you save your hand luggage allowance for your essentials. On day, your bags will not get on the same plane as you. it's happened to me and if your on a liveaboard you might not see your late luggage until you get back, again its happened to me. Make sure you pack the essential items in your hand luggage. Computer, daily disposable contacts if you use them, medicines etc. Anything you would either have trouble hiring or buying out at your destination, put in your hand luggage. It's not a case of if, its a case of when your luggage will be going on a holiday of its own.... http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/travel-tips/delayed-luggage.html

 

Liveaboards

Do I need lots of experience? Are all the divers on these boats hardcore divers? Do I have to do every dive?

A lot of people get apprehensive on their first liveaboard trip, I know I did. The fact is that the chances are the boat will be full of people with varying skills, experience and dive addictions. On my first liveaboard there were couples with 30 dives each all the way up to a group with divers who had 2000+ dives each. Experience ranged from PADI advanced open water to very experienced instructors. Some people were relaxed and just enjoyed holiday diving once a year only, others were 110% addicts who spent the whole year diving in the UK.

Some people (like me) did every dive, some picked and chose. If you didnít want to do a dive, you didnít have to. Chances are there are others without a buddy and of course thereís always the guides to act as buddies. On a weeks liveaboard I buddied with 4 different people out of 16 dives including one of the guides. I may have been lucky but didnít have a bad buddy all week.

Airport Parking

Most of the time I fly from Gatwick. I use Courtlands secure parking. Itís a ten minute bus ride to the south terminal and the special buses (low entry and suitcase racks) run every 20-30 minutes. From £30 for a week low season advanced booking itís a great way to park.

Photo Storage

If your going away for a week how many memory cards will you need? Probably a lot if youíre like me. Best plan is to get a portable battery powered hard disk/card reader. £115 for 40gb of storage, bargain! See the photo section of this site for more details of the one I use.

Baggage

Always check if the airline offers extra baggage allowance for divers. If they do make sure you you have cert cards and a printed copy of the webpage that shows it. Don't assume check-in desk staff have all the information they should have.

The list below is taken from a post on the Divernet Forums and I accept no liability for it but it gives you a guide.

Likes Divers
1. British Airways 23kg + 23kg dive gear (in seperate bags) FREE. http://www.britishairways.com/travel...t/public/en_gb
2. Astraeus 20kg + 5kg dive gear FREE (Egypt only. All destinations: 10kg dive gear for £20, 25kg dive gear for £50). http://www.flyastraeus.com/beforeyoufly/index.asp?id=42
3. Emirates 20kg + 10kg dive gear FREE. http://www.emirates.com/uk/Traveller...Qs/Baggage.asp
4. Malaysia 20kg + 10kg dive gear FREE (may need a bribe here and there) According to website hates divers! http://hq.malaysiaairlines.com/mh/en...nformation.asp
5. XL 20Kg + 10Kg diver gear FREE. http://www.xl.com/Customer_Info/Baggage_Short.asp
6. Singapore Airlines 20kg (economy) + 10kg diver FREE Not mentioned on website! http://www.singaporeair.com/saa/en_U..._allowance.jsp
7. Cyprus Airways 20 kg plus extra 20kg free. http://www.cyprusairways.com/main/default.aspx?tabid=72
8. Virgin. Standard weight allowance: 20kg Diving equipment: additional bag for scuba equipment, free up to 6kg. This is not mentioned on the website and it is suggested they actually hate divers...! http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/en/gb...gebyweight.jsp
9. Etihad Airways 30kg (standard for everyone) Depends on class: Diamond (first class) 40kg, Pearl (business) 30kg, Coral (economy) 20kg. No extra allowances on the website. http://www.etihadairways.com/etihada...nformation.htm
10. Air Lanka 30kg for divers (may ask for c-card at check in) Useless website! http://www.srilankan.aero/travelplan..._luggage.shtml
11. First Choice 20kg + 10kg dive gear FREE (need to show c-card at check-in) No bag to weigh more than 23kg. Must pre-book on 0870 757 2757 at least 4 days prior to departure. http://www.firstchoice.co.uk/info/tr...ngbaggage.html
12. Monarch (scheduled flights only - for charters see 'Tolerates Divers') 20kg + 13kg dive gear for £15 per sector if you pay when booking online. £20 per sector if you pay at check-in. (need to show c-card at check-in). http://www.flymonarch.com/cnt/travelinfo/baggage.asp
13. Thomas Cook Airlines/FlyThomasCook. Standard baggage allowance 15kg, maybe upgraded to 20kg at time of booking for a small fee. Extra 10kg may be booked via Customer Services 08702430416 http://www.thomascookairlines.co.uk/..._equipment.htm & http://flythomascook.custhelp.com/cg...&p_topview= 1
14. Kenya Airways 20kg + 10kg dive gear free if informed in advance. Not mentioned on website. http://www.kenya-airways.com/kq2/kqd...o.aspx?colm=62
15. Precision Air 20kg + 10kg dive gear free if informed in advance. Not mentioned on website. http://www.precisionairtz.com/flightschedule.asp
16. Air Malta 20kg + 15kg dive gear FREE, need to inform them in advance. http://www.airmalta.com/sports-baggage
17. Daallo (to Djibouti) 30kg tho no details on useless website! http://www.daallo.com/baggage.htm
18. Qatar Airlines. 20kg + 10kg dive gear free (need to ring up their head office and request extra allowance) This is not mentioned on the website. http://www.qatarairways.com/ecomm_faq.html?linkdes_7
19. Royal Brunei 23kg + 23kg dive gear free (need to chat up the girl/guy in the London office, but it worked and have email from them) not shown on website http://www.bruneiair.com/travel%20info/general_info.asp

Tolerates Divers
1. British Jet 20kg + 8kg dive gear FREE + 5kgs hand luggage. (33 kgs total). Useless website! https://secure.britishjet.com/home.aspx
2. KLM 20kg/25kg + 20kg dive gear for 20/30 Euros (depends on destination) All the information is on the website, but it's not easy to understand!! http://www.klm.com/travel/gb_en/trav...ge/index.htm#2
3. Ryanair Max free allowance for divers: 15kg However, 10kg can be carried as hand luggage. Standard weight allowance: 15kg (bag check-in charge £3.50 per item per flight if booked online). Diving equipment: sports equipment charge is £15.50 per item, per one way flight if booked and paid online. The maximum weight is 32kg for sports kit. http://www.ryanair.com/site/EN/condi...p?pos=MYFLIGHT
4. ThomsonFly 25kg hold & hand baggage combined, hand baggage must not exceed 10kg. Dive gear not mentioned specifically on website, but 'Sports Equipment' allowance may be purchased in advance for £15 each way. http://www.thomsonfly.com/en/flywithus_2753.html
5. Eurocypria 20kg + 10kg dive gear for CP20. According to website, no extra allowance! http://www.eurocypria.com/main/defau...131&itemid=503
6. Air France 20kg + 20kg dive gear for a fee (between Ä10 - Ä40 each way depending on destination) http://www.airfrance.co.uk/GB/en/loc...cekedgfndgfl.0
7. Monarch/Avro charter flights 20kg including hand luggage! But you can get an extra allowance of 13kg dive gear for £15 per sector if you pay when booking online. £20 per sector if you pay at check-in. (need to show c-card at check-in). http://www.flymonarch.com/cnt/travelinfo/baggage.asp make sure you click on the link for Charter Flight Info (yellow button).

Hates Divers
1. Cathy Pacific 20kg no extra. http://www.cathaypacific.com/cpa/en_...ageinformation
2. Maldivian Air Taxi 20kg including hand luggage (yes they weigh the lot) no diving allowance & $4.50/kg excess. Useless website! http://www.mataxi.com/
3. Thai Airways economy. 20kg max. No dive kit allowance. 7kg hand baggage.
4. BMI. 20kg no extra for scuba equipment tho other sports equipment does get an extra allowance. http://www.flybmi.com/bmi/en-gb/trav...ageadvice.aspx
5. Easyjet Max Standard weight allowance: 20kg (subject to a per bag check-in charge). No longer offers extra dive gear allowance!!! http://www.easyjet.com/EN/Planning/baggage.html
6. South African Airways. 20kg. No extra allowance. Beware! Excess baggage charged at 1.5% normal adult economy fare per kg. You have been warned... http://ww3.flysaa.com/travel_support...equipment.html

Can't decide!
Air 2000, 20kg +10kg dive gear free - on outward journey, charges 50 euros on return - then refunds said euros after a heated email exchange. Air2000 is now First Choice, see #11 above.

Air Malta, customer services duty officer- 20kg +15kg dive gear free http://www.airmalta.com/sports-baggage
Air Malta, tele sales cordinator - no allowance available.

BA/ Quantas- when flying westwards, 23kg + 23kg dive gear (in seperate bags) FREE
BA / Quantas when flying eastwards, 20 kg, no allowance

General Advice
There are hand baggage restrictions on flights from the UK. See the DfT for the latest details: http://www.dft.gov.uk/transportforyo...irportsecurity
Airlines have a habit of changing the rules at the drop of a hat. ALWAYS check the latest situation via phone or website. ALWAYS take a printed copy of the website with you, cos the check-in staff WILL deny all knowledge of the extra allowance. If you have to pre-book the allowance by phone, ALWAYS ask for confirmation in writing, and get a contact name & telephone number in case of problems. ALWAYS have your C-cards to hand at check-in. Some tour operators will have negotiated a special deal for divers with the airline, so you should check with them. As usual, ALWAYS get details in writing.

 

Dave's Travel Tips - Red Sea

Suit

The big question is always what suit do I need? The thing is everyone feels the cold differently. Personally I use a 5mm full suit in the winter and 3mm shortie in the summer. General recommendations are 3mm or 5mm wetsuit (November - April) with a shortie for rest of the year.

 

In the end it's how YOU feel the cold.

Money
Most dive centres like Euros. You can get stung paying with other currencies. Check before you go how the dive centre likes to be paid. For day-to-day expenses Egyptian Pounds are best. Sharm and Hurghada have plenty of ATMs.

Clothing

Egypt can be windy and it can be cold just after a dive. A fleece is a great thing to have especially on a liveaboard in the winter. When the briefing bell goes at 6am on a windy morning it's fantastic!

Watch What You Eat!

Egypt has a reputation for holiday tums and it can be well deserved! I suffered badly from my first trip and have learnt my lesson. It can be easy to avoid if you don't mind eating carefully. I haven't suffered at all in subsequent trips but to me missing one dive is a disaster...


- Avoid salad and fruit.
- Avoid anything that's not piping hot.
- Avoid anything slightly creamy looking especially cake with cream in it.
- Avoid rice. Reheated rice is especially nasty!
- Avoid ice. Not only do you not know where the water has come from but very cold drinks into a hot body upsets the stomach

OK the above list does limit your choices but itís what I do to ensure I donít miss a dive! I've not had any problems since my first time being super careful.

Taxi's

Taxi's need special care in Egypt as, like shop owners, they are after your cash. In Hurghada they are easy to find. Just stand by the road and one will appear in seconds. Now the first thing to do is negotiate a price for where you want to go. Most reps/dive centre staff will give you an idea what you should be paying. Also make sure the price is in total (not per person) and that it's Egyptian pounds. I had a driver try to charge me 5 Euros for the run between my hotel and the dive centre which had been costing me 5 Eygptian pounds all week. Yes its only £3.60 vs 50p but I resent being ripped off. If they stuck to the agreed price of 5EP I'd give them 10 anyway.

More Coming Soon......

Dave's Travel Tips - Maldives

Suit

I just dive in T shirt and shorts. 27 degree water needs nothing else! Some dive in 3mm shorties but there's not a real need for anything. Tried my 5mm semi dry on one dive and almost roasted. It hung in the dive centre for the rest of the holiday.

 

Doing a liveaboard for 12 nights in November 2006 so facing a dilemma. Will I be OK in my T-shirt and shorts, or will all that diving make me cold? I've bought myself a Forth Element Thermocline long sleeved top. It's slightly thicker than a rash vest but they claim it is as warm as 2.5mm neoprene with the added bonuses of being neutrally bouyant and breathable. We'll see....

 

Money
US Dollars is all you need. In fact most resorts won't take the local Maldives currency.

 

Packing

As a long haul destination excess baggage is costly. You need very little in the Maldives in the way of clothing. Itís hot, humid and there is sand everywhere. I take two pairs of shoes which are one pair trainers that I travel in and a pair of sport sandals. Thatís all I need. Then add a few swim shorts, T shirts, couple of pairs of light trousers and shirts and Iím done. Usually at check-in at Gatwick youíll get hit for excess baggage. On the way back at Male airport have your diving cert card handy, have a word with the check-in staff and you might be surprisedÖ.

 

More Coming Soon......

Dave's Travel Tips - Portland (UK)

Suit

Well... drysuit is the obvious. I dive in an Oceanic Shadow semi-dry 5mm full suit with a 3mm shortie over. I also us a 5mm hood and 3mm gloves. In 16 degrees I was fine and that was in late summer. My 2006 UK diving kicks off on the last weekend of May. I've been told I'm brave... we'll see.... watch this space.

 

Driving and Parking

The road into Weymouth can be very busy with long queues during the summer. If your driving to catch a boat ensure you leave plenty of time on Saturday mornings and bank holidays. Parking can be difficult and as with most popular dive locations, it's best to get there early. BE WARNED, the public car parks charge 24/7 and Satan's little helpers (AKA traffic wardens) are always on patrol. Speaking to the barmaid at the Aqua Sport Hotel they tell tails of the buggers coming out at midnight/early hours to catch people out.

Boats

I use the Breakwater Dive Centre. You can book one space or charter a full boat. They have 3 hardboats with shelter and electric dive lifts.

Food

The Portland Roads pub serves fantastic food. They have a restaurant and do bar food and is always out place of choice to eat when we want a proper meal. For snacks, early morning breakfast butties, burgers etc the cafe at the Aqua Sport Hotel is ideal. Full of divers and next to the car park too.

Hotels

Iíve used the Aqua Hotel (it is the dive centre) and a pub with B&B on the first roundabout as you get into Portland. Aqua Hotel is ideal as itís right in the centre of Castletown and everything from dive shops, air station, boats, public car parks and pubs are within 100m. The pub/B&B on the first roundabout as you get into Portland is cheaper but they do have a disco until 2am and is noisy. Plus you do need to drive to Castletown to actually do some diving. Iíve heard the ĎGreen Shuttersí has accommodation which is opposite the Aqua Hotel but never stayed there.

Bruciebabes Tips

The tips below belong to bruciebabe from the Divernet Forums. I used some on my first liveaboard trips.

 

1) Baby shampoo. A small bottle of this is cheap and it is perfect for cleaning the inside of a mask before diving. Just rub it in and rinse for perfect underwater vision.


2) Xylitol. A natural sugar with 5 carbon atoms instead of 6 (so your body doesn't digest it, handy for diabetics). It kills bacteria so sweet manufacturers are using it as a dental health booster. When you use a Smint or an Orbit chewing gum some of the Xylitol goes up your eustatian tubes where it forms a PTFE like coating which bacteria can't stick on. End result, less ear infections.


3) Elastic bands. Just put a couple round your forearm over your undersuit and under the cuff dump and you will dump (air!) far more easily.


4) Talc. A wonderful lubricant for putting on your wetsuit, however many brands have added starch as a drying agent. Unfortunately when mixed with water it becomes gum. Make sure yours is starch free.


5) Shaving. This makes thousands of micro cuts in your skin. These don't bleed, however they can make a nice home for all sorts of nasties that live in water. Simple solution is to shave in the evening when diving, the micro cuts heal overnight.


6) Nausea on boats. This is caused by the inner ear and the eyesight sending the brain conflicting information so most people know the fix of looking at the horizon so the brain gets matching information. Another fix is to eat Ginger (like pregnant women with morning sickness do). You can get it crystalised and in capsules from Holland and Barrett, though you may not want to buy from them as they also sell shark cartilage.


7) Keeping your buoyancy neutral on ascent. Just bring the deflate button on the corrugated inflator hose to around neck level and keep it depressed. It will act like a wetsuit autodump and keep buoyancy neutral. So I have read, not tried it yet.


8) Fins are ambidextrous. Keep one as a left fin and one as a right fin then only use the inside strap clip/adjuster, leave the outside one fixed. This makes it much easier to kit up on a rib in confined space and whilst standing on a bigger boat or in surf you just rest each heel on top of the oposite knee to tighten the strap.


9) A lot of us dive in the tropics yet our sport washes suntan lotion off. The trick is to use children's lotion. It is designed to be slapped on in the morning and to work through all the seaside/pool activities that kids do so it is much more waterproof and comes in high factors.


10) Race horses get flown round in planes a lot. Sometimes they get very ill or even die during or after flights. Lloyds of London often have to pay out so they did a big investigation. They found that the nearer the front of the plane the healthier the horse afterwards, the nearer the back the more the likelihood of an insurance claim. It's down to the way plane ventilation systems work, carrying all the bugs from the front to the back. So some bright spark rang up loads of long haul human passengers after their flights asking whether they had been ill since. You guessed it, the front was a lot healthier. So now you know where to sit when you fly out on a diving holiday.


11) Polythene supermarket bags. Everyone knows that these are good for getting your hands through drysuit wrist seals. Just put your hand in the bag, push it through then pull the bag through. What most people don't know is that it also works brilliantly for both hands and feet with wetsuits. For girlies on liveaboards this can be a lifesaver for that manicure.


12) Ears. The dreaded ear infections stop diving and can ruin a holiday. A few drops of olive oil in each ear before every dive gives a lot of protection, especially in manky swimming pools. Many liveaboards have micro showers near the dive platform, use these to rinse out the ears after every dive.


13) Decompression sickness. It is easy to get this even when diving within tables/computer if you are dehydrated. This has put a lot of people in the pot. This is especially pernicious in the tropics where you don't realise how much fluid you are losing. Unfortunately drinking lots of fluid can lead to embarrassing moments underwater. The answer is to have a drink and a pee immediately before going in then a big drink immediately when you get out which will be processed during the surface interval.


14) Breathing. Belly breathing uses the alveolai from the lower lung which have 50% more blood vessels, this also flushes out CO2 which is the trigger for respiration rate. To get even more out of each lungfull breathe in for 4 seconds, pause for 2 seconds and breathe out for 4 seconds. When you get good at this try 6, 3 and 6 seconds. Never pause breathing while ascending.


15) If you are a novice or less experienced diver do not dive with a camera. You will enjoy the dive far less, your diving skills will be worse and the buddy system won't work. Far better to take a good torch (UK C4 minimum) on every dive. Even on a shallow reef in the tropics in the middle of the day. A torch will enhance your diving experience. Even experienced divers will enjoy dives far more with a torch than a camera.


16) Talking of torches, LED technology is taking over. Soon all underwater torches will be LED. The technology is getting more powerful every year. They are so efficient at making light from electricity that the burn times are amazing. My LED Lenser torches, for instance, give a 50 hour life from 4X AA batteries. The Tektite Searay 12 looks superb.


17) Polythene gloves, like they have at petrol filing stations. These are brilliant for wearing under dive gloves. They trap an extra layer of water so you get a double glazing effect keeping your hands much warmer. They also make getting the gloves on and off a lot easier.


18) Breathing under pressure exposes every tissue in our bodies to to problems involving oxygen. There is whole body oxygen toxicity and CNS toxic hits. You can reduce the bad effects of oxygen by what you eat. Certain foods have a powerful anti oxidant action, vitamin E and selenium for instance. However one of the most powerful anti oxidants is grapeseed extract which you can buy at Holland and Barratt (if your moral scruples allow you into this accessory to the destruction of sharks).


19) A diving holiday can easily be ruined by a regulator fault. While regulator technicians are easy to find the spare parts for your regulator are often difficult to come by. You can buy service kits for your make and model over the internet and take them with you. The small cost is better than a ruined holiday and the kits weigh very little.


20) Doing multiple dives on multiple days it can be difficult to keep a supply of dry swimwear. Firstly rinse in fresh water immediately after use as saltwater contains hydroscopic salts which need to be removed. Then place on dry towel, roll up and then wring the whole thing. This will almost completely dry your Speedos.


Bruciebabe: *BSAC Advanced* PADI MSD (11 specialities)*GUE DIR-F*Cressi manufacturers equipment course (regulators)*EFR Instructor*IANTD Intro to Cave*Maritime Radio Operator Cerificate of Competence*DSAT Tec Gas Blender Trimix*TDI Advanced Wreck*IANTD Advanced Recreational Trimix, Normoxic Trimix and Trimix Diver (90 metres)*PADI OWSI +8 Instructor Specialities*
 

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