Scale-tipping gear bags don’t have to be your fate as a dive traveler. Stroll onto the dive boat with less stress and a lighter load with this list of our six favorite things to leave behind.
» Scuba Gear Depending on the situation — for example, you're only going to be able to squeeze in one dive on a family vacation — some gear might not be worth lugging. There’s no shame in renting — good dive operations have quality gear that gets regularly cleaned and serviced. Alternatively, buy a set of travel gear — lightweight, high-performance BCs and regs are a big part of many manufacturers' gear lines — for your dive vacations, and perhaps another set of "regular" gear for your local diving. It might cost a little more in the short term, but bringing your own travel gear adds a factor of safety and comfort.
» Beach Towels Towels from home inevitably make the return trip either unused or still wet, while hotels and dive boats usually provide them. Still find yourself lacking? Buy an inexpensive sarong on-island for a multipurpose, space-saving beach blanket.
» Foreign Currency Changing money before a trip is a hassle, and airport exchanges are a rip-off. Hit the ATM at the airport after you land to withdraw a cash stash for tip money and cab fares. You’ll get the best exchange rate and pay a flat transaction fee rather than a percentage.
» Mask Defog and Other Liquids Every dive boat in the world has defog — guaranteed. Not to mention that a bottle stored in a mask box can trigger a bag check or pose a potential luggage leak. Ditto for basic toiletries. Ever been to a hotel or dive resort that didn’t have free shampoo? Us neither.
» Shoes Pick one pair of all-purpose shoes — such as canvas sneakers or boat shoes — to wear on the plane, stash lightweight flip-flops or sandals in your carry-on, and leave the rest at home.
» Jewelry Dive-boat fashion is all skin-tight neoprene, split-fins and wrist-mount computers — no one takes the plunge to check out a tennis bracelet. Between the potential for small items to go overboard and the possibility of theft back on land, jewelry is better off at home.