The internet is full of tips for the travelling scuba diver and underwater photographer. Many of them are of minor importance. If you don’t follow them, its not the end of the world and you may still have an excellent holiday. The following five tips are however super critical. If you mess up here, your holiday can be screwed!
1. Have a valid passport and neccessary visa
Your well earned dive holiday can be over before you have left your home country. The only requirement for a valid passport may not only be that it is within the expire date. Some countrys require it to be valid for minimum 6 months after arrival, even though you are only planning on staying a couple of weeks. Make sure to check these requirements before you are at the airport. At some airports, i.e. Gardermoen in Norway, you can get an emergency passport issued by the police which is valid for one journey.
Most tourist visas are purchased upon arrival, but not in all countrys. When we travelled to Cuba for the CMAS underwater photography championship, we got our visas just in time for the journey, so make sure to check this in due time. Specialiced companies is recommended to obtain the visa for a speedy process.
2. Dont crap in your wet suit!
Diarea is a common scenario for tourists. The oral vaccine Dukoral tastes like shit, but works as hell. It is not cheap, but to avoid spending a day of diving at the toilet is worth quit a lot. The first time you take it, you take two doses with a week interval. If you go for a new trip within a year it is sufficient with a single dose. There are however persons which react to this vaccine, so if you take it for the first time, make sure to take it in due time before the vacation. The Dukoral vaccine doesnt solve all cases of diarea and some tablets like Immodium or Loperamid is esentiall to bring in your handluggage on the plane in case of emergency!
3. Wash your ears boy!
Ear infection is very common during intensive diving in tropical areas. The ear never dries up and your natural bacterias in the outer ear gets further in under the skin and starts to multiply. Some call this swimmers or divers ear. In order to prevent this you should do two things. 1) As the salt store the moisture and the ear never dries completly you should carefully wash out the saltwater in your ear after each dive. 2) get hold of some vinegar and mix it with water in a bottle. Dont make the solution to aciddic, a 1:9 mix of 12% vinager is enough, but the mix does not have to be dead accurat. Put some droplets of the mild acidic solution in your ears each evening to make the life of the bacterias sour. Leave it for some minutes for it to work. Many thanks to dr Ingvar Eliasson from Sweden for this tips.
4. Back up your pictures
When you are out in the field, your normal back up solution is usually not available. A simple portable external hardrive is a cheap insurance to get your pictures and movies safely back home. Your biggest treath is usually not computer or harddrive failure, but having your laptop stolen. Wetpixel founder Eric Cheng recently experienced that his laptop dissappered in the airport security. It was handed over to someone else!
For small trips where you dont fill up your memory card and dont have to bring a laptop, the pictures can be backed up to an external harddrive with card reader. The harddrive is controlled by an app on your phone.
5. Bring the essential spare parts
Some say, if you need it, bring two. That is not a bad advise, but the baggagge cost may be a bit to high when you bring two complete camera setup on vacation. Instead we want to re write it a litle. If you need it and it is fragile, bring two. Throughout the years we have identified a couple of weak spots in the camera set up. 1) Bring an extra sync cord. There will sooner or later be a break or bad connection in it and your strobes will start to become unreliable or will not fire at all. We learned this the hard way. When granted special permission to dive in the North Sea Museum in Hirtshals, Denmark, the sync cord decided to die. A once in a lifetime opportunity and only natural light pictures could be taken…. 2) if you are dependent on a special charger for your strobes, light or camera, you should consider bringing two chargers. Check with your group if someone is using the same equipment/chargers as yourself for backup.