Tips for Great Resort Trips
- Remember the C-card!
Many places might let you slide if you don’t have proof of certification with you. But don’t count on it. Any dive operator worth his business will require verification with either a C-card or log book with proof of certification. If you’re planning on diving during your vacation, I have a suggestion that will help you always to be prepared. Order a replacement card from your certification agency and paper clip it to the last page of your passport. Or if you have an advanced rating, put your open water card in your passport. When you travel, so does your C-card. Otherwise, it can be an expensive overseas call to the certification agency for verification and a delay of one to three days if you arrive on a Saturday.Why lose three days of diving because you were unprepared?
- Review it before you do it!
Read through your scuba manual. It should be somewhere in the house. Dust it off and review the summaries. Anything you are unclear about, read the details. Also, check with your scuba retailer. There are some home study programs and CD-ROMs out there that make it more enjoyable to get yourself refamiliarized with the dive tables, equipment set-up and basic dive matters. An hour or two at home before a trip can save you embarrassment and half a day or more on your trip doing what you went on holiday to do in the first place.
- Review your medical condition
This is especially true for you hibernating divers who come from areas where the water is hard and white as opposed to soft and blue. If you haven’t been active during the winter, take some time in advance of going to a resort to do so. Three or four weeks is helpful. Prepare yourself by swimming, jogging, riding a stationary bike or skiing. Otherwise you arrive at a resort and find you are so out of shape that you can’t do half the dives you planned to make. Our heat and humidity will sweat the truth out of you. If you have any medical condition that may affect your diving, even though you’re certified, get a check up before you arrive on island. Then bring the medical approval with you. We don’t have on-island diving docs who can give you any real solid advice about your specific condition. We are working on it though. Quite often, divers mistakenly assume because a resort is first class, first world medicine is available too. Usually it’s strictly Third World. If you need to see a medical questionnaire so you know what to look for, stop by or call your local dive retailer. They can help. Also, Divers Alert Network can help you as well. They can be reached at 919 684 2948. They can refer you to a diving doctor in your area. Once you arrive at a resort, seek out the advice of the professional staff about keeping yourself fit for diving while on holiday. What’s the best way to stay hydrated? Avoid excess consumption of alcohol. Rum punches have a way of sneaking up on you. Seek other helpful hints for diving fitness at your chosen destination. You’d be surprised how often too much of that delicious tropical fruit, as good as it is, can keep you confined to a bathroom practicing controlled seated entries for 24 hours or more
- Practice safe travel
You wouldn’t think of leaving your house or car unprotected. Don’t leave yourself unprotected in a foreign country. Check your medical insurance coverage back home to see if you are specifically covered for scuba diving, medical air evacuation and chamber treatments. Don’t assume that you are. You may find you do not have this coverage or are limited. Finding out during a medical emergency, as few as there are, is not the time to realize you should have taken care of things back home because you thought it couldn’t happen to you.DAN diver insurance is really inexpensive (about the cost of a dive), and it can make all the difference if any medical incident occurs more than 100 miles from home. Don’t wait for it to rain before you buy an umbrella. Here in St. Lucia, you couldn’t get from one side of the island to the other in a taxi for the price of DAN membership and insurance. Imagine the cost of a med-evac trip to the closest chamber? If you can’t , just think of it as paying for next year’s vacation now, but without the pina coladas and romantic evenings. Also, by doing this, you help yourself and the dive industry. It’s comforting to know a chamber and staff are available when they’re needed. One of the major reasons why hyperbaric chambers go out of business once they get in business is that recreational divers don’t pay their bills. One chamber operator in the Caribbean reports that up to 50% of recreational divers flake on their chamber payments. Why? Because once they get home, they find out their insurance company refuses to cover the $5000 or $10,000 or $20,000 air evac and/or chamber bill. Even a responsible diver who knows he made the mistake is tempted to sue a dive operator or divemaster to pay off the medical bill. Don’t be misled. It’s not the insurance company who pays. We all lose on this one. Be responsible by being prepared. Pay the $35 or $40 up front. Get the insurance. Call DAN.
- Get in the water!
Before you arrive at a resort, especially, if you haven’t been diving for a year or more, put some scuba on your back and go pool diving. Resort operators would rather have you look at a few hair balls in the pool than show up as a hair brain in the sea.Just about every dive shop will have refresher classes or scuba updates to get you into scuba shape. Take advantage of them back home. A couple hours in a pool works wonders. Why spend a precious day or two of your 7 days at a resort getting back up to speed when you have months to prepare for it back home? Also, classes back home are usually less expensive than at a resort.
- Certified is not qualified
One of the most common mistakes I see at a resort is that people assume that because they have a certification card, it means they are automatically capable of diving even if they’ve been out of the water for years. Well, diving is a very safe sport. But, it’s meant to be enjoyable as well. Don’t rely on others to make your diving experience what you want it to be. As a certified diver it is your responsibility to make sure you are qualified to dive. Don’t get lulled into the “I’m certified, therefore I’m qualified” mind set. When you are qualified you can maximize the enjoyment of the dive. The best way to do this is to arrive fully prepared for diving. It’s no fun at all to suck your air down in half the time as other divers especially when you find out they saw a whale shark just minutes after you got out of the water. In this case, a little cardiovascular exercise back home goes a long way to making your diving the wonderful experience it should be. So, the Boy Scouts are right. It all goes back to preparation. You need to be physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to dive. Only you can make sure you’re qualified on all counts before you dive. Don’t let anyone talk you into diving until you know you are fully prepared to make the dive.
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