If you intend on snorkeling more than once on your vacation, or more importantly, on more than one vacation, then it is well worth it to get your own personal set of snorkeling gear. Not only is it going to save you a lot on rental fees throughout your best vacationing years, but you don’t need to worry if there is a shop in the relatively close vicinity of the snorkel spot you want to visit. However, the trade off to not renting snorkel gear and instead bringing your own is you need to know how to pack it and care for it so you always have it ready when you need it.
Snorkel Gear Packing Tips
Keep Your Mask Close – If you have a mask that has prescription lenses that were specifically crafted for your eyes, it is best not to risk its safety in your checked bag. Keep it close and safe in your carry on if you can. However, TSA rules can be ever-changing and inconsistent, so if for some reason you can’t carry it on, pack it in the very center of your checked bag surrounded by shock-absorbing clothes. If you have a hard case for it, be sure to use it. If you don’t have a prescription mask, still pack it in the center of your suitcase to protect it since it is the most fragile of your snorkeling gear.
Put Your Fins to Use – Provided they aren’t being extremely bent for long periods of time, your fins can actually be a major boon to the rest of your luggage. Instead of just shoving them in a suit case, put them to work. Lay the on top so they can act like an extra protective frame to your suit case. This can be great if using a duffle without a frame, but it helps even in suitcases. Since your fins are sturdy, yet flexible, you don’t need to worry about them breaking if (or rather, when) your luggage gets tossed around. Instead, they protect the rest of your potentially breakable stuff.
Space Save – Even frequent snorkelers skip packing their snorkel gear in lieu of renting when they get there because they simply don’t have the space. However, instead of just letting snorkel gear be a waste of space, put it to work. Use the pockets of your fins for your socks or underwear. Don’t be afraid to put your travel shampoo in your mask case (if it leaks, it washes off anyway), and hey, a snorkel tube is a pretty good place to store a toothbrush if it is clean and you remember to take it out before you actually go snorkeling. It’s not a pretty sight, no, but it is an efficient use of space.
Don’t Forget the Gear Bag – If you toss all your snorkeling gear in that old mesh bag and try to pack it in a suitcase, it is a horribly inefficient use of space. However, if you Tetris all your snorkel gear in, your mesh dive bag takes up very little space and it can be excessively handy. That dive bag is great for easily transporting your snorkel gear outside of the suitcase and even if you aren’t going snorkeling, it can be used as a shopping bag or, for long stays, a laundry bag. Don’t use it to bind up your snorkel gear in your suitcase, but don’t leave it out completely either.
How to Clean Your Snorkel Gear After Use
After your snorkeling time is done and your vacation is ending, you need to repack that gear. However, if you just shove it back into your suitcase fresh out of the ocean, you are in for a bad time. Obviously you will get a bunch of sea water in there! All joking aside though, proper cleaning before repacking can go a long way towards keeping the salt and smell of the ocean away from everything else in your suitcase.
Luckily cleaning your snorkel gear before repacking is as easy as rinsing it out beforehand. After you have finished your last snorkel expedition, rinse all of your snorkel gear – tube, mask, fins, and anything that went in the water – with fresh water. Be sure to pay special attention to various strap areas that tend to hold water. Most brands use fast drying materials or water-impervious materials, but not all brands do so you don’t want excess sea water trapped within the fibers since it can start to smell a bit.
After rinsing, place the gear somewhere that allows the gear to dry thoroughly. Somewhere clean and in the sun is best, like a balcony for example, but you can let them air dry in your hotel bathroom in a pinch, just be sure to adjust as needed so everything dries and there are no errant pools sitting in any crevices. Once everything is dried, it can be repacked again.
If it still has a bit of an ocean smell to it, you can rinse it again, but only if you have time. It might have to wait until you get home. The most common culprit of this is the mask where the straps tend to hold sea water at times. You can prevent the smell spreading to the rest of your clothes by putting it in a plastic bag until you can give it another proper rinse back home.