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To say that careful and concise vacation planning is important, is an understatement. Whether you are planning on your own or using a dive travel specialist, your hard earned diving dollars will go farther and your enjoyment will be much greater if if you take the time, ask the right questions and become informed about your destination. The following is a checklist of hints, tips and suggestions to get you started in the right direction. We have purposely designed (or rather not designed) this page so that you can make a copy and put it to good use.

At some time during your diver training, you were taught the importance of dive planning. The goal is to arrive at your chosen dive site with proper equipment in good working order, at the best time and under the best conditions to accomplish your dive objectives.

Your dive vacation planning should be an integral part of this concept as well. Some of the benefits of proper planning should include:
1.Increased enjoyment of your dive trip.
Last minute or ineffective planning can result in increased anxiety. Take your time and plan properly.
2. Helps identify your dive vacation goals.
What kind of diving do you want to do? Is there a particular site that interests you? Are there other things that you would like to do or see when you are not diving?
3. Good planning can help yo save money.
If you take the time to plan, you can research locations, activities and accomodations. You can save money by booking early, scheduling for off peak periods, and shopping around for the best deals.
4. Planning can help to insure the quality of your diving and accomodations.
Planning ahead will help insure you get the hotels and dive operations you want, even during even during peak season when booking are full.

How to plan your vacation
1. Start reading all you can about your dive destination. Study all of the latest information available. Even if you have been to a location before, things can change.The hotel or charter that you used last time may not still be there or may be under new ownership.
2. What kind of diving are you looking for?
If you are flexible, your choices will be much broader. On the other hand, if you are specifically looking for drift diving, wreck diving, spearfishing, etc.., you must choose a location that meets these desires.
3. Use your dive instructor, other divers and Dive Florida as sources of information. Learn all you can from divers who have been there. The more you know, the less likely you are to have a disappointing experience
4. Plan Early
The widely accepted norm is that you should plan ahead approximately one month for each $100. you plan to spend. If you start well enough in advance, you can cover all the bases. Besides, planning is a learning experience and the anticipation makes a great vacation that much more fun.

How to choose your dive destination
1. What is your certification level and experience?
Choose a location that is right for you. Some locations cater to novice divers, others to the more advanced, and many accomodate all levels. Don't get caught on the wrong end of the spectrum.
2. What do you want out of your dive vacation?
Do you want to spend as much time as possible underwater? Do you want to take in some topside attractions? Or maybe you are seeking a happy medium. You should consider these questions when planning.
3. Will you be doing any training on vacation?
If you are planning to complete your open water training, or to take an advanced or specialty course, you should check on the agency affiliations and availability with the operator you are going to use.
4. What accomodations are available?
Are you looking for a campsite or the Taj Mahal? Or do you just want a place that is cozy and comfortable? Do your homework and get what you want
5. Are you on a budget?
If you answered yes to the Taj Mahal, skip this part. If on the other hand you are like most of us, you must stay within a certain budget for vacations. Plan carefully and intelligently and you can stay within your means.

Take your time, talk with those who have been to the location you are interested in. Ask lots of questions and do not hesitate to call dive operators and hotels for more specific information.
Some common questions to ask are listed below to help you along. Some will matter to you, some will not, and still others will just be nice to know. This is not a definitive list but something to help you get started

- What kind of accomodations are available and what are they like?
- What type of dive boats does the operator have and how many divers do they carry?
- Are there medical facilities nearby, and how far is the nearest recompression chamber?
- What kind of air fill system is used and is the air quality checked?
- What brands and types of equipment can be bought, rented and serviced?
- Are the dives guided or independently planned with a buddy?
- What are the diving depths at this location?
- What is the visibility and water temperature for the time of year you are visiting?
- What should you expect to see on your dives?
- Are instructors available for a class you would like to complete?
- Are camera and/or video equipment available for rent?
- Is photo processing available?
- Do the boats carry oxygen and first aid kits?
- Are there specific policies concerning the use of dive computers?
- Is nitrox available?
- How far is the hotel from the dive boat?
- How long are the boat rides to the sites?
- When is the best time of year to viit this location?

In addition to planning your travel, you should determine what you will need to take with you. Make a list (and check it twice) of dive equipment, spare parts, tickets, reservation confirmations, clothes and other personal items.

By carefully planning your dive vacation, you will have that extra assurance that you are getting the best value and most enjoyment out of those diving dollars. It may sound like a lot of legwork, but it is actually a lot of fun. So what are you waiting for? Start planning!!!


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