Budget Diving: It´s Not As Difficult As You Think
We all have hobbies. Activities we love doing on a regular basis. Activities that help us unwind and relax. Usually, hobbies are never expensive right off. However, once it becomes more than just an occasional activity, costs can start increasing significantly. Scuba Diving is one of those hobbies. And since becoming certified costs a lot of money, diving is widely considered a prestige sport. However, in order to become a good diver, it is vital to gain experience on a regular basis despite expenses being quite high.
We all have a rent to pay, monthly bills, maybe a car and food. Perhaps we have other regular expenses for education, further training, family care, pets, etc. And nevertheless, I´m a firm believer in diving being a hobby not just for people with a lot of free income to spend but for anyone who really wants it.
With a few basic techniques, diving can be affordable. However, that also requires you to change your mindset and set priorities differently! By the end of this article, you will have a few general ideas about budget diving and why it´s actually not that difficult to save money on a dive trip!
You can start reducing your dive expenses by choosing a dive center that offers moderate prices. Diving is widely considered a prestige sport and therefore most divers are regarded as well-off customers. Especially dive center chains and big international dive shops usually have expensive rates.
When trying to find a good dive center, always check out several of them, compare their prices and ask for a discount. It also makes sense to negotiate a price for an all-inclusive dive trip (incl. drinks, lunch, equipment and environmental fees). Also, consider local dive shops – they are often cheaper and still offer good quality and English-speaking staff!
Of course, finding the cheapest dive shop does not mean that you should go diving with a shitty operator that you don´t even feel comfortable diving with. Always make sure to dive with a dive center that you feel safe with! I´m just recommending, don´t go to the first dive shop you see instead of weighing all options.
You can probably save most money on your dive trip by purposely choosing to stay at a budget accommodation instead of a top-notch resort with luxurious facilities that you will likely not be using much during a dive holiday anyway.
Budget-friendly options include Airbnb, hostels, local guesthouses, homestays or Couchsurfing. You may also want to look into dive resorts – they sometimes offer diving + accommodation deals that are worth considering.
Make sure that your budget accommodation is close to the dive center, preferably in walkable distance. If you stay at a cheap place out of town and you have to take a cab or bus every day to go to the dive shop, it will likely not save you any money. In some dive melting pots, such as in Hurghada, Egypt or Alanya, Turkey, dive centers often offer free hotel pick-ups. Always ask your dive shop beforehand if they offer free transfer or not.
You can also reduce costs by not booking all-inclusive hotel options when you already know that you will most likely not make it to lunch at your accommodation. Plenty of dive operators offer day trips that include drinks and food on the boat. Before booking any food options, ask yourself whether you really need breakfast, lunch, dinner and alcoholic drinks included in your hotel stay. Also, think about skipping alcohol for a while. Firstly, alcoholic beverages are considerably more expensive than soft drinks. Secondly, drinking a lot of alcohol when diving on a regular basis poses potential risks for divers. Alcohol ingestion may influence blood circulation, cause dehydration and enhance the effects of nitrogen narcosis.
Booking flights early in advance may save you a lot of money on international air travel. The earlier you book a flight, the better chances you will have of finding a deal or special offer. If you´re flexible time-wise, play around with the dates. Flights tend to be more expensive on the weekends and cheaper during the week. One of my favorite sites to compare and find cheap airfares is Skyscanner.
Once in your destination, use domestic public transport instead of taxis or mini vans. Depending on the country you´re in, tuk-tuks, local buses and slow boats will go easy on your budget!
Believe it or not, even in third-world countries where food is generally pretty affordable, you can still cut down costs.
Ask yourself if you really have to eat at one of the typical tourist restaurants that were highly recommended in your Marco Polo travel guide. The point is, they are usually famous and popular among tourists and therefore are very pricey. Why not ask your reception staff or dive instructor for a restaurant tip? I´m sure they will be happy to share with you some secret spots they like and regularly go to. Most of the time those cozy hideaways are more authentic and a lot cheaper than the restaurants advertized all over travel guides and the internet. By eating where the locals eat, you also get to learn more about their cuisine and may be able to pick up a new recipe or two.
In order to reduce food expenses, you may also cook yourself. If you have an accommodation with kitchen facilities, why not take a trip to a local market and buy some fresh vegetables? That way you can not only save money but also observe how your food is being prepared. In some countries, it´s considered healthier to cook your own food than ordering at a restaurant where you can´t see how your dinner is being cooked.
Over-packing can cost you a lot of money, especially if you haven´t declared excess baggage beforehand. The reason I am mentioning this is because I keep seeing tourists at airports bringing tons of stuff they will likely not need during their holidays. It seems most of them hadn´t even thought once about how much baggage allowance there is.
My advice: Be realistic when packing your suitcase! Only take what is necessary. Think about what you really need on your dive trip. Consider traveling light on purpose. It might even enhance your overall travel experience. However, when going on a dive trip, don´t forget one thing: your Logbook! 🙂
Last but not least, you might be able to save money by bringing your own dive equipment. However, always compare baggage excess costs vs. dive gear rental costs beforehand. Otherwise, you might end up paying a lot more to get your dive equipment to the other side of the world than simply using gear that´s already at the dive shop.
If you are a regular diver, it certainly makes sense to make an investment in your own dive gear. However, I´d suggest waiting for a special offer or online deal by one of the dive brands. Why not keep your eyes open and buy one piece at a time instead of purchasing everything at once?
If you keep in mind some of these tips, I´m sure you´ll have a much more affordable dive experience.
Of course, there are additional ways on saving money on diving. For example, if you´re already an advanced diver, why not look for a dive center that offers Divemaster internships? That way you can not only dive for free but also take your hobby to the next level.
Do you consider yourself a budget diver? Any other tips on how to save money on a dive trip? Let me know in the comments!