You have a grin on your face when you hit that confirm button on an epic snorkeling trip while thinking, hang the expense, as it will be a trip of a lifetime peering at critters below the ocean's surface. For the die-hard underwater gurus relying on resort or day-trip snorkeling gear is not an option.

We've all been there when there aren't enough flippers to go around or there are none your size. The face masks are old and scratched or you worry about the cleanliness of the snorkel, considering it goes in your mouth. Of course, this can depend on the quality of the accommodation—top-end luxury resorts are usually fine. Still, I have experienced this not to be the case. The best snorkeling destinations tend to be in remote areas where running down to a local dive shop is not on the radar if the gear is not up to par.

The cost of buying and taking your own equipment is worth it, rather than being frustrated over what is on offer.

You just have to know how to pack it and forego taking the tux or ballgown:

Snorkel Gear Bag

Don't expect the mesh bag filled with your fins and mask to fit neatly into your suitcase. It takes up too much space and is no guarantee that your equipment will remain intact after rumbling around airport baggage procedures, especially if your luggage is a flexible material. Roll it up and pack your gear individually. The bag does have several uses apart from carrying your gear, such as a shopping bag, or keeping your smelly clothes in one place.

Fin Packing

When buying fins, consider the length of your travel luggage and the weight of the fins if paying for overweight luggage is not on your agenda. Open-heeled fins take up less space, but you must pack water shoes to wear them. Use your fins to stuff them full of the little things that tend to go awol—bathers, undies, and socks. Or, the rubber will protect any small glass bottles—think of those mini-bar bottles from the hotel the night before. Stuffing them will help keep the fins in shape and save space in your bag. Use your fins as a protective barrier on top of your packed clothes or down each side of your goodies, especially if your luggage is of the duffle variety with no frame.

Compact and lightweight folding fins like the ones created by Exotech and used by the military that pack down to half their length have recently hit the market, if you want to buy fins specifically for their packing attributes.

Face Mask

For spectacled souls that have prescription lenses in a face mask, always pack it in your carry-on luggage; you don't want to arrive at your snorkeling haven only to find that your mask has cracked—you won't be able to see that hammerhead shark lurking in the blue depths. Wrap it like you would a baby in a sarong. For others, stuff it with socks and wrap it up in a piece of your clothing. Pack it in the very middle of your suitcase. Or, buy a hard case for it, but this will take up more space.

Stuff It and Wrap It - Flying With Your Snorkel Gear - The Wise Traveller - Snorkel


Before you pack your snorkel, check that the mouthpiece is intact, that the tube is not worn, and the purge valve hasn't warped. Many snorkels are pretty solid, but if they're of the flexible variety, then find a box to put them in for long hauls—rubber or silicone doesn't do well under pressure. If you have space in your carry-on luggage, take it with you just in case your luggage ends up in another destination at the behest of an airline. Do not pack the snorkel attached to the mask, as it will apply pressure to the snorkel keeper. If your carry-on backpack has side pockets, put your snorkel into one. If not, wrap it in a sarong or scarf and place it upright in your bag. If putting a snorkel in your checked-in luggage, wrap it in clothing for protection and place it in the middle of your suitcase.

NB Don’t Get Burned

Remember the sunscreen; nothing will spoil your holiday like being a sore lobster after your first snorkeling adventure. Pack a snorkeling suit such as a rashie or stinger suit to keep the jellyfish bites and the sun at bay.

And remember a small bottle of watered-down baby shampoo to keep your mask from fogging if you are not into using your spit!

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.