Our Employees Share Top Travel Tips

Ocean First   Jul 05, 2022

When you work at a land-locked scuba shop, your employees tend to be active travelers. We asked our staff for their travel tips and what items they can’t board the place without. The top 5 items that everyone listed: microfiber travel towel, portable USB charging bank, dry bags, save-a-dive kits, and a travel pillow. All of those and more can be purchased at Ocean First! Read on for more tips and packing essentials from our staff:

Amy Christopher, Director of Travel:

Besides the obvious items, these are some of the most handy things to pack:

  • ● Stash any cash that you will need immediately for things like departure tax and transportation with your passpor
  • ● Snack bars in case of a hunger emergency
  • ● Camelback pouch that can fit in your travel backpack for excursions
  • ● Pack a swimsuit & change of clothes in your carry-on in case of baggage delays
  • ● Print your flight & hotel itineraries; I also send a copy of my flight and travel plans to my parents and to someone from Ocean First in case something happens
  • ● Noise cancelling headphones - invest in really good ones
  • ● Printed reading material in case your device dies

Graham Casden, Founder:

A few things I’ve come to use and appreciate:

  • ● Printed and laminated packing guide
  • ● High capacity power bank
  • ● Power strip
  • ● Rash guard (muy importante for snorkeling)
  • ● Stickers and Ocean First schwag to share with the locals
  • ● Movies (on a hard drive)
  • ● Reef saver (one of the most important and underappreciated dive items!)
  • ● Spare O-ring and Save-A-Dive kits
  • ● I LOVE the Ocean First microfiber towels- perfect for camera gear and laying out a clean surface to assemble/dissemble
  • ● Ocean First hat
  • ●Tempur-pedic travel pillow

Kellon Spencer, Retail Associate & Freedive Instructor:

I bit the bullet and bought some quality noise canceling headphones and haven’t looked back since. They are worth every penny.”

Gary Boyer, Assistant Training Director:

“One item that I'm always packing is a power strip. There seems to be a shortage of outlets in rooms. I also pack a multi-port USB charging station for things like the EON Steel, iPad, iPhone, and anything else that takes a USB port to charge. Once on the boat, I come prepared to avoid the cold and wet with a dry bag full of warm clothes, my Ocean First branded microfiber towel, and a save-a-dive kit.”

Michael Rice, Ocean First IT:

“Here is a tip. If you are renting a car, American Express has very cheap car insurance. You will still need liability coverage through the car rental company, but Amex will cover damage, theft, and medical. It applies for most of the world and is $25 or less for up to 42 days. It is not charged per day like the rental companies, it is a one time fee.”

Klara Fejer, Digital Media for Ocean First Education:

“My top items that came from Ocean First:

  • ● Dry bags/different sized reusable bags
  • ● Reusable water bottle
  • ● Reef saver stick
  • ● Ocean First stickers
  • ● Save-a-dive kit
  • ● Backup pair of sunglasses
  • ● Vegan gummy & waffle cookie snacks
  • ● Microfiber towels
  • ● Reef safe sunscreen

I also always try to bring valerian root (a natural sleeping aid), toys/supplies for locals, rechargeable batteries & chargers, power adapters, noise canceling headphones & a back-up pair of headphones, hard drives, and music”

Lauren Pacheco, Swim School Director:

“Bring a portable phone charger! I am always looking up stuff on my phone and it can die in the middle of the day. Pop it in your purse or bag and go!”

Marlee Glasgow, Marketing Coordinator:

“I always bring plenty of snacks! When traveling, you are away from your routine, sometimes you don’t know when your next meal will be, hanger can cause tensions to run high and often a simple granola bar can calm everyone down while you decide your next move. Beer koozies also are a great addition when traveling to hot climates.”

Scott Griesser, Assistant Training Director:

“Power adapters are always good to have depending on where you are going. Sea to Summit has some great universal options.”

Cathy Christopher, Director of Education for Ocean First Education:

“I would always recommend a neck pillow for the plane ride. It's going to be a few hours to get to the ocean from Denver, might as well be comfortable on the plane!

As for little things people don't think about, when going on a dive vacation:

Dave Sturtz: Retail associate, SSI Instructor:

  • ● Reef safe sunscreen - even if you're not on a reef, it's healthier for the ocean
  • ● Dry bag - even a small one to put your phone/camera in if not a towel and some clothes. Surface interval pictures are sometimes the funniest!
  • ● Water bottle - it's hot. It's going to be salty. You're diving. You're going to get dehydrated.
  • ● Save-a-dive kit, which comes with a little bag of o-rings, clips and what-not to repair simple things that might go wrong with gear.
    • ● Deal directly with airlines, not the online agencies. The prices are usually the same. I’ve heard of too many situations where something goes wrong, and the online agency says it’s the airline’s fault and the airline must fix it, while the airline says the opposite. Use Kayak to search then book directly with the airline. Remember that Kayak doesn’t search Southwest so search them separately if you’re going someplace they go (and they have a number of international destinations).
    • ● If choosing seats for two, choose a window and aisle. If you’re lucky you’ll have that extra space in the middle, and if someone shows up for the middle seat they’re always happy to trade with one of you.
    • ● If you’re looking at an expensive, complicated or important trip (like a honeymoon) consider having a pro work with you. OF Travel is your friend!
    • ● Get your local currency from a local ATM. The safest ones are at banks. Also, when a merchant offers to charge you in US Dollars, don’t do it. The exchange rate they use is usually worse than the one Visa or MasterCard uses.
    • ● Get a luggage scale (available at Ocean First). Use it before departure, but also take it along! They’re small and light and you need to weigh your bag before coming home too – damp gear and souvenir purchases will change the weight of your bag. If you’re a few tenths of a pound over and they give you grief, tell them you adhered to their 23 kg limit, which is 50.7 pounds!