a close up of a couple snorkeling

Can You Take Snorkeling Equipment On A Plane?

One of the greatest things that people love about snorkeling isn’t just the time in the water. The planet is a big place, and everyone enjoys travel to new destinations.

Snorkeling isn’t like enjoying cards or reading. There’s equipment to take.

Most snorkelers recommend taking your own mask that you know fits you well, but what about things like fins. They’re bigger than trainers, and equipment can take a lot of space.

So can you take snorkeling equipment on a plane?

You can take snorkeling gear on a plane without any issues. If you can, get them in the carry on bag, or at least put the fins in the checked luggage. The only diving equipment that worries airlines is anything that requires batteries, knives, and compressed air.

Basically, the only thing you really need to travel with equipment wise are the fins, snorkel, and mask. Any rash guard and other accessories can go in the checked luggage. 

How Do You Travel With Snorkel Gear?

There’s a lot of factors to consider with this one 

Every airline is different and it can depend on whether you are a budget carrier which typically only allows 7kg to 8kg of allowance for hand luggage. Some can be quite relaxed, but some can be much harsher.

I’m sure you know the ones.

Another factor is that some airlines include a piece of checked luggage with the flight as standard. It may only be 15kg or so, but if you are searching for space in the carry on, it may be worth putting as much as you can in the checked luggage.

If it’s costly, and it’s only a quick short trip, you’re then limited to what you can get with the carry on.

Many airlines have specialty luggage for sports equipment, so it’s always worth checking out beforehand. Normally you can see a small pile of equipment and a load of skis somewhere nearby.

You may find this is less costly than buying some checked luggage.

The good news is that if you are forced into carrying the snorkel gear as part of a carry on, then I’ve not heard of any airline stopping someone carrying them on.

How Do You Travel With Fins?

Better in the checked luggage if you are checking a bag in any way

The weight allowance for carry on makes fins tricky if they are full size but more than that they are a bit of an encumbrance.

There’s no technical reason why an airline will disallow you from taking fins on a plane, but if I can, I prefer to not give them an excuse.

If I have the option, I will put the fins in the checked luggage. Snorkeling, unlike scuba, is equipment light. You don’t have BCDs or wetsuits normally so it’s just beach essentials and a few equipment essentials.

If you are traveling light, and for a short period of time, like a few days where you may only need a few items, I will then do a carry on luggage only and get the fins into the carry on. They are a little bit of a ‘space monster’ but I have a suitable carry on bag that is slightly longer than normal to accommodate my needs. 

I’ve never really needed specialty baggage gear just for snorkeling on short trips.

The other option is to rent the fins. Although they are important to snorkeling, there’s less preciseness to them than with the fins and mask.

Many people don’t like the idea of using someone else’s mask or snorkel, but fins they are OK with.

If you are going to a well known snorkeling location then there will be a dive site nearby.

Carry On Or Checked Luggage?

There’s never a hard fast rule to this, but I tend to do different things for different periods of time I’m going to be away.

For shorter periods of time when I know I’m going to do some snorkeling, I tend to try and get everything in a carry on. Fins, mask, and snorkel. If you are only going for a few days, then I can get everything I need around them without any problems.

If I’m going for longer, and more clothes and shoes might be needed, then the checked luggage will be used. I keep the mask and snorkel with me for the carry on and put the fins (the real space takers) into the checked luggage.

I prefer to snorkel hot places really, but if I needed a wetsuit it’d go in checked luggage. 

No science to it, just if the trip warrants checked luggage, then the fins go in there.

Getting It All In The Carry On

If you have to get it all in the carry on, then you can take an uber minimalist approach and have a super small travel kit, but for me, that’s taking it too far.

I always use the same snorkel and mask, as I know they fit.

If I was pressed for space, I’d consider a set of travel fins that are smaller, lighter, and designed for exactly this situation.

The Other Accessories

Snorkeling can also require some small accessories. Nothing as important as the mask, fins, and snorkel, but make the experience more enjoyable nonetheless.

Things like cameras, rash guards, and suntan lotions I tend to put in a small dry bag.

I always carry a few dry bags (can you ever have enough) to keep them definitely dry. They tend to go in a carry on bag when traveling on a plane.

General Tips

If you are likely to do more than one dip into the water and plan a few snorkeling excursions on a trip then it’s always better if you bring your own gear. The constant need to visit rental shops, or to have to return to a location in order to return them isn’t necessary with your own gear.

Here are some general tips for you to take on board, rather than them being situation specific.

Mask – The mask is the most important bit of the kit. A leaking or otherwise ill-fitting mask can ruin a trip. Thus I’d always advise using your own if you can. The mask should go in the carry on, and be protected. I just use a simple plastic protective case. Losing it means you need to replace it for sure. It’s even worse if they’re prescription lenses.

The lens is also important and needs some additional protection. I always wrap it in a small towel, or rash guard to stop anything from scratching it accidentally. I also pack it in the bag away from anything that might scratch like belt buckles.

Travel fins – If you are really tight for space, consider getting specialized fins for travel. Also called sporting fins the blades are much less obtrusive. They pack much easier.

Footspace – Inside the fins where the foot goes you can put a few items like any booties or socks that you will be taking anyway. If not then maybe some snorkeling cameras, or rash guards, or towels can take up the room.

Mesh bag – I always take a mesh bag with simple strong pull strings. It’s tiny when rolled up (stuff inside fins footspace), but large enough to take all the gear. Before going home you can rinse all the gear off and allow it to air dry without risk of forgetting something.

Clean gear – Take the snorkel gear into the shower with you. Make sure all the sand, mud, and grime are off the equipment so it doesn’t scratch and ruin things for the future. Allow it to dry properly to stop odor problems.

Final Thoughts

There’s probably no need to complicate matters. Snorkeling gear is pretty simple.

Mostly it just comes down to not losing the vital mask, and making sure it doesn’t get damaged. Everyone has different requirements though.

Airlines don’t usually try to prevent you from getting on a plane, so the only thing you really need to worry about is whether you are carrying equipment that they definitely ban. 

If an official sees you with scuba fins, they may single you out to check whether you are carrying any compressed air or knives.

The mask, fins, and snorkel don’t constitute a danger by themselves. It’s just a case of making sure you arrive at the destination with things undamaged.

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