Article was written by Greg DiFortuna, PussFoot Athlete, IBA Rated Instructor, and USPA Coach
Want to Travel with your skydiving gear??? Well here are some tips for traveling with your gear to keep your life hassle-free.
Let's face it, skydiving lends itself to be a great sport to do all over the world but both the gear and travel can be very expensive. So keeping our gear safe while not getting hassled to hard at the airport is one of my main priorities when I travel. In the past 10 years, I have jumped in over 15 different states and 5 different countries with minimal issues with my gear. I’ll give you a few tips that help me keep my gear safe and my travels hassle-free.
Keep your gear out of the sun!
This is a great rule in general, but keeping your gear out of the sun and especially hot cars will keep your gear from being destroyed by the heat and/or from being stolen. We all want to jump in beautiful warm places but be conscious where you leave your gear.
No Gear Left Behind
Never leave your gear in your car where people can see it as it makes you an easy target for a break in. Now I know what you’re saying, “hey man no one is going to steal my stuff at the DZ, we are family bro”. While that may be true, whuffos and randoms from the neighboring area are likely to steal from DZs because they know there's lots of money involved and reality is sometimes skydivers steal too -- sucks but its true. If you absolutely need to leave your gear in your car then I recommend leaving it in the trunk in a gear bag and always lock the doors.
Fly with Your Gear
I always carry on my rig -- it is my baby, my life and I don’t let it out of my sight. If I can help it, I will carry on everything, but I travel light so I know that's impossible for some people. The reason I carry my rig on instead of checking is that I feel like when you check bags you run the risk of things getting lost and for me, it is just not worth it.
The rig is going to count as a personal item, so I usually carry on the rig and a small backpack that has my electronics and more expensive gadgets like altimeters, cameras, etc. All my other gear i.e: jumpsuits, helmets, mounts, goggles, etc goes into my checked luggage. It is very rare for me personally because I usually travel very light, but when I travel to Europe for extended periods I will check at least one big bag.
Be Prepared for the TSA
I've heard horror stories of gear being taken apart and reserves popped without consent behind the security walls and It makes me uneasy to think of all the hands that could possibly be on it. So when I fly I show up about 30 minutes earlier than normal and I ALWAYS bring my AAD card. I have a vigil and they provide you with a travel card that has an XRAY image and description of what is on the inside of the rig because the AAD is always going to trigger an alarm for some new security officers. Even with the card I've had officers call the bomb squad to do further testing and even call the pilot to make sure he/she is ok with flying the plane with a parachute on board. Silly but procedure none the less. When dealing with TSA or other security agents, try to avoid using the term Automatic Activation Device as it could trigger some alarms. Instead, say it's a tiny computer that calculates my altitude and opens my emergency parachute in extreme circumstances.
More information about the TSA is located in this article here
Ensure You Are Insured
Now here's a big one -- always have insurance for your gear when you travel. You can do this through your homeowners, travel & even car insurance as it covers somethings taken from your vehicle. I use World Nomads Travel Insurance when I travel abroad, they cover my gear and medical due to skydiving accidents, that's right they cover skydiving!!! However, they do not cover base jumping, unfortunately. Every insurance company is going to have their own coverage but I really like having the peace of mind that if my gear is destroyed or stolen I will have money to get new gear.
When traveling you should always treat your gear like its important because it is. It saves your life regularly and we want to make sure we keep it in good shape for future use and higher resale ;-)
Blue skies and fly baby fly!
To learn more about Greg, check out his athlete profile page