SCOUTING REPORT 2008
Travel Lessons From John Chatterton and Richie Kohler
Professional divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler have teamed up on several projects that have led them around the world on underwater investigations, the most recent of which is chronicled in Brad Matsen's book, "Titanic's Last Secrets," due out in October.
How has your job changed the way you travel?
J: A lot of what I do requires that I transport dive or camera equipment. When you travel with a lot of luggage, your focus is all about weight and allowances. Personal comfort comes last.
How much to you plan your trips in advance?
R: Some major diving expeditions let you plan a year or more in advance, but the reality is that a lot of research and film work only allows for a few weeks or days to plan, pack, and go.
What are some packing tips you've picked up?
J: I use a reliable scale to weigh luggage. As I get ready for a trip, I make a pile of everything I want to take. My packing decisions are based on protecting fragile things and dividing up the weight into what can be taken aboard the plane. If I can't fit everything, I prioritize and dump the least important items. R: For the first few expeditions I went on, I traveled way too heavy. When you're traveling as a team, there no need for every member to carry a back up for everything. Experience provides a template for what you will really need. On short trips, I usually carry a lot of disposable clothes.
What's the one thing you won't leave home without?
J: My laptop is my connection to my business. E-mail and Skype keep me in the loop, and I can have projects on my hard drive. R: My laptop. It's my communications, my entertainment, and my workstation.
What do you bring with you on the plane?
R: A dose of patience for the TSA and less experienced travelers. I wear light, loose clothes, and for long flights, I bring heavy wool socks and a light sweater. I also always have my neck pillow, noise-reducing headphones, a sleep mask, and a book or two.
How do you deal with jet lag?
R: I drink lots of water, go light on the booze, and try to swing into the now, forgetting what the time is back home. It always seems the third night is the worst.
How do you get your bearings in a new destination?
J: I like to look at a map or chart of the area I'm in. R: I try to do my homework beforehand, and if I didn't, I pick up a travel guide at the airport and read up on the flight. When I arrive, if I have time, I take a walk to get the lay of the land.
How do you find non-touristy spots?
R: Ask a local. Sometimes you get lucky reading up, but the man on the ground is my best bet.
What are your thoughts on street food?
R: Hmmm, that's a tricky one. I follow my gut on this one. I have always been the adventurous type, but when it comes to street food, no matter how good it smells, I just say no.
What sorts of tourist etiquette tips have you picked up?
J: Attire is very important. Quite often it sends a message, and if you are working with locals you can't afford to send the wrong one by mistake. Wearing shorts rather than long pants can have a huge impact in some cultures. The most important thing to remember is that you are a guest.