Well, we’ve got this down to a science. Not! It’s vacation eve and its after midnight and I’m still up. I love to tinker with things that many folks might overlook, like optimizing packing, but no matter how much I tinker I still find a way to be up late thinking of how I can lighten my load, reduce my footprint, and ease my shoulder pain. Hauling camera gear presents a challenge because its just heavy. I marvel at the tourists dragging suitcases the size of a Smart Car over cobblestones in Europe. There’s a better way. I can usually manage out of a hand carry and a backpack for 2-3 weeks. Here are a few tips that I’ve adopted for trips ranging from one to three weeks:
Shoes: One paid on my feet and one paid in the bag. The one in the bag is usually flip flops depending on the time of the year and destination. If I can go casual and comfortable I’ll err on the side of leaving the dress shoes behind. They’re heavy.
Clothing: “They” say the average woman packs 6 outfits she never wears for a two week long vacation that she never wears. The average man three to four. I like to pack lightweight wash and wear clothes that can be easily packed and more importantly easily washed and hung to dry in my hotel. If you can ladies (heaven forbid) wear the same outfit more than once you can lighten your load considerably. Jeans are out unless I wear a pair for the flight. Too heavy and take forever to dry.
Toiletries: I guarentee that the local convenience store at your destination will have 90% of the stuff you pack, so don’t pack it. Just get it when you arrive.
Heavy Layers: Wear it or carry it on the plane. Once boarded stuff it in the overhead with you small carryon.
Method: To roll or not to roll. To compress or not to compress. To fold or ……,. experiment and figure out what works best for you, not only as you pack, but as you unpack and start looking for that favorite concert t-shirt.
Passports: Make a copy of your passport and stick its in each of your bags. While you’re at it take a picture of your passport on your SmartPhone and retain it. Never know when you might need that.
Paper: If you’re packing maps, paper itineraries or paper anything (including books), DON’T! They’re heavy. If you can, use your phone or tablet to photocopy or access important documents, including Rx labels, and your eBooks. I understand some folks love to turn pages and I get that.
International Data: Call your cellular carrier and let them know you’ll be traveling. If you plan to use your device while you’re gone especially for data (gps, internet remote of wifi, checking in at the cool statue you discovered, etc.) you’re going to want to buy an international data plan. Each provider has several options so call them to discuss. They may sound a little pricey, but they beat a $2K phone bill in your mailbox awaiting your return.
Where I go heavy besides my camera gear: Electronic stuff. I can’t help it. I have the phone, the iPad, the Bose nice cancelling headphones (which BTW completely drown out the engine and screaming babies noise). I also have international power adapters (two) with you AC and USB plug ins, Mophie backup power, and spare camera batteries, and a 600 lumens flashlight used for both emergencies and throwing some artificial light at night scenes with slow shutter speeds.
I think that’s all for now. I just need to find my compression socks. More on that later.