Now that I’ve upgraded from P&S to DSLR with multiple lenses and tripod, packing camera gear takes more thought than it used to, like throwing it in my purse or pocket.
What gear should go
For a long international journey it’s important to think about how much bulk and weight you want to carry. While at the same time you know there will be many outstanding photo opportunities not to be missed. Give a thought to what kind of photos you like to take—landscapes, architecture, wildlife, flowers or people—to decide what camera or lenses would be best. I’m pretty much a landscape photographer with as much wildlife thrown in as I can focus on yet also like to take macros of flowers and bugs.
Too much or not enough. So far the Nikon list includes the 18-200mm and 55-300mm lenses, digital remote and three camera batteries with charger, plastic bags, cleaning cloths, a 4GB, 8GB and 2-16GB SD memory cards that will fit in all three cameras. Yes I’m also taking the waterproof P&S and the Fuji for backup. I’m packing some extra AA Lithium batteries for the Fuji because I had a hard time finding them last time I was in South Africa, and their batteries can be slightly off-size from those in the US. Don’t ask me why. I’m thinking about not taking the tripod because I don’t use it that much, but if I leave it behind know I’ll want it.
Then there’s all the cords. What a snaky mess that can be. But I rubber band them and color-code with tape as needed. Nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out which cord goes to what. And don’t forget chargers for all the techi-toys plus if traveling internationally think about backups that could be difficult-impossible to replace. Also consider that many countries, like South Africa, don’t operate off 110 like the US, so I have a power converter that will go in my checked suitcase.
Wrap and pack
You certainly want to be sure all your gear arrives safely and in tack. Fortunately, and due to my obsession with thrift stores, I found a sweet carry-on case for only $10. And it has wheels and a handle which is good as I’m sure to pack it heavier than I really want hanging off my fragile shoulders. There are many options for camera bags so pick the one that works best for you.
Every piece of gear should be wrapped or in a protective cover, camera body separate from lenses. Use that extra T-shirt or pair of socks you thought to put in your carry-on just in case your checked bag gets lost. Or think bubble-wrap to pop in celebration that all parts survived the journey. Leave no space for jiggles that allow banging things together. Tape lens caps on for added protection. You don’t want to spend time replacing photography gear rather than using it.
Except for the tripod, all the camera gear fits neatly and padded in one divided compartment. Plus my netbook easily slips in another compartment. The waterproof P&S fits in the carry-on and the Fuji will be in my shoulder bag.
Keep it with you, keep it safe
NEVER put your camera in your check-on bag. Do you trust a stranger to be careful with your gear? What if your luggage is lost? If the carry-on is over weight, take out the camera body and possibly a lens and put it around your neck to be returned to the carry-on when able. If you bring one, depending on size, the tripod may have to go into your checked bag.
Plus just in case any of your gear is lost or stolen have all model and serial numbers stored in at least three places, one of them back home with a friend. You might even think about insuring expensive personal belongings.
Storing all those precious photos depends on how long you’ll be traveling. Memory cards are small so take plenty of them, more than you think you’ll need. If you’re carrying a laptop dump your photos onto it daily and think about a back-up external drive as well. You could even burn CDs. If your gear is stolen, memory cards and CDs stored separately could save your photo memories.
Looks like I’ve got all the photography gear needed for my trip to South Africa and a safe way to pack. I could dream for an even bigger lens, but then how would I carry it.
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