I prefer to travel as light as possible. Being a photographer, this is an oxymoron! With a little planning and preparation along with a lot of trial and error I have a couple tips on lightning your bags.
You can never research enough your destination! Knowing what you need to bring as compared to what you want to bring can make or break your back carrying it all!
Take It In
Sometimes it’s ok to put the camera down or even leave it behind and saturate yourself into the experience. (My wife reminds me of this one!)
When I am traveling for pleasure I take only two lenses and a body. A wide zoom and a Telephoto zoom. Most common for me is my Canon 1DX camera body, Canon 16-35mm 2.8 II, and Canon 70-200mm IS 2.8. I leave the lens hoods at home.
When traveling on assignment this usually triples: 3 bodies, 5-10 lenses, and underwater housing and gear.
A lot of travelers prefer bringing their own water bottle to fill up. I prefer to use a disposable one for a few reasons. First of all a few countries will not let you carry an empty bottle on planes—there goes your fancy new water bottle, confiscated forever. When your water is all gone, or you can’t carry any, that big, heavy water bottle will be more cumbersome than it’s worth. If you do prefer to use your own bottle, get a collapsible one.
Instant oatmeal is a universal food and great way to recharge. You can keep it in a zip lock bag, add a little water, and voila—insta-meal. As an added bonus, it’s actually not half bad cold. And of course, Clif bars are always a good go-to for a quick bite.
One thought should sum this one up: pack less than you think you need. It’s normally easier to wash your clothes on the trip than it is to pack bags of extras. On the way to your destination, especially via plane, try to wear the heaviest clothing, and bundle up a bit. It saves on your bag weight and size, albeit at the expense of a bit of sweating at times.
If you get into a bind in a foreign country, nothing will make you more frustrated than losing your forms of identification. Take pictures of your passport and drivers license and email it to yourself. That way you can print a copy anywhere in the world, and get yourself back on track without a ton of freaking out. An even better extra step of protection is cable bag protectors.
For photographers, the Venturesafe is another option. Not only does it provide instant access to my gear but also it’s not out of site on my back. But above all, be street smart! Don’t get too caught up in sightseeing or photographing that you ignore potential threats or hiccups right around you.
Other Tips from a Seasoned Traveller
Always bring a universal power adapter, that way you can plug in your electronics wherever you are in the world. If flying, be sure to put a multitool in your checked bag—you never know when you’ll need one. If sleep doesn’t occur on a regular basis during your travels, an inflatable neck pillow will be your best friend.
For photographers, invest in a super light carbon tripod. It’s amazing how much weight you can drop by replacing your old tripod with one of these. Plus, if you don’t need a full sized one, bring a small tabletop tripod!