Packing Tips

The series of travel photography articles is back after a small hiatus. This time we are looking at tips on what and how to pack your gear.

I will say one thing that is very important; don’t trust baggage handlers. I’ve seen occassions where I book onto a flight ‘special baggage’ that is either heavy or fragile still be handled like it was a football when it comes off the plane when you land. The only difference is I think they send it on a different conveyor belt with a fancy sticker that no one can see.

Unfortunately that doesn’t leave much choice but to bring you gear in the cabin with you as carry on, or invest in some expensive Pelican cases like the military does. Really if you are taking enough gear that won’t fit in a carry on bag, you are a pro and don’t really need to be reading this.

First things first you have to plan what gear to take, as like me and many others, you collect gear faster than you collect DVDs. In another post I’ll talk about what gear is essential on a holiday without ticking off the spouse too much. If you are going on a holiday that has many scenic views and you plan to do a few sunrise and or sunset shoots, I will suggest taking a tripod.

If you Google “what travel tripod should I take?” you get 301,000 results as this is a question that bothers many. I won’t go into details here as I will talk about that in the ‘What gear to take” article. This tripod either has to go in the cabin or down below, so size does matter. I took one that is a little too long to qualify as carry on so it had to travel with the rest of my luggage down below. I had a suitcase that was long enough to fit the tripod in its own carry bag and then I could pack other items around it.

Next thing to consider, and I highly recommend it, especially if you have a bit of kit to take on your trip, is to use two camera bags. Yes two. The reason is simple; one large one to take as your carry on bag containing all your gear and a smaller shoulder pack to take on small excursions on your trip. This system works well, if you have a hotel or a car as a base and you can leave bits and pieces back at the room and with many hotels featuring room safes, this is definitely possible.

I would suggest taking a carry all back pack like this one from which can handle up to two camera bodies, many lenses, your battery chargers and even a laptop.

A smaller day pack is a godsend compared to carrying 20 odd pounds of equipment on your back walking for miles (and you do a lot of walking on a holiday believe me). This is good when walking around a city or when you need to walk a long way. Sizes can vary from a holster that will just carry a SLR with one lens mounted or a shoulder bag big enough to carry a couple of lenses, a set of filters, spare batteries and memory cards.

Many bag manufactures make a great choice of bags that fit in this category, but a personal favourite of mine is the Crumpler range of products from because they are inconspicuous looking, are well made and flexible.

With many of us living a very electronic existance, this will result in us having many cords, chargers and USB adapters. I found the perfect solution to store, carry and organising these items at a K-Mart department store. It was simply a bathroom toiletry bag with a zippered compartment for the large items like chargers and wall socket adapters and numerous loops and pockets to store cables. This is the item pictured below.

Next time I’ll talk about what gear to take and what not to take.

Have a great week.

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