Don’t miss my latest guest post in the Luminary Corner over at Skip Cohen University for some tips on using your camera’s Wi-Fi on the road.
Part one of my series of travel tips for photographers was all about camera equipment. This post is about the essential items in my camera bag that are not cameras or lenses. This series is about traveling light, but here are a few things that I never leave home without.
- Bring a light, and I mean something you can use to see in the dark. I always have a headlamp and a small flashlight in my camera bag. The headlamp is great for getting your gear together after dark with both hands free. I think I paid $9.99 for two of them at Home Depot. Mine also have a red LED that is nice when you need to see your gear but you don’t want to blast other photographers with bright white light. I also carry a bright flashlight. It is great for more directional light, and you can use it for light painting too!
- Don’t forget your tools. You should be able to carry all of the tools you need in one of the smallest pockets in your bag or backpack. You should have any specific tools you need (like allen wrenches for your tripod plates) along with basics like a small screw driver and pliers. I found a Leatherman tool with pliers, scissors, a screwdriver and a bottle opener that is carry-on approved because it doesn’t have a knife blade. You can also pack a full-size multi tool in your checked luggage.
- A small first aid kit. I have a medium sized first aid kit in my luggage when I go on longer trips, but I also have a tiny one that lives in my camera bag. The one I have is a “Day hiker” model for two people. I learned to carry this in my bag after pinching a chunk out of my finger with my tripod a few years ago. I didn’t even have a band-aid with me, so I ended up cleaning a lot of blood off of my camera when I got home. Fortunately it was freezing cold so I couldn’t really feel it until later 🙂
- Grid It! I don’t remember where I first saw the Grid-it organizers. They are basically boards with an assortment of straps on one side you can use to hold everything from cords to hard drives. They come in various sizes, and I have one that fits into the front pocket of all of the bags I use most often. I keep my battery chargers, computer cord and external hard drive on one. That way I can remove all of those things at once and keep them in the hotel (or the safe in the hotel) when I go out shooting. They are very cheap and I think you will find them an excellent addition to your travel kit.
- Wear a hat. OK, this probably isn’t something you will keep in your camera bag, but I consider it a necessity for photographers working outside. A baseball cap is fine, but it won’t keep the sun off of your ears and your neck. I have a Tilley Airflow hat that I have worn for several years. It is cool and comfortable, and I can cram it into a suitcase with no adverse effects. A hat also comes in handy to keep the sun off of the front element of your lens in bright conditions.
That pretty much covers my essential gear. There are other items in my camera bag like optical filters and microphones that may rotate in and out of the bag depending on what I’m shooting. Next time I’ll be going over some basic travel tips that aren’t exclusive to photographers.