As travel photographers, we know how painful it is to cross continents while lugging tens of kilos of gear. The fear of exceeding our baggage allowance again and back muscles that scream for a massage ASAP having basically become a way of life, and yet, all the pain and anguish goes away the minute we’ve captured the shot that makes it all worth it. For most people, traveling means bringing as little as possible, but in our line of work, there really are some things we just can’t leave at home. Here are the top 5 things we always have in our packs that are 100% worth sacrificing the extra souvenirs for.
Silvered Windshield Screen
This might come across as a weird object to pack, but if your trip a) includes lots of driving and b) involves photography where you might need a reflector, this is a lifesaver. For starters, it protects the interior of your car from turning into an oven (helpful for those times you accidentally leave your gear in the car) and two, it doubles as a pretty decent make-shift reflector. If you have it on your person, it also works as a cover for you and your precious gear in the event of a sudden downpour. If you don’t feel like bringing one from home, you can always easily find them at petrol or gas stations in your destination country.
A proper poncho or travel jacket
Speaking of downpours, nothing is more heart-attack inducing than being caught in a downpour while shooting the great outdoors… without any shelter for miles. Here at Unusual Expedition, our travels often find us in different landscapes, from smack in the middle of African plains to the frigid, sparse terrain of Antarctica. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it is to always be prepared for the unexpected, which means we always have a poncho stashed somewhere about our person. These days, you can really durable ones that fold up to the size of your phone, making it easy to slip into your pants or jacket pocket. Trust us, you’ll be grateful you have one when it suddenly decides to snow or storm! If you’re looking for something a bit more solid, travel jackets are a good bet too, as many are waterproof and the added bulk allows them to double as a pillow in a pinch.
All that gear you’ve so delicately dragged along needs to be juiced up every night – but most hotels usually only provide a measly 1 or 2 outlets that is barely enough for just your phone and laptop. This surge protector allows you to make the most of a single outlet, equipped with 3 plugs and 2 USB outlets, while protecting your batteries and cords from unexpected power surges or outages.
A Gorillapod Tripod
This baby is so light and compact, it’s practically a no-brainer. We love our carbon-fibre tripods, but they can be a real pain to carry and set up, even if the manufacturer promises otherwise! The Gorillapod allows you to set up your camera or smartphone at the weirdest angles and on irregular surfaces, which is more than we can say for tripods! Think scenarios where you’re shooting a cliffside sunset time-lapse, or you have to perch your camera on a tree to capture wildlife – this tripod takes away the agony of you having to contort your body into weird positions and having to stay that way for hours.
A rugged hard drive
Unless you have a cloud account with enough storage space for all those RAW files, or you’re especially confident nothing will happen to your camera or SD card, we highly recommend ensuring you have a rugged hard drive that stands up to drop and shock tests about your person. A photographer is always prepared, before, during and after the shoot; we cannot emphasise the importance of backing up your work enough! After all, you’ve travelled hundreds (possibly thousands) of miles and spent enough hours being crammed into economy – you don’t want to go home without anything to show for all that, do you?