I’m staring at three duffels lining the wall in my room, joined by a pack of Pelican cases and various smaller packs. One duffel for each trip, assorted gear going different directions. It’s fun, and there’s always an anticipation before a trip that’s unexpectedly addictive.
Getting ready to head to the Denver Fly Fishing Show (January 8-10) and then to Somerset, NJ, at the end of the month (January 29-31). I’ll be with AFFTA at both shows, and look forward to catching up with old friends, making new, and getting some business done. If you’re at either show, please stop by and say hi!
In the middle — and the trip taking most of my attention right now — I’m heading down to Cuba on assignment for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures. I’ve got a three-day bracket on either end of the trip and the trade shows, so packing right now is imperative. (And somehow I don’t think I’ll be needing flats clothing in Denver.) This is going to be a diverse, multi-location trip, so stay tuned for stories and images coming your way at the end of the month.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled a bit with camera gear, and by this point I have dreams of ticking off my mental checklist, making sure everything is there. Spare desiccants for the underwater housing? Secondary cords in case one decides to give up the ghost (it happens)? Visas and travel documentation, including press accreditation? The master packing list flexes a bit each time — Russia will require different gear than Belize — but the heart of it stays the same.
Here are five things that are always in the kit.
- Cameras / lenses. This may seem obvious. And it is. But the key here is this equipment never leaves my side. I’ve slept on my camera bag overnighting in the Moscow airport, and curled up with it last year in a corner in Washington Reagan. Typically for a larger international assignment I’m traveling with two Pelican cases, a duffel bag, and a shoulder bag. The shoulder bag is key for smaller planes (or helicopters, buses, etc.) where I can’t keep the Pelican with me. Cameras, hard drives, and the computer go into the bag and stay with me. No matter what.
- Travel towels. These stay in the Pelican case with the underwater housing; if I’m in the water with the housing and then want to get up and shoot the non-housing camera, it’s not going to be good if my hands are slick and dripping, especially if it’s saltwater. I keep two towels in the case; one for hands and one for emergencies. It it’s exceptionally bright and I’m shooting in saltwater, I like to soak a towel and keep the housing covered with it when not in use until I can rinse the equipment with fresh water. Dried saltwater does not equal a clear housing lens. Or happy equipment. At the end of the day, I typically hop in the shower with the housing and my clothes still on, rinsing the salt out of both.
- Voke Tabs. If you don’t know about Voke tabs, you need to. Guarana berry, green tea leaf, and acerola cherry combine in a little chewable tablet that offers a dose of caffeine and vitamin C. They’re made right here in Montana — a photo assistant introduced them to me on a shoot last year — and provide a much-needed boost during a weeklong shoot when I’m averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night. In short, one of my new favorite pieces of gear.
- Crystallized ginger. We’re often eating weird food on the road. I’ve eaten stuff I’d rather not remember, and other things that I’m still not sure what they were but, hey, tasted good at the time. But travel can knock us off our equilibrium, whether due to food, exhaustion, a bug, or a particularly rough day on the water. I always carry around a bag of crystallized ginger lumps; they’re good to have on hand when nausea hits. I shared a few with kids last year in the South Pacific and they thought they were the grandest thing ever.
- Notebook. Again, obvious. But whether I’m stranded in an airport sans internet and need to write down trip details, need to draw a map for someone, or have to draw a picture to help with translation (again, it happens), a notebook is crucial. More often than not I’m both photographing and writing a story, so recording names (and their correct spelling), places, and events is important. Moleskin makes some good ones, and I’ve recently become partial to Rite in the Rain products as well.
What’s something you’ll never leave home without?
Look forward to seeing many of you at the trade shows this January!