Checklists are lifesavers. Checking a list can make sure you don’t arrive in Belize with a perfectly good camera and tripod — but no tripod quick release plate.
The 24Moves Photography Travel Packing List
About once a year, I update my photography checklist just before taking a photography trip. This year, I added a few additional checklist boxes to help make sure I remember some important details. For example:
- CLEAN – a reminder to wipe memory cards and clean lenses
- TEST – to make sure I’m not packing any heavy gear that is impossible to use
- FULL BATTERY – its important to pack batteries, but charging them is pretty key too
- CHARGER – once the battery is charged, pack the charger
- BAGGAGE – a reminder of which items I can “check” and which I should “carry on”.
It’s not just a checklist!
The checklist also has room for your equipment serial numbers. Once you are all packed and ready to go, you can include the checklist with your important documents. If anything is lost or stolen, you have a ready-made inventory — including identifying digits — to provide authorities and/or your insurance company! You won’t have to wait until you get home to find serial numbers before calling to file a police report.
Bonus! It’s free!
Just like every year, I’m happy to make my check list available for friends, family and HoustonPhotowalks.com Members — anyone that can use it! So print it out and get to cleaning, charging and packing!
If you find this useful, post a comment to say hello and let me know!!
Depending on the location you visit, you may need some additional items not listed. Or you may need some hints on which products to purchase. Here are some suggested items from our friendly shopping experience called Amazon!
Wipe-on Bug Repellant
Depending on where you go, and what time of year, you may need bug repellant. PLEASE USE WIPE ON APPLICATIONS. When you are around other photographers, or have your gear nearby, the worst thing you can do is start spraying bug spray which will land on people’s lenses. Its really tough to get OFF! spray from lenses. Don’t be that guy/gal!
I never leave home without Deep Woods Off Deep Woods Insect Repellent Wipes 12-Towelettes (Pack of 3).
Not all water bottles are made the same. Make sure your water bottle is rugged, and can stand up to your hiking pace. Your trip will be a disaster if you bump your bottle against a rock face, or sit your backpack down a little too hard, causing it to spring a leak and flood everything in your backpack. In fact, water bottles should really be attached OUTSIDE of your backpack.
I prefer water bottles with built-in straws that flip up, so I don’t have to use two hands to close the bottle up after a drink.
Never underestimate the utility of throwing a few ziplocs in your bag. Gallon size bags are great for keeping things organized and dry. When I’m shooting in the rain or on the beach, I use ziploc sandwich bags over my flashes, and hold them in place with velcro tie straps.
Camera Rain Covers
Rain covers aren’t just for rain. Shooting near splashing water, blowing sand, or heavy dust can create serious issues for your gear, even if your body and lenses are weather sealed. The good news is, there are a LOT of options for protective camera covers. I’ve used several different brands and configurations, and finally settled on the inexpensive one-time-use rains sleeves.
The more permanent rain covers have several disadvantages:
- They stay wet (inside and out!). When the rain stops and you want to finish hiking, you have to figure out how to safely store them so they don’t stay wet. Stuffing them in the camera bag is not a good idea.
- With one-time-use covers, I just seal it up in a ziploc bag so nothing in my camera bag gets wet, then toss it when I walk past the next trash can.
- Condensation INSIDE the cover transferred from your hands onto your equipment.
- They can be heavier and bulky, adding more weight and stuffing in your backpack.
- They get HOT, between humidity, rain and hands sweat, I might as well dunk my camera.
When I first started shooting in the rain several years ago, camera rain gear could be really expensive. Now you can get a decent camera cover for $15-30. Or the disposable camera covers that I use come in packs of 2 or 4, and are usually about 3 bucks each.
My current brand of choice is OP/TECH USA, they have sleeves for both short and long lenses, and sleeves to accommodate an attached flash.
Multi-Color Duct Tape
People who travel with me on photography workshops make fun of my love for bright pink duct tape — until they see how easy it is for me to find my luggage on the airport carousel. That big pink “X” on the side of my luggage makes my bags hard to miss.
When you’re on a trip, you can’t always run to the store if something breaks, tears or springs a leak. Duct Tape can be a life-saver, and just as necessary on a trip as anti-diarrheal. It can be a temporary patch on rain gear, hold a ripped camera bag together, secure a tripod with a broken leg, and secure your pants legs tightly closed on your rain pants.
You are unlikely to need the entire roll. I wrap about 3 feet of duct tape around a pencil and toss it in my bag next to my pencil with 3 feet of 1″ gaffers tape.
Why do I have both? Gaffer’s tape is great for situations when you want something to stay put, but don’t want to leave residue when you remove the tape. The problem with gaffer’s tape is the price, it can be expensive if all you need to do is hold your reading glasses together after sitting on them at the airport.
Below are current prices for rolls of Duct tape compared to mini-rolls of gaffer’s. As of this writing, you can get 9 rolls of colored duct tape for the same cost as one role of gaffers.
If you’re going to be in a wet situation, invest in some microfiber towels. Steve over at PhotoFly Travel Club turned me on to these one time when I got unexpectedly drenched on a beach in Hawaii.
These towels are very compact but suck up a bunch of water. I have a set, one large enough to dry me, one to dry my gear, and a small one for my pocket to dry my face and hands. This is another product that used to be pretty pricey, but now are very reasonable for any traveler.
My current preferred brand is Sunland, its among the better quality at a good price on Amazon.
Travel Power Strip/Adapter
Hotels and B&Bs rarely have enough plugs for everything you need to bring along. You can get a decent power strip at Target for under $5. Unfortunately, when you add the word “travel”, the price jumps. “Oh, you can afford to travel? Then you can afford to pay more for a power strip.” Ugh.
Normally I wouldn’t fall for it, but I’m the proud and happy owner of the MOGICS BAGEL, a small donut-shaped power provider that includes multiple sockets, USB charging ports and international adapters. But if you don’t need international plugs, and you don’t mind the size of a power strip, a 3 or 5-plug strip will keep you from having to swap plugs in a hotel room with only one outlet.
Packets of Instant Coffee – Starbucks Via
Let’s be honest. “Free” hotel coffee tastes like, well, free coffee. Some folks can withstand “made-for-300-people” coffee, made in a massive urn that hasn’t been cleaned since last century.
Have you ever poured a cup of hotel coffee and wondered why it had bubbles? Hotel employees wash out the carafe with dish soap and don’t rinse it out well enough. Yeah, you’re drinking hot soap.
Instead of morning torture, pour off a cup of hot water and DIY yourself some coffee from a pouch. Believe it or not, Starbucks Via coffee is really good. I pack enough pouches into a ziploc bag and I’m good to go for the entire trip.
Starbucks Via can be about $1.20 per cup, but if you are getting out of bed at 4am to shoot the sunrise and the hotel coffee has been sitting on the burner since the previous night, it’s worth it.
Travel Packing Cubes
Next on my travel list are my packing cubes. These zipper-pouch bags help keep things organized and separated. The larger ones are big enough for jeans and shirts, the smaller ones hold several pairs of socks and underwear. I fill them up and toss them in my luggage.
When I arrive to my hotel or AirB&B location, each bag can go in a dresser drawer or hang on a hanger. No more digging around in a duffle bag for that last pair of clean socks.
There are several companies that make packing cubes, but Shacke Pak make a reliable line and has great reviews on Amazon. After getting my first set for Christmas one year, I’m totally hooked.
Joe Lippeatt is a User Experience Engineer, Front End Specialist and Application Developer for 24Moves Consulting. He is also the organizer of HoustonPhotowalks.com Photography Club. When not working, he’s enjoying planning photography trips and helping his wife and son work in their gardens.