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Double Up–Packing Extras When You Travel

Seeing double? I see double every time I pack for a trip. Like two remote shutter releases, two tripod plates, and the list continues, including two cameras or camera bodies. Sometimes I also see triple, quadruple, and beyond.

It has never failed. Just when everything is going great I seem to misplace or lose something when I am out shooting for the day, away from my hotel room. Or my equipment stops working or breaks. Now I try to second guess my future travails, and plan head with multiples. I recommend the same for any traveling photographer. There is nothing more frustrating than spending a fair sum of money on a photography holiday, only to have the photography part of the holiday cut short.

I always suggest taking a second camera or camera body on a trip, unless you want to rely on your cell phone for your second camera. If you upgrade your camera body consider keeping the older body as your backup. Or you can rent a camera body or buy a used one. When I couldn’t afford a second camera body, I brought along my point and shoot camera.

If you carry a second camera body, you can shoot with two cameras and two different lenses, eliminating the need to change lenses as often. Changing lenses opens the door to more dust and other debris floating onto your camera sensor, which is never a good thing.

You always hear someone in the crowd say, “bring an extra battery”. I take it to an extreme. I carry seven batteries when I travel. Two are in my cameras. That leaves five for the day. If I am shooting in burst mode, or bracketing, or if I am checking images and deleting, my batteries die really quickly. If I am using two cameras, even quicker. (I usually only carry two or three batteries at a time.)

Recharging so many batteries at the same time means I need more chargers. I take three chargers on a trip. I have bought compact ones, from Amazon, that take a lot less room in my bag than the chargers that came with the cameras. I make it a habit, whenever I return to my room during the day while traveling, to recharge my used up batteries. That way, I can keep up with the recharging, plus have batteries available if I am running low and plan to do some night photography after shooting all day.

Don’t forget extra batteries for your flash. I use rechargeable batteries, so I don’t need to take as many batteries with me. Yes, I bring two chargers for the batteries.

And then there are the other items I have misplaced or that have fallen out of my bag. Shutter release cords, tripod plates, lens caps (for both sides of the lens), camera caps (once in a while I need to transport my camera with no lens), and rain covers. I have doubled up on all, or have an alternative solution. For example, depending on the length of my lens I find that a shower cap makes a good rain cover.

I also double up on external hard drives, to back up my images. I use SSD external drives. They are small and light, with no moving parts. After reading Levi Sim’s post on the Drobo Mini, I might check the Drobo Mini out as an alternative. The key is to be sure you always have redundant back-up.

Typically I carry two camera supports. I usually pack a tripod (compact one if I don’t think I’ll need the big one) plus another support that takes little room, like a Platypod. I had problems with wobbly tripod legs during a trip last year that required a special tool which I didn’t have, to tighten the legs. I had to rely on my extra support. Now, of course, I bring the special tool. My second support usually complements my first support. For example, a Platypod allows me to shoot closer to the ground than my tripod plus I can carry it all day when a tripod might be rather cumbersome.

Rather than having to suffer through a “lesson learned”, my recommendation is to think double, and beyond, as you pack your suitcase, and consider what extras you should be bringing along. Unfortunately your luggage will get heavier, but better heavier luggage than a heavy heart due to images lost because of equipment failure.

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