What started out as a quick 36-hour trip to Pittsburgh turned into a full-scale video production to help out a friend of mine with a shoot. Luckily for me I was traveling as a one-man band and because Im flexible, I was able to gain a new client.

Originally I was headed to pick up a production van for one of my main clients when I saw a Facebook post looking for somebody to shoot a testimonial video of a lawyer. At first, the idea was to just take a backpack to Pittsburgh and drive the vehicle back to Connecticut, but then things got a little more complicated. With just about 24 hours to prepare, I had to come up with a lightweight gear kit to fly with. My backpack soon turned into three bags full of gear for the shoot.

Packing light was essential and because I was flying, I had to be ready to shoot when I landed. Lets take a look at what was in each bag. (Note: I couldn’t put images of each product, but some have links to Amazon where you can learn more about them)

Backpack – ThinkTank Shape Shifter

  • MacBook Pro 15
  • iPad Air 2
  • G-Tech 1TB EVO ATC Thunderbolt Hard Drive (I love traveling with these drives for backups)
  • Nikon D7000, with 24-120mm lens
  • ThinkTank Memory Card Wallet
  • Joby Flexible Tripod (its small, light and fits inside my backpack)
  • Bose QC25 Headphones (essential road warrior headphones)
  • Zoom H4n (my audio recorder for the video interviews)
  • Sennheiser Wireless Lav Mic (to mic up the lawyer for the interview)
  • Anker USB Power Pack (to keep my phone charged on the go)
  • 2 Platypod Pro plates (for use as backup tripods)
  • 4 Nikon Batteries
  • Extra AA batteries
  • Assorted cables

I was flying from Hartford, CT to Detroit and there was a chance that my ThinkTank Roller wouldn’t be allowed on the smaller jet from Detroit to Pittsburgh. So I planned ahead and had the bare-bones for the shoot on my back the entire trip. Even though the bag is rated for smaller planes and it did actually fit, sometimes the airline won’t allow ANY roller bags on-board.

Carry-On Bag – ThinkTank Airport International v2.0 Roller Bag

  • Another Nikon D7000 body (it was planned to be a 2-camera shoot)
  • Nikon 35mm f1.8 lens
  • Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens
  • Nikon 80-400mm lens
  • LED Battery On-Camera light
  • XLR Cables
  • Extra hard drives
  • Battery Chargers
  • Extra Batteries
  • Powerex Rechargeable Batteries (my favorite rechargeable batteries…check out this post)
  • AC Adapters for Zoom and D7000 cameras
  • Misc. cables

My carry-on roller had the rest of the things I might need on the shoot, like extra lenses and batteriesnot the essentials that I carried in my backpack, but things still important to the shoot. Lastly, I had a few heavy things in a checked bag:

Checked Bag – Oakley Roller Bag

  • Westcott Flex LED Lights (I love these things and theyre amazing to travel with…even wrote about it)
  • Tripod (this was my full-sized tripod for the main A camera)
  • Lightstands
  • Clothes (an overnight change of clothes)

On another trip earlier this year, I had an issue where the bag would clearly fit, but the airlines policy was not to allow any bag with wheels on board the plane. The flight attendants told me, I persisted that this bag contained breakable glass and couldn’t be checked. Then the pilot came out and told me. And the gate attendant was ready to reschedule me on another flight unless I would gate-check the bag.

For this trip, I was able to plan ahead and separate my gear into an essentials pack just in case my gear got separated when changing planes. I really do love to travel, and with the right plan you can ensure your gear gets there at the same time you do. Happy travels!