James Gaston: Thanks for sharing, Steve. I like reading about how others travel with gear. When I travel I want to take my good photo gear, because that for me is the highlight of my photographic year. I especially like hiking, and even on multi-day treks you'll find me with a d300, a spare body, a 10.5, 12-24, 17-55, 70-300, and maybe a micro, too, not to mention batteries, charger, and various odds and ends. My hiking friends think I'm nuts. But they are always eager to see my shots once I return home.
My hiking friends say the same! They are always happy that I bring two heavy bags into the Tien Shan mountains in Kazakhstan, but they don't offer to help carry them! haha
I guess it all depends on whether you want to carry all the extra stuff around. I'm currently in Kazakhstan. I brought my laptop with me- it wasn't included in the hand-luggage weight limit- and couldn't do without it. 3 weddings, and a million landscape shots made sure of that.
SDXC cards don't weigh much, don't cost much, so don't need an external hard drive either.
I think it's better to take the laptop and limit the amount of other stuff, if you're worried about weight