Backpacking through Asia

Started Apr 7, 2007 | Discussions thread
texanwild1 New Member • Posts: 19
My traveling advice

Here is a little advice from a fellow traveler.

I recently spent 3.5 months traveling around S.E. Asia. This is not my first trip traveling. For the past 5 years I travel about 3 months per year. Traveling with SLR photo gear is difficult as most people on the forum already know. You want to bring all of your gear on every trip. That is why you bought it right? My problem is if I brought everything, then I would not be able to carry other essentials like, clothes! I have about 30lb of photo gear and several different bags to carry things in. In my recent trip to S.E. Asia I had several considerations. Photo storage, power needs, weight, and safety.

I needed a place to store my photos and have them as safe as possible. I bought a Nexto DI (with a 120 GB drive in it). This was as valuable, or more so, than my camera once it started filling up with photos. I kept it in a small Pelican case at all times. The case provided dust and moisture protection as well as a good bit of shock damping. Most places I stayed in had a safe at the front desk, which was where the Nexto was kept. I shoot with a Rebel XT on RAW+JPEG at all times, which is a big memory hog. I would carry around 10 GB worth of CF cards with my camera. This would last me from a few days to a couple of weeks of shooting depending on how active I was. I completely filled my 120 GB Nexto DI over the 3.5 month trip. The longer you travel in a stretch, the more photo storage becomes a major concern.

Power needs are easy to meet. I carry 3 batteries for my Rebel, which works out perfect for my needs. My Nexto DI also has a battery which is good for about 40 GB worth of downloads. This means I can store 50Gb worth of photos (10 GB of CF cards + 40 GB in Nexto) before I need to find power to recharge my batteries. The charger for my Rebel XT and my Nexto DI work on variable voltage and frequency so no power converters were needed.

Weight and safety are huge concerns. If you stay in higher budget accommodations, I guess you could leave your excess photo gear in your hotel room. Only to venture out with what gear you need for that days shoot. I try to travel in more of a modest budget. This means anything I leave in my room has a higher risk of theft. I have not had anything stolen myself, but have heard several first hand stories. This means carrying all my photo gear and other valuables with me at all times. I am not going to lug around 20lbs of gear with me al all times. During my last trip I carried my 10-22 EFS, 70-200 2.8 and an 1.4 teleconvertor. My 70-200 2.8 was carried in its own Lowepro padded "tube". The Rebel XT with attached 10-22 EFS lens was in a small Lowepro bag. This arrangement allowed me to place my camera gear in a normal daypack. Large purpose built camera bags scream "steal me". My compliment of lenses did work out well for photos, but was not ideal. The 70-200 2.8 is my favorite lens, but it is too big and too heavy (2.8 lbs) I also had a large gap in focal length in the 22-70 range. On my next trip I will take a 70-200 4.0 IS and my 50 1.4 instead of my 70-200 2.8 . This will help fill the gap in focal length and have a combined weight of my 70-200 2.8 alone. I agree this is not the idea compliment of lenses, but I believe it is a good compromise between weight and quality glass in highly used focal lengths. Trust me when I say you will "feel" every pound of glass you choose to bring.

This is what works for me when I travel. Extended traveling, in less than modern countries on a budget, presents a lot of challenges. I still carry a small point and shoot for quick and easy shots, but I would not trade my SLR photos for anything. Good luck traveling and getting those perfect shots.

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