When I began to travel with my camera gear, I must admit that I had way too much stuff, and it often came down to whether or not I would need it. When I think about what I needed and didn’t need, I usually ended up having gear that I never even touched throughout the trip, making it pointless to have with me. However, the most important thing that I did was find the bag that I wanted and started to build around that.
Find The Right bag
This will be your preference and depends on how you are traveling to your destination. If you are traveling by car, then you have the freedom to take a bigger bag or take more bags just to have because you don’t have to worry about them taking up unwanted space. What I did when I flew was to find a bag that I wanted to travel with. I found something that was low profile and would carry enough of my gear, so I wasn’t regretting taking something. However, building around a bag that you like is an excellent place to start because it will help you find out what is most important to you.
Think Of The Foot Print
When you are packing something, you have to think of the footprint that it represents in your bag. If you have something with a big footprint, will you have to lose something that may serve the same purpose and take up less room? For example, if you are thinking about taking a tripod, that is great, and I always suggest that you do, but is that tripod taking up too big of a footprint and can you get away with using something that is smaller. By using a smaller tripod, you may be able to fit more into your bag that will make the difference when you shoot. So think about the footprint that it takes up.
Ask Yourself If You Need It
This should be something that you do with all your gear when you travel because you may not need something as much as you think. When I pack my gear, I lay everything out that I want to take on my bed, and then I start filling my bag. When I fill my bag this way, I find that I am reaching for the most essential items first and leaving out the ones that I am not too sure about. When space is an issue, you want to make sure that you have what you need but not taking something that may serve a unique purpose that might not make it out of your bag. However, doing it this way has helped me reach for the items that I use more often than not, and I’m not out there questioning my decision.
I know we may think we are organized, but have you ever thought about putting bags within bags to get the most out of your space. When you purchase little bags and start filling those bags, we can find that be a bit more organized can help us see that room that we didn’t know we had. I know I debate taking my prime lenses when I travel because they are not as versatile, but I really like having them with me. Well, organizing everything has allowed me to sneak those in my bag and not worry about having them with me because I was able to make that space by taking a little time elsewhere.
Look For Alternative Gear
This is one that I have to say has helped me immensely because it has made my travel bags weight lighter and given me more space to add in more essential gear. For example, I used to take my big laptop every time I travel, and although I love having it and its functionality, I must admit that I have moved to an iPad for shorter trips. The reason why I have is that I can do quick edits on the fly with an adapter, and it gives me a light and compact alternative to my laptop. The other great thing is when I load those photos into Lightroom, they sync to all my devices, so I have those images on my computer once I get home.
This is how I travel with my photography gear, and it has helped me cut down my gear to the essentials. I know that when I started building around gear that makes sense for more than one purpose, it has helped relieve some of the clutter and made for a more calming experience. When you start validating why you are taking gear then you stop asking the questions on why did I bring that. Don’t be afraid to take your favorite piece of glass because it gives you images that you love but start prioritizing, and you find that you are traveling lighter and smarter.