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Things Happen/Evolution of Travel Kit
Old 11-12-2015   #1
ktmrider
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Things Happen/Evolution of Travel Kit

Well, I have started numerous threads on RFF over the last couple years involving what to take, requests for information on destinations, and just a few general travel photography discussions. I thought I would post my current thinking on travel.

I attempted to go around the world leaving CONUS at the end of September. I made it to Hawaii and the Philippines. I was in the Philippines for three weeks and did not take one photo due to a large typhoon, a rib cracked or bruised by a local masseuse, and catching what I hope is a local variety of influenza. I came back to the US ten days ago to try and figure out why I have caught some type of cough from each of my last four or five trips.

I have a trip scheduled with my daughter to Hong Kong and Taiwan for the first two weeks of the new year. I hope to extend after she returns to school to Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, and perhaps New Zealand. We shall see (assuming I figure out what is going on with my respiratory system).

On the latest trip, I packed an M9 with 35f2.8 C Biogon and 90f2.8 TeleElmarit M and a waterproof point and shoot. Well, the point and shoot got lost before I left Hawaii and I did not really miss it. However, I did miss a film camera (probably just psychological since the M9 will do everything a film Leica will do but why own two superb M2's without taking one).

So, for my next trip I plan on an M9 with the lightweight duo and a new (to me) 50f2.8 Elmar M. I also plan on taking an M2 with TriX. After all the travel I have done over the past couple years, I have realized that I do not use super wide lenses (15 and 21), I still like film but digital allows certain things film does not.

I pack too much. So, I will only be taking a carry on and if I do not have it with me, well even in a poor country like the Philippines stuff can be purchased. Nor will I be taking a laptop but a tablet and finally I think I need to add a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones to the kit.

So, those are a few of my lessons learned and it would be great to hear from others on the forum about lessons learned for travel involving photography or just general travel.

And I would love any information on Taiwan (asked already on another thread), Hong Kong and Vietnam. Thanks!!!
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Old 11-12-2015   #2
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Your packing sounds sane, but it's honestly a case of continuous refinement and improvement with each trip. Not to mention you'll always meet someone traveling for longer with less stuff than you. With just a carry on and no laptop you'll see how fast you'll go through security at the airport !

I'm pretty jealous of your upcoming itinerary, just came back from Asia not long ago and would go back in a second.

Taiwan is a small mountainous island and it looks beautiful from pictures I've seen, lots of old preserved Chinese culture, very different from the mainland. As for Vietnam, a friend's been there, if you like food you'll be served. Lots of mountains and things to see there too, the country has a hugely diverse landscape. Traveling with film was a nightmare because of the humidity, so be careful with electronics too. Another friend's been to Thailand, says it's nice but way too touristy, I'd go for Myanmar (Burma) instead.

Good luck with your illness and looking forward to some pictures
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Old 11-12-2015   #3
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Huge travel plan!

Quote:
and it would be great to hear from others on the forum about lessons learned for travel involving photography or just general travel
If I travel with family I do take small dslr with little prime on it. To take good quality color pictures of family members in visited environment. Plus some not so big film camera for pictures I'm after personally.
If I travel alone and stay alone it is film only. M4-2 with one lens (35mm or wider) and weather sealed PS if it is not safe for Leica. I use 400 BW film, rated as 1200 and three filters for different light conditions to keep aperture and speed around the same. And I use mobile phone to post pictures taken with it to FB instantly.
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Old 11-12-2015   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
So, those are a few of my lessons learned and it would be great to hear from others on the forum about lessons learned for travel involving photography or just general travel.
A few things I've picked up (all personal opinion of course!):
- Travel insurance, and spend the money on insurance where they aren't going to hassle you for every penny.
- With the above in mind (assuming things can be claimed), don't take anything you'd be devastated to lose.
- Avoid redundancy. It's not so much about taking too much, as taking too many things that do the same thing - choice is not a good thing when you're just trying to enjoy a holiday. The kit you've mentioned sounds great (M9, M2 and three primes).
- Travel light. Only taking carry-on is incredibly liberating.
- Noise-cancelling headphones are a godsend for long flights.
- Take photos of your passport and email them to yourself. Then they can be accessed anywhere with wifi and it saves a ton of hassle if you lose your passport.
- Take a timekeeping device that doesn't depend on charging (ie. a watch, not a phone).
- If you're going somewhere poor don't give money to beggars. Most beggars in large cities work (often unwillingly) for professional syndicates, and giving them money does absolutely nothing to alleviate poverty. If you want to help, do some research and find a good local community NGO or charity.
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Old 11-12-2015   #5
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Have to admit that every once in awhile, the thought crosses my mind to replace the M9 with another M2. Film is great but carrying it while traveling (especially if you are trying to get by with just carry on) can get to be too much.

If I shoot RAW and JPEG on a 16gig card with the M9, I get about 350 photos. Am thinking M2 for TriX and M9 for color.
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Old 11-12-2015   #6
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Digital for colour makes sense. My digital is a Fuji X with a wide to short tele zoom that stays on the camera.
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Old 11-12-2015   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickthetasmaniac View Post
- If you're going somewhere poor don't give money to beggars. Most beggars in large cities work (often unwillingly) for professional syndicates, and giving them money does absolutely nothing to alleviate poverty. If you want to help, do some research and find a good local community NGO or charity.
I wonder if this also applies to US cities? I was in Atlanta recently and was hit up a number of times by guys with hard luck stories. I didn't make any donations, but definitely felt bad for at least one of them. Kind of takes some of the fun out of the day, too. Salt Lake City was similar. And LA, though there the guys didn't ask me. They were just sitting around by the train station...
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Old 11-12-2015   #8
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Originally Posted by rscheffler View Post
I wonder if this also applies to US cities? I was in Atlanta recently and was hit up a number of times by guys with hard luck stories. I didn't make any donations, but definitely felt bad for at least one of them. Kind of takes some of the fun out of the day, too. Salt Lake City was similar. And LA, though there the guys didn't ask me. They were just sitting around by the train station...
No idea to be honest. To my knowledge it's mainly an issue in cities with a large international tourist presence.
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Old 11-12-2015   #9
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ktmrider, I think your plan to take the M9 and M2 is very sound. I take film plus digital on trips. You didn't say much about lenses, though. You said, on the last trip you took a 35mm and a 90; and this time you plan to take a 50. I myself would take all that and a 28. I might leave the wider lenses behind, or else toss in a 25mm CV, which hardly takes any room at all. With a little judgement I can even shoot it without an external finder, just "shooting loose" with the M2 finder. It will still all fit in a small bag, or an even smaller bag plus a vest! I don't leave behind anything I know I will wish I had brought!
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Old 12-15-2015   #10
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Well, it is two weeks until I leave for Taiwan and Hong Kong. Meeting my daughter at 10pm New Year's eve in the Taipei Airport. We figure about 9 days in Taiwan and 5 days in Hong Kong. Once she returns to the US, I will continue to Hanoi, perhaps Cambodia, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and then the Philippines returning to the US about March 1.

Packing is complete with a carry on for clothes and a Domke 803 for an M9 and M2, 21/35/50/90 M mount lenses. All the lenses are small with the 35 C Biogon replacing the 35f1.2 Nokton. I think about replacing the M9 with a second M2 but why own a digital M if it does not get used. Will be packing HP5 for the M2 but I may also throw in a couple rolls of Ektar 100.

Am still debating a tablet vs MacBook. Leaning toward MacBook as it allow photo manipulation which my tablet does not. And I do not want to buy another piece of consumer electronics.
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Old 12-15-2015   #11
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I not sure this time of year, with it dark before 6 pm, is right to swap all your fast lenses for lightweight ones.
I like your M9+M2 combo but would have gone with the 35/1.2 and saved weight skipping the 90mm.
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Old 12-15-2015   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
and then the Philippines returning to the US about March 1.
The most recent (or current) scam in the Philippines involves airport security checking passenger bags of outbound passengers, secretly dropping bullets in those bags and extorting the passengers. You can make big deal out of it if it happens to you and call their supervisors, cops, local lawyer, etc... but by then you would already have missed your flight. Some passengers just pay up to save the inconvenience. So take some precaution -- wrap your bag with shrink-wrap, and if they do pick your bag for hand inspection, make sure you call PLENTY of witnesses -- cops, etc... BEFORE they open your bag.
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Old 12-15-2015   #13
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Yes, I just spent 3 weeks (Oct 8-Nov 1) in the Philippines and returned to the US to get a medical condition checked out. Doctors gave me a thumbs up so I am leaving 30 Dec for two more months in Asia. I know about the ammo scam. Carry on should alleviate most of the risk of this happening.

And replacing the 35 C Biogon with the 35f1.2 is a very valid point. I am taking a lot more photo stuff on this trip (extra body and two more lenses and film) that the weight difference is not that much of a factor.

I have also decided that instead of trying to jam everything into a Domke 803 I will take my F2 which I actually bought from Jim Domke back when he made the bags in his basement. It allows me to carry more film more conviently and makes a great bag to work out of.
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Old 12-15-2015   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickthetasmaniac View Post
- Take photos of your passport and email them to yourself. Then they can be accessed anywhere with wifi and it saves a ton of hassle if you lose your passport.
Many good advises from Nick, but I would not suggest any personal identifiable information (PII) to be sent via email, unless you find a way to encrypt it, e.g., zip it with strong encryption. Perhaps, encrypt the image and keep it in a thumb drive store separate from your passport.

I also do carry on only. With digital camera, data backup on the go without a laptop can be challenging. I have started to use a 5 in 1 WiFi File Hub plus multiple 128GB thumb drives as I mentioned in other thread.

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Old 12-15-2015   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kxl View Post
The most recent (or current) scam in the Philippines involves airport security checking passenger bags of outbound passengers, secretly dropping bullets in those bags and extorting the passengers. You can make big deal out of it if it happens to you and call their supervisors, cops, local lawyer, etc... but by then you would already have missed your flight. Some passengers just pay up to save the inconvenience. So take some precaution -- wrap your bag with shrink-wrap, and if they do pick your bag for hand inspection, make sure you call PLENTY of witnesses -- cops, etc... BEFORE they open your bag.
I also read about it. Some good suggestions as well.

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Old 12-15-2015   #16
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Total weight of baggage is less then in October as I checked a bag then. This trip is carry on with basically two sets of clothes. Tropical countries (SE Asia and Philippines) are fairly informal and a pair of shorts can be worn a lot (not to temples) and don't need two sets of shoes.
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Final Gear Selection
Old 12-28-2015   #17
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Final Gear Selection

I leave tomorrow for two months in Asia and have obsessed over the camera stuff for several weeks. I know from past experience that you cannot carry everything (unless travel by car) and honestly less is more.

Two years ago I made a trip to Laos with my new M9 and only carried a 50 Summicron and was happy with it as the purpose of the trip was motorcycling. Last year I spent 90 days in Europe hiking a couple hundred miles in Scotland and Spain. I carried an M9 with 35/90. Both lenses are f2.8 and small.

So, I really wanted to carry two M's but decided it is too much (especially with film). My trip is carry on only. Have decided to carry the M9 with 35f1.2 Norton and 90 f2.8 Tele Elmarit M. Debated long and hard about taking the 35f2.8 C Biogon and 50 Summicron but decided for the same weight to try the faster lens and leave the 50 at home.
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Old 12-28-2015   #18
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some of the travel kit depends on the nature of the travel.
Currently on vacation with 3 digital cameras and a phone

We are on the beach and in the rain forest ( it rains in the rain forest )
The camera that gets the most use is the Olympus TG-2 (underwater - tough...)
The other 2 are way underused - I keep making the same mistake in bringing to much on a family vacation...
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Old 12-28-2015   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperUJ View Post
Many good advises from Nick, but I would not suggest any personal identifiable information (PII) to be sent via email, unless you find a way to encrypt it, e.g., zip it with strong encryption. Perhaps, encrypt the image and keep it in a thumb drive store separate from your passport.
Good advice. Easy way is to make a PDF (e.g. by viewing the photo of your passport, then "Print to PDF"). When you save the PDF, select "Encrypt" and give it a password.

Mail that to yourself, as suggested. Then to view the PDF, one will have to enter the password.
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Old 12-28-2015   #20
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I'm from Manila, Philippines. Very alarming news indeed about the recent airport scam. The airports now have a shrink wrapping station where they can wrap your luggage before you enter the terminal. Also Security has also been tighter given the impact on the local tourism.

Anyway if you would need help going around just send me a PM. I'd be more than happy to take you around the less touristy spots. Sorry to hear about the flu you caught on your last visit.

Safe travels!

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Old 12-28-2015   #21
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I rarely edit when traveling, so a tablet is fine. Have a great trip!
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Old 12-28-2015   #22
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Have a safe trip...
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Old 12-29-2015   #23
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I'm planning on my next trip with only a carry-on. Problem is not which cameras or lenses to take with me, but weight film adds up. For some destinations it's ok to plan on purchasing film on the go (bigger cities with good photo stores that stock on analog goodies). But for others, you pretty much have to carry it along all the time. If you can purchase film, it makes it much easier on your bag and airlines weight allowance Besides you can send shot film back home by post service.

Carrying film is actually one of the reasons why I rarely travel with MF anymore. I love to shoot in MF and I love my cameras. But unless I have a specific photography project underway, I will not go through the trouble of carrying all that bulk just for "fun".

On other note, for me personally, the perfect carry-on bag is a backpack of the maximum dimensions allowed by the strictest airline on the trip. Which can be anything from around 17x13x7" to around 26x18x12". My generally used backpack fits most carry-on dimensions allowed. It's made by Finnish company Savotta (Kevyt Rajapartio backpack). Size is roughly 22x11x8". With a bit of squeeze on tightening it up nicely, I can fit it inside the allowance 21.5" in max dimension, which is quite common these days. That bag can hold all I really can imagine to need on a single trip (including camera or two). With bit of planning of course. And it's sturdy, heavy duty bag, which I think will last me a lifetime of abuse. And due to it's nature as "military" backpack, it's easy to carry for prolonged times. Something similar is highly recommended

Never overpack, but never leave truly needed stuff behind. Like a first aid kit if you're going hiking for example.
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