Preparing for a round-the-world journey is no easy feat, especially for a Virgo photographer (who tends to overanalyze things and has difficult with making decisions)! Luggage choice and what to pack was quite the challenge for me…but somehow I managed to get things together.
I’ve traveled a lot in the past, but not this extensive; packing for a 10-month journey is not the same as a 10-day holiday. I’ve been traveling for 2.5 weeks thus far (in New Zealand) and am heading to Australia next. While I’ve had non-stop amazing and breathtaking experiences, I wanted to share this post with you before I begin sharing the tales of Travelin’ Tawna. (I know, I know – I am already very behind! But stay tuned, as I have so much to share!). For more information on the luggage products I write about, click on the hyperlinked text below.
Over the span of several months prior to my departure, I had been collecting a variety of items that I thought would end up in my suitcase. Over time, this pile became too large. It wasn’t the clothing that was the problem; it was all the other little things that I thought would make life a little easier if I had them with me.
(Remember, I wasn’t packing for a holiday; I was packing for 10 months of my life that would be spent in foreign countries.) I had to go through several rounds of elimination to finally get to the “necessities.”
In the end, I still have to sit on my 21kg suitcase to zip it shut, and I’m finding that it is a royal pain-in-the-you-know-what having to live out of a suitcase that looks as though it had one too many turkey dinners! (This sure keeps me from buying anything, as I don’t have one square inch of available space!)
What’s In My Bag?
As I mentioned, it isn’t the clothes that is taking up so much space/weight in my suitcase, it’s all the other odds and ends that I thought were important to bring. Perhaps I will change my mind about some of these items, but for now, here is a listing of what made it into my bag (among a few other items)…Note: I won’t be covering what’s in my camera bag (that might be a future post):
- mini luggage scale; curling iron; small headlamp; portable Bluetooth shower speaker (super cool product which has much better sound than my Macbook Pro!); selfie stick (never used before, and will likely not stay with me); tripod and carrying case; reusable/foldable grocery bags; plastic ziplock and garbage bags (to keep things dry and separate); mini umbrella; Italian language book; chargers; 2 adapters; carabineers; laundry delicates bag (I haven’t found this yet, but I know I packed it!); sunglasses; mini flashlight; a few teas and cup-a-soups; maple syrup candies; protein bars; extra luggage tags; toiletries and makeup (this is bulky and fairly heavy- and I only have small containers); medications; cork screw; and one of the most important things….sound the drum roll…..a collapsible emergency wine glass!! (Now I can enjoy picnics and emergency pitstops in style!)
- Clothing: underwear; socks; a couple of dresses and tank tops; 1 t-shirt; skirt (can double as workout shorts); skirt; 2 pants/ capris; PJs; bikini; sarong; leggings; slip; light long-sleeved cotton top for those days when the sun kissed me too much; thin wrap/shrugs; raincoat; thin down coat (sending back home after New Zealand); thin Icebreaker merino wool sweater- a definite must (stay tuned for a post about this); thin merino wool long-sleeved shirt; 2 cotton scarves; few pieces of jewelry; everyday light Merrell hiking shoes; and black Teva close-toed sandals. And that’s just about it…
The Chosen Ones
I did all kinds of research to find the “perfect” luggage for me (suitcase and camera bag). I would be relying and depending upon these bags to safely transport my personal belongings and camera gear while I travel around the world. The primary brand of choice is Pacsafe. This brand incorporates smart anti-theft technology in its products; security features I’ve never seen before in other luggage. In my opinion, this is what makes Pacsafe stand apart from other brands. For an overview and short video on Pacsafe’s anti-theft technology features, click here. I highly recommend their products! They have something for everyone (such as their nifty Cashsafe anti-theft travel belt, which I have!).
The suitcase I chose was the Pacsafe Toursafe AT25 Anti-theft Wheeled Duffel….not too small, not too large (any larger and I wouldn’t be able to lift it!) It has a metal mesh built into the fabric (eXomesh slashguard), so it cannot be sliced through, and puncture resistant ToughZipTM which helps prevent forced entry through the zippers with a pen or sharp object. Have a look at this video which shows “thieves” in action (this really happens in some places!).
If you organize your items well, you’ll be able to fit a surprising amount in this medium-sized Pacsafe suitcase. To help keep the contents organized, I use a variety of lightweight colorful pouches, stuff sacks and packing cubes by TOM BIHN, many of them can be seen here. AND… many of the items have “TB” monogrammed on them…. tailored just for me!! (Not really, but I pretend it was just for me!) These items make me feel like a real cool traveler (oh wait now…. I AM a real cool traveler!)
One of my favorite TOM BIHN products is the Daylight Backpack. As with all the other packing cubes, this multipurpose pack helps keep my luggage contents organized, AND… it also acts as a small backpack, perfect for day use. I have another one that does the same thing (Packing Cube Backpack), which could be used as an overnight bag. I love multi-purpose travel gear!
Camera Bag and Carry-on Luggage
I had a lot to consider when selecting “THE” camera bag. Comfort was probably the most important factor, with size/weight as the second most important. I had purchased two different professional camera bags prior to making my final selection (Tenba and ThinkTank brands – both were great bags, but they just didn’t feel “right” for this particular round-the-world journey). Just when I was about to settle for one of these bags, I learned of Pacsafe’s Camsafe Z25 anti-theft camera and laptop backpack (2015 award-winning design).
The built-in security features of this pack intrigued me; it was like no other camera bag I’ve seen before. I decided to give it consideration; and just days before my departure, the package arrived on my doorstep! After much packing and comparison among the 3 bags, I ended up choosing the Camsafe Z25 for the design and built-in anti-theft technology. You can remove the padded inserts and use this as a daypack also; it’s a pretty cool pack! For those of you who are interested, have a look at the video here, which shows you the nifty security features.
My Camsafe Z25 is also my carry-on bag, and some airlines are INCREDIBLY strict with luggage (i.e. Air New Zealand, Jet Star). For instance, the carry-on allowance is one piece weighing 7kg, whereas Air Canada allows two pieces, at 10kg each! As my packed camera bag alone weighs 10kg (with laptop), and I also carry a “purse” weighing around 3-4kg, I knew I would have constant worries each time I have a flight with one of these strict airlines. And to make matters worse, it doesn’t help when I’m at the gate, and there are regular announcements broadcasted stating that the carryon allowance will be strictly enforced.
I won’t get into the drama that has taken place thus far at the airports, but just know that a few tears have rolled down my cheeks! (On the flipside, there was also very kind and understanding airline staff that allowed me to take on the extra weight – I hope this kindness follows me on my journey!) I’ve had to be real strategic and creative with how I packed things (such as putting my camera lenses in my pockets). I’ve also at times paid for extra weight in advance of checking in for my flights (make sure you do this in advance, or you can get dinged A LOT OF MONEY, such as $50 per extra kg overweight!)
In addition to the main camera backpack, the “purse” I am using is actually a camera bag in disguise (discontinued Kata Light Pic-40DL Shoulder Bag), which I use to carry smaller things on the plane, such as my journal, tickets, snacks, etc. I also use this bag on a daily basis when I go out shooting, instead of the bulky backpack; it fits my large Canon 5D Mark III, and all 4 lenses (if I choose to bring them). I love this bag!
So Far, So Good – Sort Of…
So far, I’ve been doing fairly well with my luggage. It didn’t show up for two days after my arrival in New Zealand; that wasn’t very helpful (especially when I had a 5-course tasting meal to attend that evening!…See blog post about that event here).
Missing/delayed luggage seems to be a common occurrence for me; it happened on my last overseas trip to Italy….you can read about it here (and in previous trips to Spain, Mexico, and others!).
Although I am able to carry my bags myself (with a tiny bit of struggle), I’ve had some very welcomed help along the way (thanks Geoff, Kevin and John!!)
Even though I haven’t bought anything thus far, I’ve been struggling every few days with having to zip closed my suitcase….I don’t like that. I will have to deal with this real soon, as I can’t continue on much longer like this (and I have about 9.5 months left to go!) Don’t be surprised if you hear that I am coming back to Canada for a quick switcheroo of camera gear, computer (I’m having computer problems) and to make some room in my suitcase!
I better sign off for now. I’m sitting on the floor at Sydney airport and am waiting for my 3rd flight of the day, taking me to Brisbane, where I will be visiting with family friends and former long-time Yellowknifers, the Keenans (Flowers by Manuela!)….
Update: I’ve been in Brisbane for about a week thus far (I changed my travel plans a bit and extended my stay with the Keenans- they have been the most gracious hosts!). While I am here, I have no plans other than to take it easy, drink some wine, work on some photos and try to write my 1st post about my New Zealand adventures (of which I had many!!!)
(PS- I was very delayed with getting this post out, as I’ve been having technical difficulties. Over the next couple of weeks, I will have very limited (or no) internet access, but I will try to catch up!) In between blog posts, I also post short updates/photos on my Photography Facebook Page)…
Please feel free to leave a comment below; I always love hearing from folks!
Ciao for now.