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Tag: packing tips

How to Pack your Camera and Travel Tripod for your Next Flight

When packing to go on vacation, delicate camera gear can be a particular challenge to carry on board a plane. If you’re trying to travel light, it’s even harder. Here’s how I did it for our flight to New Orleans.

My family vacation to New Orleans was a blast. But flying there in a cost-effective way took some planning. Our goal for each of us was to only bring one carry-on suitcase and a personal item onto the plane which would fit under the seat in front. (Paying for more luggage adds up pretty quickly.)

Our airline tickets were a tad expensive as we flew over spring break after Easter. So, this self-imposed luggage limitation helped to keep our airfare pricing in check.

Traveling light as a family carries a variety of benefits, but I gave myself a particularly difficult packing challenge. That’s because I brought my Panasonic Lumix GH5 II mirrorless camera and 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens (24-70mm – 35mm equivalent) along with my Manfrotto Befree Live carbon-fiber video travel tripod.

A big camera… plus a small tripod? (The Manfrotto is still 16” long when packed up.)
Impossible you say?

Not necessarily. Here’s how I did it.

Think Tank Shoulder Bag
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to safely pack my GH5 II camera and lens. My first thought was to use my Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7M Shoulder Bag as my personal item/camera bag.

But I quickly realized if I then put my travel tripod into my small carry-on suitcase, I really wouldn’t have room for much of anything else.

I really needed a personal item/bag that would fit both my camera/lens and my travel tripod.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack
To accomplish that, I bought a Peak Design V2 30L Everyday Backpack. I wisely purchased the 30L model as opposed to the smaller 20L version. The 30L model just barely fit my Manfrotto tripod within its zippered side flap (with the tripod positioned vertically).

Sure, my Manfrotto could also slip into one of the backpack’s two outside pockets, but remember, my Peak Design was my personal item for our flight.

Technically, the 30L Everyday Backpack is a bit too big to specifically meet airlines’ personal item regulations.

  • Personal item limit:
    17” L x 13” W x 8” H
  • Peak Design 30L Everyday Backpack:
    19” L x 13” W x 10” H

It’s close. (Plus, I told myself that I could squish the backpack a little smaller if needed.)

So, I didn’t want to flaunt my slightly oversized personal item by also having a tripod sticking out of the backpack’s side. Plus, that would have made the backpack even wider. (The smaller 20L model would have been a snap to carry on board, but it wouldn’t have fit my tripod within its interior.)

30L Everyday Backpack Works as Personal Item
As it turned out, I successfully brought my 30L Everyday Backpack through the gate and past several sets of official eyes without incident. (We flew JetBlue out and Spirit back.)

And the 30L Everyday Backpack did indeed fit under the seat in front of me. There wasn’t a lot of extra room left, but just enough to be able to extend one foot in. It wasn’t exactly a model for comfort (I’m 6’), but it was fine for the three-hour plane ride.

Of course, the Peak Design backpack could have also been stashed in the overhead, but my carry-on bag was already there. Plus, I wanted to maintain total control of my camera gear. (I didn’t like the thought of someone jamming in another bag next to mine in the overhead and possibly damaging my tech.)

Camera Bag and General Backpack
From a packing perspective, my Peak Design Everyday Backpack wasn’t close to being full after I popped in the camera and tripod. There was ample space left over for clothing that could be tightly rolled up.

So, it served nicely as both a camera bag and backpack while we walked around New Orleans.

Think Tank Too
Remember my Think Tank shoulder bag? As it turned out, I packed that as well.

It went in my carry-on luggage. (I first stuffed it with rolled-up t-shirts, socks and shorts and then put the whole thing into my suitcase.)

And why bring two camera bags? The truth is I wasn’t sure if I wanted to schlep my Everyday Backpack around during our entire vacation. The Think Tank has a much smaller profile, and on the days when I didn’t feel I would need my tripod, I felt my shoulder bag would be more appropriate.

My Experience Walking the Streets of New Orleans
I used my shoulder bag during the first couple of days of our New Orleans vacation. As it turned out, it wasn’t that comfortable.

Once I packed my 24 oz water bottle into the outside pocket, I really felt the increased weight of the water, and it became more awkward to carry the shoulder bag all day with my camera. (I had the bag slung over one side of my back.) All of the weight hit my lower back, and my body didn’t appreciate it. (Yes, I do have some lower back issues.)

But when I eventually switched over to the Everyday Backpack, the weight was well balanced and focused more towards the top of my back, (The water bottle fit into one of the two outside pockets. And I still kept my tripod inside the backpack.)

Even though I was carrying more weight, it felt so much better. Plus, the remaining space in the backpack allowed me to carry extra layers of clothes for my family. And it also had room for a couple of gifts we bought along the way!

If you’re a parent with years of experience as a ‘Sherpa’ for your family, this backpack does really nicely as a day bag.

The 30L Peak Design Everyday Backpack isn’t exactly small, but it doesn’t scream, “Hey, I’m a huge camera bag with a tripod!” I was just another tourist carrying a regular backpack on the streets of the French Quarter.

Next time, I’ll ditch the shoulder bag entirely.

Maximize the Functionality of that Personal Item
New Orleans is a great place for a family vacation. I really enjoyed the opportunity bring along my gear to capture some cool photos and videos along the way.

Using a camera bag in the form of a backpack that can fit a small tripod and doubles as a day bag on vacation was my trick to flying with fewer suitcases.

As long as the backpack can also fit under that seat as a personal item on your flight, you should also be in great shape.

Happy travels!

Don’t Forget These 5 Pieces of Tech on Your Vacation

If you’re staring at your suitcase, it’s probably time for your next vacation. Here are my packing tips to help maintain your tech Zen…

If your next vacation is coming up, you might be thinking about what to pack. Some would say that you should leave the shackles of your technology behind to truly liberate yourself. Only then can you truly recharge and ‘vacate’ from your day-to-day existence.

I say… “No way!”

Now’s the time to have some real fun with all of your home tech!
Here are my top five pieces of gear to bring along…

Portable Bluetooth Speaker
You can’t pack your entire home audio system, but you do have access to many of your tunes via your smartphone… So, taking a portable Bluetooth speaker that can pair with your smartphone will quickly enable you to generate your happy sound bubble wherever you are.

Apple TV
It’s super simple to pop your Apple TV in your bag and then activate it using the Wi-Fi of your vacation location.
(Don’t forget the remote… like I did last year.)

Who cares if your hotel room has ‘HBO?’ You’ve got instant access to all of the content that you’re used to at home. And now, you’ll have a little more time to enjoy it!

Some hotel rooms even have their own Apple TVs these days. All you have to do is log into your account.
(Just don’t forget to log out when you check out.)

HDMI iPhone Adapter
Your iPhone and iPad can actually do the same trick as your Apple TV as long as you bring along an Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter to connect your mobile device to your hotel room TV via the HDMI cable.

Beach-Proof Camera
Water can certainly damage a typical camera, but the hidden danger at the beach is all of the sand blowing about. Even if one grain gets stuck in your retractable lens on your point-and-shoot camera, your lens mechanism could jam.

A smartphone isn’t going to have that problem, but you still want to be careful.
(Dropping it on a rock is a great way to crack the screen.)

A GoPro is made for the kind of punishment beach time can serve up.

A less expensive, waterproof ‘family’ camera like a Nikon COOLPIX W100 ($156.95 on Amazon) is another worry-free solution to taking your action pics at the beach…

Portable Power Stick
Even if you’re not ‘roughing it,’ you might find your smartphone or camera low on power by the afternoon. It’s always smart to carry along a little power stick to help your gear make it through the day.

I’m partial to Anker power sticks.

3 Bonus Ideas
If you have extra packing space and if your vacation activity planning allows, you should consider taking…

Time to Party!
If using your tech on vacation is a stressor, leave it behind. For everyone else in the vacation party, let’s power up and bathe in pixels and bytes by the shore!

Seven Packing Tips for Successful Winter Business Travel

Some business trips are more challenging than others. And cold weather never helps. So packing smart can make all the difference…

Some business trips are more challenging than others. And cold weather never helps. So packing smart can make all the difference…

I recently had something of an adventure at my job, and it involved enduring more than a little bit of extreme cold. I flew to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to support our communications team on the ground.

It was an amazing week for me. Not only for being a part of the WEF experience and being immersed in the theme of responsive and responsible leadership, but also because it took me out of my comfort zone… in more ways than one.

Going Back to my Roots
My contribution called for some hands-on video skills that I hadn’t practiced in some time and then employing them with tight deadlines in the frigid outdoors.

And as the week progressed, my successful experience reminded me there are many ways to bring your best self to any challenge…

Grace Through Adversity
Life will test you. On any day… a moment can unexpectedly knock you off balance. So how should you handle the curve balls?

First off, how you approach them always makes a huge difference. But there are also certain precautions you can take to help prepare for the unexpected.

Here’s my list of packing tips to help you succeed during a challenging winter business trip.

Bring a Travel Plug Bar
First off… I didn’t…

What I failed to realize when I was packing my type ‘J’ power plug adapters for Swiss outlets is these adapters are really bulky. So I wasn’t able to get more than one to fit next to other existing plugs in the wall outlet.

So if you’ve got multiple devices to power in one location, you’re going to need some help with a portable multi plug bar.

Here’s one good option:

Pack Portable Power
So halfway into my trip, I ran into some additional electrical difficulty. I plugged in my iPhone charger next to the bed and tripped a circuit breaker. The power remained out in my room for the remainder of the trip.

Typically, I charge up my iPhone every night and also use it as my alarm clock for the morning.

So that would have been a problem without my wakeup alarm if I had to change my iPhone elsewhere overnight. Fortunately, I brought along some portable power via my trusty Anker Astro battery power bank.

I charged up the Astro during the day at another location and then used it at night to keep my iPhone up and running.

Thank you, Anker!

Don’t Forget a Small Flashlight
See dark bedroom story above…

Have a Good Compact Camera at the Ready
Sure, a smartphone can handle many photographic needs these days, and my iPhone is always there for me and easily accessible in my right pant pocket. But sometimes, you’re going to need a camera with a few more tricks up its sleeve.
Case in point…

Towards the end of my trip, I was called upon to take a team picture. An earlier attempt by a colleague using her smartphone in the dimly-lit space could not generate a usable photo. The question rang out from the group… Did I have a camera with me that could get the job done?

In fact, I did.

Remember my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10?

The Lumix’s powerful 1” sensor and ample flash got the job done big time.

Dress Like You’re Going on a Winter Hike
Simply put… Davos, Switzerland is wicked cold in January.
(I began my days at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit.)

And I knew that I was going to be spending a whole lot of time outdoors. So what are you supposed to do when the dress code skews semi formal?

The trick is to use the cutting-edge fiber technologies built into today’s outdoor-sports clothing. Sure, this kind of clothing isn’t cheap, but it’s really thin… and you can wear one or two base layers under a dress shirt and tie.
(As well as a base layer under your pants.)

So in preparation for the extreme environment, I did a little shopping at REI and Eastern Mountain Sports.

Losing Stuff will Happen
But try not to lose the important items.

I dropped a glove more than once, and each time someone ran up and returned it to me. That’s great karma.
(Though I did pack an extra pair of gloves)

Believe You Can
Speaking of karma… this list can’t only be about the tangible objects or tech that you bring with you. As I mentioned above, it’s also about what you bring from within…

In my view, it’s usually better to take a chance and risk failing instead of playing it safe and never trying to stretch yourself.

Now don’t get me wrong… you’ve got to be as prepared as you can be.

And never forget to bring the confidence that you can figure it out… no matter what.

All right, then…

Start packing!

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