I’m no travel guru, nor do I travel a lot, but I just went on a 4 day trip to New York City with my girlfriend so I figured I would give a little insight on how I packed (minus the clothes). For a little context, my trip was mainly to check out the city for food and some sight seeing (though it turned out to be mostly shopping), but I was still able to slip in some areas we wanted to visit and enjoy some great food. I’ll try and keep this short and to the point.
Product: Anker Astro E4 13000mAh
The life saver of all things digital, because in this day and age, no device has enough power to keep you running all day. Especially if you are like me and cannot stop checking Google Maps because you have no idea where you are – a battery will provide that extra juice to keep you from getting lost and help you find great recommendations on Yelp. Try and grab a unit that has at least 2 USB ports and a capacity greater than 10,000mAh, this way, it will last you about 2 days without needing to charge itself.
Product: Apple 12W USB Power Adapter
When you get back to the hotel or Airbnb room, you will need to charge the battery at the very least, so you will need a wall charger on you for that. The Apple charger puts out enough juice to quickly charge any device you plug in – unfortunately, it only has 1 socket, but charge your devices with the battery, and have this plugged into the battery over night and you will be good to go the next day.
Because our world is not entirely wireless yet, cables are the only thing keeping your device connected to anything else. The 3 cables I always have on me (even duplicates of) are:
- Lightning Cable – iPhone
- Micro-USB Cable – External Battery
- Standard-USB Cable – GoPro
I had to throw this in for obvious reasons, but those who actually care about their phones, choosing the right iPhone case to bring with you on vacation with you is vital. For those who might opt-out of carrying an external battery, you can grab a Mophie Juice Pack, which will double the charge on your iPhone and allow you to use a micro-USB cable to keep charged.
Otherwise, I’d recommend going minimal. You’ll be using your iPhone a lot for navigation and pictures, which means slipping it in and out of your pockets constantly and needing a solid grip for all the selfies you are going to take. I would recommend going for the Diztronic Flexible TPU case, mainly because it’s cheap, minimal, and provides enough protection from daily usage.
Product: Roam Mobility
If you’re Canadian and travelling to the States, grab a Roam Mobility plan for a U.S. number that gives you minutes, texts, and most importantly, data. It helped me get around, make reservations, figure out which subway line to take, and how to get back to the airport. There are plenty of free wi-fi hotspots around, but not while sitting in a department store as your girlfriend shops – it will give you plenty of time to plan your next destination. For me, it was having the peace of mind of being able to call or search how to get anywhere.
These are things you should just have on you at all times that will fit in your pockets:
- Gum/Mints – Fresh breath never hurt anyone, you never know what food you’ll be trying
- Tissues – Carry those small tissue packs, spills, runny noses, nose bleeds, or a popped pimple can happen to anyone
- Hand Cream – Especially for the colder weather, if you’re afraid of carrying too much on the plane, get it when you land at your destination in a portable bottle
- Hand Sanitizer – Again, get it when you land there in a portable bottle, because if you plan on taking the subway everywhere like we did, you’ll need it – no one likes getting sick on vacation
FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHERS
I brought my Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 14mm f/2.8. I used it solely for photography, mainly capturing landscape, portrait shots, and doing a few selfies. My goal was to keep it minimal, so the 14mm gave me a lot of room to shoot the larger scenes, whereas the 23mm was a little tighter, but gave me that great bokeh look at f/1.4 and being able to shoot in darker areas.
If I could choose again, I’d go with something portable and adaptable. I love my X-T1, but being a mirrorless body already, it’s still a little bulkier than I would like. For a trip like this, I recommend going for something compact and functional, such as the Canon G16 or a Sony RX100 III. Compacts are nice because they can be pocketable due to the lens folding into the body, has zoom built in, and the best part is they can still shoot in RAW.
Product: GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition (buy one second hand!)
Product: GoPro 3-Way Mount
If you plan on capturing your trip in video format along with the photography you will do, there is nothing better than having a GoPro. Any of the HERO series will do in my opinion, if you want to save a little money, go for a HERO3+ Black Edition, as that is probably the best bang for your buck if you’re not looking to do anything beyond just vlogging your day. Combine that with the GoPro 3-Way Mount and you got yourself everything you need to capture the whole days worth of activities. The 3-Way Mount has everything built-in, such as extension arms, a tripod, and a comfortable grip.
Product: Crumpler Identity and Haven Pouch
All photographers know how important and difficult it is to choose the right camera bag. The most important part to a bag is padding – basically how well it will protect your gear. Secondly, it would be functionality, which include pockets and accessibility. I went with the Crumpler Identity and the Haven Pouch.
The Haven Pouch is used to store your actual camera equipment, as it’s padded itself, and then inserted into the Identity. The Identity is one big hole, that has a roll top when you need more space – great for when you go shopping and need to store extra items. The Haven and Identity are separate units, meaning, if you do not need to carry the extra camera gear, leave the Haven back at the hotel and you have plenty of space to store other items such as an extra jacket and water bottle.
If there’s anything you take away from this section, it is to avoid getting a camera bag that shouts out, “I’m a camera bag.” A good example would be a bag made by ‘Canon’ and has the logo plastered right on the front of it.
Product: WD My Passport Wireless 1 TB
I wanted to pack light and did not plan on bringing a laptop, but I needed a way to backup my photos and videos. My awesome girlfriend recently got me the Western Digital Passport Wireless which saved me from needing to carry a bulky laptop (and to worry about it). You slip in your SD card and it’ll start sucking all the contents out of the SD card and into it’s own drive. You can view the contents in the drive by connecting to it’s wi-fi network. Indispensable if you don’t plan on bringing a laptop with you.
Most people will write this off and use the standard one that comes with their cameras, but that’s because they don’t know what a difference it makes if you get a third-party one that actually suits your style. The 2 styles that work best for me come from the same company, Peak Design, with the Capture Clip and the Leash camera strap.
- Capture Clip – allows you to mount your camera onto your bag strap or belt, leaving you hands-free to go about your tourist activities, but at the push of a button, have your camera in hand.
- Leash – I like to shoot without a strap a lot of times and just holding the camera, without having the strap dangling and getting in my way, so with their patented anchor system, I can easily snap off the strap and use it hands-free, then snap the strap right back on when I’m done to leave it hanging around my neck or to the side.
There are 2 things you’ll always need extra of, even if you don’t use it: batteries and memory cards. My favourite third party batteries to buy are Wasabi Power – they’re cheap, highly reviewed, and I have not had any issues with them being a third party battery. They make batteries for almost every camera brand as well.
Memory cards are a whole other topic that can be written about on its own, but basically corrupted cards can happen at any time, so always have 2 or 3 extra cards. They’re small and don’t take up much space anyways!
Side tip: the Wasabi GoPro batteries come with a USB powered charger, which paired with an external battery, gives you a mobile charging station for your GoPro on-the-go!
Lastly, cleaning equipment, and staying to the virtue of keeping it minimal, I like to always have 2 things with me to keep my gear clean: a LensPen and micro fibre cloths. LensPens are versatile because they have a cleaning pad on one end and a retractable brush on the other, giving you everything you need to keep your shots clean. Micro fibre cloths are just good to have with you and are great for cleaning screens and filters.